Hell or High Water Festival Whitewater Race on the Petawawa River continues to grow!
Raft registration open on March 7.
The Petawawa River Hell or High Water (HOHW) Weekend is back, bigger and better than last year. The 2011 festival will be held on Saturday May 7, and features the Ottawa Valley Rafting Championships, pitting local teams of amateurs or professionals against each other in an all out race.
“HOHW continues to grow, with participants coming in from across the country, and even international competitors now. We had over 200 registered racers last year – the raft race sold out – and we hope to do even better this year,” says Philip Kompass, one of the festival organizers. “Beginners to experts, this is a chance for any interested person to get in a raft – or make their own team – and join in the fun. We’ve partnered with Esprit Rafting again this year to supply all the equipment and a guide for the teams that need it. All you need to do is paddle!”
More importantly, the event will be raising money for three local causes close to the hearts of those in the Ottawa Valley: Soldier On, a charity that works to help injured CF members get back on their feet; the Petawawa Military Family Resource Centre; and, Whitewater Ontario, an organization working to help keep Ontario’s rivers clean, safe and accessible. All of these causes are very worthwhile, and the day will be heaps of fun. Esprit Rafting will be there to keep you warm and safe, so get a team together and come out and enjoy the river while you can!
“A portion of the money we raise that day goes directly to help us fight again the proposed hydro project that would effectively ruin a large portion of the whitewater on the Petawawa River. It is important to a lot of people in this town, so I hope the community comes out to support us by jumping in a raft, or even just coming to watch the race.” Known in the paddling community as "The Town Run" of the Petawawa, paddlers will race the clock, and each other, competing for the top spot. The racers will launch into river just above the first - and largest - rapid known as Railroad (found off of Portage Rd. on Wilson Ave) and will cross the finish at Catwalk Rapid (Centennial Park, below City Hall) covering roughly one-kilometre of Class III and IV rapids in approximately five minutes.
"The Petawawa River is an amazing river, and we are lucky to have it in our community," explains Philip Kompass, who along with Mike Crouzat, Brad Wipp, and Kim Barrington are co-organizing this year’s event. "With the threat of the river being dammed and diverted next year, this is an ideal opportunity to really show off how great we have it in Petawawa. I am sure both the racers and the spectators will be in for an entertaining day." The showcase event will again be the kayak race, in which over 150 boats are expected to tackle the rapids of the Petawawa.
The Ottawa Valley Raft Championships will begin at 9:00 a.m. followed by the Hell or High Water Race at 1:00 pm. Throughout the day there will be demos, clinics, and activities. There are plenty of spots to view the action, as the river follows the Millennium Trail walking path right in the heart of town, but the bulk of the activity will take place at Centennial Park (Catwalk). “For those that prefer to stay on solid ground this time of year, there is plenty to take part in. For all the shutterbugs out there, we’ve got a photo shootout (free entry) as well and a dinner, tons of prizes, videos and a live band on Saturday night. It’s early May in the Ottawa Valley; do you really have something better to do? Come on out and enjoy yourself!”
The athletes, volunteers and organizers are warmly welcoming all spectators, paddlers or interested people to come down to the river on May 7. Paddlers will be on hand to answer any questions you may have about the river, the sport or the race.