COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. That’s what Mason Hargrove did Wednesday in his hometown rapid on the Chattahoochee River.
And it worked out pretty good for him.
Hargrove learned to kayak on the Chattahoochee and he used that knowledge to become a world-class junior.
Now, he’s 20 years old and competing with the big boys – and holding his own.
This afternoon he got three tries to impress the judges with his antics. The first time he flushed out of the rapid quickly.
The last two times he scored big – big enough to finish third overall and easily move into Friday’s quarterfinals.
His goal is to paddle on Saturday when the title of the world’s best freestyle kayaker is awarded.
“That first ride I was trying to go really quick, trying to overcompensate and just trying to lay down a really, really big ride score,” he said after the run. “But today was just about being consistent. And doing enough points to make it to the next round.”
And his sights are clearly set on bigger and better things.
“Yeah, I still like my chances sitting in the top three right now after the first round,” he said. “And I had two early flushes. So, I think if I put together a full ride that I am capable of I am definitely up there with the top boys.”
Mason’s little sister Makinley Kate is also competing. She hits the competition waters for the first time Thursday morning.
The world of kayaking – literally – has come to Columbus this week for the ICF World Freestyle Championships.
And many from around the world like what they are seeing on the water. And the spectators are allowed to get close to the competition.
Matt Hamilton from Canada has been going to world championships across the globe for the past three decades.
He likes Columbus — and it’s wave.
“It is absolutely amazing,” he said. “The access here is great. Off the Uptown Columbus riverwalk is one of the best I have ever seen. We have a great grandstand here. There’s lots of viewing along the riverwalk where you can see, as well as upstairs in the powerhouse. Then uptown Columbus has food, all kinds of activities, and some great shopping. It is an awesome place for freestyle and a great place to come check out.”
The championships are being held on the Eagle & Phenix powerhouse island just below 12th Street in downtown Columbus. It is free and open to the public. The competition is being held between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day through Saturday.