Hayden Voorhees -Year in Review

Hayden Voorhees 2015 – What a Year


I can’t believe that 2015 is already over.  This last year I did more things that I would have ever thought I would do. 2015 was definitely the best and most fun year I have ever had.

In February I was able to go to Uganda for a month to surf the big waves on the Nile River. It was super good training for the 2015 World Championships on Garburator wave on the Ottawa River in Ontario, Canada. This was the highlight of the trip because I might not ever be able to go to Uganda and paddle the Nile again. I learned so many new tricks like the Pan Am and Helix. I was also able to sharpen up some other tricks like the Airscrew and clean blunt. Now after being there Nile Special is my favorite wave I have ever surfed in I think it is going to take a lot to change that. Ever since I learned about kayaking in Uganda I have wanted to go and it is most kayakers dream to kayak the Nile River.


Later that spring I started training to make the US team in Glenwood, CO. My dad and I went up to Riggins, ID to surf Gold’s Hole after we heard the Reno River Festival was canceled due to no water. This was probably the best wave to train on for the US team trials and such a fun wave. It was a similar shape to the wave in Glenwood which made me train a lot harder and also allowed me to make the transition from surfing super-fast wave like Nile special and Club wave on the Nile to slower and smaller waves

In early May and June, the Colorado tour started which included the Buena Vista Paddle Fest, Go Pro Mountain Games, and USA Team Trials. In Buena Vista I had some of my best rides in competition ever. I made it into finals in the 2nd place right behind my brother, as he had really good rides. In finals I had my single best score in competition ever with a 740 points. Alec still bettered my score with a 1100-point ride and Brody Kellogg was right behind me. I was still pretty stoked to improve my personal best of 500 points though. Afterwards we went straight to Glenwood to try and get as much time on the wave as possible before the competition. When we got there the water level was pretty low and it was tough to do some wave tricks. As the week went on the water level started rising slowly but surely and was turning more into a smooth, glassy wave. Team Trials was only two weeks away and there was a competition in Lyons, CO that I had skipped because I was still trying to figure out the wave. I had learned that the higher the water got, the more tricks I was able to do and I was able to get a routine down. One week later we went to the Go Pro Mountain games right before the competition with basically no practice. I was pretty surprised to take 8th place in Men’s Pro after only a couple hours in the hole beforehand. I had a lot of fun just trying to do some different tricks. At the beginning of my ride I threw a massive entry McNasty, which was my first in competition, and a Phonix Monkey, which was also a first. The next day we went back to Glenwood to start training again as the water level continued to rise. I finally started to feel confident in my routine.

In prelims I was having ok rides and going into the finals in 5th place. All I could think about was that I needed to have at least one killer ride just to make it in the top three to make the team. I knew that every other junior was going to lay down some really good rides because of how much was on the line. I knew that they all wanted to be in the top 3 just as much I did and for some them it was their last chance to compete as a junior World Championships. I really wanted to get a good first ride to relieve some pressure, but I ended up flushing off of the wave before throwing a single trick and getting a zero-point ride.  On my 2nd ride I did exactly what I wanted to and I got a pretty decent score. I finished just behind my older brother in 2nd place. I was so excited to be able to make the US team on my first try as junior and both of us making it on the team.

This year I also had the opportunity to teach at the Kelly’ Academy in Cascade, ID for my third year. Kayaking has been such a big part of my life and I am grateful that I get the opportunity to share it by teaching others. I thought that this was probably my favorite year of teaching because I was able to teach in all of the different classes there. Some days I was helping out with the river surfing class, the SUP class and also the kayaking class. It is really fun to teach kids my own age because it takes away the idea that the adults or pros can do things but then they look and me and realize that I am their same age and it is just a matter of learning the skills. It was super cool to be able to kayak every day at one of my favorite place in the world. Middle wave there was really good due to the lower water. I had a blast teaching for a couple hours and then going out with a surf board, kayak, or a SUP. I was also super lucky to get some coaching by Clay Wright, Claire O’Hare and Alec Voorhees after classes as well to prepare for World Championships.

Right after the academy, my brother and I were asked by Jessie Stone to help out with a clinic in New York that she does every year. I was pretty excited to go to New York for my first time. The clinic was for kids that had a rough time at home and lived on their school campus to introduce them to the rivers and to the let them see what it was like outside of the city. We started out teaching them the basics in a pool and then we took them out to the river. They all had a blast on the river after they got over their fear of flipping over and just being in the river. I had a great time with them because they were the same age as me and some a little older. We all had a lot of fun together the entire week we were there. Because it was my first time in New York I went to the big city with Alec and Jessie and it was way different than anything I am used to. I thought it was the weirdest thing that people only had tiny dogs.


Immediately after the clinic in New York I went to the Ottawa river in Ontario, CA to train for the World Championships. My brother and I got there six weeks before the competition to train. I ended up hurting my back in the first two weeks and had to spend the next two weeks going to the chiropractor and not boating. I was finally able to paddle right before Worlds. For anyone that has not been able to go to World Championships and compete or just be a spectator, I can tell you that it was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I felt very honored to be able to represent the United States. I really got a sense of what I had accomplished just to make it on the team and to be able to compete as I walked in the parade at the opening ceremonies. I was able to use all of the experiences that I had had over the year from going to Uganda to train and spending time competing and getting ready for team trials and battling back from 5th place to making the team. With all that I had done, I was ready to compete but you could feel the pressure from all of the athletes. Competing on a wave that is considered non-attainable raised the stakes and the pressure because with one bad surge you can be surfed out and your ride can be over in a flash. I was able to do well in prelims and went into semi-finals in 8th place. I knew that I had battled back in team trials from 5th to 2nd, but the pressure and atmosphere was definitely different. I knew that I had the ride to score what I needed to be able to move up into the top 5 and make it to finals but I would have to be perfect on my tricks for them to score. Unfortunately, my rides didn’t go as well as I would have liked in semi-finals, but I was pretty stoked to be able to take 10th place in the juniors after battling the injury and the pressure of Worlds.


2015 was definitely the best and most exciting year I have had yet. I would not have been able to do any of the things I did without my sponsors: Jackson kayak, NRS, Asana, Snapdragon Skirts, WRSI, Premier Athlete, and Kelly’s White Water Park. I am super excited to see what happens in 2016 and in the future.

2016 Goals:

-do well at USA Nationals

-do well in all of the Colorado competitions

-train really hard

-Go to Brazil and Argentina for the World cup

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