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Tuck Fest 2019

Over 55,000 outdoor enthusiasts come together to celebrate the outdoor lifestyle at the Tuck Fest. This multi-day festival is held at the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC and features a packed schedule of whitewater kayaking, climbing, trail running, mountain biking, and adventure racing. On top of all of that, there is also live music, exhibitions and demos.

The Pyranha booth was buzzing all weekend long. Almost an entire fleet of Pyranha kayaks was available to demo – the 9Rs, 12Rs, Machnos, Burns, Lokis, and Rippers were all lined up and ready to go.

While the demos were constantly out on the water, there was also a steady stream of paddlers asking about the 9R II – what changed, how they compare, but mostly about when they can get one. For more information, you can check out Pyranha’s blog post on the new 9R II for all the details and tech specs.

The Ripper was in high demand – with all 3 sizes available to demo, it was easy to find the perfect fit. Paddlers loved the downriver speed paired with the playfulness of the stern. You will soon find yourself stern squirting on the eddy line, then surfing each and every wave. If you have not paddled the Ripper yet, it is definitely one for the list.

One of the favorite whitewater events of the festival is the Boatercross on Friday night. During the day, paddlers practice on the competition channel, tightening their lines and catching the gates. By 7 pm, spectators are lined up along both sides of the channel to watch this exciting event.

This year was one to watch – the place to be was at the last gate; it was by far the carnage corner, as well as the game changer. In the final moments, it was extremely tight until Evy Leibfarth edged past the others at the last gate and took it home.

Pyranha also sponsored whitewater clinics over the weekend. On Saturday, Chris Hipgrave ran a Whitewater Racing clinic, which was perfectly timed to run right before the Baker’s Dozen Race (13 laps on the Wilderness Channel). Paddlers were able to find the fastest lines on the run, talk about strategy, and finesse their techniques.

“Paddle with a Pro” in the new Fusion Duo was also available all weekend. Paddlers signed up for a 30-minute session with a Pro from Team Pyranha. After a warm-up run on the Wilderness Channel, maybe two, they headed out on the Competition Channel. Paddlers were impressed by the stability and the responsiveness of the Fusion Duo. They were catching eddies, running tight lines and surfing the waves – the options are endless; all of those features paired with the storage capacity set this kayak up for success on overnighters and expeditions.

Sunday featured back to back clinics – one of the clinics was the “Slice and Dice” clinic with Ben Drew and Holt McWhirt. If you had a Loki or a Ripper, this was the place to be!

Overall, the Tuck Fest was an amazing success. It was great to see so many people come together to share their love for the outdoors. Many walked away with new experiences they have not had before – zip lining, kayaking, rafting, mountain biking, or climbing. Spectators were able to watch a new sport that they have not seen before – Boatercross, or the Deep Water Solo Competition. Paddlers were learning new techniques, taking on the Competition Channel for the first time, or simply finding that perfect comfort level in their kayak.

The best part for me was being able to watch those moments and to catch them with my camera. One of my favorite quotes from Richard Bach in his novel, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, sums up this weekend perfectly for me:

You will begin to touch heaven, Jonathan, in the moment that you touch perfect speed. And that isn’t flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn’t have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there.”

Richard Bach