It was Brazil, host country Japan and the Czech Republic taking the top three podium seats at this year’s World Rafting Championships on Japan’s Koboke Gorge on the Yoshino River, with the U.S. men settling for 8th and the U.S. women 5th.
In the slalom event, it was upstream gate #10 that caused the most headaches. The course had 14 gates, of which gates 2, 4, 7, 10 and 13 were upstream, the rest downstream. Gate 10 was a hard one as it was upstream on river-left, but if you did not get into the eddy high enough you would be swept passed gates 11 and 12 and incur a 150 seconds penalty. For some teams it was better to skip it, but for the top teams they had to try if they wanted to win.
The Master's Women all had trouble with gate 7, which was an upstream gate on river-right. Only New Zealand made this gate, on their second run, but then they unfortunately missed 10, 11 and 12. The final top 3 was Czech, Japan, New Zealand. The Open Men were the last to go and generally there were less misses which was logical because they are more powerful and can fight harder against the fast and powerful river.
But there were still teams who would have expected to do better but unluckily had two bad runs which would have disappointed them hugely. Mongolia had a steep learning curve on a river that is far bigger than what they are used to. Experience they will bank for future like UAE have done, they achieved a respectable 14th out of 17, great for a newish team against tough competition. It was the ever dominant team of Brazil that took the win, with hosts Japan in second and Czech in third. For women, it was Great Britain, Japan and new Zealand taking the top three spots.
The last day of the competition was reserved for the Downriver, tallying the most points available for the Overall ranking. The Open and Masters divisions paddled a Class III-IV rapids on the section to determine the title.
The start was a flying start in groups of 5 to 7. This made it very interesting for spectators as the teams battled at the beginning for a good start position. Japan Open Men had a bad start which put a lot of pressure on them to catch and overtake some teams. But they never caught Brazil who took first place with Argentina doing a great time in the second group to secure 3rd. Brazil are once again crowned Open Men World Champions taking a clean sweep of all the Gold medals and making them the most successful team in the IRF's history. Japan Open Women shot out front and stayed there all the way to the end. New Zealand tucked in behind enjoying their good lines. Czech came blistering through in the second group to take third.
Once the tussle for places settled after the start it tended to stay that way. The Japan Masters Men have proved they could have been top contenders even in the Open Category by putting down the fastest time of the day of 39:58,82, beating Brazil Open Men's time of 40:10,18, and also having the best of all times in Slalom. Second was Czech Republic and third New Zealand. Japan took the Masters Men crown, with a full sweep of Gold medals. The U.S. Men, meanwhile, settled for 8th overall, with the U.S. Women three spots ahead in 5th.
Results: Top 3 Overall Open and Masters
• Open Men: 1.Brazil; Japan; Czech Rep
• Open Women: 1. Japan; New Zealand; Great Britain
• Masters Men: 1. Japan; 2. Czech Rep; New Zealand
• Masters Women: 1. New Zealand; 2. Czech Rep; 3. Japan
Full results HERE