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By Stephen Wright

I have spent the past four months hoping that the infamous put-in waves
of the New River Dries would run while I was in the Mid-atlantic. This
week, miraculously, it happened. I was fortunate enough to have finished
teaching my Washington DC Potomac River clinics when the rain hit. Two or
more inches of kayaking excitement fell over most of the east coast and
slammed WV’s already-saturated ground. I headed to my parent’s house in
Richmond to do some truck repair work (replaced the hanger bearing on my
drive shaft–it’s still vibrating, but a lot better than it was) on Sunday
and Monday. After scrambling to get the repair done fast, I drove to
Fayetteville, WV–arriving after midnight.

I woke-up groggy, but Bryan Kirk informed me that I had no choice about
joining him for my first-ever run of Mann’s Creek. This was the perfect
test for my new Rocker, which I’ve so far only been able to paddle on the
Tellico. The creek was perfect for me: hard enough that I had to be on by
game constantly, but not so hard as to keep me from enjoying it immensely.
It’s a WV classic class 5 run that keeps going continuously for more than 5
miles into the New. Arriving on the New River at 40,000 cfs at the bottom
of Mann’s felt like we landed on a different planet, but I felt relieved to
have had a safe run. BIG thanks to Brian Jennings, who let me follow him
through the entire creek. I was definitely impressed with my new Rocker’s
ability to be predictable and easy to drive. After an exhausting 3 hour
run, and a quick lunch, I headed down the road next to Laurel Creek to the
mighty New River Dries to do some surfing.

The put-in waves are legendary. The big gun show has been won here
multiple times, and I have been lucky enough to have surfed them several
times in many boats. The waves are good between 25,000 and 70,000+ CFS, and
different waves are good at different flows. Ultimately as the water comes
up, the waves just get bigger. I arrived a day too late for the huge wave
(locals simply refer to it as "the big wave", or "the middle wave") that
reared-up on Monday, but enjoyed flows of between 35,000 and 25,000 on
Tuesday and Wednesday. I spent Thursday and Friday running the Dries
section with Bryan Kirk, Moe Kelleher, T Shuman, Marlow Long, Jeremy Laucks,
Moriya, Andrew Holcombe, and other great paddlers and friends. The
weather’s been incredibly warm, I have had a great place to stay (in the Wet
House), food is good here, and Black Dog is happy: WHAT A GREAT PLACE TO BE!
Enjoy the Video from 2 days on the put-in waves! (QuickTime 6.3 MB)

The new All Star continues to rock my world. It’s the only playboat that
I’ve ever paddled this long without having any complaints at all. It’s like
Dave and EJ managed to take all the things I loved about my old Prijon
Release (like the smooth, slicey cartwheels, MAJOR SPEED, slippery spins,
and great take-offs), and combined them with all the strengths of the
classic All Star. At the end of the day, I can’t imagine that I’d want to
paddle another boat in any play situation–this boat makes it easy to have
more fun in every spot. The run down the Dries allows for paddlers to enjoy
waves and holes, and I’m loving it.

I’ll probably stay here to paddle the New with Bryan Kirk until Tuesday
or Wednesday before I head north to judge at the World Championships on the
Ottawa 🙂

Live from the Wet House in Fayetteville,
Stephen Wright