Malabar River Festival 2018 – Day0, Welcome to the Jungle
The 2018 Malabar River Festival begins, Kodenchery, India
Words: Anna Bruno
As the monsoons bring the rain in mid-July, the rivers surrounding Kodenchery, India start to flow. Slowly at first, the lush jungle fills with the roar of rapids forming, and the buzz of excitement as kayakers from all over India and 18 countries around the globe make their way to this still relatively unknown whitewater Eden.
Some of the biggest names in kayaking aren’t flocking to this verdant jungle in southwestern India only for a chance to paddle new rivers, but for the opportunity to compete at The Malabar River Festival for one of the biggest cash-purses in whitewater today.
Now in its sixth year, The Malabar River Festival has become a hub for the Asian whitewater scene. More recently, the event organizers have worked hard to grow the local paddling community and reach out to the greater global whitewater community in order to create a truly world-class event on world-class whitewater.
The four-day festival kicks off tomorrow, Wednesday, July 17th, 2018 with a Freestyle competition before moving into a series of races for intermediates and pros alike. Each race will award finishers a point value, giving competitors the chance to earn their spot in the Downriver Super Final for a shot at the big cash prize.
Athletes gathered Monday night in Calicut for a Press Conference, allowing the event participants to meet, mingle and interact with each other as well as the media teams who will be covering the event. Organizers Manik Taneja and Jacopo Nordera invited competitors to the stage. Though many admitted it was their first trip to India, each expressed their joy in being able to partake in such an extraordinary competition and discover somewhere new. Even after a few short days, it seemed that India, and Kerala in particular, was the place to be. » The rivers in India have exceeded my expectations, and they are no joke, » said Nouria Newman as she admitted to an unexpected dip in the river within her first half-hour in the country.
On Tuesday morning, Chechi’s café filled with familiar and unfamiliar faces as visiting paddlers joined the locals ordering Chai and Phulka to fuel up for the day ahead. Nouria Newman hosted an ICF salmon clinic in the morning, attended by more than 25 kayakers from over ten countries, to help local competitors dial in technique before the big race and to develop awareness for the various disciplines whitewater has to offer. Water levels had dropped significantly from the raging torrents of the previous day, and it wasn’t long until the chirping of crickets accompanying the sound of rushing water was overtaken by shouts of glee as paddler after paddler made their way down the Chalipuza River to complete lap after lap on the warm water. The shuttle truck was jammed full of boats and bodies from morning until dusk, the whitewater community already brought together by the river.
The Malabar Festival aims not only to put on one of the best and biggest events in kayaking today, but also hopes to be a venue where kayakers can come to take part, share in and explore a fresh culture, epic food, incredible rivers and a fantastic event where paddlers can forge new friendships through the camaraderie of whitewater.
For an event schedule and more information, visit MalabarFest.com, or check out Malabar River Festival on Facebook and Instagram.