Dawson dominated the Malabar River Festival, set during the monsoon season in southern India, winning three of the four disciplines against athletes from 19 countries. He was crowned the 2018 Rapid Raja – adding to the title he won in 2015 – and collected a share of the US$20,000 ($29,000) prize pool.
The 31-year-old is the current World Cup leader in extreme slalom but relished the chance to get back to his kayaking roots.
“It was so good to have a break from the canoe slalom scene and get back to an event and region that I had such a great time exploring and paddling in the past,” Dawson said. “I knew there was going to be a really stacked international field there and wanted to test myself against the best extreme racers in the world, especially after being away from the scene a lot more to focus on slalom.”
The performance came in the same week the New Zealand junior and under-23 team had one of their best-ever world championship performances in Italy. Dawson’s national teammates Finn Butcher and Zack Mutton picked up top-five K1 slalom finishes, while fellow Rotorua paddler River Mutton won bronze in the under-18 extreme slalom.
Dawson collected the slalom, boater-cross and super-final titles in Malabar and even managed a ninth-placing in the freestyle division.
He secured the overall crown in the super-final, clocking 1min 27:92secs to edge Germany’s Adrian Mattern (1:28:47) and United States paddler Dane Jackson (1:28:71).
“For me, the prize and result came second at this event, as it was more about showcasing our sport in India. While the Pro category was hotly contested, it was incredible to see so much talent being developed across India in the intermediate category. This event is instrumental in developing and bringing extreme sports to India and Asia as well as raising awareness for water safety and giving the locals an view of high level racing.”
Dawson was supposed to be heading to Rio de Janeiro – venue for September’s canoe slalom world championships – this week but problems with the course there have seen him remain in Prague to train.
He had planned to rest during the fourth ICF World Cup of the season in Slovenia at the end of August but may change his schedule to try to bolster his extreme slalom lead.
Ceck out the next issue of Adventure for some of Mikes less competitive adventures!!!