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Ladies Day Out At the Collegiate Race Series National Championships

| Posted in Whitewater Kayaking Stories, Women and Whitewater Kayaking |

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One of the favorite canoe & kayak downriver races is coming up!  The ACA Collegiate Race Series National Championships.  Colleges & Universities from across the country will show up on March 30th at the Tuckasegee River to compete in canoe and kayak downriver racing. What makes the event fun is that it is in both individual and team races–in kayaks, solo and tandem canoes.

Local southern favorites like Warren Wilson College, Georgia Tech and Georgia State are always enthusiastic participants at the event.  Last year a surprise showing of force arrived from Virginia: the combo team of Sweet Briar and Hollins College.  Returning again this year, the womens’ college team is fired up for another great event!

Tasha Gillum, outdoor director for Sweet Briar College (SBC) and Jon Guy Owens, Hollins’ outdoor director (HOP), are the support team behind this great group of ladies.  Coming up on the weekend, we pulled the two aside to reflect on what brought the schools to the competition and what their strategy is for this year.

A Sweet Briar/Hollins team showing up for the race series. When did this come about?

Tasha (along with Kate, SBC’s team leader): We have gone to regionals/state three times now.  This will be our 2nd time at Nationals. We started going because Jon Guy got Laura Staman (former SBC director) jazzed about it.  Then we, the students, got excited because we got to meet other boaters (we were a little reclusive at that point) and get out on new rivers!

Jon Guy: This is the 4th year that Hollins has traveled to the National Championships, and the 3rd time on the Tuck.  The first National Championships was in Fredericksburg over Fall break.  We decided to go up and try it out for fun.  Getting to hang out with other schools, with other boaters sold the deal.  The big motivator was realizing that with some with work we could actually do well.  Maybe not win, but we knew we could get people’s attention.

Hollins and Sweet Briar have always had some good rivalries in sports. How did you two bond for racing together?

Laura/Kate:  There is nothing like a little innocent rivalry to get students psyched! SBC and Hollins have had a great time paddling together, competing and supporting each other. SBC boaters look forward to meeting up with the ladies they’ve formed friendships at races and other events like swift water rescue classes. It has been fun to have two women’s paddling groups coming together to do what they love – and encourage each other through competition and support of each other.

Jon Guy: I would say the bond has come together in the sense of sisterhood.  Hollins wanted to Sweet Briar to do well because they were so similar.  It was less about school pride and more about women getting the chance to compete on par with men.  They love making men squirm at the thought of losing to a women.  I am not sure if they would say that, but I know its true.

What is the students’  favorite part of the event?

Laura/Kate: The opportunity to get out and paddle with a community – meet other boaters and have a fun day on the river.

JonGuy:  I think that the women at Hollins really enjoy that they have done so well.  It is not lost on them that they really know that the time could come when they get crushed again, so they are enjoying it.  In many ways it reinforces their choice to come to Hollins, be successful in a male dominated arena.

Okay, without spoiling your strategy, what is the goal for this years competition?

Laura: Our ladies aim to do their personal best in the kayaking races. We don’t have a well rounded program so we focus on the kayak portion – we know it won’t bring us an overall win but the ladies have fun getting out on a different river, trying to their best and meeting other boaters.

Kate:  We don’t go to win, we go to have fun. ACA is cool because you can be as competitive as you want to be. At nationals last year we wanted to get on new rivers, work on our paddling skills, meet new people and have a good time. We go to become better paddlers.

JonGuy:  Our goal is to really have strong representation in all of the events.  OC1, OC2,  & K1.  This is the best way for us to come out on towards the top of the pile in the end.  It is hard to win a single event, there are some great teams out there.  Consistency is our best bet at getting in the top 3 again.

We’d love to hear any final thoughts leading into next weekend?

Kate:  ACA’s offer a time for new boaters and old boaters alike to get out and meet more boaters. States is better for new boaters and we have had more beginners come with us on those trips than to nationals. It has been cool to meet other boating schools, particularly Hollins, and I hope that more schools start coming to these events!

JonGuy: My biggest thoughts towards the women that have been racing is the fact that it has really pulled whitewater paddling into the forefront at HOP and Hollins. The spirit of completion has motivated them to strive to be better paddlers.  They check out boats more often, they work out more often, and they are starting a club with the full intent of helping to support the competitors.  It has created a sense of identity for many of them, which is incredibly important to many of them.  They are accused of being too much of a clique.  Imagine that, a HOP clique!!!

Tasha: The ACA’s races have given the SBC boaters an opportunity to rally as a team and work toward goals – individual and team goals. The veteran paddlers encourage new ladies to join the team and compete each fall. It’s something to rally around and a way to build community. I’d second Jon Guy- even within the SBC Outdoor Program there is a paddling crew. They’re hooked and they encourage each other in pool sessions and on the river. Having a culminating race is a great way to celebrate all their work and be a part of a larger boating community.

Well, obviously the Endless River crew will be cheering for both Sweet Briar and Hollins. We love sharing time on the river with you. And sure enjoy your enthusiasm. The best best of luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Lars Holbeck Zen of Walking a Rapid

| Posted in Whitewater Kayaking Stories |

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Zeta Rapid photo compliments Tyler Curtis

Zeta Rapid on the Futaleafu.  Even to the unitiated the rapid looks crazy. Take 5,000 – 25,000 cfs and stuff all that volume into a z-shaped mini canyon only about 20 feet wide.   For the kayaker scouting the rapid, it takes only a few minutes to note the over-hanging wall with a violently recirculating eddy tucked underneath it, the undercut walls looming downstream, and the eddy lines that look like they can (and in fact will) swallow full-volume boats without hesitation.  For those with knowledge of the history of the rapid, add sives that cannot be immediately spotted (and in fact were learned of only when swimmers ended up in them).  Zeta has a well-worn path where many an experienced paddler has gladly picked up their boat and walked around it.  Zeta is where Lars Holbeck taught me one of my most important lessons in kayaking: when to be okay with walking a rapid.  Read more….

 

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Two Controversial Dam Projects Stalled

| Posted in Whitewater Kayaking Stories |

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Two Controversial Dam Projects Stalled

The La Parota Dam Project and the Belo Monte Dam Project have been [at least temporarily] halted is the word from the river advocacy organization International Rivers.

La Parota Dam Project [Mexico] has been definitively cancelled after leaders of the CECOP (the community organization organized to fight the project) and the state government of Acapulco, Mexico signed an agreement.

According to International Rivers,  La Parota would have flooded close to 17,000 hectares of land; displaced more than 25,000 people ad affected another 75,000 people downstream of the dam.

International Rivers reports that the project came at great personal sacrifice for many community members. The commitment to defeat the project resulted in communities finding themselves divided over the issue, and people dying for the cause.

At almost the same time, the Belo Monte Dam project [Brazil] was halted–at least temporarily. The Belo Monte Dam project reached international attention after the indigenous people of the Xingu River reached out to the international community. The Belo Monte Dam would be the world’s third-largest hydroelectric project on one of the Amazon’s major tributaries, the Xingu River. The Belo Monte Dam would divert the flow of the Xingu, devastate an extensive area of the Brazilian rainforest, displace over 20,000 people, and threaten the survival of indigenous tribes that depend on the river

In many countries, dam-controlled rivers guarantee water for power generation, protection of the natural resources and downstream recreation. The United States epitomizes finding that balance through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). All privately owned projects must go through relicensing processes. In the past five years, this process has resulted in not only finding a balance between stakeholders to continue a project, but also recognizing when a dam no longer proves its legitimacy. The process has resulted in the removal of a number of dams from one side of the US to the other; including the Tuckasegee, NC and the White Salmon.

Hydro projects are not only about bringing power to third world countries that seek progress, but about third world debt, international company investment, and power. To understand the complexity of this issue, it is worth reading The Confessions of an Economic Hitman.

To keep track of international projects and how they are affecting people and places, International Rivers is an important contact.

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My name is Alyssa, I’m a 14-year old kayaker and here is my kayaking story

| Posted in Whitewater Kayaking Stories, Women and Whitewater Kayaking |

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14-year old Alyssa nailing the line at Bull's Sluice, Chattooga

Looking out over the rocks and seeing Bull’s Sluice, knowing that in a few moments I’d be riding down that far right tongue was a nail-biting experience for me. What was even more thrilling was the rush I got as I entered the eddy right before the Bull. Having made it in by a hair, I was already a little shaken. When my group leader (my dad) exited the eddy, I followed with sweaty palms. Paddling over that rushing current and feeling my whole boat take off through the air and land, a smile of victory swept across my face. I’d finally done it. I’d just run the Bull. My name’s Alyssa Taylor, I’m fourteen, and this is my story.  Read more about this inspiring 14-year old….

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Doug Worful Styl’n it up on the river

| Posted in Whitewater Kayaking Stories |

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Doug Worful styl'n on the Nantahala, April 2012

In the Fall of 2010, our friend Doug Worful proved all naysayers wrong by getting back on the river. It was inspirational to write about his journey back to the river after a paralyzing accident.

He has an an amazing attitude – matched only by the amazing group of friends.  With the help of Dennis Huntley and the fine folks at NRS – Doug now has his own rig. And seeing him out on the Nantahala River this week, it was easy to see how much fun he was having by the smile on his face.

Thank you so much Dennis for what you have done. And thank you NRS for helping out a good friend!

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Olympic Hopefuls Head to the Nantahala River

| Posted in Whitewater Kayaking Stories |

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Nantahala Falls with gates ready for the 2012 U.S. Open

The Nantahala River is hosting a good number of Olympic hopefuls March 23, 24 and 25 as whitewater slalom kayakers and canoers from all over the country participate in the Bank of America U.S. Open race.

Sponsored by the Nantahala Race Club (NRC), the U.S. Open is not an Olympic qualifying event, but with the US Team Trials just one month away–and London (site of the 2012 Summer Olympics) fast approaching, the US Open is strategically an important race this year.

One of the advantages to the US Open is its location on the Nantahala River. The US Canoe & Kayak Team (USCKT) trains at the Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC. Switching venues from a familiar course that athletes use to train day in and day out,  to one less-familiar helps the athletes keep on their toes on the river.  A big component to winning a race is the ability to read water. If a racer paddles neck-and-neck with their closest opponent as far as strokes go, the tie breaker might be who uses the current and/or particular features on the river to shave off an extra second—or tenth of a second, to the finish line.

The US Open also gives the athletes an opportunity to fine tune their training strategy. They can identify their weaknesses and come away from the weekend with a more focused approach to their training needs.

“Any chance to get in the start gate and experience real time race simulation is extremely valuable,” is how Horace Holden Jr., former Olympic athlete and familiar face at many US Opens, sees the role of the US Open for the athletes. “It’s critical to have a race day plan and routine to get the most from the hours and days and years of training. Practicing that routine helps eliminate nervousness and anxiety and sharpen focus. That’s the best way channel energy in the right direction, achieving the best performance possible. Even if the Open is not a qualifier, it is an additional opportunity to hear 3, 2 ,1…… and execute the race day plan.”

Looking beyond this weekend’s event, the next step will be team trials. Held in April at the Charlotte Whitewater Center, shaving that “extra second” off their time might mean the difference between making the team and sitting this year out. There are only three boats that qualify to be on the team from each category/division: K1 (kayak – individual) Mens, K1-womens, C-1(canoe – individual) Mens, C-1 women, and C-2 (canoe-tandem) Mens.

From team trials, the competition will become even fiercer leading up to the summer Olympics. Only four of the fifteen team members will ultimately compete in the 2012 Olympics because there will be only one boat represented from four of the five divisions: K1-Mens, K1-Womens, C1-Mens and C2-Mens. C1-womens division was only sanctioned two years ago, and will not be an Olympic event in 2012.

Slalom boating is about speed, but also grace, finesse and precision—a combination made so much more challenging when adding whitewater/current into the equation. This weekend is a great time to come out and watch the event at the Nantahala Falls. It is also an opportunity to show your support for athletes who have put their heart and soul into training for a chance to represent the USA at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Check out the NRC website for a schedule of the event.

And for how you can use slalom to improve your own paddling check out our slalom articles.

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Nantahala Experience to Share

| Posted in Whitewater Kayaking Stories |

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We love hearing from folks that have shared time with us on the river!  We post their comments up on the board here at the shop, and include them on our testimonials pages on the website.  Sometimes a story comes through that needs to be shared even more. Following is a great adventure had by our friend Bryant!

Dear River Rats,
First, let me say that when I was a younger man, the Nantahala and Chattooga, etc. where challenges that were met with a cautious confidence and enjoyed with a relaxed excitement! 40 years later as an older, out of shape guy, I went down your river with an elevated “pucker factor.” I am glad to have listened intently to the owners instructions and warnings. They proved to not only be helpful but where correct in every aspect! I did try and remember every approach and set up instruction but found my over aged brain couldn’t process it all.

While concentrating too hard, I busted my ass 5 minutes into the run over an obscure flat rock. I just couldn’t let go as instructed to do ( this being at the very top and not wanting to lose my gear so soon ) so I got raked over a couple sets of falls until a nice group of guys that were in those little “plastic shoes” rescued me. By raked I mean, getting sucked over into a belly down position which is what happens when you’re trying to hang onto a duckey and paddle at the same time. Not to mention the life vest that I didn’t tightly secure at the waist straps enough and the vest try to ride up around my throat and strangle me. Oh yea, I was freakin!

I got my battle scars on my shins I proudly wore home to Florida and just last week picked the last scabs off. This opening misadventure caused me to journey somewhat paranoid until the next wipe out 2/3 rds down. My buddies encouraging pep talk at a road side eddy was the only thing that kept me going to the big finale.  “The Bump” and “The Falls” were next. I ran it superbly and salvaged my ego and I was able to go home victorious!

I remember years ago when I was navigating “Decap Rock” and “5 Falls” where the “Deliverence”crew had battled, asking my little female guide, “how did you get those sticthes on your face and legs”. She answered she got nicked
kayaking the Chattooga at night with some other guides.

The moral of this story is “you have to crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run.” To answer your thank you card, I had a great crawl and I will be back with my sons to see you ERA folks!

I”ll always remember my favorite line from a movie spoken in dramatic fashion (Lewis Medlock aka Burt Reynolds) “You don’t beat it, you don’t beat this river.” I’ll never take 3 feet of water for granted!

Keep up the good work and thanks a bunch for a great time!
Regards, Bryant Ring

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The Noah Jeti: a catalyst for boat design

| Posted in Kayak Gear Reviews, Whitewater Kayaking Stories |

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the Noah Jeti - now a museum piece

the Noah Jeti was the catalyst for rethinking boat design in the early 80's

when the question of what was the catalyst behind creek boat design, the answer starts with the Noah Jeti. Read all about it….

 

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First-time slalom competitors showing up the crowd

| Posted in Whitewater Kayaking Stories |

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We always call kayaking the “great equalizer” because once everyone puts on their gear, it is no longer the “doctor/lawyer/engineer/student/ professional/weekend warrior/young or old. Everyone is just a kayaker – some a bit taller than others. This past weekend the “shorter segment” of kayaking showed their stuff at the Cullowhee Citizens Race. And after a great weekend slalom boating, they took precious time away from their favorite non-kayaking thing: Homework, to write up something about their first slalom event. Enjoy the artistic prose by The Meyers/Singleton ladies….

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Team River Runner Brings Things Full Circle!

| Posted in Whitewater Kayaking Stories |

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Demonstrating how far the Team River Runner program has come along, the TRR-Lexington KY  chapter will be hosting Cardinal Hill Hospital tomorrow for an evening paddling the Kentucky River in Lexington.

Cardinal Hill Hospital is a rehab center working to help people with disabilities achieve maximum independence.  And there is no better group to have as mentors than the Team River Runner crew!

More than 15 patients will team up with an equal number of TRR vets to paddle on the Kentucky River tomorrow night.  

Following that, the TRR-Lexington crew will head down to western North Carolina to spend a weekend paddling the Nantahala River.  We know that Thursday’s event in Lexington is going to be great; and we look forward to even more fun seeing the chapter enjoying a weekend on the Nantahala!

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