“A simple pull down into one of the many seams behind the wave would tangle him irrevocably in his lines, and impede his ability to swim towards the surface. All too often he had been pulled down into the deep blackness of Mavericks’ anterior room, silent, crushing, black.”
Let me start off by saying, this is not a typical article, set in a typical place, or a typical wave, in a typical environment. Or by any means, was this ridden, by a typical rider. First, the place: the Lachine Rapids, on the St. Lawrence River. Picture 2.6-million gallons per second of water pouring over a series of shelves, reefs and rocky outcroppings. This drops 45 feet in less than a 3/4 of a mile creating a series of thunderous, awe-inspiring, chill-inducing river rapids, which definitely would be the last place you’d want to take a kite. But Julien Fillion is probably one of only two or three people in the world with the kite skill and whitewater experience to handle such a gnarly environment.
Dreams. We all have them, and we all work towards them. For most of us, our dreams are based on something that we’ve seen on TV, in a movie or magazine. But for Julien Fillion this dream was something that no one else had done, and no one else had, to his knowledge, even thought of.
From an early age Fillion used the waters of the St. Lawrence around his childhood home in Hull, Que., as a place to grow his water roots. What Fillion didn’t know was these experiences and skills were helping him prepare for his future dreams.
“Two years ago, in order to take my goal to the next level, I teamed up with Corran Addison, one of the godfathers of river surfing,” Fillion said. “Together as a tow-in team we’ve mastered the Lachine Rapids using a Jet Ski to tow into waves just like I do in Hawaii during winter to tow into big outside reef waves, and we have learned as much as you possibly can about these rapids.”
Addison has been tow-surfing the river waves of the Lachine Rapids in Montreal for the past eight years and has over 30 years of whitewater experience under his belt. Addison is no stranger to firsts either; in the late ’80s he held the record for highest waterfall drop in a kayak at 101 feet, a record that stood for nearly two decades. And his extensive knowledge of river waves in a whitewater setting helped the Addison/Fillion team to test and design boards to surf the river waves.