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NoliFest 2024 was a high water affair over the course of the weekend. We postponed the race with the river level peaking above +10,000 CFS on Friday and more rain in the forecast for the afternoon into the evening. We decided to rally the brave souls who still wanted to go fast on Saturday evening of April 13th for this 7th annual event.

The river level was 4,700 CFS (highest level ever for the BoaterX). The event started at the launch site in Popular, NC and finished at the USA Raft Outpost near Erwin, TN. The higher river level made for fast and fluffy action in the 8 mile enduro style course down the Nolichucky Gorge. There were a total of 10 brave athletes who showed up to take on the high water with more women going fast in long boats than the men!

This GO FAST event was a mass start and the first paddle craft down to the USA Raft landing was the winner! Another challenge for this event was it did not start till late in the evening at 6:00 PM, so athletes only had about two hours to complete the course before daylight was gone.

Athlete’s spirits were high, like the river flow, and motivated to go fast when the 5..4..3..2..1 countdown went down for the start. Everyone jostled for the hole shot out off of the start line going into the first rapid, Last Chance, that packs a punch at higher levels. We had one swimmer midway through the rapid with the large breaking waves and some typical bump-n-run go fast antics. The whole group held up to make sure to get the swimmer safely to the river bank with her boat and paddle, before charging on down the run with no other incidents.
2024 Beat Nightfall Quarter Mile by Jarret Lynch

This year’s winning time set a new course record time of 55 minutes. Everyone finished the course before darkness set in for the night with time to spare. As the competitors reached the finish line they were greeted by cheers from the crowd that had amassed at USA Raft to help them finish strong! Good times, good times!!

1. Jacob Hauser – MK1 Long – 0:55
2. Suzie Jacques – WK1 Long – 0:58
3. Wesley Bradley – MK1 Long – 0:59
4. Bradley Hauser – MK1 Long – 1:01
5. MC McClellan – WK1 Long – 1:01
6. Katie Nolan – WK1 Long – 1:01
7. Mallie Billing – WK1 Long – 1:06
8. Ellie Ansback – WK1 Long – 1:09
9. Sam Iatarola – MK1 Short – 1:09
10. Joe Ravenna – MK1 Short – 1:12

Big thanks to our volunteer finish line judge: Trin McAlister

In typical Matt Moses and USA Raft style the event ended with a fun after party with good fellowship, live music, beverages and awards ceremony with NoliFest T-shirt prizes for all the athletes from USA Raft.

Cheers till time to put the hammer down again at NoliFest in 2025!!

Beat Nightfall Champions:
2018 – Chris Gragtmans – MK1 Long – 1:00 – 1,400 CFS
2019 – Adam Herzog – MK1 Long – 0:57 – 1,625 CFS
2020 – Adam Herzog – MK1 Long – 0:59 – 1,525 CFS
2021 – Michael Patterson & Bruce Poacher – MK2 Long – 0:57 – 1,800 CFS
2022 – Michael Patterson & Bruce Poacher – MK2 Long – 0:59 – 1,475 CFS
2023 – Adam Herzog – MK1 Long – 0:59 – Curtis England 0:57 (Forfeited in Sea Kayak) – 1,675 CFS
2024 – Jacob Hauser – MK1 Long – 0:55 – 4,700 CFS

Photos by Jarret Lynch and Bradley Hauser