Wesley Bradley 06/02/2019 | Posted in Creeking, Event Coverage, Events, Nirvana, Whitewater, Wrap Ups, WW Disciplines
The Mecklenburg Regional Paddlers hosted a fun event on Saturday, January 19, 2019 on the Wild & Scenic Wilson Creek Gorge (Class III-IV) for the first time from a decade hiatus. Back in the day this event was held annually by MRP and paddlers from around the Charlotte, Boone, Ashville and Tri-Cities areas flocked to Wilson Creek to put the hammer down!
The event has always had the rule that only short boats were allowed to paddle fast on the 2 mile course (put-in eddy to take-out rock). Most paddlers use creeking kayaks in this event, but there is usually an open boater or two who joins in on the fun.
Another unique aspect of this event is paddlers are going fast for individual times, but start the lap in teams of two or three with one minute intervals between teams. This makes for a fun shotgun style start to get the “holeshot” out of the start eddy into the first slide. This also gives the other team member(s) someone to chase while providing a safety aspect of not paddling completely alone.
I was stoked when I heard that this event was coming back for 2019, so I made sure to follow the social media event page to when the event would happen with a good natural flow level. The week before the event was looking to be promising for the level to call it a GO, so the organizers (Brian Davis & David George) called for the meetup at Brown Mountain Beach Resort (BIG thank to them) to host the pre & post paddle fast activities. We got a nice -4” level on the visual gauge for paddle fast day
I rallied my friends Ryan Horn and Chris Saville to join in on the fun and as usual some pre paddle fast trash talked started among friends… Chris is super comfortable on Wilson with it being one of his closest local runs from home. Ryan is just a beast any time it comes to going fast! So I knew beating either of them was going to be a tough task even though this was both their first paddle fast lap on the run. However, Wilson has always held a special place in my heart, because I’ve helped many paddling pals cut their creeking teeth on this run over the years, it’s my wife’s favorite run when she is in the mood to kayak, I did a couple of the paddle fast events back in the day when this was an annual event and I’ve got at least a 100 laps on this run over the years.
Well Chris made sure that all three of us started together on the start list, so I knew this was going to be a good time! The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO countdown came and I got into full hammer down mode in my Jackson Kayak Nirvana Large. I got the holeshot coming out of the eddy, but quickly lost it picking the wrong slot on the first drop and both Ryan and Chris passed me there as I was manking out on a pile of rocks. Not a great start for me, but I brushed it off and fell in line behind Chris who was right behind Ryan.
We stayed on each other’s sterns in single file style for the first couple of slides and then I tried a left line to try a pass on the third slide whish was a bit too shallow to keep good speed through, so I ended up behind Chris again upon paddling across the next pool.
We were coming into the next boulder jumble above little Woodall and I noticed Ryan leading Chris into a very non-traditional right line into the jumble and I decide to head left where I knew there would be water in the rapids. I came around the corner back to the right cutting across the pool and saw Ryan manking over a pretty dry rock shelf about 24’ in front of me. Then as I was halfway across this short pool and Ryan was entering the next rapid I saw Chris stuck in the same rock pile upright, but slightly panicked. From my quick viewpoint I could see he was rock broached and had no water to float him. He looked at me and screamed “Wes… HELP!!!” I couldn’t help, but laugh in that moment! I shouted back to him “Wiggle!” He wasn’t far from pulling himself over the rock pile, but he couldn’t find the leverage to pull himself over it from being winded from paddling fast. In the next few seconds he ended up pulling his skirt and standing up in shallow water to get his boat free from the broach. This signaled to me he was “OK” and that was the last I saw of Chris on the lap…
I turned my attention on Ryan in front of me and tried to keep the hammer down while chasing him on the rest of the run. I kept him in sight within 25-75 yards the entire time, but he was for sure stronger in the flats and gained the most on me there. Where I made up some ground on him was a few short cuts through rapids he did not know in front of me. He ended up reaching the finish rock well in front of me and I gave him a big fist bump after I passed by the finish rock.
We got out of boats and hiked up the creek a bit to keep an eye out for Chris to cheer him on into the finish and after several minutes we obliged him in finishing as well as he could after the crash up top. He was a good sport about the situation and we all three agreed it was a good time together.
Chris and I headed back up for another lap with some other friends and good times were had again in a fun second lap.
MRP PADDLE FAST 2019 Winning Times:
1. Lydia Wing – 19:26
2. Jen Stockwell – 20:58
1. Scott Burke – 21:39
2. Josh Parker – 25:45
1. Alex Stone – 17:54
2. Kenny Hank – 18:06
3. Micah McCurry – 18:08
Men’s Over 50
1. Eric Condrey – 20:27
2. Russ Langley – 20:59
3. Jeff Matons – 21:16
MRP PADDLE FAST 2019 Overall Times
1. Alex Stone – 17:54 *Winner Men’s
2. Kenny Hank – 18:06
3. Micah McCurry – 18:08
4. Will Manning – 18:32
5. Jamey Moore – 18:34
6. Tristin Kurer – 18:44
7. Rashid Clifton – 18:46
8. Brian Davis – 18:59
9. Matt Fontaine – 19:01
9. Justin Kestler – 19:01
11. Harris Montgomery – 19:12
12. Ryan Horn – 19:17
13. Eitan Bodin – 19:19
14. Andrew Dolian – 19:22
15. Michael Brust – 19:25
16. Lidia Wing – 19:26 *Winner Women’s
16. Michael Barbre – 19:26
18. Micah Buff – 19:44
19. Brandon PF – 19:56
20. Wesley R. Bradley – 20:01
21. Will Wilson – 20:12
22. Chris Aldridge – 20:16
23. Brady Morrison – 20:19
24. Eric Condrey – 20:27 *Winner Men’s over 50
25. Austin Dietz – 20:34
26. Bryce Wilcox – 20:42
27. William Mauney – 20:44
28. Richard Ellington – 20:51
29. Jennifer Stockwell – 20:59
29. Russ Langley – 20:59
31. Brian Hill – 21:09
32. Jeff Matonis – 21:16
33. Scott Burke – 21:39 *Winner Hand Paddles
34. Jim Dandro – 22:05
35. Brian Green – 22:32
36. Kurt LuDack – 23:03 – Stuck in the Hole at Triple Drop
37. Dennis Huntley – 23:23 – OPEN C-1
38. Dwight Nalbone – 24:43 – Pin Boat Beater
39. Josh Parker – 25:45 – Hand paddler
40. Scott Farmer – 25:48
41. Eddie Blanton – 27:52
42. Chris Saville – 48:55 – Beater Number 2
Big thanks to Brian & Dave for bring back this great event!! I think I can speak for all 42 of the paddlers who showed up for this event that we hope this will be back for 2020. It was a great time for our paddling community. We need more girls to participate next year, but it was great to have Lydia & Jen join us this year.