Interview: Ali Casas, Organizer Lulu Love Tour 2019 (Aug 30th-Sept 1st)
After the Freestyle Kayak World Championships Sort is getting ready to hold the Lulu Love Tour for the third year in a row. This little town nestled in the middle of the Catalan Pyrenees has been the capital of the Tour since 2017, and its location on the Noguera Pallaresa River makes it the perfect venue for the event. The past two years have been a massive success. Many give credit for the visible increase in women paddling in the region directly to the Lulu Love Tour- so we sat down with founder and organizer Ali Casas to hear more.
KS: What can people expect from this Lulu Love Tour 2019?
LLT: The two-day festival promises lots of whitewater, fun, and prizes. The Tour starts on Friday, August 30th, with several whitewater clinics designed for specifically girls, offering the opportunity to learn, work together, and sharpen their kayaking skills. The second Noguera Pallaresa Women’s Race Mass Start down the classic section of the Noguera Pallaresa River will take place on Saturday, August 31st. After the race will be an open-participation stoke float down to Sort before the Open Multi-Sport Race. This race will combine running, swimming in the river and kayaking and is open for everyone!
KS: Can you tell us a little more about the clinics offered on this year’s Tour?
LLT: This year, we are offering three different clinics: The Introduction to Kayaking clinic is designed for girls who have done a little bit of kayaking or none at all. We’re planning in having different levels so every paddler can learn in a safe and comfortable environment. The Freestyle clinic will be run by Nuria Fontané (Jr. Freestyle European Champion and multiple Spanish Champion), Cristian Lamiel ( Kayak Coach and instructor) and Oriol Colomé (Spanish Team Freestyle Kayak Coach). We’ll have different skill levels in different features so the girls can make the most of their session in the water. Marc Parra (professional kayaker and vertical works former) will be in charge of the Rescue and Rope Skills clinic. Girls will have the chance to learn several Mechanical Advanced Systems for use in different whitewater rescue scenarios.
KS: The Tour also offers a series of races- with prize money! Is the focus more on promoting competition, or just participation?
LLT: Although we all love to be out there and support outdoor events just for the fun of it, the truth is that it’s always nice to go home with a few extra goodies! We are honoured and very stoked to be supported by top-notch kayaking brands that help us encourage participation by offering a bunch of cool prizes. We want to give a big shout out to NRS, Kokatat, and Hiko for believing in us and help us make the Lulu Love Tour happen. As for the prize money, we will have a few euros for the three fastest paddlers of the Noguera Pallaresa Women’s Race, so start training chicas!!!
KS: Why add an Open Multisport Race? Where does the idea originate?
LLT: The Multisport race takes inspiration from one of the most popular races in Okere Falls, NZ, called the “Champions Race.” It was one of Lulu Jull’s favorite races of the season. Including it in the Lulu Love Tour is just another way to honor her and keep spreading her energy and love for the sport in a fun way. Sort’s location, with the Noguera Pallaresa River cutting right through downtown, makes it the perfect venue for this kind of event. We decided to make it an OPEN race for everyone, partly because this is how the original Kiwi Champions Race is, but also to involve the rest of the kayaking community and thank them for their unconditional support.
KS: Is there anything else would you like to add about the event?
LLT: I’d like to encourage people to come and be part of it! It’s truly a very special festival in which you can feel the energy and the positive vibes in the air. I also really want to thank all the local community in Sort and everyone who helps make the Tour happen out there. The Kayak Sort crew, Associació Esportiva Pallars, Alberg Escola de Piragüimse, and the City Hall from Sort for their endless support to make the sport grow! #WEAREREADY for 2019.