Freestyle Champs in Parys

Freestyle Kayak 2013

No. Not in Paris – France, but in Parys – Freestate!

Yeah, South Africa’s National Freestyle Kayak Championships was held this past weekend on the Gatsien Wave in Vaal River, organised by REAL Adventures, with assistance from White Water Training.

With an influx into the sleepy town of Parys for the annual Dome Festival, the Freestyle Kayak Championships also received proper attention, and many spectators gathered on the granite slabs at Gatsien to witness the event. A week before the event competitors already started streaming in, to train in local conditions and everything indicated that whoever was going to win the crown will have to really work for it!

Deon Breytenbach from Tzaneen, two times consecutive winner of the event was no exception. Being one of the first arrivals he was preparing for a hat trick. What makes this supreme kayaker hailing from the Blyde River so great is that winning is not his primary goal. Trailblazerguide asked him about his expectations, and without hesitation he replied “To have fun!”

And that’s what it was all about.

With coöperation from Department Water Affairs, sufficient water was released from the upstream Barrage to create the perfect wave for the competition. The first heats started just after 9am in the morning, with woman’s, beginner, intermediate and expert classes competing.

Beginner and Intermediate paddlers were having great fun, honing their skills alongside more experienced freestyle kayakers, who were always ready with words of encouragement and support. River guide Khulumani Siablyo showed great promise in the intermediate class, and great things can be expected from him in future.

More and more women are becoming involved in kayaking, and this year’s freestyle championship saw a huge increase in female participation, allowing for women beginners and intermediate classes. Inke Kruger won the woman’s intermediate, with Tammy Muir in Second Place.

Beginner men saw Morne Barnard walking away with the laurels, and Vincent Venter won intermediate men.

The expert class delivered to expectation with healthy rivalry. After an intense final session Parys local kayaker Phillip Claasens stole victory from Deon Breytenbach, proving that past performance does not predict future outcomes in this highly unpredictable and competitive sport. Luke Longridge and Deon Breytenbach followed close on Phillip’s heels at 3rd and 2nd place respectively.

An event like this requires dedication and commitment from the organizers, and reliable sponsors.

REAL Adventures  took the responsibility on them as the main organizer, and executed the job in style. Spectators were well entertained and groovy music spread over the whitewater of the Vaal, giving competitors a beat to dance to! Being one of the most reputable adventure companies in Parys, the kayak community expected nothing less from REAL, who has a proven track record and a long list of very satisfied clients. Check them out if you are ever close to Parys and in need of adventure.

White Water Training also did its share in making the event a success, and their representative, Tammy, made sure that the South African Kayak Community stayed updated and psyched in the run-up to the event.

Fluid, the local kayak manufacturer with international acclaim gave away from radical prizes in the lucky draw that made for some very happy faces. Whether you want to run your next insane waterfall, tackle a unique expedition or just want to have some fun – don’t forget to consider their well designed line up of kayaks and sit-on-tops for your next adventure.

With impressive growth in numbers during the 2013 season, good support from local manufacturer Fluid Kayaks, Guide Companies like REAL Adventures and Whitewater Training, freestyle kayaking is destined to grow into an event that can hold its ground against its overseas peers.


Watch out for the event videos coming to the trailblazerguide YouTube Page soon!

Follow us on Facebook or twitter: @trailblazerguid to make sure you don’t miss out!

by Franz Fuls. 6 November 2013

All commercial mentions in this post are unsolicited. The author holds no commercial interest in any of the companies mentioned, and just feels that they need the proper recognition for their efforts to grow and promote the sport.


About Franz Fuls

Adventurer Freelance Journalist Photographer Bunny Hugger Engineer January 2014 I depart on a 2,500km eco-expedition called Triwaters Tour. The website link is in my profile. Go check it out.

2 comments on “Freestyle Champs in Parys

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