The Quebec, Canada-based Whitewater Grand Prix is to kayaking what Quicksilver's In Memory of Eddie Aikau is to surfing: an invitation only event that brings the sport’s top athletes to a premier venue. There’s no cash purse but the whitewater is so good--12-foot play waves, big water Class V--that 25 top kayakers from nine countries footed the bill to compete in this year’s six-staged event. Freestyle competitions and down river races will be held throughout the next two weeks. He or she who finishes with the most points will be crowned the Grand Prix Champion. Dagger’s Team Manager Andrew Holcombe, who was invited but is not competing because of an injury, put the event in perspective, “It’s worth competing because the whitewater is so epic.”
The competition started in earnest yesterday with the Big Trick contest at Gladiator, a 12-foot standing wave on the Ottawa River that had been surfed by only five kayakers before the event.
“It’s so massive it’s intimidating just to surf it,” says Joel Kowalski, a local paddler who discovered the wave three years ago. The winner of yesterday's stage has not been announced. Below are photos and video from the competition. Today, competitors travels to the Rouge River in Quebec for the first of three downriver races in the series. Stay posted for updates. For more information on some of the paddlers competing in the event, read this story on the Demshitz in Canoe & Kayak magazine.
Photos by Miles Clark