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October 30, 2009

By Clay Wright

(shots by Clay and Tara)

Every year when the leaves start to turn I think of colored leaves
drifting down into the Russel Fork with a backdrop of cliff walls.
This year was one of the most spectacular yet. Perfect leaf colors,
decent weather, and a little extra water combined for one great
Festival Weekend!

The scene starts up Saturday with potential racers making speed laps
to hone in (or in Nick’s case try to learn) the lines and get ready
to rumble. The race doesn’t start till after 3, which makes for a
nice relaxed day with friends before the race gets underway. The
course last from 10-12 minutes, features all the major rapids, and
has a few short pools to muscle through where the fast boats really
gain some seconds. While 2 of the biggest undercut rocks you’ll ever
see are also along the course, most racers worry more about the spin-
out and melt-down at Triple Drop, crossing the L eddy above El
Horrendo, and staying upright through Climax’s middle line.

Dane and I chose the Jackson Kayak long boat: the Dyamic Duo for the
day. While we knew we wouldn’t be besting the course record, we’re
a pretty good team and thought it would be a great way to make the
race more interesting plus we might actually go pretty fast… My
cousin Howard and his buddy Todd also did a run in a Duo, making it
really fun to talk strategies and techniques along the way. On our
practice runs (we did 2) we had some rough lines through Tower, above
Fist, and above all getting left then surviving that last drop of
Climax. Luckily the practice paid off and we really put it together
when the clock started. What shouldn’t have come as a surprise but
did – Dane is an animal when the timer says ‘go’. I had to urge him
to slow down just before the hard rapids simply because we hadn’t
practiced coming out of the pools so fast, a shame really but one
spin and we would be out off our Top 20 goal for the race. We
finished 8th overall, surprising even ourselves, but knowing next
year a Duo can go faster.

The festivities started upon reaching Ratlif hole – whiskey, chips,
and beers were passed around as everyone told their tales and awaited
the results. We all pitched in whatever we had to boost up the prize
table, then proceeded to drink the prizes as well. The festival
grounds had great local music this year and probably the biggest
bonfire yet – to ward off that 50 degree chill just in case the
drinkable anti-freeze wasn’t working perhaps. We called it early,
but I know quite a few didn’t.

On Sunday Emily was a little nervous about paddling the Russel Fork
for her first time, but once she donned her flowered Full Face and
her pink Punk Rocker she ready to go. Dane, Nick and I all paddled
the new 2010 Fun down just to enjoy the higher water play potential
and to make things a bit more sporting. Dane had fun showing Nick
all the slot he’d learned and we all enjoyed a long day in the gorge
just watching the leaves come down and not worrying to paddle across
the pools. Maybe that’s just another great reason to do whitewater
races … it makes it that much more fun to drift in circles checking
out the scenery or scouting the next time.

clay wright

Place Name Boat Time Category/Comments
1 Andrew Holcombe Greenboat 9:57 *First non-wavehopper
ever under 10 minutes
2 Geoff Calhoun Greenboat 10:06
3 Chris Gragtmans Greenboat 10:07
4 Isaac Levinson Remix 100% 10:16
5 Ben Ledewitz Greenboat 10:24
6 Bryan Kirk Momentum 10:32
7 Tobin MacDermott Remix 100% 10:34
8 Clay Wright and Dane Jackson Dynamic Duo 10:38 First
K-2 racers on the RF
10 Jess Albright Tornado 10:43
11 John Grace Remix 100% 10:44
12 Brian Menzies Greenboat 10:47
13 Andrew Austell Greenboat 10:48
14 Clay Warren Greenboat 10:52
15 Nick Troutman Greenboat 10:53
16 Adam Herzog Remix 100% 10:54 Delay by rafts at Climax
17 Shane Groves Greenboat 10:56
18 Dustin Marquart Greenboat 10:57
19 Will Subblefield Corsica S 11:00
20 Howard Tidwell Spirit 11:01
21 Adriene Levknecht Remix 100% 11:08 *New womenâs record
22 David Herman Greenboat 11:11
23 Brian Mattingly Greenboat 11:12
23 Jon Crain Greenboat 11:12
25 Delaney Albright Greenboat 11:16
25 Laura Farrell Greenboat 11:16 2nd place K-1W
27 Matt Walker Greenboat 11:18
28 Curtis Joyce Corsica 11:19
29 Caleb Coaplen Tornado 11:20
30 Jay Ditty Response 11:22 C-1 (THANKS AGAIN!!! he’s the
31 Eric Chance Tornado 11:24
32 Jeff Clewell Greenboat 11:26
33 Michael Patterson T-canyon 11:30
34 Daniel Stewart Remix 100% 11:34
35 Taylor Fearrington Greenboat 11:36
36 Eric Strittmater Tornado 11:37
37 Gareth Tate Greenboat 11:38
38 Adam Johnson Magnum 72 11:39 Probably a short boat record
38 Keith Sprinkle Greenboat 11:39 *New hand-paddle record
40 Luke Hopkins Excel 11:41
41 James Kodaras Greenboat 11:47
42 Eric Henrickson Response 11:58
43 Brian Jennings Mystic 12:03
44 Mark Miller Burn 12:32
45 Rachel Curtis Jefe 12:45 3rd place K-1 W
46 Willy Witt Overflow X 13:20
47 Dewey Gibson Everest 13:36
48 Sarah Mello Greenboat 13:38 4th place K-1 W
49 Preston Brown Pirouette 13:48 swim at Fist

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