Author: Simon Westgarth

June 2023 Update

June 2023 Update

We have been lucky enough to have had a great winter full of snow, and now we bask in summer’s glory. Always good to be lucky. These days we have been updating the forthcoming Sjoa River Festival programme, adding some new events, and sadly taking a few away. Always ones to be fresh, we have finally said goodbye to the Ula Slides Race. Seasonal changes have seen that since 2016 we have not run a race on Stor Ula, as it appears that we can no longer be certain of good flows needed for racing on Ula. So instead, we’ll carry on with the popular Washing Machine Slalom on Thursday evening. This race will be the seeding race for the Saturday evening Åmot BoaterX.

On Friday evening, before the Friends Float from Harlung Bru, upriver Strie Strømmer will run a Big Ball Team Race from Skinnarberge. Open to all, this is a race like no other where interference is all part of strategy.

As ever, we’ll have Guided Tours, Clinics, Sjoa Juniors, Throwbag Olympics & something social happenings every evening for all to enjoy. Registration is now open…..see you soon

SRF 2022 – RoundUp

SRF 2022 – RoundUp

Our return from a soft two years of a low key event, meant that this year’s Sjoa River Festival was always going to be one to remember. From the controversial finish on the Sjoa Raft Race, the French domination of the kayak competitions, the stellar Sjoa Juniors Foam BoaterX, the all new Friends Float…..there were so many highlights to enjoy, and of course paddling trips with your mates too. We could not of asked for a more perfect swing back into normality, the weather tried to bring back the mixed summer’s of old, yet we were out enjoying the rivers.

Sjoa Raft Race

Bravado, cunning and forgetting the actual rules framed the Sjoa Raft Race. This year, the Raft companies of Heidal, took charge of running this popular race. All this meant there was a lot of friendly rivalry between all the raft guides making the start line and the opening straight a tempestuous affair. The tense pace kept up all the way to the finish line. To finish, teams needed to de-robe from their river wear and jump into the awaiting hot tubs at Sjoa Rafting. Unfortunately the first team to arrive, forgot these specific rules, and simply jumped into the hot water, the arrival of the second team remembered the rules, and gleefully took their dip and first place…..thankfully between the team from Sjoa Rafting and Heidal Rafting the prize was shared to soften their placings……

Strie Strømmer Åseng Team Race

The le Mons style mass start team race, makes for an energetic antics from the off at the start. Sadly Julian Turin took the wrong spray deck, meaning that within 100m from the start, his boat was swamped and this team incomplete. Local raft guides come supreme paddlers, Sasha, Rob & Robert chased the remnants of the French team down to take first place, with Matěj Koudelka and Kevin Robben taking second place, plus Beth Morgan, Eveliina Kallioniemi & Mia Derdau finishing third overall and the first mixed/ladies team.

Gene17 Ula Slides Race on the Washing Machine

With another year of low water on the Rondane Mountain plateau, we again moved the Ula Slides race to the Åmot Canyon, with the return of the Washing Machine slalom. This year’s course was set just before the race to ensure all had a fair chance of finding their lines through this challenging course. In the first round, only a handful managed the complete course without any penalties. Surfing the Washing Machine wave proved the undoing of many, as the left to right move into a small right eddy was tricky to master.  Still Jonas le Morvan managed two clean runs, with the second run improving on his first to sweep the win. Marlene Devillez fresh from her Freestyle World Championship third place success, gave us masterclass of her paddling, to clean the slalom track and win with style.

Full Results

Friendship Float

With a change around with the programme in 2023, we wanted to offer a mass participation event for all. So Ine’s idea of a Friendship Float on Friday event was born. Often paddlers whom can only come to the festival for the weekend, now had a chance to get fully involved as soon as they arrive. A stream of happy paddlers, with enjoying post-pandemic reunions, sharing a fun paddle down the Sjoa Normal section is now a new headlight of the Sjoa River Festival. We’ll do the same again in 2023.

Sjoa Juniors

Rob Wilson offered up another highly popular and extremely successful Sjoa Juniors programme. This year the busy on the water fun was matched with evenings of engineering foamie boaters for the most serious BoaterX competition…….

Åmot BoaterX

All the fun starts to come to a head with the BoaterX on Saturday evening. The Gene17 Ula Slides Race on the Washing Machine serves as the time trail for the BoaterX seeding. The last two rapids of Åmot Canyon provides an excellent BoaterX race course, where differing lines offer risky chances to get ahead, often paddlers overtake due to another’s forced error or simply getting a better line. The trills and spills of BoaterX means few paddlers leading into the first rapid arrive at the finish line in premier spot. And this year’s Åmot Canyon proved no different, with lots of sweeping from a lowly position to break through into the next round Eda Skalicy proved adapt at such a class move, where by others got in each others way, and Eda swept through. Still the clam customer Jonas Le Morvan winner of the Washing Machine slalom, proved to have the winning touch, getting ahead at the start, and keeping ahead of the traffic to win.  In the ladies, Marlene Devillez showed steeled nerves, staying focused all the way to finish line, with Beth Morgan chasing her down all the way, without forcing an error from Marlene.  Full Results

Palm Throwbag Olympics

After dinner and before the Saturday night party, we manage to squeeze in some light relief in the form of the throwbag Olympics. This year proved no different as paddlers showed up throwbags in hand ready to go. Chaos reigns, some people quickly realise their throwing skills need urgent practise, and others skilful aim keeps them in the running to be the champ. This year saw many of the Sjoa Juniors trying their luck…..

Sjoa River Festival was another edition of a great event, we all went away with good memories and enjoying paddling with our friends new and old. We’ll be back again in 2023, 11/16 July is our next event…….one last thing, we were lucky to have an evening with the Naturvernforbundet – The Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature. This is a new feature to the festival, as we look to engage our community on river matters.

River Conservation Presentation with Naturvernforbundet, the Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature – at Weistad

River Conservation Presentation with Naturvernforbundet, the Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature – at Weistad

NOR: “2022 starta dramatisk for alle med hjerte for elvene: Flere sentrale politikere tok til orde for å bygge ut vannkraftverk i varig verna vassdrag. Etter iherdig innsats fra mange, ble det heldigvis raskt klart at regjeringa ikke kom til å sette verneplanen til side, og i juni parkerte også Stortinget saken.

Hva var det egentlig skjedde? Hvordan fikk vi i sin tid på plass en verneplan for vassdrag i Norge, og hva truer elvene i dag? Nestleder i Naturvernforbundet Pernille Bonnevie Hansen kommer til Banken på fredag for å ta oss gjennom historien og framtida til vassdragsvernet i Norge.”
ENG: “2022 start dramatically for everyone with a heart for the rivers: Several key politicians spoke out in favor of building hydropower plants in permanently protected watercourses. in June, the Storting also parked the case.
What really happened? In our time, how did we put in place a protection plan for watercourses in Norway, and what threatens the rivers today? Deputy leader of the Nature Conservation Association Pernille Bonnevie Hansen will come to the Bank on Friday to take us through the history and future of watercourse protection in Norway.
Friday 21:00 – River Conservation Presentation with Naturvernforbundet, the Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature – Discussion & Forum at Weistad in Bjølstadmo next to the Bank
UPDATE: Ula Slides Race 2022

UPDATE: Ula Slides Race 2022

Due to the low water and poor weather forecast on Rondane tomorrow, the Ula Slides Race 2022 is cancelled. We will run this year’s Sjoa River Festival Individual race as the Washing Machine Slalom.

Race Format: 1 Run on the set course
Start Times:
Race course set by 1630
Competitors Meeting 1730 at Sjoa Kayak Camp
Race Start 1800

Boat Stickers available from Strie Strømmer at any time for those registered, and from 1700 at the Sjao Kayak Camp.  Your boat must be dry for sticker’s to work.

Note all racers seeded for the Saturday Åmot BoaterX

Gene17Kayaking Clinics at the Sjoa River Festival 2022

Gene17Kayaking Clinics at the Sjoa River Festival 2022

Sjoa River Festival Cohost & Organiser Simon Westgarth has a small performance coaching venture, Gene17Kayaking. Operating for 20 years across Europe, with spring in Slovenia on the Soča River, steep creeking for May in Valsesia Italy and then all summer long on the Sjoa, they offer a full programme for all levels of paddler.

During the festival, Gene17Kayaking hosts the Ula Slides Race as well as a range of coaching clinics for both festival goes and locals too. The coaches on hand are Simon Westgarth & Beth Morgan. Take a look below to see if there’s something for you….

This festival’s programme:
Wednesday – Sjoa Åseng Class III/IV – Advanced WW Tactics & Technique
Thursday – Sjoa Normal III/III+ – Intermediate WW  Technique
Friday – Otta Class II/III – Beginner WW Tactics & Technique
Saturday – Sjoa Normal III/III+ – Half Slice Fun & Playboating
Saturday – Sjoa Normal III/III+ – Intermediate WW Technique

Head over to Gene17Kayaking Clinics for online booking & payment details. If you want something different from the above, let us know contact Gene17Kayaking for questions and requests.

The all NEW Sjoa Raft Race

The all NEW Sjoa Raft Race

We welcome the rafting companies from Heidal collaboration to organise this year’s Sjoa Raft Race. Sjoa Rafting, Go Rafting & Heidal Rafting have been busy coordinating this year’s race. There is a passion to see whose the fastest team in the valley.

This year see’s the baton of organisation pass from Ine Skjørten Wilson, Norwegian Ladies Team raft racing supremo to the collective safety officers from the Sjoa Valley’s rafting companies. We welcome the efforts from Schroddi, Kuba & Hugh’s and of course their enthusiasm to get this race on the calendar in Week 28.

See Sjoa River Festival Facebook Event for specific race details. #sjoariverfestival2022

Week to go for #sjoariverfestival2022

Week to go for #sjoariverfestival2022

Lots of the same and many new additions this year in Sjoa.

We of course welcome back open borders for paddlers from afar to join us again in Heidal for our 25th Edition of the Sjoa River Festival. Since 1997, we’ve hosted a blend of competitions, guided trips, clinics and evening fun. In 2022 we are again in Bjølstadmo, centred around Strie Strømmer Kayak Store and Banken Bar & Resturant, plus Weistad Camping. New addition Weistad will host both the Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening events, as well as the Sjoa Juniors Foam Boater workshops.

Our programme in 2022 has had a shake up, where by we’ve moved some races around. The Strie Strømmer Åseng Team Race is now on Wednesday and the Gene17Kayaking Ula Race on Thursday. Plus we have added a big Friday evening event for all, the Friendship Float on the Sjoa Normal. As well as the legendary Pimp’n’Ho! Party’s return to Pensj Hotel on Wednesday night.

In line with our community lead focus, we’ll have an evening looking at river conversation and protection, as recent global geopolitical events look to bring new hydroelectric projects to our door in Sjoa and beyond. On Friday at 21:00 River Conservation Presentation with Naturvernforbundet, the Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature – Discussion & Forum at Weistad in Bjølstadmo

Presently we are looking to have a Raft Race on Wednesday evening, organised by the local raft companies, details are yet to be announced.

Currently we are recruiting volunteers for the Guided Trips, especially on the Otta River, see our Facebook Event Feed for details. Plus we’ll have Gene17Kayaking offering clinics on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the festival on both the Sjoa Normal, Åseng and Finna, details TBA shortly.

Lastly we welcome Planet River back to run our Sjoa Junior Programme. This extremely popular addition, now has an evening workshop and Foam Boater race too.

We have added an Instagram feed widget on our Home Page, hashtag #sjoariverfestival2022 for your posts.

See you soon, JK, KA & S

Sjoa River Festival 2020 Update 12th June 2020 – #sjoasummer2020

Sjoa River Festival 2020 Update 12th June 2020 – #sjoasummer2020

Sjoa River Festival 2020 Update 12th June 2020 – #sjoasummer2020
After consulting with the Sel Kommune public health advisors regarding events in 2020 and the current global pandemic, we have decided to NOT run the Sjoa River Festival this year in the traditional format. Whilst this is extremely disappointing, we can still go paddling, with Sjoa and the surround rivers in great form presently, plus a brilliant snowpack in the mountains to ensure the possibility of a good year with water levels.

We’ll all be on the Sjoa River enjoying these fine flows all summer long. Therefore from now until week 34, 24th August we are running 5 on going competitions. These are all about getting out on the water, celebrating kayaking on Sjoa, in spite of there being no festival. We have something for the racers of course, BUT everything else is for everyone else.

See below for the 5 competitions/challenges with prizes

1. Sjoa Normal Race Challenge, see

2. Åmot Race Challenge, see

3. Best image on Sjoa. Any kayaking image taken this summer from anywhere on Sjoa. This image should typify what paddling on Sjoa is for you. Tag on Sjoa River Festival Page with #sjoasummershot2020

4. Best Line on Åmot. Taken as a single shot POV or a single shot using normal camera, of a line on a single rapid of Åmot. Tag on Sjoa River Festival Page with #sjoasummeraamot2020

5. Saying Goodbye to Otta. The new hydro project has already come into operation, yet the current snow pack levels means we still have flow on this classic Class II (III) section. We invite you to go and enjoy this run again, and tag your images or video with #byebyeotta

We hope to see you on the river this summer. Strie Strømmer are open with a full range of kayaking toys, and Gene17Kayaking have a full range of clinics and courses for improvers, immediate and advanced paddlers, during this summer in Sjoa, see

See you on the river this summer, #sjoasummer2020