Jane Koopman 07/12/2015 | Posted in 2015 WW Events, Chile, Whitewater
I have been on a road trip through central Chile with a group of students from Maine over the last few weeks and the timing worked out perfectly for us to stop by Ñuble Fest a few weekends ago and join some of the racing and festivities after visiting the Maipo Valley and Los Quines.
The Ñuble is another stunning Chilean river that holds mile upon miles of spectacular whitewater. It starts big up in the mountains and mellows out as the valley gets flatter. The lower section of river that is near the town of San Fabian contains numerous delightful class II-III rapids, many of which are quite long but all of which end in big pools. It was a great section to practice boofs and hole dodging. We warmed up on this section on Friday evening when we arrived and after another warm up lap on Saturday morning took part in some of the races.
Ñuble Fest was started 10 years ago by the late John Clark who died tragically this past spring. John was instrumental in bringing the sport and industry of whitewater rafting and paddling to the small riverside town of San Fabian. He was also the key player in rallying the town to defend its river against HydoNuble, a large hydro electric project that is currently under construction along the river.The Festival is now both a celebration of John’s life, as well as a rallying cry that carries on his message to continue to fight to protect this spectacular river.
We had arrived too late on Friday to participate in the down river and time trial racing that took place on the class IV-V section upstream, but as that was a little over the head of my students, the class II-III- slalom and boater cross that took place in a sunny and viewer friendly curve of the river near town was perfect for them and any other new boaters that were interested in racing.
The courses started at a steep wooden ramp above the rapid and finished on a beach below it. The slalom course was comprised of 5 gates, 3 upstream placed in rather tricky spots in 3 large eddies, and 2 downstream, one of which was sandwiched tightly against a wall with a wave pillowing off of it. The boater cross format was head to head matches that started from the launch ramp and continued downriver to the last slalom gate and then the beach. The downstream racer off the ramp certainly had an advantage, but many an upstream racer were able to take advantage of the gate and make it the deciding factor in the races outcome.
It was a super fun day and a great opportunity to get new boaters excited about river festivals and racing. We will definitely be making a point to bring our group back to this event next year.
I ended up taking first of the 4 ladies, congratulations to Pangal Andrade for taking the Mens over all and thank you to everyone for a super fun weekend!