Paddlers have been arriving throughout the week, practicing on the wave for what looks to be the most intense competition on the Nantahala in years. With $10,000 up for grabs, live music and big names like four-time world freestyle champion Eric Jackson competing, it's no wonder everyone wants to be part of the action.
Festivities begin for paddlers and spectators on Friday night, when NOC hosts an Open Surf Under the Lights. That's right. Practice after dark courtesy of Duke Power (supplying the water flows) and NOC (providing the lights). For non-paddlers, take in the scene at The Pourover, where you'll be able to dance if you want to, have a beer and still check out the wave action from the open-air deck.
Saturday, the competition kicks off. If you are planning to paddle, arrive early to register. Please note, it is likely that we will hit our 100 competitor limit this year! Don't get left out by arriving late. Classes are K1 Pro Men, K1 Pro Women, K1 Expert Men, K1 Expert Women, K1 Cadets, K1 Open Novice and C1 Open Canoe. Registration is $40/entry and is open from 4–9pm Friday and 9–10am Saturday. The top five in each class will advance to Sunday's finals.
Non paddlers can enjoy the festival atmosphere, as the NOC Outfitter's Store hosts Demo Days, with free boat demos, $200 OFF the purchase of in-stock new boats and a sidewalk sale. There will also be a Dagger Dash Attainment Race at 2:30pm on Sunday, and the winner will walk home with a Green Boat. The entire weekend is free to the public. Raft trips on the Nantahala are open, as are NOC's lodging and dining facilities. With a clear forecast in store, it might be the best weekend this year!
And, in case you haven't heard the big news direct from the International Canoe Federation in Budapest, the Nantahala Gorge was announced Saturday as the host of the 2013 World Freestyle Championships! Tentatively scheduled for mid-September 2013, the event is expected to draw more than 500 paddlers from 30–40 countries to the Nantahala area. More news of Worlds to come soon.
We hope to see you on the river this weekend!