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43rd Southeastern U. S. Wildwater Championships
and NOC Canoe Club Challenge

WOW what a cool event!!!!

by John Pinyerd
USA Canoe/Kayak
Wildwater Committee Chairman

August 15, 2011 -- Marietta, GA

The Nantahala Outdoor Center’s concept of the Canoe Club Challenge (CCC) has proven to be one of the coolest ideas on the planet for bringing back Wildwater/Downriver and Slalom Racing at the club/regional level. With that in mind, the NOC (Chris Hipgrave), the GCA board and yours truly all worked together to keep the Southeastern U. S. Wildwater Championships, the oldest whitewater race in the Southeast alive as part of the NOC Canoe Club Challenge.

The wildwater/downriver race had a whopping 99 competitors!!! It was a good thing that we had prepared for up to 200 and expected 100 racers.

The only fair and effective way to handle that many racers in a group setting like that is to send them off in groups (by major class). That helps keep things even when it comes to river conditions and raft traffic.

With it being a dam release only year, no one was able to break the old records. However, in spite of this, and the raft traffic, and the new finish line a couple minutes downstream, I was quite impressed with the times.

The top Wildwater finishers were:

1KURT SMITHGALLK-146.54Fastest Boat
4TIERNEY O'SULLIVANK-1W50.40Julie Wilson Award – fastest female
6JOHN PINYERDC-155.51Charlie Patton Award – fastest Canoe
10BERN COLLINSK-1Mstr58.45 
14BRYSON POPPC-1Jr73.44 

(Complete results are at

Analysis: When you start playing around with the concept of "class handicaps", Tierney O'Sullivan really did quite well versus the field. Kurt Smithgall is really improving quite rapidly and this is a solid time. JP Bevilaqua is not far behind and these two gents could take it to the next level. I was also quite proud of Bryson Popp (C-1 Jr) who decided to make this his first top to bottom run of the course in a Wildwater C-1. That is quite the accomplishment. Also, Todd McGinnis stacked up well in his first wildwater race. And of course, for the second year in a row, the raft traffic worked to my advantage and I was able to nip Bern Collins and win our decade long the "beer cup" rivalry.

It was great to see Joe Jacobi (Chairman of USACK) attending and participating. Joe and Sea Jacobi also won the Ramone Eaton award for the fastest OC2 with a time of 63.28.

The Atlanta Whitewater Club was the winner of the Wildwater/Downriver race challenge. And at the end of the day, the Georgia Canoe Association was the overall winner of the Canoe Club Challenge. In my mind, it was pretty close to a tie. The real winners were everyone that participated and the NOC for coming up with such a cool venue and working to make this happen.

See you there next year!!!

John Pinyerd
USA Wildwater - Chairman