Just days after the North Fork Championships, Cascade Idaho hosted the second annual Payette River Games. These games have almost doubled in competitors since last year. It not only attracts some of the best whitewater kayakers in the world but also the best stand up paddle boarders. With $105,000 on the line, it was not a competition I wanted to miss!
Signing up for Boater X, Freestyle and 8 Ball- I was sure to make gains at the end of the competition... right?
It was an 11 hour drive for me to make with everything shoved into the back of my car and my boats loaded on top- as kayakers do. Once I got there I instantly met a few friends that I paddle with (Rush, Lou, Martina, Aniol), I don't know, you probably don't know them. Anyway, it was unlike any other whitewater competition I have been to- no one took me up on the offer of a beer... WHAT? That is when you know the competition is on!
The next day I thought maybe I should look at the course- maybe it is gnarlier than I think. So walking up and down a 1.5 km whitewater park thinking I was missing something, I didn't see anything that was very intimidating... rephrase, nothing that was scarier than a typical barn cat (pretty cute but may have ill intentions). After sussing it out I decided to go for a freestyle session.
Well, the hole wathunked me my first time on- so having bruised my pride I went down to the smaller hole. I was paddling with a couple young lads between 8-10years. After that my pride sky rocketed again- I was kicking their butts! haha, 'I know guys, they were only 8 years old...'
Moving along, we got right into the 8 ball races. This is one that I thought, you know I think I might do well in this race. I am not a favourite and I am fast! What I didn't factor in was who the 8 Balls were... Lorenzo, Tino, Pedro- the Chilean army who love picking on anyone they knew- so of course I got broadsided by two of the three and dispite my second standing initially I ended up dead last. I am not even sure if I crossed the finish line! 8 Ball- OUT
Freestyle competition has never been a strong suit of mine, especially competing on the Ottawa against the best of the best. Competing against three past world champions and one lady still holding the title I wasn't sure if I would make top 10. So I needed to do something I have never done before... No! not flash the judges- I would bust out the only entry move I knew, THE WINGOVER! I did it, I nailed it and I was ready to exit stage left right after that single move, but I held on and did a couple more moves (cartwheel, blunt, roundhouse, spin). That single ride got me into 13th place, which I was stoked about but again, in summary- Freestyle- OUT
Finally we have Boater X. The competition I thought I was going to clean up! I had been practicing in NZ, my confidence was high and I just really wanted any bit of that purse! Luckily my trial time was fairly good so I was able to pick my seat on the ramp most times. This was good because not only was I in a good starting position but I was also usually the fastest in the heat.
So for gate 1 and 2 I was in the clear, I was thinking 'OMG this competition is mine!' UNTIL... that stupid ferry move above the hole! For Cryin' Out Loud I wanted to punch that hole in the baby maker! I spent more time in that hole you would think it was supposed to be part of the race. Unfortunately, it wasn't...
So again to summarize- boater X- out.
So you ask, 'Did Brenna ever make any gains?' Well, if you include the competitors bag, free meals, amazing weather, a sweet hat from an unofficial dance competition and some cool new friends (no those last two don't necessarily go together), then YES! It is definitely a competition that I will go back for. Aside from the world class prizes, there is lots to gain from attending this event. Next year I hope that hole picks on someone else!
See you then!
Photography Credit: Chris Gragtmans