The Czech Women's team competing in Brazil.

The Czech Women’s team passing Brazil on their way to victory in Indonesia.

Ask the Brazilian rafting team how important the upcoming canoeing and kayaking events are on their home waters at the 2016 Rio Olympics and you might just get a shrug. Just a half year before the Olympic Games come to Rio, they showed that they’re the cream of the crop in the rafting world, winning both the men’s and women’s U23 categories, as well as the Open Men’s division at the World Rafting Championships in Indonesia.

Brazil also won the R6 World Champions in 2007, 2009 and 2013.

The USA, meanwhile, finished a disappointing 16th overall with a total of 374 points, after finishing 20th in the sprint event, 18th in the head-to-head race, 16th in slalom, and 13th in the downriver race. The USA women fared better with an 8th place overall finish, tallying a total of 606 points, with 9th-place showings in sprint, head-to-head and slalom before surging to a 6th-place finish in the event’s final downriver event.

The New Zealand men's team charging downriver.

The New Zealand men’s team charging downriver.

In the end, it came down to the final day’s downriver race, a grueling 14 kilometers of rapids and rocks through technical water. With rafts free to move around above the finish line until the gun went off, New Zealand crossed the finish line first at 49:51.72 after a back and forth battle with Brazil. But Brazil finished right behind them, procuring enough points for the overall title while barley missing a clean sweep of all events. New Zealand’s victory was more impressive considering captain Paul Roozendaal became ill the night before yet still led his team to victory before spending the next 24 hours in the medical tent on an IV.

Host Indonesia on its home waters took third in the downriver at 50:11.22, the first time they’ve won any medal at a WRC event.

New Zealand ended up second overall with Argentina winning the bronze.

For the women, Czech, a paddling powerhouse who first won the Open Women World Championship in 2001 then again in 2005, 2007 and 2011, won the top spot yet again with a dominating performance in all disciplines.

In the younger divisions, Russia was the U19 champions in both the Men’s and Women’s categories, defending its showing from the last World Championships. “The efforts Russia is putting in to its Youth rafting teams is certainly paying off and will certainly also show benefits in the years to come,” says IRF board member Rafael Gallo.

In U23, Brazil took first in both the Men’s and Women’s categories, with each team barely missing out on making a clean sweep of all disciplines; Brazil came in just behind Indonesia’s who won the U23 Men’s downriver; and U23 Women by the Czechs, who won the slalom.

Full Results: www.internationalrafting.com