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Every year the Potomac River, well known among the DC boating community, but one of the least known resources world-wide, holds an incredible event, the Potomac Festival. I have been going to this event almost every year since 1984 when I moved to DC from New Hampshire.

The festival had the following events in 2007
1. Great Falls Race (Class 5 race down Great Falls)
2. Freestyle Competition
3. Boater-cross
4. Attainment Race
5. Downriver race
6. Downriver squirt comp
7. Eddyline Squirt comp
8. Old School Wave Surfing Comp

The only thing missing is a slalom race, which is weird since this is such a big slalom area. There are volunteers that organize each event and are in charge of running that event. With so many events going on it is hard to plan your day without either skipping events or spending 12 hours in your boat! I skipped the Attainment race, downriver race, and squirt boating this year. I wish I did them, however.

The Great Falls Race has two classes, long boat and short boat. In the long boat class Aaron got first, Geoff was second and I was third. We were all within a second of each other. In the Short Boat class Geoff won, I was second, and Jason Beakes was third with Geoff and I only .2 seconds apart. It was a great race down the Maryland side of the Falls. The race started just above “Pummel” and finishing just below Horseshoe, taking only 45 seconds to do the three drops. “Pencil Sharpener” the second drop gave many fits.

The Freestyle Competition was in “Bloody Goode” hole and Horseshoe Wave, just below Horseshoe. In the junior class Dane was first, but I still don’t know who got second and third. I know that Jason Craig was 4th. (look for full results at Potomac Festival website, )

In the women’s Class it was Tanya Shuman in first, Monique Hushman in second, and I forget who got third (they competed on Saturday)

In the Men’s Pro Class- It was Jay Kincaid in 1st, I was second (325 points to 320 points), and Bryan Kirk was in 3rd.

In the Boatercross race we had a great race with 6 of us making the finals:
EJ, Jay Kincaid, Jason Beakes, Geoff Calhoun, Adam, and AJ

I got to the first move in first place with a full on sprint side by side with a bunch of really fast boaters and kept the lead to the final move which only required that I go around a buoy. I got too excited and cut the corner a little close, not needing to either, and the buoy rolled under my boat so I had to go back for it. Meanwhile I created a traffic jam but Geoff got the open door, followed by Jason, and then AJ, while I came in 4th after the mess, and Jay got pushed around the wrong side of the first rock getting knocked out. Great race, even though I pulled a brain fart at the end.

The Old School Wave Surfing contest was just that. Organized by Bill Kirby (old school dude), it was packed with air guitars, paddle twirls, shudder rudders, enders, pop ups, etc. the winning ride was done by me with a flurry of classics, plus my own tweak on the air guitar. I started my ride with a double paddle twirl and went straight into an air guitar, where I tuned my guitar before playing a rocking tune. I then spun around and did a back shudder rudder and ultimately went for the big ender and paddle toss. It was a good ride for me. Dane took second with a similar ride but flushed off for longer than I did getting points deducted, while Jay Kincaid did the air violin, perhaps a new trick. The old school guys competing, did some sweet moves too, but didn’t realize that we have been training quite a bit for this moment with our paddle tricks!

The parties were fun, of course, with free beer for competitors, and great food. The sausages rocked! Spencer brought Karioki and got a few to sing, but I escaped without having to perform. Many of my friends were there, but I missed my cousin Kirk and a couple of other friends that are usually there.

I will be there again next year, meanwhile we are getting quite a bit bolder on the falls in the past two days.

The best hole on the river is just above Horseshoe and we are playing it like it was nothing. I don’t feel like videoing, but if anyone wants to come out today, you may be rewarded with quality “You Tube” content! The hole is about 20 feet above the left side of Horseshoe rapid, the big hole at the bottom of the Falls. The typical line to run this final drop is over the far right side where a shelf carries you safely past the “horseshoe shaped hole” which is about a 5-8 foot drop. The hole hasn’t been named until now, and while we all worked on names, since I have played this hole more than anyone over the past 15 years, and even today you don’t find anyone playing it (yesterday it was Jay Kincaid, Dane, and myself doing loops, cartwheels, split wheels, clean cartwheels, but still too scared to do trickywoos, phonix monkeys, lunar orbits or McNasties) I am going to officially name it today. It is now called S.O.S. hole. This stands to Stick or Surf or Stick or Swim, depending on how good you are at getting out of Horseshoe when you fall into it sideways trying to get right but not having time to do so. In about 30 minutes we’ll go out again and play the hole, and we’ll be bolder than yesterday, again. Yesterday it started of with only doing 2 point cartwheels but an unofficial game of “PIG” started and we essentially dared each other to do harder moves, without saying anything, but by simply doing it first. After Jay pulled the first loop, and then Dane went and flushed, but barely, and right side up stroking to the eddy (he made it by the skin of his teeth), and then I went and did a loop, Jay called the game off by doing the”Hairy Ferry” and dropping over Horseshoe in the center ramp (something we hadn’t done on this trip yet). We followed him down and that game was over. We carried back up again but didn’t do anything harder than before.

Today, after a good night’s sleep and thinking about the hole, we are thinking that we could probably stick a McNasty, for example. Whether one will get thrown in that hole today or not will depend upon just how bold we are feeling when we pull into the last chance eddy that you surf onto the hole from. When sitting in the eddy, you look downstream and the horizon line is jagged. Below the hole is a shallow lip that has chunky rocks protecting a kayaker from being able to take an easy line clear of the hole. It forces you to either go hard left and do a boof into a really manky landing (way more manky than during the race since the water is lower) or go right into the meat of the hole. There is a small wave just on the lip of the drop that can be caught and surfed if you are right side up and paddling hard when you hit it. Anyhow- I am exicited to get out there. Kristine is running with the dogs and we’ll go when she returns.

Dane and Jason just got picked up by Jez (our Australian team member) and they are off to the New River.

I am teaching clinics on the Potomac River with Valley Mill Kayak School this weekend. If you haven’t signed up yet, now is the time, since it is getting full!
(301) 840 7388



p.s. click here for full Potomac Fest results