Select Page

By Damon Bungard

June 1, 2009

The New Haven river near Bristol, VT is one of my favorite
resources in the state. It’s probably the most consistently
runnable, good Class 4/5 whitewater in VT, and the lower sections
are also some of the best places to spend some time casting a
line. What more do you need?

For years the local paddling community talked about hosting a
downriver race on the Upper section (Class 4/5), and this year
thanks to the efforts of the UVM Catayak Kayak Club and members of
the Northeast Paddlers Message Board, it finally happened. It was
great to see the river lined with paddlers and spectators.
It is Spring in VT however, and while organizers were hoping for a
moderate Spring level around 400 CFS, rains the day before bumped
everything up into the 1200 CFS+ range, and turned the river into
serious continuous whitewater. Luckily the Lower section was still
manageable, and after a quick safety run by myself and a few
others checking for strainers, about 20 paddlers had a fun race
down the Lower.

By afternoon, levels had dropped a bit, and a small handful of
locals were more than willing to still race the Upper. The race
format was modified a bit from Time Trials in sections and a Final
top to bottom, to just a timed single run, top to bottom. Before I
even had a warm up run, there we all were in the top eddy. Due to
the levels, we all agreed that despite the safety strategically
set along the banks, there was still plenty of room for something
to go wrong, and we spaced ourselves at 30 second start intervals
so if any really serious incidents happen, somebody would likely
be in the water close by. About a 3rd of the way down, a side surf
in a hole let Justin pass. About half way down, heading through
the ledges, I crested and saw an empty boat and a competitor
heading for an eddy. That empty boat and I tangled for a bit, and
I wasn’t quite sure how things were going to work out when we both
closed on the main waterfall on the run, Toaster, about the same
time. Not wanting to land on it, I paused for a bit, and when it
hung on some rocks near the lip, I slipped past, straight into my
high water ‘plug-it’ line — which I also figured was the least
likely way for it to land on my head! After a few more rapids, I
reached the finish with a smile.

Speedster Justin ‘If there’s A Race I Win It’ Beckwith took home
the trophy (possibly the coolest ever), Colby Cook placed second,
and I placed third in my trusty Hero. For all results click here.

Afterwards we had a fun cookout with a bunch of close friends at
Justin’s place in New Haven, and covered the Jeep and in Addison
County Clay. All in all it was the proper way to spend a rainy,
cold Saturday.

Thanks to Jerry O’Neill and Patrick Rogers for the pics. For
coverage of the race check out video clips from Green River
Pictures. Thanks to the UVM Kayak Club for hosting a great event
and growing interest in whitewater in our state. It’s great to see
an growing contingency of young boaters excited to get on the river.

 Click to see larger imageClick to see larger imageClick to see larger imageClick to see larger imageClick to see larger image