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Hell Or High Water 10 promises ‘bigger and better’ than ever before


Posted on May 8, 2018

Whitewater canoes, kayaks and rafters to tackle the high spring flows of the Petawawa River

Though late to the party, the return of the sunny weather means the rivers of the Ottawa Valley are starting to fill with water, and with rafters and kayakers eager to test their skills against some of the country’s biggest and best whitewater. Now an annual tradition, this coming Saturday, the Petawawa River will once again play host to hundreds of these thrill-seeking paddlers in Hell or High Water 10.

“We always have great waves and rapids, but with the late start to spring, racers will be facing some of the largest flows the event has ever seen,” explains Mike Crouzat, event co-organizer. “The waves are bigger, the holes are bigger and the race moves much faster than usual which makes for a really exciting and challenging event.”

Hell or High Water (HOHW) is the largest whitewater race in the country and among the largest in the world. The outstanding waves and challenging course draw hundreds of professional and amateur whitewater enthusiasts including Olympic-class slalom boaters and World Cup winning raft teams, as well as attracting recreational team entries to tackle the river in a guided raft. The event will also see hundreds of spectators over the course of the weekend.

“There are very few places where such amazing whitewater rapids are so accessible to the general public,” explains Philip Kompass, event co-organizer. “With the high flows of the river this year, expected to be above 200 cubic meters per second, you can expectthat we will have a lot of action on the river for people to watch and enjoy, even if they aren’t paddlers themselves.”

The race course follows the river from the bridges of the Millenium Trail just off Wilson Avenue in Petawawa, and travels along the paved Emerald Necklace Trail down to the “Catwalk”, with several great spots to view the action along the way. There will be equipment demonstrations, food vendors, childrens’ inflatable bouncers and rock climbing, and lots of friendly paddlers happy to chat about the sport and the paddling opportunities here in the area.

There are some exciting new additions to the line-up for this year, including a Stand Up Paddle board race scheduled for a 12:00 mass start. A SUP board, as they are commonly called, is similar to a surfboard but slightly wider and thicker to provide extra floatation in the whitewater. Racers will be doing their best to keep their feet as they move down the waves in a sprint to the finish. The racers depart from the town bridge and paddle to the short course finish line just above Lovers’ Rapids.

HOHW 10 will also include demonstrations from Capital Cable Park which will be setting up their ‘flyboard’ equipment in the Catwalk Pond. These real life hoverboards will send people up to 20 feet into the air where thepower of the jets allows them to float, spin and maneuver around the water. Capital Cable Park is a cable wakeboarding park located near Davidson Quebec, located only 45 minutes from Petawawa, and has a wide range of watersport options. Spectators are welcome to come by the Catwalk, get a lesson and try out the flyboard for a reduced fee as part of the HOHW event.

“Our slogan for this year is ‘Celebrating a decade of whitewater’, and by all accounts it will be an amazing year!” adds Crouzat. “With great weather, massive whitewater and even bigger smiles, this year will be best event yet!”

Hell or High Water is made possible through the support of NRS, and is run entirely by a small team of volunteers. The event is impeccably organized, has an excellent safety record, and is strongly supported by the Town of Petawawa. It has raised more than $50,000 for community causes close to the hearts of people here in the Ottawa Valley.

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