Running class V rapids is not a light undertaking for anyone but is something that most UNLEASHED competitors do on a fairly regular basis. Racing Class V rapids is another thing entirely.
Typically class V races are in a time trail or head to head format to limit exposure. But UNLEASHED x Uganda is no typical kayaking competition.
Stage 2 would see athletes go Boater X style heats of 6 through almost a kilometer of intense, big volume, chaotic Class V finishing in a grueling sprint to the finish. The only viable safety is the other competitors in that heat, the rapid is too wide, long and large to allow any other kind of safety in the biggest part of the rapid.
Despite the incredibly high skill level of the athletes everyone was somewhere between scared, nervous and excited with a handful of athletes choosing not to race at all.
Personally, this was THE most intense race I have ever paddled and I was so relived every time I made it to the end of the race course. Props to Ugandan paddlers Saddat who won the stage and Yusef who took second and is seriously challenging the ever consistent Dane Jackson for the overall UNLEASHED title.
1/ Sadat Kawawa
2/ Yusef Basalirwa
3/ Dane Jackson
1/ Darby McAdams
2/ Amina Nakirya
3/ Aofie Hanrahan
Watch the SEND edit from Stage 2: