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Liquid Life Festival 2006, Scotland. Event report and results.
I woke up looking out of the window. Down below I could see Edingburgh, Scotlands famous city, and the pilot informed us about cold weather and rain. Just as I had expected..
My first encounter with Scotland was at the wee age of 16, when I had escaped the Norwegian autumn to become a backpacker for a week on the outer Hebrides. I had found beautiful beaches, sunshine and friendly people, and the memory of a stunning country has always made me want to go back. So then, last weekend, I did.
Liquid Life Festival
The Liquid Life Festival was in its third year, and I had already heard lots of great stories about it. A weekend with lots of kayakers at all levels having fun and simply enjoying being kayakers. There were races scheduled for rafts, topo duos, OC1, C1 and of course K1. Palm's own Mikey Abbot met me at the airport and I couldn't help starting to giggle when I got outside the terminal, spotting the vehicle of choice with a grinning Liz Bell in the front seat. Allan Ellard was hiding in the back seat, or it might be the fact that he could not move that made him stay inside. Liz's mum (hey, the pudding was great!) had given us her car to use for the weekend, and it is one of those typical British cars that are so small that you really can not fit four kayakers with a load of gear inside. But we did anyways…
And off we went, to the festival, about one hour north of Edinburgh, and the lovely town of Pitlochry. The scenery is marvellous, with green rolling hills, charming little towns and a darn hard-to-understand Scottish accent!
It all kicked off with a party on Friday night, which we unfortunately missed, but we considered ourselves lucky when we met some of the rather hung-over competitors the next day… Cheesy and Tim from Dagger Europe rallied a Nomad for me to use for the race, thanks a lot! I found it perfect, as the race course had low water and was technical at some places, and of course, with a little bit of flat water work-out in between the rapids. The Nomad was forgiving on the shallow bits, and fast on the flats, and not to mention how it matches my drytop… (hey, that was a joke!)
The finish line crosses the river just below a double drop, a super sweet class four rapid with lots of action potential! This was also were most of the spectators were placed, making sure the competitors got cheered all the way across the finish line.
Saturday was a busy day, with pre-lims for Open Men, Masters, Juniors, C1, OC1, Women, Men's Pro, topo duos and rafters. My impression is that Scotland has some fine and upcoming young paddlers, as the juniors often had some of the cleaner lines off the bottom drops. The most entertaining part was the topo racers, with their synchronised bracing technique and not so synchronised rolling attempts at times. I take my hat off for the OC1'ers, it is pure madness to try and boof a vessel like an open canoe and manoeuvre down a pretty solid class four rapid. Good work everybody!
And then, I have to brag about the women of course. I could not believe my own eyes, we were put up with EIGHT heats. In a boatercross event! For me this was pretty much revolutionary, as even in the Teva Mountain games in Italy we had only three heats. Ladies, way to go!
To everyone of you I raced with, and the ones I did not get to race with, I will see you next year, and keep up the good work. Lots of paddling and big smiles….
A lot got decided in the start of the course, in all classes. You can either aim for the main flow which funnels through a narrow shoot, or you can sneak off to the side and try and cut in front of the heat. From there it was pretty much flatwater sprinting down to the first rapid, a technical rapid with an undercut which was furiously guarded by rescue people with full face helmets… many paddlers got a helping push out from the undercut, so thanks a lot for watching us, rescue people! Another flat section lead down towards the final rapids, where a few people took a swim, some got trashed and others had good lines, all in all just a great entertainment spot. In the men's class Matt Cooke was determined to grab the victory, and paddled across the finish line as number one in the finals. Mike Abbot from New Zealand was on a close second spot, and Allan Ellard claimed the bronze.
In the women's class Linsey Evans proved her skills by sneaking in front of the heat from the start, leading the pack all the way down and over the finish line. I made it to a second place, and Jenny Grimes followed us to a third place.
The Night Life
Due to being in Scotland, Allan and Mike purchased two huge bottles of whiskey for the Saturday night fever… Liz and myself felt a bit more conservative and got a nice bottle of wine from the local store, along with some really nice Wellies (rubber boots) that I even brought home with me. The party scene was a big mud pit due to heavy rain, but it did not seem to affect anyone. Everybody had their rain jackets on, matching rubber boots and a big grin on their faces. The video from the day's racing was shown, and a lot of whiskey got drunk. In the end, I crawled into my tent feeling very satisfied with a great day of racing, socializing and the normal amount of shared river stories.
I have to give the organizers thumbs up for a well organized event, where the participants were usually the ones not on time for their races, and not the other way around. Not to mention names, Cheesy, but… As a part of the Seven Down series I hope this will draw even more participants for next year's event, and I personally think that next year we should make sure there are more women than men competing!
Thanks a lot to all the volunteers, spectators and competitors for a great weekend.
See you out there!
- Matt Cook
- Mikey Abbott
- Allan Ellard
- Gordon Ross
- Tim Byrne
- Giles Trussel
- Lynsey Evans
- Mariann Saether
- Jenny Grimes
- Jonathon Noblett
- Michael Houston
- Paul McGinlay
- Martin Kingham
- Paul Tompkins
- Iain Williamson
- Jamie Burbeck
- John Lowell
- Dave Girling
- Stu Morris
- Jamie Burbeck
- Tom Lill
- Bob and Debs
- Mark And Craig Willment
- Tim Vollum and the boys from Wales
- GB Ladies