UNLEASHED x Uganda

The legendary waters of the White Nile play host to the second edition of this progressive, multi-stage extreme kayak invitational

It’s baaaack. After making its debut last spring in Quebec, the second edition of UNLEASHED has taken its show to the legendary waters of the White Nile in Uganda. This four-stage event has taken the mantel from the highly progressive format of the Whitewater Grand Prix as it looks to push whitewater competition to the limit. Held from January 5-13, the Send crew (Kalob Grady, Dane Jackson, Adrian Mattern, and Bren Orton) invited some of the world’s best to compete in their big-water extravaganza.

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Stage 1 – Big Trick Freestyle

While there are countless amazing waves for freestyle on the White Nile, the UNLEASHED organizers felt that only the gnarliest of them all would suitable for this competition. Therefore the Cuban Wave, one of the most infamous waves on the entire river, was chosen as the perfect site for the Big Trick Freestyle.

Super bouncy and sometimes downright out of control, the Cuban Wave can be frightening in and of itself. But that’s not all; numerous large holes loom behind this monstrous wave, forcing paddlers to stay on their games even after their rides.

Men’s Top-3:

  1. Dane Jackson (USA)
  2. Bren Orton (Great Britain)
  3. Kalob Grady (Canada)

Women’s Top-3:

  1. Darby McAdams (USA)
  2. Amina Nakirya (Uganda)
  3. Aoife Harrahan (Ireland)

Stage 2 – Dead Dutchman Boater X

For the Boater X, which many consider to be the the most dangerous stage of UNLEASHED x Uganda, athletes were forced to swallow hard and get ready to go head-to-head down the Dead Dutchman rapid. Steeped in legend, the Dead Dutchman is one of the biggest and scariest rapids on the entire river, a fact which becomes even more evident considering several athletes decided to bow out of this stage entirely.

Navigating around and through nightmarish holes while paddling tiny freestyle kayaks, each heat of six boaters experienced their fair share of carnage and chaos as they fought to the finish. Case in point:

Men’s Top-5:

  1. Sadat Kawawa (Uganda)
  2. Yusuf Basalirwa (Uganda)
  3. Dane Jacks0n (USA)
  4. Raoul Collenteur (Netherlands)
  5. Quentin Kennedy (Canada)

Women’s Results:

  1. Darby McAdams (USA)
  2. Amina Nakirya (Uganda)

Stage 3 – Best Ride Competition

After enduring two stages on some of the most hair-raising rapids the White Nile has to offer, competitors were given a slight reprieve for the Best Ride Competition which was staged on one of the most famous big waves in the world, the Nile Special. For this event, the competition format was simple: athletes were given six attempts to pull of their best possible ride within 90-seconds. Big tricks, style, amplitude and flow throughout the entire ride would all be accounted for to give the competitors their final score. 

Men’s Top-3:

  1. Dane Jackson (USA)
  2. Kalob Grady (Canada)
  3. Quim Fontane (Catalonia)

Women’s Top-3:

  1. Darby McAdams (USA)
  2. Katie Kowalski (Canada)
  3. Lowri Davies (Great Britain)

Stage 4 – Mass Start

The final stage of UNLEASHED was specifically designed to promote chaos and madness. The grand finale took shape as a mass start race that combined both the men and women as all 29 athletes simultaneously charged down the Hair of the Dog rapid. Providing one final opportunity to shake up the overall standings, the entire field of competitors battled it out for their chance to reign supreme. Needless to say, this event was an absolute spectacle…

Top-5 Finishers:

  1. Kalob Grady (Canada)
  2. Dane Jackson (USA)
  3. Quim Fontane (Catalonia)
  4. Sadat Kawawa (Uganda)
  5. Craig Ayres (Great Britain)

Women’s Overall Results:

  1. Darby McAdams (USA)
  2. Amina Nakirya (Uganda)
  3. Katie Kowalski (Canada)

Men’s Overall Results:

  1. Dane Jackson (USA)
  2. Yusuf Basalirwa (Uganda)
  3. Kalob Grady (Canada)

To see more images from UNLEASHED x Uganda, check out competitor-contributor Seth Ashworth coverage of the event on C&K’s Instagram feed.

Photo: Ashworth