As I mentioned last week, I spent the weekend in Costa Rica attending the World Rafting Championship, which is actually still going on as I write this, although a champion should be crowned today. When I left on Thursday, I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the event, but found that it was a fun competition with some excellent teams and dedicated group of fans on hand to support their country.
The event is taking place in Turrialba, which is a bit off the beaten tourist path in Costa Rica, but offers some of the best rafting anywhere on the planet. The WRC is taking place on the Pacuare River, which offers plenty of Class IV rapids, which were swelled daily by the onset of tropical rainstorms. The river runs right through the heart of a beautiful rainforest setting, and made for an incredible “stadium” for this event.
The WRC features a different type of rafting competition every day. On the first day, the teams competed in the Sprint, which simply had them racing down a set course on the river as fast as they could. Those results then led to the Head-to-Head competition on Saturday, which created a bracket, not unlike that found in the NCAA basketball tournament, in which the teams actually raced one another along a longer section of the river. This was much more fun and exciting to watch, as the squads really dug deep to give every ounce of speed out of their boats. Yesterday, the teams participated in the Slalom event, which had them navigating through a series of flags on the water. That event rewards not only speed but also agility. Today, the final stage of the competition, is the Down River, which puts all of the teams out on the water at the same time, as they race over a long course.
Where teams place in each of those events earns them points. The team with the highest point total at the end of the competition will win the 2011 World Rafting Championship. Heading into the final day, Japan was in the lead for the men, and the Czech Republic was first amongst the women. Where they all end up will be determined by the outcome of the Down River today, which could potentially change the final standings dramatically.
I’ll post more thoughts and some photos from the event once the results go official. Needless to say though, it was a fun grassroots competition that was great to witness first hand.