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Perfect weather and huge crowds made NOC’s GAF 2014 better than ever.  Not only were the Nantahala Cascades and Upper Nantahala running (thanks American Whitewater!) but also there were good deals, bands, food and beer on both shores at the take-out.   What more can a paddler ask for?  Apparently not much as I’ve never seen the river so crowded with paddlers and that was just the lower section!

The event centers around a sale – and NOC’s helpful staff were selling off the year’s demo / instructional fleets so it is always a shoppers delight.  This year Stephen Wright and I helped the staff sell 26 boats in one weekend – while some were used demo’s and marked down accordingly others were brand new purchases by paddlers who finally found the right boat.   While I would always rather be paddling, if I’m gonna visit a dealer I like to find some way to help.  It was fun sharing our knowledge of the JK line and the rivers all over the Southeast to help good people find the perfect boat for their needs.

The big winners this year were the Zen, Karma and new 2015 Fun.  The Zen sold out fast as it’s such a great fit for the Nantahala / Ocoee / Pigeon and most all the rivers MOST paddlers like to run.  The Karma was recently added to the instructional fleet at NOC so it was no wonder the blend of easy-handling, speed, and creek ability were in hight demand.  The Fun was the newcomer, so everyone wanted to take it for a spin or at least try it on.  While we didn’t have any to sell, it was so cool hearing the gushing enthusiasm coming from paddlers of all sorts who took it down the the river: ”Easy to drive” ”Easy to roll”  ”Sporty but confidence inspiring” ” Just a hoot.”  Looks like the sizing and ‘fit” are a big improvement and the hull is sporty enough to entertain the staff while friendly enough for new rollers.  For the Fun paddlers from 120 up to 190 gave a strong thumbs up.  For the 4-Fun paddlers from a TALL 175lbs to a strong 250lbs enjoyed the boat though for predictably different reasons.  Nice job EJ / David Knight!

While I miss the fall colors, Halloween candy, and flea-market atmosphere of old I sure do like the warm days, dam-release paddling options and cool but social nightlife of the new GAF from NOC.   See you next year!

Clay Wright