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By Clay Wright

Jackson Kayak staff members Brad_ Sisco, Jonothan (Goat) Glover, Mark (D) Hammond, and John (gnargnar) McConville just added another win to the Jackson Kayak record, and this on e tested not only the team’s skill and stamina, but also our boats themselves. They kayaked a total of 35,000 VERTICAL feet in just 8 days in the month of March. That’s an average of 4375 feet a day!

The ‘Jackson5’ crew started out with a quality run on the Tiny piney as well as 14 runs on the Tellico in a weekend, but as the scores were posted they quickly realized just how much harder they would have to go. Other teams were logging 20 runs/day on the Tellico and recording more than double their score already! But they rallied, knocking off 14 Citico runs the following Saturday before rolling right into the most intense Tellico lapathon ever, racking up around 12,400 for the weekend to jump right back in the game. Cries of ‘foul’ and ‘BS’ popped up all over Boater-talk’s TVF page (see, as many of the other teams did not believe such huge gradient numbers were possible from the ”cigarette-smoking playboaters from Sparta, TN" . To the nay-sayer’s credit, it probably is impossible to log 31 laps on the Tellico in a day.. without headlamps. Jackson5 had begun their day at midnight in teams of 2 to give themselves plenty of extra time to rack up more far more gradient than anyone else, and climbed into 2nd place.’s TVF competition is divided into ‘Young Lion’s’ – an open class, and the ‘Sik Birds’ – who must only compete on class 5 whitewater. Each team can only paddle any given river for 2 days before moving on, must kayak in groups of 2 or more, and must ‘pass the baton’ – make physical contact from team member to team member when logging the gradient for any given day. Given the drought in the Southeast, the Young Lions teams had far more terrain to compete on and ended up besting the ‘Sik Birds’ total gradient numbers by quite a bit. But that’s not to say no one noticed Nathan Helms’s 6000 TVF on West Prong – the highest drop recorded by any individual in the comp, or the returning champs, Stanley Steamer’s opening up ‘Duke’s Creek’, a barely known cascade near Helen Ga where they not only had to hike every bit of the 3700 feet dropped, but also take photos of the insanely steep descent (see to make sure it was believed. While they scored much lower numbers, a few Sik Birds made it clear that with just a bit more rain they are surely the class to watch.

Back in the Lion’s den, our crew headed up to Russel Fork to sample some class 5 the following weekend, then headed to a VERY Little River in the Smokies the next, bashing down rock jumbles that tested the team’s stamina, friendship, and equipment. They remained in 2nd place, as ‘Team Sheperd’ had gotten quite busy over on Wilson’s Creek and Chattanooga’s ‘Juganauts’ had managed numerous Suck runs as well as massive numbers on the Tellico. It seemed Jackson5 would be hard pressed to stay in 2nd. But they still had 2 days for Wilsons while Team Sheperd had done theirs already.. So our team rallied hard, part of the group taking Friday off lap it up, then the whole team came together on Saturday to replace the low-scoring Tiny Piney day with 5700+ on Wilsons, taking the lead as the sun set on March 31st and the TVF comp.

I’m not sure what’s more impressive, that they all managed to paddle every day of every weekend or that they managed such high scores on runs few of them had done. This is a grueling competition: winners paddled more miles in the month than many Pro-paddlers will all year and often with ‘below minimum’ conditions. As a result there were 17 broken boats, 10 broken paddles, and 2 shoulder dislocation injuries. Not one of these invovled our Team Jackson5, which shows not only that they logged the most TVF of the comp, but also that they paddled in control.

Hats off to the 07 TVF Champs!!!

Clay TVF winners are:

Sik Birds: Stanley Steamers: 22,632′
Young Lions: Jackson5: 35,059′

Other Awards:

"Park Wizards’ (most TVF / day in the Smokies) China Bones, 6000′ on West Prong Prize: Wizard’s Cape, embroidered with Team name and year

Georgia Bombers (most TVF/day in GA) Stanley Steamers: 3740′ on Duke’s Creek Prize: 4 Werner Paddles from ‘Go Overflow’

Keepers of the Green (Green TVF/day) Stanley Steamers: 8 laps and 4200′ Prize: Green Key from Liquid Logic

Kings of the Plateau: ‘ PHUKNU’ 22 laps and 6284′ on Suck Prize: Party at Pot House courtesy Tennesee River Gorge Trust

NRS Viewer’s Choice: Stanley Steamers: Dukes Creek Prize: NRS Drytops!

All Jackson5 photos from, courtesy John McConville


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Jackson5 on Russel Fork

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Jackson5 on Wilsons

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3-time Sik Bird Champs: Stanley Steamers (photo

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Stanley Steamers / Dukes Creek (photo

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TVF and a whole lot more