Winter Paddling – Rio Style

Rob and Carmen – Pacific Reach

On Dec 4th, after 22 hours of travelling, Rob, Carmen, Carrie, Richard, Leanne, Lucy, and Brian (our manager) from Pacific Reach arrived into Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The weather in Rio averages between 26-33 degrees, with humidity up to 90.

Before the race weekend we paddled around the shores to see the spectacular landscape while testing the 12 foot swells and wind conditions around Sugar Loaf, Copacabana Beach and Ipanema Beach waters. The endless beach of Copacabana is covered with beautiful Brazilian bronze bodies in colorful “body strings”.

The Rio Va’a was well attended with visiting teams came from Italy, Argentina, California, Hong Kong and other surrounding Brazilian Clubs. The majority of the teams were Men’s crews. The Tahitian teams had cancelled.

On the 1st race day, they unloaded the new Tahitian rudderless OC1’s for the races at the Praia Vermelha Beach (boats made by Ron Williams, 1 of the 3 Rons who used to live in Vancouver and paddled with the Blade Runners DB team). The OC1 races ran smoothly in the blazing 33 degrees heat. Later in the afternoon teams were paired up at random for V12s as demonstration races for the beach crowd.

On the V6 race day, the weather turned for the worse into a huge rainstorm. Teams arrived at 7:00am to rig the V6’s bearing torrential rain conditions and hovering under sun umbrellas for hours until the race officials decided it was somewhat safer to begin the race. After long debates the race course was compromised due to the rainstorm and poor visibility, reducing the original 34km course to 24km iron. The entrance to the bay of the race site was pounded by turbulent waves that pulled the boats towards the boulders from multiple directions, but at the same time pushes them back into the middle of the “washing machine”. That was Mother Nature?s gateway to test every team’s leap of faith in each other as a crew to pass the pit. The helicopter and safety boat video crews were cancelled due to safety reasons. After the race everyone was welcomed into the beach restaurant for a buffet and a very generous awards ceremony.

This was a great location and unforgettable experience for racing in difficult water conditions. Rio is a very beautiful and modern city with a lot of history and interesting architecture. Brazilian bbq buffets and local cuisine are great. Beer is $1 – $2 Cdn and is available on all beaches. The national drink is Caipirinha which is a killer version of Mojitos. The local Portuguese language and sign language is easy to pick up.

Thank you to Nicolas and his Rio Va’a Clube for their kind hospitality and Nicholas’ passion to make this venue a success. Ola and Seasons Greetings from Rio de Janeiro!


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