The Callaghan race this past Saturday was a resounding success! Despite some worries about water levels and an organizational hiccup days before the race the local community came together to throw a fantastic grass-roots event with beautiful summer weather, a perfect water level and a great turnout of both competitors and spectators.
Probably the best part about the whole day was the huge turnout - it was fantastic to see so many people around who were fired up about the Callaghan - aside from the 18 boaters who entered the race there were 8 or 10 others who paddled down, a handful of guys ran the Cal-Cheak and probably 20 people made the walk in to watch the action at the waterfalls section of the river. It was really fun to boof over the first drop with people cheering while rolling towards the big one.
The race itself went really well - when the dust settled the team of Kurt Braunlich and Fred Norquist took the title down to Bellingham until next year - great work guys! The top three teams all finished within 30 seconds of one another. Also notable is Mark Basso's finish with a broken and sinking boat from a small piton while still coming in third place and Maxi Kniewasser and Ric Moxon racing without posting a time after putting in a valiant effort to get to the start line in time but just coming in 5 minutes to late (we were all relieved that we didn't have to compete against these monsters...).
And of course no whitewater race is complete without carnage. I'm sure everyone had a flap here and there at some point - I certainly did. I fell victim (much to Ali's chagrin) when my deck popped after blowing the line above and gutting the big waterfall - embarrassing to say the least, especially since this was my second swim on the Callaghan in just a week - the first being out of the hole 50 feet above the falls on a training lap. Our friend Leif also got eaten by the Callaghan and after a heroic surf in a huge hole he had to swim for shore too. Cold beers and good company that night helped heal the damage to our pride..
From then on in it was good times - Jakub Drnec of the BC Creek Protection Society gave an informative presentation about our rivers at risk and what they're doing to help - this was quickly followed by the awards and the start of a long, fun party complete with flood lights and kayak videos courtesy of Western Canoe and Kayak.
I'd like to say thanks to everyone who turned out for the race be it to spectate, participate or help out in other ways - it was awesome to see the community all come out to have some fun and it was great meet all the guys who came in from out of town for the race and party - it would be great to see everyone out again next year.
Here's the full results from the race - congratulations to all the racers for a job well done.
Fred Norquist - Kurt Braunlich - 16:55
Matt Kompass - Ben Hawthorne - 17:09
Mark Basso - Benjamin Hjørt - 17:23
Greg Dashper - Mikael Aubin - 17:29
Jakub Drnec - Matt Mackinnon - 18:17
Jordie Mackenzie - Bryce Shaw - 18:31
Spencer Cox - Sean Allen - 20:05
Ali Marshall - Steve Arns - 23:40
Jonas Grünewald - Leif Embertson - DNF
Mark off your calendars for another race on the Callaghan to celebrate this creek next July - expect a locally organized grass-roots event that will aim to bring in paddlers and spectators of all types - the more the merrier.
Finally, to finish off we have some great photos from the race day - thanks again to Steve Rogers for providing all the photos of both the action on the river and the social scene before and after.
The competitors meeting before the race.
Tim and Joe on the way to the put in.
Leif and Kurt enjoying the beautiful day.
The crowd ready to drop in.
Benjamin Hjørt - representing for Norway.
Ben Hawthorne, ready for business.
Jonas, trying to bring the title home to Germany.
Jonas vs. Ali - smack talk abound.
Jordie and Bryce.
Mark Basso, all smiles.
Greg Dashper - that black strip on the ground is an oil slick from destroyed oil pan.
Action! Jordie lines up for the big one.
Greg, monkey man.
Jonas and Leif - synchronized racing.
A sweet sequence of the winning team routing through the big falls.
Matt Kompass on home turf.
Jonas brings it home.
Matt and Jakub keeping it tight between the waterfalls.
Spencer Cox about to take flight.
Spence and Sean rolling in to the big one.
Racing isn't easy and the Callaghan can have a mean streak.
Surveying the damage.
Third place: Mark and Ben.
Second place: Ben and Matt.
And in first place: Fred and Kurt - congrats lads!
Party time - that's one sweet gap.