The Little White holds some of the most pristine class V whitewater in the Northwest, possibly the entire West Coast, its rapids known worldwide: Gettin' Busy, Boulder Sluice, Island, Sacriledge, Double Drop, Enchanted Forest, S-Turn, Backender, Bowies, Wishbone, Horseshoe, Stovepipe, Spirit.
2013 Little White Salmon Race - Kim Becker (Russell)
Rush Sturges sending it off Spirit (Photo: Sam Drevo)
When word got out about this year's Little White Race, it spread like fire across the community as the usual suspects began rolling into town: Evan Garcia, Katrina van Wijk, Kyle Hull, Geoff Calhoun, Jakub Nemec, Louise Urwin, Gerd Serrasoles and many more. The anticipation grew as paddlers were rallying hot laps like it was going out of style.
Racer's Meeting (Photo: Adam Mills Elliott)
For the big day, THE Dave Hoffman and I decided to join forces, and use our super-powers to paddle "fast". Hot lap after hot lap, race day rolled around, and over 58 paddlers showed up to race. Arriving at the put-in, the safety crew and media team took off downstream, leaving us antsy racer's at the put-in. Various dance-offs took place, and race lines were dialed in. The big question of the day: Right or Left at Enchanted Forest?
The scene at the put-in (Photo: Dan Patrinellis)
The course itself starts off with a bang with "Getting Busy", a steep boulder garden that ends in a rolling 10 footer, Boulder Sluice. It keeps dropping, through class V rapids and waterfalls as infamous as Island, Double Drop, Enchanted Forest, S-Turn, Bowies, Backender, and ends when the paddler hits the pool at Wishbone, a clean 18-foot falls. The run is action-packed, the water clear, and the atmosphere full of good energy! The run itself is burly and difficult paddled slowly, let alone gassed and paddling as fast as possible.
Paddlers making their way through the mank of "Oregon Slot" to the starting eddy (Photo: Scott Waidelich)
Lane Jacobs with a fast line at Boulder Sluice (Photo: Adam Mills Elliott)
All in all, the course is long, and took racers between fifteen and 19 minutes to complete. Most creek races in the class V arena are team races with the obvious exception being the NF championship race on Jacob's Ladder. The Little White was another standout as organizers added a solo class this year in addition to the team class, showcasing the world's best athletes.
Myself routing Boulder Sluice (Photo: Heather Herbeck)
Eleven forty five was the start for solo racers, with the solo men going first, followed quickly by solo women. Evan Garcia started out the line-up, as racer after racer rallied down the course in one-minute intervals. Team racers hit the water around noon, and with a pin in the Oregon Slot just as the last of the solo women's racers left the start, Dave and I were forced to go sooner than our planned start time- Ekk! It's now or never! 5-4-3-2-1, and we were off!
What followed was the most intense, awesome race I have ever taken part in! The rapids were burly, but our lines were clean. The team event was awesome, adding an element of fun to the event, as you both either had clean line or you got to witness some major shit-eating. No pressure....
Alex Podolak and Joe Stumpfel (C-1) below Boulder Sluice
Dave and I cruising into Sacriledge on the top half of the course (Photo: Dan Patrinellis)
Katrina van Wijk with a Clean Line over S-Turn (Photo: Adam Mills Elliott)
Once past S-Turn, we hit the gas, and rallied over Bowie's and Backender, only to stomp Wishbone, completely out of gas. If only someone had gotten a picture of the racers gathered below Wishbone... I have never seen so many paddlers on the river on the Little White at once. What an amazing race! I've been racing in downriver events since 2008 and have never had so much fun!
Once the last racer had finished the course, we all mobbed downstream to Spirit where a mass of people were waiting for the greatest spectacle of the day: The Spirit Slalom.
WaveSport Europe paddler Nouria Newman sending Spirit during the Slalom (Photo: Adam Mills Elliott)
Seth Swallen (Photo: Dan Patrinellis)
Todd Wells roosting Chaos (Photo: Dan Patrinellis)
This was new to the event this year: a timed slalom over Spirit Falls, as over 35 racers took part, catching a downstream gate on river left below the falls, an upstream gate further downstream on river left, ferrying across to an upstream gate in the Hyphy eddy above Chaos, and finally sending Chaos. Chaos delivered a few beatings, as the safety crew was on hand for plenty of live-baits....
Looking downstream at the last two gates of the Spirit Slalom as Orion Meredith drops Chaos
Davis Gove and Russell Davies to the Rescue! (Photo: Adam Mills Elliott)
Awards took place at Springhouse Cellars (classy!) in Hood River, Oregon, with Trevor Sheehan and Abe Herrerra of Big Man's Rotisserie, featuring rotisserie chicken and chapatis. If you find yourself in the Gorge, swing by Big Man's Rotisserie in Husum, WA for some delicious food made by some pretty rad people! Special thanks to World Class Academy and The Kayak Shed for putting together such an awesome event! Props to Evan Garcia and Katrina van Wijk for taking the overall mens and womens titles! Woop ya!
Down River Team
1. Niceto Yalan Quintana / Michael "Miguel" Shields 17 min
2. Orion Meredith and Niko Peha 17 min 7 sec
3. Chris Leach and Matt King 17 min 52 sec
4. Kim Becker and Dave Hoffman 18 min 1 sec
5. Dylan McKinney and Clay Lucas 18 min 8 sec
Down River Men
1. Evan Garcia 15 min 2 sec
2. Gerd Sarrassolses 15 min 11 sec
3. Louis Geltman 15 min 12 sec
4. Todd Wells 15 min 25 sec
5. Darren Albright 15 min 50 sec
Down River Women
1. Katrina Van Wijk 17 min 3 sec
2. Sandra Hyslop 17 min 9 sec
3. Nouria Abou-Newman 17 min 21 sec
4. Nicole Mansfield 17 min 43 sec
5. Lu Urwin 18 min 9 sec
1. Evan Garcia 50.59
2. Galen Volckhausen 50.86
3. Kyle Hull 54.22
4. Erik Johnson 56.64
5. Rush Sturges 57.21
1. Katrina Van Wijk 1.31.60
2. Nouria Newman 2.54.77
3. Sandra Hyslop 2.56.04
For full results, visit: http://littlewhitesalmonrace.com/wp/results/
See you on the river,
Photo: Adam Mills Elliott