Canada’s largest whitewater festival returns to Petawawa - May 11 to 13
Petawawa, ON March 1, 2012 – Now in its fourth year, the Hell or High Water Weekend, presented by Ottawa Paddleshack. has grown to become the largest whitewater event in the country. Held from May 11 to 13, this year's event has added dragon boat races on the flat water of the Ottawa River, and is expected to draw close to 1000 participants. Bringing together multiple whitewater disciplines, on a challenging course, the event has grown rapidly in popularity. Unique to the Hell or High Water event, the raft race allows even inexperienced rafters to test their mettle against some of the best teams in the country, and learn more about whitewater paddlesports in the process.
Jon Booren, a three-year participant and member of the top competitive Canadian raft team attests to the quality of the event, noting that in particular “It is an awesome event. Hell or High Water really provides a great venue for our sport. It brings new people out to experience whitewater. It is delivered in a safe environment, but it still provides plenty of excitement, and spectators are able to watch some of the country’s top whitewater athletes race a great course.” Registration opens on March 1 and will sell out quickly, so if you are interested in entering, get your teams in now. All the details are on the www.hohw.ca event website. Hell or High Water Weekend began in 2009. A small event comprised of mostly Ottawa Valley boaters, who came to the river to show their support against the pending loss of this river to a hydro project. Since then, the event has grown to more than 400 participants from across the country. The 2012 event continues to grow, adding more activities and more racers to the roster.
The festival gets started with the Town of Petawawa bringing the best in paddling films to the public with a showing of the Reel Paddling Film Festival on Friday night at the Civic Centre. Proceeds from the event are being used to help build and maintain the water-based recreational spaces within Petawawa. The on-water events begin early Saturday morning, with canoes, rafts and kayaks racing all day from the “Railroad” rapid off Wilson Avenue to the Centennial Park “Catwalk”. This is a great venue to take in the action, with music, outdoor sports and food vendors and plenty to see and do.
Not to be missed, for the first-time event, dragon boat teams will hit the Ottawa River running a 200 metre course along the Petawawa Point beach. These long boats, powered by the brute force and sheer determination of 20 paddlers, will be racing head-to-head with practice races on Saturday and the finals on Sunday. Believe it or not, these boats and paddlers actually have enough power to tow a waterskier.
“These dragon boats are amazing and the races, while competitive, have a really a friendly atmosphere,” says Mike Crouzat, one of the event organizers. “You don’t need any experience in dragon boats, all the equipment is provided, and the money we raise goes to a great cause. We’re hoping that clubs, sports teams, businesses or even large families or neighbours will join forces and enter a team. Maybe even make this a Mother’s Day to remember!”
Other new events this year include free (by donation) action sports photography clinics offered by John Rathwell Photography (www.johnrathewellphotography.com). As a skier, paddler and general outdoors sports fan, Rathwell has been shooting action sports for many years, with a particular focus on whitewater and paddling sports. Although digital SLR cameras are preferred, all are welcome and the one hour clinics have a lot to offer experienced and amateur shutterbugs alike."
If you are interested in entering a team in either the raft race or the dragon boat race, all the money raised is being donated to three charities that are close to the hearts of people within the local area: Whitewater Ontario, Algonquin College’s Capital Campaign and Soldier On. For event details or to register visit www.hohw.ca
Hell or High Water Weekend, supported by Ottawa Paddleshack, is one of Canada’s largest whitewater paddlesports festivals. Incorporating multiple disciplines – canoe, kayak, raft, dragon boat – in both whitewater and flatwater, the event celebrates the rivers and recreational opportunities available in the Ottawa Valley. Hell Or High Water also raises funds for causes that are close to the hearts of those in this community.
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