Event Report: Modi Khola Express 2018 (Nepal)
Words: Kripa Dongol Photos: ©kayaksession.com/Nepal Kayak Club
On October 25-27, 2018 national and international paddlers battled it out on the Modi Khola, an excellent grade 4/5 river nestled inside Nepal’s famous Annapurna Conservation Area while enjoying the view of the iconic Mount Macchapucchre. Organized by Nepal Kayak Club, the Express Series provides an opportunity for local and international kayakers to paddle it out one last time on the mighty rivers of Nepal that are threatened by large hydropower projects. The first two Express Series championships, the Marshyangdi Express 2015 and Bhote Koshi Express 2016, were held on rivers that had proposed dams or dams in the development process. After the success of Modi Khola Express 2017, Nepal Kayak Club returned to the same spot for the 2018 Express series.
On Day One, athletes and visitors braved their first challenge – a bumpy dust filled highway ride from Pokhara- to get to Birethanti for Modi Khola Express II 2018. Then, they headed straight to the river for some practice laps and our mandatory run. At night, two of our participants rolled up for late registrations. When we heard about they day they’d had and the story about the their kayaks falling off the hood of their taxi, taking out the car rack, we had to let them participate. Lucky for us, one of our late shows, Blaz from Slovenia, happened to be one of our top contenders who gave everyone a run for their money. After a day of getting oriented, we were presented with beautiful cultural dances from young kids from the neighboring villages. The kids presented a mix of Nepali folk and film dances, eventually drawing everyone in for a giant impromptu party.
Day Two saw kayakers battle it out in the Downriver Sprint Race. The Top 22 kayakers then proceeded to the Giant Slalom race. To run a grade 4/5 river is one thing, but to have a Giant Slalom race on one is another. This race saw some of our top contenders get beatered in a hole towards the end of the section, and others push their limits to beat the clock. By the end of the day, we had our Top 12 getting ready for the next races while the rest of the crew got to have a banger of a loser’s party.
On Day Three, our Top 12 kayakers battled it out in the Head to Head race to make it to the top six. Our two top contenders, Blaz Oven and Greg Lee, got eliminated in a heartbreaking turn of the events but still continued as troopers into the Boater Cross Races. The Boater Cross Race is a fun category that we run for prize beers, but this year the organizers had sweet surprise: the winner of the BoaterCross would proceed to compete in the Super Finals alongside the Top 6 kayakers. Greg won the Boater Cross Finals bagging a deserving spot on the Super Final, with Blaz coming in a close second. Though it was the end of the competition for him, he was happy for he had won free beers. Our Super Final started just as the sun settled into a golden dusk. Our Top 6 kayakers raced on a slightly longer section, drawing on all their strength at the end of a long day, and gave us our champions. A long weekend had ended, but the party had just started as we moved towards our Night Roll competition, an awesome gig from the Live Rock Band the Blacksmiths and a dance party from our athlete and medic supporter Robin Bushell aka Dj River Liver. And because all that partying and racing wasn’t enough, our athletes got up the next day to paddle the upper Modi section.
In addition to giving the athletes a chance to race on one of the most beautiful sections of the Modi Khola, the event gave whitewater lovers a great show both on and off the water. As always, we got to share our love for whitewater with an amazing crew while getting to celebrate a beautiful river. The Modi dam is in full progress, but luckily for us our race section remains largely unaffected. The Express Series is a small humble event run by kayakers who love to paddle, but with all of your support it continues to be one of the best times on the water in Nepal. And so, as long as we get love and support from whitewater lovers around the world, we’ll keep coming back beautiful sections like these on the Modi Khola for our Express Series.
Huge congratulations to our Top 3 paddlers who won cash prizes worth $500, $300 and $200:
1st Cody Beach, USA
2nd Greg Lee, New Zealand
3rd Noah Sebastian Phillips, UK
We also honored our Top 3 Nepali paddlers. It has been amazing to see their progress over the years and we hope to continue to support them as they grow in skills and life:
1st Suman Tamang
2nd Sujan Gurung
3rd Hari Ale Magar
Massive thanks to all of our supporters from around the world, to our volunteers for making this event happen and to our athletes for giving us a great show!