NOC 2013 Worlds spot: a hole in progress


Just back from the NOC checking out the work on the NOC playspot currently under construction and what a cool experience it was!

The riverbed looks basically the same till you notice there’s a different hole right where the old one used to be and the rocks stacked up to divert the water are MUCH bigger.

Once we got suited up it’s clearly a far different feature than it was this Fall and nothing like anything else on the river.   Andrew Holcombe, Daniel Dutton, Pat Keller , Risa Shimoda, Tommy Yonn, and Zack ‘Riverbone’ and I paddled 2 different versions so far and the 3rd comes on any minutes.    It’s a tough job to make a feature that’s deep enough to loop and cartwheel longer boats in a river with only 700 cfs but they are honing their skills and refocusing the water each round.

While we got lots of tricks in both versions, we all agreed it was still a bit ”aggressive” for the average Nantahala boater – which is a big goal for this feature as well.  So the folks at McLaughlin Design Group and some big machinery driving dudes from this area are putting the final touches on a ‘friendlier’ version for today’s release and grand opening.    Can’t wait to see how it shapes up!

Clay Wright



Comments on “NOC 2013 Worlds spot: a hole in progress”

  1. Bob Winston
    December 16, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    I’m curious how NOC got clearance from the NCDENR to futz with a river bottom??? The less-enlightened history of that section being Big Wesser Falls created with dynamite by the Southern Railway Company back in 1942!

    1. December 19, 2011 at 4:12 pm

      I think it was a WHOLE LOT OF WORK with not only NOC but also the Nantahala River Gorge Alliance (or some such name for that type of group) with the backing of the local chambers of commerce.

      The hole is such a small change to the visual impact of the river and it’s hard to go ‘enviro’ card about fish or snail darters being affected by the change in current given the nature of the mountain-removalish mining just upstream. I don’t think it affects the flora or fauna very much at all.


      1. notsure
        December 19, 2011 at 10:35 pm

        you think they would minimize the heavy machinary to a small window, not everyday. i wonder if DENR knew they would be re-visiting everyday.

        btw. the hole was good BEFORE the alterations

        1. December 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm

          The hole WAS good before alterations. Except after a flood. Or when a raft hit the dams. Or when the locals got tired of rebuilding it with the water off and slowly the walls crumbled. Or even when the wrong folks tried to work on it to make it better. So actually, the hole was really good some times, pretty good a lot, and not good often in my experience.

          I’ve had lots a great sessions there and lots of not-so great sessions there but I’ve never thought of it as a spot to hold a World Championship. It was hard to learn, very hard to stick tricks, had a small eddy, broke tons of loop-attempting kayaks, had rocks for your head if you missed the eddy and broke paddles and helmets when people flipped upstream. When TR, Matt and Daniel had it wired – it was a phenomenal regional spot for top-end events. When they didn’t it was a great local spot.

          So even if it’s not as good, or doesn’t make the ‘very best spot’ for everyone involved, at least we know it won’t be damaged, given up on and forgotten like Quarry and once it’s dialed it it just might stay that way.

          The ‘old’ hole was 100% subject to the whims of anyone on the river. A couple of kids could have ‘undone’ the feature while his parents were at dinner or breakfast and cost the locals days of work once the water got through with it. A permanent structure might not be as good on the first, second or third try but once it’s good… it’s going to stay that way. Given what happened to Big Rocks, Secret Spot, Quarry, and even Eternity on occasion that’s a serious improvement!


      2. Bob Winston
        December 20, 2011 at 9:42 pm

        No doubt. I guess my point was that they were allowed several do-overs with no permit re-filings. I compare that to the Wausau, WI course where people have done an exceedingly fine job working the course. But then when it came to re-working “Big Drop” to form it into a usable feature – I said why not just get a jackhammer in there and get-it-done. I.E., the bottom had already been re-worked* many times and was far from “natural.” Their response was that they’d have to go through reams ($$$) of re-approval from the WI DNR. I didn’t get the logic there so I was wondering how N.O.C. cleared the way start to finish. Same thing with the Mississippi Whitewater park. They, we’d have to get DNR approval to mess with a “natural” river bottom? My response – and trying not to be TOO cynical here – we’d need to get approval to dig up two feet of dioxin??? On a happier note, I was a “test boater” on a “green project” wherein a 16-turbine panel was installed in the Lower St. Anthony Falls Locks on the Mississippi. When they ramped the turbines up – I was not sucked down the “power” channel – but easily drifted to the navigable lock area. (Was it because I was in a MegaRocker??? *-) ) This was an instance wherein several competing interests worked together for the betterment of all river users.

        *EJ prolly recalls this “fun project.” 😉

        1. December 20, 2011 at 11:25 pm

          I actually think that the permit allowed for several “adjustment points” around the feature. This (wisely) built in the knowledge that it’s really hard to build a spot to be good on the first try. These permitted changes include moving large rocks on sides of the ledge of the feature, and the feature is built with removeable blocks. These blocks are bolted to a large foundation. They can be replaced with larger/smaller/differently shaped blocks without any digging or altering the river bed. They just un-bolt the ones that are in there, and bolt in the new ones. Make sense?

          It’s also worth knowing that every state has very different laws regarding permitting and plans with these kinds of projects. We’re all fortunate that NC’s laws allow for this kind of “adjustable” feature 🙂

          Hope that clears things up a bit!

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