As the sun sets on another high-quality Canoe Freestyle event in Plattling, the party atmosphere continues long into the night. 

Plattling, which is hosting back-to-back International Canoe Federation Canoe Freestyle World Cups, is passionate about the sport. 

While terms such as Space Godzilla, Phonics Monkeys and Lunar Orbit might baffle those unaware of Canoe Freestyle, this is a language people in Plattling know and love. 

When Plattling is not staging events, it continually hosts paddlers who travel far and wide with their camping equipment and boats to ride the iconic wave on the River Isar. 

Freestylers feel accepted for who they are and welcomed with open arms by the locals. 

Roman Glasman, a German paddler who competes internationally, has been travelling to Plattling since 2012.  

“The people are really connected to the sport here,” said Glasman who lives in Saarbrücken which is more than 300 miles from Plattling. 

“We went into town and a lady at the cashier asked whether we were kayakers as we look and smell like kayakers! 

“People here associate kayakers with a passion for sport, not profit for sport. 

“The people know and understand the community.” 

Plattling crowd canoe freestyle 2024

Leon Schacher, an 18-year-old paddler from Ulm in Germany, added: “It’s a two-and-a half-hour drive for me to come here but it’s the best spot.  

“I come here every weekend, even in the winter months and sleep in my car.  

“Even the guys at the McDonalds know us, it’s so friendly.  

“Plattling is a legendary spot for kayaking around the world.  

“It hosted the World Championships in 2011 and since then everyone wants to come here.  

“It’s different to any other place as the feature is very special.” 

With a population of a little more than 13,000, Plattling is a small town located in southeast Germany in lower Bavaria. 

Situated within a nature reserve, Plattlinger Sohlschwelle is a beautiful spot for thrill-seeking kayakers. 

Due to its location, wild camping is officially prohibited but the police and residents allow it to happen because of the popularity of the Isar wave. 

Thomas Hinkel has been running Canoe Freestyle events there since 2015. 

Harry Price canoe freestyle plattling 2024

“Plattling has a big history in Canoe Freestyle as the first events were held there in 1997,” said Hinkel. 

“It’s a real hotspot for Canoe Freestyle in Germany. 

“I also think it’s one of the best venues for Canoe Freestyle in Europe because we have good water levels and people can train at any time.” 

Plattling staged the World Championships in 2011 before hosting the European Championships in 2016. 

The legacy of both those events is clear to see as Plattling stages two successive World Cups with participation from 19 nations including from as far as Peru and Japan.  

The Bavarian town will also hold next year’s World Championships. 

Terry Best, Chair of the ICF Canoe Freestyle Committee, considers Plattling as “one of the homes of our sport”. 

“Plattling is freestyle,” said Best. 

“It’s perfect for the needs of the paddlers who turn up in their vans, practice all day and into the night and then enjoy a fantastic competition.” 

Mayor of Plattling Hans Schmalofer 2024

Norway’s Valeria Betrand, who is competing in the World Cups as well as coaching paddlers in the ICF development camp, added: “Plattling is known to be a really good freestyle destination as it is easy, accessible for camping outside, there are nice shops around the corner as well as cafés and bars and the locals are friendly. 

“The whole package is great.” 

Mayor of Plattling Hans Schmalofer said Canoe Freestyle was an important part of the city’s identity. 

“In the last 10 to 15 years the news of this wave has travelled as people say it is great and tell others to go there,” said Schmalofer. 

“Every year more and more people come to Plattling to do Canoe Freestyle.  

“It is important for the people who live here to see it. 

“Plattling is a small town so it is incredible that we have the World Championships coming  next year and the legacy is very important to us.”

The second ICF Canoe Freestyle World Cup in Plattling will run from May 30 to June 1.

Full coverage of the events in Plattling can be viewed on the ICF’s Premium YouTube channel

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