After the successfull first edition of the Neilson Race in may 2013, Charles Arsenault, Billy Thibault and Emrick Blanchette, main organisers of the Race in 2013, decided to backslide in 2014. This year the event was plan for may 17th, a week earlier than the year before, just to make sure we got a massive water level.
So during the week before the race, we took the Quebec Connection mobile and headed to Saint-Raymond and park the camper at the Take out. The camper would be our base camp for the next few days. During these days we did a few laps of the Upper and lower sections of the Neilson at super high flow and we organised a few things for the race. During these days the level was at 8 on the gauge and after 8 there's no more gage (just to give you an idea). 8 is a super high flow, but everything is super good to go, so we were set for a big race. Watching the rain forecast my friend Charles Arsenault was wondering what was going to happen if the level gets too high... Most of us were laughing at him because according to most of us, before that day, the Neilson can't be too high. The higher it is the better it is right ?
The night before the race it was raining suuuuper hard. I was sleeping in my car and I opened my door a few times just to make sure my car was not in the water and I started to realized that maybe the Neilson was going to be too high in the morning... Maybe Charles's concerns had their place...
As soon as we woke up, we all ran to the gage to realize that the gage was 3 feets underwater... So the next step was to go to the Big Eyes rapid, which was supposed to be the first rapid of the race, to see how it looks like. The rapid was MASSIVE and the line was super tight. According to most of us it was maybe runnable with a super good safety set up, but racing it would make the Neilson Race the biggest, hardest and most full on kayaking race on the planet. So we all agreed that our safety set up wasn't good enough for that and not enough people wanted to race it anyway. So we had to find a plan B...
We took the decision to race the paddle out of the Lower Neilson. Our class V race became a big water class III-IV race. The race became accessible to more people, which is a good thing ! Me and Emrick quickly drove to the town to make the call on the social medias. No it was not a class V race, but it was still super fun and we have been able to keep the high level of stokness around the event ! We did a time trial in teams of two and a boatercross.
So our plan B turns out to be super fun, more accessible and more safe. The after party downtown St-Raymond was a huge succes too ! We hope to see more and more people each year racing and enjoying one of the best big water creek runs on the east cost ! Everybody is welcome ! and if you need more info about the Neilson or any runs around Quebec just ask Quebec Connection via Facebook !
Thanks to my unisuit hot fuzz for keeping me warm during those big days of cold water !
Thanks to Dylan Page for the super sick photos !