United States National Whitewater Center
Charlotte, North Carolina
September 18th, 2014.
My IT department once again held a meeting at the whitewater center, allowing me to run some afternoon laps. I started with four comp side laps and finished up with a couple on the wilderness side. Video here.
June 19th, 2013.
My IT team met for a conference at the center, giving me the opportunity to run a few laps when it was finished. I ran two laps in my Fun on the wilderness channel, then split laps in the Rocker between the comp side and the wilderness side. Wrapped the day up with some cold local IPAs and a cowboy burger. POV video here.
July 28th, 2009.
While in Charlotte for business, as a 40th birthday present to myself, I made my first run down the comp channel. And to continue the tradition of paddling a different boat every time I go to the park, I brought my Rocker. Going from my Fun's planned hull and edges to the displacement hull on the Rocker proved to be an awkward feeling transition, but after the third lap I decided to turn left and hit the comp side blind before I had time to think it over. So with a two year old memory of what it looked like, I made my first run down the comp channel. Everything went surprisingly well and the Rocker felt much more comfortable while paddling it at a faster speed. I was stinking things up on the wilderness channel, so it was nice to have a clean run. I took a break, then switched to the Fun for a couple of play laps before the evening was cut short by thunderstorms. Not a bad night at the park, the water seemed clearer than it did in 2007. Still neutral on the place. It was also nice to see that two more years of experience meant that I got to stay in my boat this time.
September 6, 2007.
I made three runs, all on the far left side. I made it through the entire first run upright, which was a first. I had to brace a lot and was stuck in the wave below the M Wave for awhile, but the Fun just bounced around until I popped out. I took a break to catch my breath and send a few emails. My next run went well until I hit the M Wave section. I went over and lost the boat. I floated carelessly to the bottom because I thought my boat would be waiting for me. When I got to the bottom pool I saw my boat zipping along to the other side. I swam. And swam. And swam. The Fun was headed for the pumps when a raft picked it up and dropped it off with me. That was nice, but I was still in the middle of the pool and out of my boat. So I swam. And swam. And swam. I had to roll at the Entrance Exam rapid on the third run. Then rolled again while surfing it. I surfed all the rapids on the left until I reached Sunset. At Sunset I ran the sneak, trying to play it safe. At the M Wave, I was stood straight up, then rolled over. Then back over before I ended up swimming again. This time I caught the next eddy and got back in my boat for biscuits and gravy. For the first time, that rapid knocked me over too. I rolled up and turned in my shirt because time was up. I got to end the day by enjoying a cold beer while listening to a reggae band and watching some seriously good kayakers on the comp channel. Great night.
The Funky Side (13MB) Aug 2007 - footage from the USNWC
I made two runs on my first trip to the center. Sammy, Cat and I first followed Russ and Chip from the bank, watching their lines as we walked. On our first run, at the first drop, Entrance Exam, I flipped, followed closely by Cat, then Sammy. When I finally rolled back up I was happy to see that I was on the far left, but not thrilled to see the bottoms of Cat and Sammy's boats bobbing into the wilderness channel. I finally ferried across and started down the right channel. I made it almost to the end when I flipped again. This time I face planted one of the rocks beside the last wilderness channel ledge as I tried to roll. I then pulled the skirt and made my first swim of the day. Sammy was across the river and Cat was just upstream. All of us were whipped. Once back in the water, Sammy and Cat followed a new friend down the boof line at Sunset. I went right down the middle behind Chip and flipped again, rolling for the second time. When I hit M Wave and didn't crash, I decided to just keep digging, getting as close to the end as I could before stopping. I was surprised to make it all the way through Biscuits and Gravy in one piece. So on my first run, I rolled twice and swam once.
I caught my breath while filming Russ and Chip on the competition channel, chugged some Gatorade, and headed out again. This time it was Chip, Russ, Randy, Matt, Amy and Steve. Cat and Sammy stood on the side and pointed out the good line at Entrance Exam and it went much smoother. A lot of the paddlers went over at Entrance though, just as Cat, Sammy and I did on the first run, but they had even more problems because rafts were piling in on them the whole time. Again, most everyone went the wilderness route, but I opted for the instructional side. At Sunset, I tried to make it across to the boof line, but didn't try hard enough and ended up stuck sideways on the rocks. When I dropped over, my stern was grabbed by the current and I couldn't break loose. Eventually I went into a side surf and was slammed over, giving me a chance to ride the long swim through the M Wave. By this point I had calmed down quiet a bit and was able to pick up my feet and enjoy the ride. Sammy shot video and his narrating is awesome. I climbed onto a rock next to Amy who was climbing back in her boat. I followed her and Steve on another fun run through Biscuits and Gravy, then called it a day. After the first run, I didn't want to go in for more. But after the second one, I could have paddled right back into Entrance for another ride.
In summary, it was waaaay harder than I expected, even after hearing everyone talking about it for the last year. Rolling was tough, the eddies are crazy, the rafts will pummel you if you can't get out of their way, the rapid entrances are super shallow, the concrete will eat you alive and the water is a sick 90 degrees. But the rapids were big, really big. And fun. I'm pretty sure I'll try it again. As usual, it was fun paddling with Sammy and Cat and also nice to meet all the new faces.