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October 2, 2007

By Jay Kincaid

I just arrived back in Reno after a great two weeks of kayaking. As many of you know the California area is in a significant drought so the idea of more water and a new river was very welcome.

The Gauley River is one of my top 15 favorite rivers in the world, and every fall when things have dried up out west there is no better place to be. The thing that I really enjoy about it is that I have the chance to just go kayaking with all of my best friends from the river and from life. It has a different feel to me in that everyone is there with the only expectation of having fun. We are not concerned with training for a event, or working with a camera, or dealing with what can go along with running more dangerous white water. It is just all laughs and good times and occasionally trying to show your friends how cool you think that you are.
The Gauley Fest party is always a great time as well. At Jackson Kayak we get to visit with many of our customers, future customers, and the paddling public in general. There is also everything else that is happening at the huge party which is fun to check out as well.

From the Gauley I headed up to the Wisp White Water Course in Maryland, the site of the 2007 National Championships. This is a White Water park unlike any that I have been to before. It has four adjustable features that make for the best play that I have ever seen at a man made park. The cool thing is that as fun as the features are, they are still playing with them and their full potential has not yet been reached.

So, the National Championships itself was a great time. On friday we had a boater cross event that was very cool. We had a whole course of racing moves set up for us and it made the event very fun for competitors and spectators alike. The highlight for me was trying to pass my little buddy Jason Craig going into a one boat slot and having him put me into the wall. The irony is that I was the one that told him to stay out of the way or I would put him into the wall. It was very fun and if anyone was going to take me out I was glad that it was my little ‘Proto-Jay’.

The freestyle event was unique in that for Prelims and Semifinals we used two features, which I am now a huge fan of. In the finals we used the lower of the the two features and it was game on. Everyone in every class paddled really well and it was awesome to see everyone get mentally geared up for a big event. I ended up in third place, which I felt pretty good about to be honest. I always want to win but I am not sure that at that moment I could have paddled much better then I did. Being out of my boat for over two months this summer with an injury and then only having low water to train on the rest of the summer wasn’t exactly great for making improvements. I paddled well though and was glad to be on the podium with Stephen and EJ. Also, hats off to Brian Kirk and Andrew Holcomb for paddling so well in finals as well.

Lastly, I would like to thank Stephen Wright and Clay Wright for picking me up from the airport, letting me catch rides for two weeks, and driving me back the airport. Very cool of both of you.

Jay Kincaid