The leaders at the Adventure Racing World Championships 2021 are now paddling the Rio Sil on a 90km kayaking stage, which they began last night. This is stage 3 of 7 in the race, and the teams have been racing for 45 hours non-stop so far, with a third of the 90 teams reaching the river paddle.
Leading the way is Estonian ACE Adventure – La Sportiva, ahead of Team Blizzard (Russia), and the Swedish Armed Forces Adventure team. All of these teams have international champions at rogaining and orienteering, and consistent route finding and quick navigation has helped keep them in front.
The Estonian team has completed the canyon stage of the river, gradually revealed to them in the dawn light, and the majority of teams will be lucky enough to paddle through in daylight today. The leaders are now wheeling their kayaks on trolleys along a 12km portage (one of the longest ever in AR World Series history) to bypass a large dam. Soon they will move onto the Rio Mino, passing the city of Ourense, where there is another portage and the residents going about their Monday morning business will see them wheeling their kayaks along the riverside!
The Estonian team recently won the European Championships under a different name, but have never yet won a World Series race and their best World Championship finish has been 5th. Blizzard has a best world champs finish of 14th and SAFAT were 3rd in Brazil in 2015.
Just behind them on the river, in 4th and 5th are two more established teams who were strong pre-race favourites. Orbital Adventure Racing (Sweden) have finished 2nd four times and Torpedo Vidaraid are the top Spanish team and been on the podium 3 times. 400team Naturex, who are the world #1 ranked team, are back in 9th place presently.
A great race is developing between these teams and it can all be followed on the live satellite tracking provided by Track The Race.
There is a Track the Race team competing and they are one of the top twenty teams who started to paddle last night, and have Arnau Julia in the team, who is the only Spanish World Champion who is racing.
He was on the winning team in 2010, when the race was also held in Spain, and his captain was the legendary racer Emma Roca, who sadly passed away from cancer recently. Julia said, “I feel a little sad at times in the race, remembering Emma, my friend and captain and there are moments the times we lived together come to mind. For me, the best way to say farewell is doing what she loved the most and we feel she is with us every day.”
Behind the leaders the majority of teams are on the first two stages of the race. A few are still completing the huge stage one trek, and the majority are on the stage two 80km mountain bike ride, which includes a checkpoint in the magnificent castle at Castro de Caldela. Teams have until 16.00 today to reach the end of stage two and avoid the first of two short course cut-offs. Those who arrive later will rest the night, then be transported to Transition 4 at As Pontes to continue the race.[Update; Team Blizzard subsequently missed a checkpoint at the start of the portage. They didn’t realise for some time and had to retrace their steps with the kayak to get it, losing 3 places. They are all top class navigators, but have not slept for two nights now and this simple mistake has been costly. It is often said the team to win the race will be the one making the least mistakes, and the best teams are those who can put mistakes behind them and recover quickly. Now the young Russian team must find the mental toughness to do just that.]
Photos: Adventure Sports Media