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2008 Green Narrows Race

Another year, another Green Race. Though this year the race wasnÂ’t quite as big as in years passed, it certainly wasnÂ’t a small race. As you are probably aware of by now, the southeast is nearing the end of a second year of drought. In 2007, the operators of Tuxedo Hydro Station were able to give us a little extra water for the race, but no such luck this year.

The 13th annual Green Narrows Race was held at a low 100% release – a mere 6” on the gauge locals are normally used to seeing read 8” to 9” this time of year. At this low level, the Green is a scrapy, technical creek with tight lines and painful consequences for missed lines. Most lines stay the same but Gorilla, the biggest rapid on the river, also becomes the most technical. Gorilla’s turbulent entrance slot, The Notch, becomes a little steeper and taller but no less terrifying, and a hydraulic that will stop all forward momentum forms on the lip of the monkey itself. Add the fact that this hole has a bad tendency to kick right, toward the river right shelf, and it’s easy to understand why this is combat kayaking. Enter the brave Green Racers.

Chan Jones firing into Gorilla in the new Karnali – Photo courtesy of Clay Lucas

No new course records were set this year but there were a lot of new racers and just as many Green Race-specific long boats constructed by Dagger, Liquidlogic, and WaveSport. In the racer’s photo this year, all short boats and old school boats like the Tornado were thrown on the ‘burn pile’ in the center, and were surrounded by all the new race boats stood on end as a thank-you to the companies who produced them to keep this race alive.

DixieMarree and the racers – Photo courtesy of Rob Hurst

Pat Keller won his second Green Race with a long boat time of 4:31. Adriene Levknecht and Laura Ferrell tied it up in the ladies class with a respectable time of 5:40. French newcomer, Eric Deguil killed it in the short boat class with a 5:01. In the handpaddle division, Keith Sprinkle defended his title with a 5:23. Will Lyons called his win in the days leading to the race and made good on his claim with a 5:44 in the C-1 class. And finally, Chris Gragtmans won the Ironman class with a combined long boat and short boat time of 9:39.

The Pyranha team had a strong presence at the Green Race, with Jason Hale, myself, Jared Seiler, and Billy Jones racing. Jason, Billy, and I finished high in the long boat field with a 5:08, 5:27, and a 5:05, respectively. In the short boat class, I believe I finished sixth, with a 5:24 in the new Karnali, and Jared Seiler walked away with a quick 5:30 in his Burn.

Jared Seiler running the Gorilla – Photo courtesy of Casey Jones

Highlights from the race included Pat KellerÂ’s handpaddle-clap during his knuckledragger run, Geoff CalhounÂ’s run through Gorilla (railslide down the shelf to stern piton in a Green Boat), a brave paddler who raced a Shredder (inflatable rubber catamaran-type craft), and the fact that nobody got hurt despite the low water level.

Shredder in Gorilla – Photo Courtesy of Casey Jones

Jim, Dave, and Dinver at the Pyranha warehouse put my name on one of the first KarnaliÂ’s to get to Asheville from the UK so I could race it. Thanks guys! I was very impressed with the performance of the Karnali. I picked up my shiny green boat and outfitted it Friday afternoon, hours before the race, and paddled it for the first time in the start eddy above Frankenstein. As I ferried back and forth across currents and he first thing I noticed about the boat is how stable and forgiving it was. At my start as I hammered into Frankenstein, I felt the boat ride up and over boils, like my Burn, but without the trippiness. The boat didnÂ’t seem to have quite as much speed as the Burn but in rapids the forgiving nature and shape of the bow and deck seemed to make up for time lost in the flats, as I didnÂ’t have to work as hard to stay on line and could focus more on keeping the boat moving fast. IÂ’m going to continue paddling the Karnali this winter and test the limits of the boat but right now, I feel like the Karnali is going to prove to be a great creeker!

Chan in Go Left – Photo courtesy of Val Blanchette, Off The Road Photos

Pencil Sharpener – Photo courtesy of Adam Miles

Photo courtesy of Adam Miles

The Notch – Photo courtesy of Adam Miles

Thanks goes out to Roger and all the folks at Immersion Research for their ongoing support and for rushing me a new skirt and shorty jacket in time for the race. IÂ’d also like to thank Robert Bone from the Nantahala Outdoor Center for making sure I had a Green Boat to race this year. Also, thanks to Jason Hale, DixieMarree, TDUB, and Duke Power for making this awesome race possible!

Watch LVM for more Green Race coverage including results and video.

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