The Freestyle Kayaking World Championships start next week (April 29–May 5) and it’s back to the future with the competition being held on the Ottawa River’s Buseater. It’s the first time World’s has taken place on a worthy feature (wave) since New Zealand hosted the competition on the Full James Wave in 1999. Tune in as Paddling Life provides live coverage from the Ottawa.
In the name of side bets and bookies, the Paddling Life staff including Eugene Buchanan, Nick Hinds and Joe Carberry offer their fearless predictions.
Men: EJ. Are you kidding me? Even at the ripe age of 43, EJ (left) has more tricks up his water-logged drytop. He’s the three-time World Champion, trains harder than anybody, and has spent the last two months practicing big water moves on the Nile. No brainer.
Women: Going out on the limb here, but sticking with local girl Ruth Gordon (right). She’s from the area, knows the wave like the back of her pogie, and goes gargantuan. At 5’3 and 130 lbs., she’ll catch more airtime than Don Imus used to.
C-1: Two words. Paul Danks. Danks is climbing the ranks. He’s the reigning OC1 Champ, and a Canadian so he knows the wave as well as anyone. The only possible downside: Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa are still in the NHL playoffs, meaning this likely cuts into his training time to check out the games.
Men: Unfortunately, it was pointed out that my pick here, Stephen Wright is actually Team USA’s first alternate. Bummer because he’s light and throws huge air and I don’t think any boater has thrown bigger tricks besides Patrick Camblin or Africa’s Palo Babi. That said, I’ll take Canadian Billy Harris (left), Eh! He knows the wave as well as anyone in the field and has a great head for competition. Plus, it always seems like he’s having the most fun.
Women: Tanya Faux (right). She’s seriously ripped. She must work out and she looked so strong last time we saw her compete (at the Paddling Life Pro Invitational). An amazing overall boater, but keep an eye on Tanya Shuman too. T really can throw down on a wave, but can she beat out Faux or Gordon?
C – 1 – Groove Dog – Paul Danks (if he chooses to compete). The Groove Dog made the Ottawa look good before anyone else did from what I hear. I saw footage of him in ‘96 in a fiberglass Massive Groove, killing those features and he scored higher than most kayakers in recent competitions. Love to watch C-1 Rippers!
Men: Hard to pic against Jay Kincaid or EJ for the men’s title but I’m going with Australia’s Anthony Yapp (left) as a dark horse. The dude grew up surfing huge ocean swells so his big wave prowess is unlike anyone else and he definitely has the quickest hip-snap in the business. Perfect for huge airscrews.
Women: I like Ruth Gordon and Tanya Shuman but I’ve got to go with Tanya Faux to win it too. Aside from Nikki Kelly, I haven’t seen a more fierce competitor in the kayaking world. Every time she goes out she believes she can win.
C-1: Seth Chapelle. He’s a ripper, and at 18, has more youthful exuberance than a puppy. His lack of competitive experience may not help him but his considerable skill will definitely make up for it.