With the Autumn closing in it was at lest time for the Sickline White Water World Championships, The event was due to take place in the Oetzal Region of Austria.
For 2011 we had a group of 8 Irish paddlers heading out all descending on Dublin Airport on the same flight, some good will and helpful Eir Lingus staff ensured out 8 creekers and kit all made it onto the same flight, Once we arrived in Munich a group of us had taken the option of booking 2 large vans which equipment could easily be thrown into and we could sleep in, after a couple of hours driving into the night we had arrived at the venue, a quaint Austrian town full of character and scenery. The Oetz Valley some 820m above sea level
After a first night in the vans we took to the water in some big bouncy warm up type runs with the majority of us having not seen big volume water for a long time we needed some acclimatising running the lower Oetz the Upper Oetz leaving a cheeky spin on the race course Wellerbrucken for last thing that day.
The paddling was great cool glacial rivers with bright blue skies and sun beaming down made sure kit dried quickly.
The evenings were spent cruising around the town trying the local beers by the bottle, half litre, litre, 2 litre or even 3 litre glass just so we had tried them all.
With more consecutive days paddling warming up to the event we were feeling good about the lines.
As the event drew near other paddlers descended from all over the world for video nights and ceremony's the atmosphere was buzzing,
As the competition day arrived everyone knew it would be close, one roll, one rock or one bad line would really mess up your weekend, We headed up for our compulsory practise run bright and early not sure weather this was our best idea putting on thinking of our warm sleeping bags, as we left the top eddy and felt the cool water hitting our faces we knew we were in the game, dropping over a sweet boof into the turbulent water below lining ourselves up for the champions killer a sloping drop with a compulsory late right boof stroke miss the stoke and melt the drop before getting spat out eyes to the sky, as always with practice runs we missed the boof ending up in the cold glacial water stinging our faces but knowing we have one chance to get it right as we cruise through the rest of the course looking for clean fast lines trying to memorise the scenery. once to the bottom we make the long walk back up to the get in ready for competition runs.
As the timed runs kick off we see a mix some sweet clean lines and others melting and swimming the champions killer really is a chancer.
This time as we leave the eddy we know what we have to do adrenaline pumping through us pushing us on Bang we hit the boof looking onwards at the killer no time for thinking just from feeling knowing what we need to do, lining up at the top looking into the pit pulling through off the fast green tongue and driving up with the knees presenting the hull of our boats to the stopper as we use the speed racing towards the slot and onwards down the fast lines, As a group we had mixed fortunes during the day with 2 sets of broken blades a couple of rolls and a bit of rock bashing, PaddyTec forced his way into the next round leaving him in 70th overall with Barry and Neil 84th / 85th next up was Colm in 99th Adrian 107th Dave 112th and Ronnie down in 124th
With the whole crew out of the event we took to the town in true Irish style to find the biggest drinks we could (3 litres of Austrian Beer)
We spent the rest of the week paddling and biking through out the valley with loads of great runs with good levels we managed to take Macca for a spin on the Vent, seeing his nervousness turn to smiles and enjoyment after a great run, We managed a cheeky run down the middle Oetz a classic section with lots going on, Dave managed to break his boat on the get in and then Colm went for an early bath seeing the only swim of the week (He drank his bootie juice!) and Neil found a nice hole to test the Raptors play boating skills.
As we waved goodbye to an excellent event and epic party we can reflect on our performance and take positives forward to next year as we will definitely be back.
We spent the last days of the trip in Munich checking out the Galaxy water park with over 1400m of slides before taking to the Oktoberfest in Munich central for a spectacular night of heritage, culture, beer and dancing. A truly spectacular way to round off a great week away!
Heres the Edits from Colm Healy