The Devils Extreme Race 2018
By Pavlina Zasterova, Photos by Jan Homolka.
With the last weekend of August comes the traditional Devils Extreme Race – the most popular extreme race on the European paddling scene. For 12 years now, kayakers from all around the world have come to paddle on Devil´s streams to show their skills. The 12th edition provided quality paddling from morning to evening, the legendary Hell-train shuttle, plus nights full of dance, music, and fun.
Devils Extreme Race has been one of the biggest races in Europe for the past 12 years, and has continued to grow in numbers and quality every year. Despite the fact that the weather forecast promised strong rain and cold for the whole weekend, the 12th edition of the Devil’s Extreme Race lived up to the hype and was bigger and better than ever.
Devils Extreme Race is a weekend full of paddling on the most beautiful section of the Vltava River-the Devil’s Streams- great music bands, and other fun, such as an arm wrestling match, great races with prize money to be won, and great prizes from Hiko and Represent Clothes Brand. A highlight of the festival is always the legendary Helltrain shuttle, which organizers arranged to go almost every half of hour on Saturday.
The 2018 start list was full of world class athletes. Besides the normal Czech and traditional European countries there were kayakers from as far away as Ecuador, Costa Rica, New Zealand, and Argentina. Three races, a qualification race, a kayak cross and long race called Dam to Dam, all counted towards the overall rankings. The races move from section to section on the Vltava River, slowly progressing downstream throughout the fun-filled day.
This year, the Kayak cross started a few meters further upstream than in previous years and required all four kayakers in each heat to touch the banner. Italy’s Michele Ramazza was the fastest; Mike Dawson finished second and Stefan Hengst third. Frenchman Eric Deguil dominated the mass-start Marathon race once again, with Michele Ramazza in second and Mike Dawson in third. Competition was tight to see who would take the largest portion of the 1000 Euro Prize, generously provided by ZET kayaks. The Overall winner of Devils Extreme Race 2018 was Michele Ramazza, with Mike Dawson second and former champion Eric Deguil in third. In the Women’s class, the prize money was distributed among the winner Pavlína Zástěrová, second place finisher Bety Brabcová and Lucka Šedivá, who was third.
The 2018 Devils Race also hosted the final of Extreme Kayak European Cup. The three best results of each kayaker from the Bzhuzha Race, Outdoormix Festival, King of Alps, Ekstremsport Veko and Devils Extreme Race were compiled and put towards an over-all ranking. Andi Brunner from Austria had already secured first place before the Devil’s Stream event, and could race happy knowing he had already won 1000 euros. Frenchman Eric Deguil took second to add another 600 euros to his earnings, and Italy’s Michele Ramazza was third, for an additional 300 euros. The women’s category of 2018 European tour in was dominated by Bety Brabcová.
Like every year, the organizers of the Devils Extreme Race are focused on making sure there is fun for everyone during the weekend. This year below the dam, in addition to the normal racing program there was the Czech Cup in slalom, downriver races and rafting competitions on Saturday and Sunday. Though a busy day of racing and rich prize money are great for the biggest athletes, the great party and concerts the Devil’s Race is known for are for everyone! There was no shortage of prizes in 2018. This year, one lucky kayaker was chosen at random from the start-list and went home with brand new rodeo boat from EXO! Following last year’s success, there was an Arm wrestling match once again where the strongest people won prizes from Hiko. All who come to Loučovice this year found something to enjoy, from the fun, welcoming vibe of the event, to the races, the concerts, the party, the scenery, and of course the sense of comradery that comes from sharing a weekend on the water.