How to Self Rescue—in Class V

Deguil setting his own safety in one of Chile's steep runs during the Whitewater Grand Prix.

Even the titans of whitewater sometimes fall—or, rather, swim. Last November, two-time Whitewater World Series champion Eric Deguil (FR) had his moment during Stage Two of the Whitewater Grand Prix in Chile. His GoPro caught all the action of both his swim through a gnarly hole and his equally impressive self rescue.

Set as the sprint stage, the Puesco River tested 30 of the world’s best kayakers in their creeking ability as they raced down a long series of steep and technical rapids. Each paddler raced alone and under the clock, adding pressure to the already very difficult task of picking perfect lines on the Puesco.

“When I looked at the drop, it looked clean,” Deguil said. “Turns out, it was not clean at all.” Crunching onto a rock and landing in a deep hydraulic forced Deguil out of his boat, and he was not the only one to swim at that rapid. New Zealand’s Mike Dawson also took a dive there.

Deguil plans to submit his video to the Carnage video category for the Tribe Rider of the Year Award, which showcases the best demonstrations of whitewater kayaking throughout the year. Deguil admits his entry will be a little different from most. While most carnage videos are shot from the banks and show rescue teams as well as the destruction, this video offers a first-person account of a class V self-rescue.

With gear and boat more or less intact, Deguil got back in the river to finish the stage—and win it.

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