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Photo by Morgan Burchfiel

On Friday evening of June 19th the local river community gathered for the first time during the pandemic to try to continue the good times of NoliFest. NoliFest had to be cancelled this year due to Coronavirus safety concerns, but Matt and I both agreed that our whitewater community was longing to be together in some fashion and Beat Nightfall was the cure. This third annual event was truly a breath of fresh air in many ways for all who joined!

The BoaterX had lots of fast action in the 8 mile enduro style course down the Nolichucky Gorge. There were a total of 33 athletes in the 3rd annual event and we were blessed with perfect weather the day before the summer solstice. The river level was 1,525 CFS, which was a good medium flow for the run from Popular, NC to USA Raft Outpost near Erwin, TN. This GO FAST event was a mass start at the put-in and first one down to the USA Raft landing was the winner! Another challenge in this BoaterX event was it did not start till late in the evening at 7:00 PM, so athletes only had about two hours to complete the course before daylight was gone.

Athlete’s spirits were high and motivated to go fast when the 3..2..1 countdown went down to start. Then a huge wake was created with the mass start launch! The bump and run technique was employed often as athletes jostled for positions down the course and trying to find faster lines to make passes.

This first person racer video, by Kevin Drury, really embodies what this great gathering is all about:

The winning time remained sub 1 hour this year despite the lower flow than last year’s 1,625 CFS flow. Everyone finished the course before darkness set in for the night. As the competitors reached the finish line they were greeted by cheers of the crowd that had amassed at USA Raft to help them finish strong! Good times, good times!!

Morgan Burchfiel Starting Line GO:

Men’s K-1 Class:
1. Adam Herzog 0:59
2. Chris Gragtmans 1:00
3. Ryan Horn 1:01
4. Marcelo Galizio 1:01
5. Will Amos 1:01
6. Curtis England 1:01
7. Mike Patterson 1:01
8. Todd Harrison 1:02
9. John Keller 1:02
10. Jonathan Holley 1:02
11. Wesley Bradley 1:03
12. Bryce Wilcox 1:03
13. Scott Daniels 1:05
14. Dalton Robinson 1:05
15. Tom P. 11:05
16. Kevin Drury 1:06
17. Patrick Pugh 1:06
18. John Arnold 1:07
19. Alex Wilson 1:07
20. Coleman Churitch 1:08
21. Andy Laws 1:22
22. Ethan Pererall 1:23
23. Wes Berry 1:25

Women’s K-1 Class:
1. Sarah Stine 1:04
2. Andrea Gass 1:15

SUP Class:
1. Andy Hinton 1:15
2. Dale Swanson 1:33

Inflatable Class:
1. Patrick Toupes 1:25
2. Lela Winton 1:33
3. Jubal, Lindsey, Sonja 1:33
4. Red Carr 1:37

USA Raft Livestream Finish:

In typical Matt Moses and USA Raft Style the event ended with a nice throw together after party with good fellowship, live music, cold beverages provided by USA Raft and the awards ceremony with a few prizes from USA Raft. It was for sure a nice small break in the crazy times we have had to endure this year. Cheers to hopefully hosting this event with NoliFest back in full action next year!!