South East Downriver Race – Nantahala River

The South East DownRiver Race is run by the Georgia Canoe Association on the 8 mile class II+ section of the Lower Nantahala River. It was our 4th downriver race of the season and the longest as well, thanks to the combination of low volume and physical distance.

This is the first race we’ve entered where there was a strong presence of downriver and slalom boats in addition to the regular short and long plastic boats. Downriver boats are fast and tippy – they are super light thanks to their carbonfiber construction, very narrow and don’t actually have a flat bottom.

Hunter opted to paddle a borrowed Jackson Karma UL, which was almost twice as big as him, and his first time in a long boat. I borrowed a Jackson Nirvana, which at 8ft 11 inches just makes the cut to stay as a short boat. They were big boats to wrestle down a shallow river but the length sure helped with our overall times.

The starting line is at the put in eddy at the top of the Lower Nantahala Run. It’s a pretty low key race, with the starter calling out the time and then people releasing at one minute intervals. Short boats went out first, with me in the #1 position, and my only goal for the entire race was to not get passed. SUCCESS on that one… I was the first one across the finish line, with the next boat being one of the long boats showing up about 25 seconds later (he started 6 minutes behind me…).

The race runs through the falls and then finishes at the founders bridge right at the Nantahala Outdoor Centre.

There were medals for every category and some long standing historic trophies for fastest canoe and kayak. It was tough being in the first position as I was not able to do my standard of chasing Hunter down the river. I won gold in K1 Women’s short boat (I was the only one). I was really proud that I came 2nd in K1 short boat overall at 66 minutes. Hunter worked hard, successfully wrestled the long boat, and came in with a time of 63 minutes so he took the family win.

It has been fun racing together this year – it pushes both of us and we have a fun shared experience as well.



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