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2011 Watauga River Gorge Race Recap

12 April 2011 3 Comments
2011 Watauga Gorge Race Start

2011 Watauga Gorge Race Start

The 2nd annual Watauga River Gorge Race went down this past Saturday (4-9-11) organized by Eric Chance.  The event was a total grassroots paddling community gathering with no prizes or trophies; ALL FOR GLORY!  It was a big boofing good time and full of NASCAR style “rubbin’ is racing” action!!  The water level was is nice 260ish CFS flow and the weather was nice with partly cloudy skies and temps in the 70’s.  38 racers participated in the mass start downriver race!!


The race started at the put-in for the gorge run.  All the racers lined up with the sterns touching the river left shore.  The short boats were placed at the front of the line-up and the long boats were lined up in the rear of the field.  The race was launched at exactly 3:00 P.M. and the field shuffled for position to get under the low Guy’s Ford Road Bridge.  The start was CRAZY to say the least, but a ton of fun!


The pack stayed close together in the 1/2 mile class II-III warm up leading down to the first major class IV named rapid, Cabin.  As the pack started coming into the first two major bolder garden rapids (Bump & Grind and Sh%t-kicker) the action really stepped up and carnage abound!  Several good beat downs occurred at the bottom hole of Hydro, but everyone came away unharmed!

Ty Racing Through Hydro

Ty Racing Through Hydro

The race finished at the bottom of Stateline Falls which was roughly 4 miles downstream from the start.  Racers had to pace themselves to have some energy left for the bottom part of the run.  The long boats were of course much faster in the flat sections between rapids and ended up with the top finishes! 


Congrats to the top 5 finishers of the race:


1. Chris Gragtmans

2. Toby MacDermott

3. Drew Austell

4. Steven McGrady

5. Eric Chance


No one was down at the finish taking names, so I do not have a complete list of racers and finishes.  I can tell you that when I boofed into the eddy below Stateline Falls I had a time of ~40 minutes and was somewhere around 25th place?  I had a blast!!!


Event Highlights:


*One kayaker piton at the bottom of Stateline falls and walked away unharmed.


*Shawn Malone (Who did not race, but put on a great exhibition) did a SICK crossover rail grab dropping off Stateline Falls!

Louie Rail Grabs @ Stateline

Shawn Malone Rail Grabs @ Stateline

*The wild and crazy Mark Taylor did an awesome freewheel of Stateline Falls to finish his race run!

Mark Freewheel

Mark Freewheelin'


Mark Freewheel Finish

Mark Freewheel Finish

*Matt Dalton nearly boofed on top of Jacob Henley from an unintentionally flip/surf at the bottom of Stateline Falls!


*Chris Gragtmans won the race by only 7 seconds with Toby MacDermott coming in a close 2nd place!

Chris wins Race!

Chris wins Race!

A big THANK YOU goes out to Eric Chance for organizing this event for the second year in a row!  I look forward to it next year!!  I would also like to thank Brain Plant, Ty Calwell, Matt Dalton & Mackenzie Ridnour for sharing photos for this event coverage! 

Wesley Boofs @ Stateline Falls!

Wesley Boofs @ Stateline Falls!

Good times, carnage action and big boofs!!!  That’s the way we roll on Watauga! 

Come get you some next year…


  • Shawn Malone said:

    for the record, that was not Louie at Stateline falls, however he was showing me down for my first time on the Watauga. I had a blast and fed off of the energy of all of the great people of the Watauga. Thank you for recognizing a canoeist in a nearly all kayak enviroment. It fells good…
    Shawn Malone

  • Louie said:

    Thanks for the mention but I was just holdin a clinic. I thought Strickland and Robinson told me some guy from Knoxville won, I guess they were just hoping.

  • wildwildwes (author) said:

    Shawn – I updated the post to give you the props ;-) sik line, dude and good times for sure!

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