Freestyle Rock ‘n Roll at 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival

A stellar international line-up of some of the world’s best freestyle paddlers got the Penrith Whitewater stadium pumping for the Freestyle Rock ‘n Roll at 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival to decide the Australian Open Champions over the weekend (16-17 February 2019).

The freestyle competition saw some of the world’s best in action with American former Junior World Champion and US Women’s Freestyle and K1 and C1 National Champion Sage Donelly taking home the win in the women’s competition.


As anticipated, the final shown-down was between Japan’s World Cup Champion Suematso Yoshiko and Sage Donnelly, before Donnelly took out the win, with New Zealand’s Em Scott finishing third.

“I actually came down here for slalom two years before, but this is the first time I’ve done Freestyle here and it’s absolutely fantastic and I will definitely come down again next year,” Sage Donnelly said about the event.


Australia’s freestyle future is looking bright with up and coming talent Jack Newland, who finished 12th at last year’s World Championships in Argentina, winning the men’s K1. Penrith local Christian Hliounakis finished second and Josh Singleton third.

“It’s great here, especially with competitors from America and New Zealand here and it’s fun to compete against them,” Jack Newland said.

The Victorian from Geelong enjoyed the waves at Penrith Whitewater Stadium.

“In Victoria, I train in an Olympic size swimming pool five times a week to prepare for things like these because there’s no real rivers down there and I do a lot of strength work to force my boat wherever I want to on these sorts of waves here in Penrith,” Newland explained his training regime.

“I came 12th at the Worlds in Argentina last year, which I was really happy about but this year I hope to crack into the top 10 and top five would be an absolute dream. I’ll keep working hard towards that,” Newland added about his goals this season with the 2019 ICF Freestyle World Championships coming up in Spain at the end of June.

It is the first time that the 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival brings together the three whitewater disciplines of canoe slalom, wildwater and freestyle in one event format with the Freestyle Australian Open finals on Sunday attracting a big crowd.

“It was great spectacle to watch. Loud music, great action all down by the side of the feature. For us to be able to showcase what these freestyle athletes are doing was huge. We have not been able to hold such a spectacle for over a decade,” three-time World Cup Champion, Guiness World Record Holder and Chair of Paddle Australia’s Freestyle Committee Jez Jezz said.

The best Olympic slalom athletes and a stellar line-up of World Champions and Guinness World Record holders compete alongside each other in the action packed, wet ‘n wild Sydney International Whitewater Festival, showcasing the exciting disciplines of canoe slalom, wildwater and freestyle canoeing, with freestyle adding an extra spectator thrill to the event.


Freestyle returns to the 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Stadium competition next weekend with the Freestyle Oceania Championships. It will be the first ever Freestyle Oceania Championships coming to Penrith Whitewater Stadium as part of the 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival with the event drawing a high-calibre international field to Australian shores (February 22-24 2019).

Head to for freestyle results and next weekend’s start list.

The 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival includes a series of events to crown the 2019 Australian Open and Oceania Canoe Slalom Champions as well as the Australian and Oceania Freestyle Champions. It also includes the Wildwater Grand Prix 1 and 2.

15-17 Feb:

  • Australian Open Canoe Slalom
  • Wildwater GP1
  • Freestyle Nationals

22-24 Feb:

  • Oceania Championships Slalom
  • Oceania Championships Freestyle
  • Wildwater GP2


Canoe Freestyle is a whitewater discipline where the paddler performs a range of acrobatic tricks and manoeuvres on a river feature such as a wave or hole.

In International Canoe Federation (ICF) events, athletes have a set time to perform as many different moves as possible, scoring additional points for style. Finals are judged on three 45-second runs.

Canoe freestyle is a constantly evolving discipline, with new tricks being developed to complement and improve on existing moves. These moves fall into three categories, entry moves, basic moves and bonuses, and are similar to those performed in freestyle snowboarding, surfing and skating. Spins, flips and turns are accompanied with names including roundhouse, donkey flip and the mcnasty.

There are nearly 30 different moves, including the 180-pointer Helix (a 360° spin with at least 180° of which the boat must be inverted. The boat must also be aerial at some point of the inverted part of the move) and the 10-pointer Spin (a 360° rotation of the boat at a 0°-45° vertical angle).

The first canoe freestyle world championships sanctioned by the ICF was held in 2007 on the Ottawa River in Canada, and the first world cup series began the following year. These events take place biannually on alternate years.

The 2019 ICF Freestyle World Championships will take place in Sort, Spain 29 June-6 July 2019.

Previous articleAustralian Slalom Paddlers Kick-Off Olympic Qualification Season In Style
Next articleWomen’s Sprint Team Enjoys Oceania Hit-Out Ahead of Nationals