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Wells River Rumble

By Cassie Hayden

On April 27th I particpated in the Wells River Rumble. What a great low-key event. First day back in a kayak and I was in a creek race. I wanted to send a special thanks to Jolyon,
and the Dartmouth crew who helped make the super-fun event a success.
To anyone who likes creek races you should do this race next year. The
Wells River is a short pool-drop style run, probably about a mile and a
half long. Scoring was based off finishing position, not time.

Jolyon showing us how it’s done, he organized the race while also racing himself.

Most
people showed up a little bit early and got in a practice run before
the race started. This was great for many of us because it was our
first time on this class IV/V run. The race had two boat classes,
long boats over nine feet, and short boats under nine feet. There were
also prizes for the female winner and the best carnage. After the
practice run Jolyon lead the competitors meeting and the race involved
running the river twice, game-on time.

The
first run down was broken into four segments. The first segment was a
mass start with about 25 boats on the starting line. We raced into
about a five-foot wide line on river left through the first rapid. I
was side-by-side with another competitor as we hit the bottom hole.
The chaos continued behind as people were bounced into the hole. This
segment continued until the bottom of the next class IV rapid. We were
broken into heats based on our finishes. Each heat had one long
boater, who probably should have been in their own heat, and three
short boaters. I was the first short boat to reach the cones in the
first section, and was already feeling worn out after the sprint.

This is not how it should be done, but if you like carnage a head-to-head creek race like the Wells will dish it out.

The
second section was a winding rapid with fun ledge holes and several
route options. It was pretty fun to be running each section in a small
pod of racers. The real trick was to try and draft the long boats off
the start and then watch where they went. I had developed some good
separation from the other short boats when the bottom of a slide pushed
me into an eddy and I watched somebody catch up to me. I got back in
the current and was side-by-side with them when all of a sudden they
got stuck on a sand bar and I made it to the cones first, lucky.

The
third heat I had a bad start and was left playing catch up. Not an
easy section to make up any time though, because this section included
El Salto Falls. El Salto is about a thirteen foot waterfall with
several line choices from easy to robust. Mostly because I didn’t want
to land on anyone I finished third in this heat, the long boat got spun
into a rock outcropping and we passed him; always nice to go past a
long boat.

The
final section was a close start but I was left slightly behind the
others. I managed to pass one competitor early and was drafting the
other short boat in front of me. I was bumping him a little trying to
find a way to get around as we neared the final drop. At the entrance
I was in a slightly faster current and was getting pretty close to
him. He nor I really wanted to run this one tandem, and he decided to
let me pass on the way in. So I thought I was going to be the first
short boat again, but as karma would have it I hit slow current just
before the finish line and he was able to just sneak by in front of me.

The
second run was a full-length race with everyone from top to bottom.
The start was chaotic again as I watched 25 boats coming towards me. I
ran the drop through the hole with another boater again and got spun
out at the bottom. This gave me a sweet glimpse of the carnage
behind. Back to racing. The long boats were long gone out in front,
and there were three short boats a short distance in front of me. I
was watching them push each other and jockey for position, but I was a
bit too far away to get in on the action. The rest of the race we
pulled farther away from all the other competitors, and we finished in
our positions from the start.

I
was fourth of the short boats and finished fourth of the short boats
overall too. What a great way to kick-start the season. Here’s some
photos from Patrick Rogers. Check out Patrick Rogers’ website for more
of the photos. There is also information available from this website.
http://wellsriverrumble.blogspot.com

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