In freestyle kayaking, the World Championships are the highlight of the competition calendar. They take place every 2 years and a popular topic among athletes is always the quality and character of the competition’s feature.
In July 2021, GB Freestyle is due to host the next World Championships in Nottingham. At 700 metres long, the whitewater course boasts half a dozen freestyle features, many of which could have been potential sites for the Worlds event. Ultimately, the second hole on the course, known as Twin, was selected as the best candidate. After months of testing and tweaking various configurations, the Worlds Hole was finalised and constructed on the 6th of October.
Since then, I have been fortunate enough to paddle it almost daily. In normal times, there would probably be an influx of international athletes itching to try it for themselves. In the context of a pandemic, perhaps not so much. So, here’s a summary of the anatomy and dynamics of the much-anticipated 2021 World Championships feature:
1. It’s Friendly
Historically, Twin has been known as a powerful, rowdy feature that, if you weren’t paying attention, was more than happy to dish out a good spanking. The current configuration is not like that. It has a more mellow character. You don’t have to wrestle with it to get where you want to go.
2. It Has Great Eddy Service
There is a large eddy downstream on river right with another, smaller one on river left. Both give straight forward access to the hole. Typically, people use the river right eddy for access as you won’t catch the other if you flush.
3. It’s Really Deep
There is absolutely no way you are going to bottom-out anywhere in this hole. This has to be one of my favourite aspects of the feature. You can put absolutely everything you’ve got into a plug and not be worried about damaging your precious, precious carbon. When you get it just right, it serves up some huge air.
4. It Has a Relatively Flat Ramp
There’s not too much else to say about this part. It makes lunar orbit variations quite fun to do. For those who are familiar with Europe’s best playspots, it’s steeper than Plattling but flatter than Millau.
5. Water Level Has an Impact
The best reference for the river level on the whitewater course is the Colwick gauge. You can also find it on RiverApp. I first paddled the feature at around the 2 metres mark on this gauge. For context, the course closes to the public at 2.2 metres but it is not uncommon for the river to surpass 3 metres during Winter. The level has been dropping daily since my first session and its quality seems to have improved accordingly. The left lateral in particular feels more well-defined and the foam pile seems more consistent. Currently, the level is sitting around 1.3 metres.
6. Every Trick is Possible
By now, I have seen pretty much every trick successfully performed in the Worlds feature. I think most would agree, right-hand moves are easier to set up and stick than left.
7. There’s a Push from Right to Left
In the pit and in the foam pile, there is a notable push from surfer's right to left. This has become more pronounced as the river level has dropped. It's one of the more unique characteristics of this feature and I believe it will have a significant impact on the type and sequence of tricks people choose for their competition rides come July next year.
Having spent the last year travelling around Europe in my van, sampling the best playspots on offer, I can confidently say that this is a world-class feature. It has everything you need to produce spectacular rides. The only question remains, will we see a 2000-point ride happen? I expect so. So, get training!