2011 Watauga River Gorge Race Recap
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!
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!!!
*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!
*The wild and crazy Mark Taylor did an awesome freewheel of Stateline Falls to finish his race run!
*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!
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!
Good times, carnage action and big boofs!!! That’s the way we roll on Watauga!
Come get you some next year…