May 17-19—The world’s top paddlers gathered in Beachburg, Ontario to compete in the Ottawa XL during one of the highest water years in over a decade. The two-day inaugural event featured a big wave surf contest and a boatercross race. The top athletes overall will qualify for the 2014 Whitewater Grand Prix and the chance to shatter the limits of whitewater competition.
Day one found the top freestyle athletes throwing tricks and catching major air on the monster Gladiator Wave. Paddlers each had two-minute rides (max), and only the best three tricks during the ride were taken. Ottawa local Hal Monkman started the day off with a huge pan am that shattered his carbon boat. 2012 Whitewater Grand Prix Champion Dane Jackson got pitched from the top of the wave backwards and upside down, but managed to stay on wave and finish his ride in style.
The ladies were no less impressive. Four women competed and threw some big air moves. Ottawa’s own Katrina Van Wijk finished 3rd in the freestyle for the women, and 2012 Whitewater Grand Prix winner Nouria Newman also finished strong.
Day two was the boater cross race, where athletes raced down burly whitewater, battling each other the entire way. The results from both events were totaled to determine the overall placements and qualifiers for the Whitewater Grand Prix.