Year Review 2014

I guess you are normally supposed to do this before the year actually ends but I was busy traveling in southern Chile so I didn't have time then. Here it is anyway!

2014 was a great year, super fun and almost 100% injury free with lots of kayaking on my favorite destinations! So stoked to be living this life right now, focusing on traveling, kayaking and trying to enjoy life to the fullest!

I spent the winter in Okere Falls, New Zealand where I did lots of paddling on the Kaituna, slept in a bed every night and had tons of fun hanging out, learning to surf and taking part on the different kiwi events. Went to the South Island in February but got injured on the Citroen BoaterX and couldn't paddle any of the West Coast classics. I guess I'll just have to go back!

Early March we flew to Vancouver, bought a 22 year old Astro van and started the drive south to the Gorge, WA. Settled down at Todd's trailer and paddled non stop. We had nice weather and great levels on the Little White and White Salmon, it was a great season with lots of boating with amazing friends on my favorite spot in the world. Spring went by really fast and we left to the White Water Grand Prix in Quebec for a couple weeks in May.
We found big waves and lots of ice! It was good times with lots of freestyle and some good boating around Quebec and a 5th place finish with some bad luck and pretty average performances on most of the stages.

After Canada it was time for some races on the NW! First off we went to the Big Fork event in Montana, organized by my friend Jonny Meyers it was a great weekend with 3 different races (downriver, slalom and GS) for the overall. I was so stoked to take first and bring home some cash! 
One of my personal most important races of the season was next, the Little White Salmon race! After some good training thisyear I was feeling really good, the 9r prototype was working really well and I was stoked. Race day didn't go too well though, never felt good during the 15 minutes race, had a numb leg and went too hard at the start having nothing left for the end… Not feeling good about my downriver race run I was fired up to do well on the Spirit slalom. Training run was great, race run I go off and miss gate 1! Ahhhh  anyways it was a great weekend and finishing second wasn't that bad! Stoked for Evan to take his second title and can't wait for another chance next year!

After Ldub race is Idaho bound! We drove to Banks to paddle the North Fork everyday and get ready for the NFC III. On Thursday we had the Expert Lower 3 race, a 10 minutes race down some class III-IV where its pretty hard to go fast as there are lots of crashing waves and white water. I did my best but had lots of trouble keeping the boat under control and doing many mistakes, at the end I got first with less than a second lead though, it was a tight one! After the premiere in Boise where we showed our new SBP reel 2014 and partied a bit everyone got ready for Saturday at Jakes. I had two decent runs but lost quite a bit of time on gate 2 on both runs and hit a few more rocks than desired. This conservative runs were only good enough for 4th place this year, will have to go faster and take more chances next year for sure!
We paddled the North Fork for another week and then headed up to the Payette River Games just a few miles upstream. I entered the freestyle, boaterX and 8Ball races. Ended up 10th at the freestyle event after a couple training sessions, got 4th at the 8Ball and luckily took the win at the boaterX going home with some more dolla$! So stoked! After the PRG I started the drive back west and then north back to Canada, it's BC time! 

Got to Whistler early July, started working at Wedge rafting and padded the Cheak and Callaghan everyday with Ali and friends, pretty good times! Unfortunately the levels weren't as high as I expected but it was a good time! We entered the Cheak time trial and the Callaghan race. I managed to win both events and it was a really nice time.
Time went by fast and the Stikine dropped in earlier than expected so by August 1st I quit and got ready to head north. After a long drive we got to the put in of this magical place ready to go for the first trip of the season. Nice weather, good flow and a sick crew, let's go! We took it easy shooting a bunch and making it the traditional 3 day trip. We did another 3 day trip with great water levels and an awesome one day. It's such an amazing place!

After the Stikine we went to Revelstoke where there wasn't much water but enough for Sutherland and Pinkston. After a couple days we drove back to Whistler to finish off the trip on the Ashlu. A couple great weekends on the box and some days on the Cheak left us all tired and ready to go home.

Landed in Spain mid september, hang out for a week painting my grandmas house and paddling in Sort and left to Sickline. Sickline was great, we had good flows and pretty nice weather overall. I surprised myself and I managed to win the qualification on the lower section and clocked a couple fast times on the top section, however I didn't have a good run on my final and had to content myself with 4th after doing good all weekend… This was my best result yet and a good experience for next edition.

Right after Sick-Line we flew back to BC to finish The Keyhole Red Bull project as we needed Fall lows water flows. Everything went great and I went back home for a few days before flying to Chile for the whole winter.
After some days of traveling troubles I landed in Chile late October and paddled the Maipo just outside of Santiago. We then moved south and paddled around Pucon including a couple trips further south to GolGol area. Mid Novemeber we flew to Mexico for the Rey del Río, an event in Agua Azul that included a BoaterX and a Waterfall comp. After the event we went to Tlapacoyan and paddled on the Alseseca and Jalacingo, two of the best runs in Mexico.

After Mexico we spent some time around Pucón and then traveled south following the water and paddling as many rivers as possible. It's been an awesome time just camping everywhere and paddling all of the good classics that still have some water. It's been really dry and all the snow and rain from the winter is almost gone so the rivers are pretty low right now but there's always water and rivers to paddle, you just have to keep going south.

Overall it's been a great year for me, I've managed to spend all year traveling around the world visiting NZ, the USA, Canada, Chile, México and Argentina and only go home for over 2-3 weeks. I've only had minor injuries and I've paddled a lot, almost everyday and in some amazing places. I've paddled the 9r prototype all spring and I'm now super stoked to have the final version, it's sick. I feel my paddling still improves year after year even though sometimes it's hard to see it and easy to get frustrated. I can only ask for 2015 to be as good as 2014 and I'm sure it will be with plenty of adventures and expeditions ahead.


Rey del Río in México

We just got back from the Rey del Río in México, an event organized by Altius and River Roots founded by the Mexican Government and the Board of tourism of México. 

I was stoked to meet team mates Sam Sutton and Egor who had also flown in for the event. With another 25 of the best kayakers in the world, good organization, huge prize money and waterfalls it was going to be an awesome weekend!

We flew in to Villahermosa (Tabasco) and drove to Palenque (Chiapas) where there are awesome Maya ruins. From there we drove to the río Tulijá commonly known as the Agua Azul due to the turquoise blue color of its water because of the minerals it contains. 

We did a few training runs on Friday and a time trial to seed everyone for the boaterX. Saturday started early with the first rounds of the boaterX. The course was really narrow with only one deep line so it was really hard to pass anyone, the time trial played a huge role on the boaterX as choosing your starting position meant a lot. In the end I didn't make the final (top 4) but I did manage to win the losers heat and ended up 5th. Not a good result but that's all I could do with the seeding I had (6th). Congrats to Pat, Dane and Egor and Isaac for going fast and taking the top spots.

Here's a sick video by RiverRoots from the BoaterX event on Saturday:  

On Sunday we all headed downstream to a set of three waterfalls, a 30ft, 50ft and 40ft. Every paddler had one run and he was judge on his technique, style, progression… There were sick lines, tricks off the waterfalls and all sorts of cool stuff. 
Personally I didn't have a good run and even broke my paddle on the second drop… Anyways it was a fun day. In the end I ended 7th 1 point from Sam. Pat Keller took the win followed by Rush and my bro Aniol.

Overall it was a great event, well organized and the media that Jared, Matt and Polly took is amazing so looking forward to see all the great footage they shot. This is a great step for kayaking to attract some main stream media and portrait our sport in great way.

After the event my bro, Benny and I drove north east for 8h or so to Tlapacoyan, Veracruz. We stayed at Aventured and had a great time going paddling every day. Big Bananas, Jalacingo, Tomata… There's a lot of quality white water and a lot of fruit too so it's a great place to hang out and spend some time.

After a week it was time for me to head back to the city and fly back to Chile where there are a lot of river waiting, so stoked I made it out to México, learned a lot and hope to do a lot better next year! Now it's time to paddle some rivers, head south and eat empanadas.


Chile Trip part 1

On late November I started a three day journey to Chile. Departing from Bracelona to New York and to Panamá for a couple days layover as my boat wasn't allowed in the plane after making it all the way there… a day of paperwork and 400$ less and my boat was on its way via Cargo with the same airline… thanks Copa Airlines!

Anyways made it to Chile and went straight to the río Maipo just outside of Santiago where my good Astorga friends live and fight against the Alto Maipo Project the Government and private corporations are trying to put on their river and land. The plan is to divert the river and all it's tributaries into 70 km of pipes to produce energy for the copper mines in the north. This means drying a whole region with multiple valleys and rivers and taking all of the drinking water for Santiago polluting its waters and mixing them with residual waters from gold mines and others to be purified later on… I really hope that the Government and politicians that rule Chile can see further than their own pockets and decide what's best for Chile and for its people, NO ALTO MAIPO! Learn more about the Alto Maipo Project here: https://www.facebook.com/NoAlProyectoAltoMaipo

After settling down and paddling the Maipo for a few days we started the drive south with a first stop at the río Claro. The Claro is one of the most amazing rivers in the world, clean water and the most beautiful lava canyon you can imagine with all kind of drops and rapids, it truly is a kayakers dream. 

The last time I was there was in 2007 together with Chris Korbulic on what we thought was the first descent of the 'Garganta del Diablo', my favorite section. It took us a long day to scout as much as we could from the canyon rim, and I think we only saw the 20% of it? Anyway we put on the next day hoping everything would be fine and we discovered one of the most awesome places on earth. It was such an awesome  feeling to go back and remember everything from that tip… We got there late afternoon and put on straight away. 

The water was low but we paddled some of the best white water ever so we war so stroked!! The next day we ran the 'Cocina and 22 saltos' into Garganta and finished off with the 7 tazas. Such an awesome day of kayaking surrounded by the most polished and smooth basalt walls you'll ever find, its amazing, you have to be in there to understand it and  experience it by yourself. After another day of some more paddling we started to long drive south to Pucón. 

The levels in Pucón were still good when we got there so we rushed on paddling the Nevados, Trancura, Palguin and Puesco at good flows. All this runs are really close to town and it's easy to paddle three rivers in one day so within a couple days I was already pretty sore but so stoked to be down there after so much time since I paddled any of this runs, for me it's like a rediscovery trip as the last time was 7 years ago and a lot has changed since then, the rivers, the rapids, the gear and myself so its an awesome personal experience to live it all again. After a few days of great weather levels started to drop and we decided it was time to head south.


The last few months...

The last few months have been non-stop, ending with a crazy unfortunate trip to Chile to finish it off!

I spent July working as a raft guide in Whistler and paddling on the Cheak and Callaghan daily waiting for the Stikine to come in, which did and really early! August 2nd and we were getting ready to drive north for our first run of the season! We got there to find great water levels and amazing weather! We had an awesome season opening 3 day trip, another 3 day trip and a one day that was great. Overall we had great weather, some nice/high flows on our second trip and lowish on the others which still make it an amazing run! 

We shot a lot of footage during our trips with Nomade (Tino and Lore) and Eric Parker Photography for a Red Bull project with my brother Aniol. There's a lot of amazing footage and I can't wait to watch the edit they are putting together, coming out real soon!

After that we drove south to Revelstoke to try to get some waterfalls but the ran wasn't enough so we only paddled Sutherland at a very low flow but it was still great.
We then drove back to Whistler, paddled the Ashlu a bunch with great flows and time to go home came by!

Landed in Spain mid september, hang out for a week painting my grandmas house and paddling in Sort and left to Sickline.

Sickline was great, there was 7 of us from Sort so the drive went by pretty fast. Once there it's a great life, wake up, eat, kayak and sleep. It was great to sleep on nice beds and cook in a kitchen after so many months of traveling and camping!
The race started really good for me, winning the qualification and quarter finals, made the super final in second place as lucky loser after Sam knocked me out on semis but my final run wasn't good enough and ended up taking 4th. Started off and hit a rock, what made me make more mistakes and  not have a nice rhythm, felt slow throughout all the course and yeah I was almost 2 seconds slower… Hope to learn from this year and be more prepared next year!!

Right after Sick-Line we flew back to BC to finish the Red Bull project as we needed Fall lows water flows. Everything went great and went back home.

I spent some time paddling in Sort, went surfing in France and the Basque Country, got sick for a week and flew to Chile which took a bit lover than expected as I had to spend a couple days in Panamá as they didn't want to let my boat in the plane once there… 

Anyways summer and fall were great, lots of kayak in amazing places like the Stikine, Revelstoke, Sick-Line… overall an awesome time a bit busier than expected but sweet times. Now I'm hanging out in Chile where I'll be all winter long escaping the cold and enjoying the great rivers and places this country has to offer.


My White Water Grand Prix

For the first two weeks of May I went to Canada to paddle and compete at the White Water Grand Prix in Ontario and Quebec. The WWGP is a 6 stage competition (3 freestyle and 3 racing events) over 15 days on some of the biggest white water!

I had been racing and doing quite a bit of creeking before the event, but I hadn't sat on a play boat for a while and specially for a big and cold wave like the ones they have in Canada, so I was pretty nervous about the freestyle events.

It all started really good with Stage 1 - Big Trick Contest on Gladiator, Ottawa. We had an awesome sunny day with a nice wave and lots of positive energy. I felt good in the wave and managed to land a few big tricks that later on would give me a 5th place finish, I was pretty happy with it!

We then moved on with Stage 2 - BoaterX at the Rouge river. We had a time trial and then the boaterX. I made onto semis and then got unfairly disqualified at the finish line unable to made it into the finals. I was pretty disappointed with this result as the decision was wrong and I lost a bunch of points that would later affect on the overall ranking.

Stage 3 was the Time Trial on the Shawinigan river, we gad three runs and the two best counted. The race was super short (under 1 minute), I had an ok first run, a bad second and a good third. Not stoked with my racing but luckily it was enough for a 4th place finish.

Stage 4 was on Black Mass on the Mistassini, a really big, fast and dynamic wave that allows for a lot of moves but it's pretty tricky. However I did some good tricks during training I didn't manage to put a ride together for the competition which put me in 15th place, another result I'm disappointed with due the fact that I didn't throw any trick…

Stage 5 was the Freestyle Showdown also on the Mistassini river, we surfed an amazing wave that allowed for every trick and awesome rides. I couldn't have the ride I wanted but I was able to put some tricks together and came away with a 9th place.

Last Stage 6 was the Giant Slalom on the Base Caché river close to Quebec city. We had two runs, I had a 1.20 on my first and a 1.17 on my second that would have given me the win if it wasn't because I touched one of the only 4 gates there were on the course… Bummed about that for sue but it was over!

At the end a 5th place overall which I'm happy with but I want to think that I could have paddled a lot better, specially on the races. The Grand Prix is a tricky event with lots of great paddlers, constant changes and some difficulties, so I'm happy I was able to improve my 7th place finish from 2011. I'm hoping I can paddle the way I want on the next edition!


South Island and the PNW

For the last 15 days of our stay in NZ we decided to go down to the South Island to paddle on the West Coast and do a couple fun races. Unfortunately things didn't go as planned with me getting hurt on the first race.

The day after we arrived was the Citroen race, an awesome BoaterX down a big volume rapid called Citroen on the Kawerau river in Queenstown. A really fun rapid with a cool entrance around a big boulder in the middle followed by some big crashing waves and diagonals, and the walk is not too bad! I got there Saturday morning and did a couple laps before the event to get to know the rapid a bit, then we started the boaterX. I did a few rounds and after a few heats advanced to the final. 

Unfortunately though as I pushed off the ramp and landed in the water another competitor landed on me so the bow of his boat hit my hip really hard. That moment I paralyzed and screamed like never before, so much pain! I tried to paddle but I had no power and the pain was really high, but I was floating fast into to rapid so I had to do something… I paddled/floated down the rapid and eventually ended up at the bottom where I got out of my boat. I couldn't walk but I did float down to the take out. Thanks Brad for carrying my stuff and driving me around! 

I had to rest for the next three weeks, the pain eventually decreased being able to walk and move around but not able to do any king of effort or sport, and to this day my hip still gets sore after an hour in my boat.

I'm now finally back on the Pacific North West, specifically White Salmon in the Washington/Oregon border by the Columbia river. The Gorge is an amazing place, extremely beautiful and wild it offers many awesome runs really close by, and the amount of kayakers in town is huge, so there's always someone keen to go for a lap!

Big storms early spring made the levels rise from low to extremely high after a really dry winter, and now we have perfect water levels on all drainages! 

My favorite one is the Little White Salmon, only 15 minutes away offers the best amount of white water per lap; super fun moves, drinkable water and amazing old rain forest.
There are a lot of paddlers here this Spring including my brother so we are always going to the Ldub, it's really good!
So all in all life's real good! Stoked to be where I am and doing what I love. Thanks y'all!