When I first heard that my boss was going to enter two boats into a raft race on the Jacques-Cartier River in Quebec, I wasn't sure what to think. But, of course, I hopped on the trip. I went partly because it sounded like fun and partly because everyone else was going.
So it turned out the whole Moxie crew was going: Cliff, Phil, Chris, G.W., Billy, Jeanette, Dean, Sarah, Pierce, Kevin, Shaw and myself. The Jacques-Cartier is a pretty cool river just north of Quebec City; and on the drive up, we were all wondering what these serious professional raft racers up there would think of our gaggle of Americans in orange rafts. In the end, we pretty much figured that it would be fun and a great opportunity to raft a new river, so who cares what anyone else thought?
When we got to the meeting place for the race we were pretty stoked. The first people we met were the members of the only other team from the U.S.A.: the West Virginia Team. It was nice to have some people there whose language was understandable. We talked to some of the Canadian locals who were in the race and some of the contest officials. They were all real cool and helpful. They said the Jacques-Cartier was running pretty high: one and a half meters or something like that. We had no idea what the Jacques was like. We had thought it was a class III river, so we were excited to hear that it had some class V rapids. We found out a lot about the race from them and headed down to put-in.
Now, from the first I heard of this race - and how we were going to compete without any practice or racing experience - I pretty much figured we were going to lose. None of us cared though; we were just in it for the experience.
The race went like this: First rapid was a time trial. Team Riot went down first through the class III rapid, apparently to show the line. The time trail just determined the starting positions for the next event (slalom). We ended up at around 7th place out of 12 teams. Not bad.
So we got to the next rapid with the slalom course, got out and scouted it. The rapid was cool (class V chutes and ladders), but the course was hard. We missed three out of six gates, and the gates we did make it through were not clean. To our amazement we were still in 8th place. We were confused, but cool with it.
The next rapid was a downriver style race. We lined up with two other boats at the starting line: the other Moxie Outdoor Adventure boat and this boat of girls from Montreal. The rapid the downriver race was held in was an awesome class V with a river wide hole called "Meatgrinder" - sort of like Exterminator on the Penobscot, but wider. We had a good line and paddled hard right through the rapid. We dusted both the other boats and kept our place.
Then, we came to the lunch-break takeout. We all ate and afterwards it was time for the full river, downriver race. By this point in time our boat figured we would sacrifice our 8th place standing for some really fun hits. Well, we got down to the last class V rapid called "Surprise." Earlier, we had been instructed to take the right line around this island midstream. This was because the left side supposedly had this waterfall that went pretty much straight down. Well, we decided to run left. So we charged the waterfall... When we hit the bottom there was a big hole that that tacoed the boat hard, surfed us, and then violently flipped us. We were thrown into the rocks and recirculated in the hole. Finally, I flushed deep and got to the surface only to look upstream to see the boat still being surfed in the big hole. I hit a lot of rocks and then swam to an eddy where G.W. had finally gotten a hold of the raft.
Needless to say, we showed up at the takeout 30 minutes later looking sort of hurt. Everybody there gave out a good cheer and handed us some beers. All the other racers and spectators had a good laugh, and we smiled.