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2011 Race Report

The Gauley Race celebrates 19 years of success, Stewart & Levknecht lead the field.

On a cool September morning a crowd gathered at the tailwaters below Summersville Dam. Some with coffee in hand, all are smiling knowing what will unfold this day. It is game day on the Gauley. The Game- the ANIMAL Upper Gauley Race! The race, hosted by Enel Green Power, is now 19 years old, and an icon in whitewater racing on an icon of whitewater. It is a special day and a special event. Open to all, the event has included former Olympians, National Champions, World Champions and anyone else ready to accept the challenge the Gauley offers. The Gauley Animal is a whole lot of race. All nine miles of the Upper Gauley at 2,800 cfs and finishing at the infamous Sweet’s Falls. The river has it all; big water rapids, rocks and long pools. Paddling the Gauley is a milestone to all paddlers. Racing it is another; it is tough, as it is easy to over paddle the flat sections and enter rapids tired and breathless. Flipping is common and so are swims. It happens to the best of us.

Boats are started in packs by category, so for example all slalom kayaks start together, right?. How about 20 kayaks starting together? Pillow Rock here we come! Can you imagine? What a day it was. With four R6 teams competing for the “Gauley Cup” this was clearly a race in progress. Someone has to lead the pack of course, and this year, the Fastest Man on the Gauley was Sam Stewart from Fayetteville, WV. Sam, paddled a composite "Cheeta" to victory. The Fastest Woman was again, third time winner here Adriene Levknecht from Asheville, NC!

In the R6 Raft Team category it was a local team that took the title, and with it the “Gauley Cup”. Piloted by Josh Sapio, from ACE whitewater, the team captured its second victory in the R6 category. The “Cup” is a custom pottery piece and a unique and beautiful award for that winning team. Locally produced from Gauley River Pottery, it was the perfect award. There are many whitewater outfitters and enthusiasts in the local area, it seems logical there should be a category for river professionals to show their stuff!

The Women’s R6 “Red Lady Rafting” a team from Colorado also took the Gauley Cup for the Women. All in all it was a tight race between the raft teams with only minutes spread between the pack. Winners in other categories include: Geoff Calhoun in Men’s Slalom, and Ben Kvlani from Texas in Men’s playboat. Deserving a special mention, there was an entry in the C2 class this year. This was the first year for a C2 team, and they did very well! Hope to see them back in 2012.

New for 2011, the Gauley event is the first race in a 3 race series known as the “B.I.G. Cup”. This series includes some of the best downriver events in the country and world. They are close geographically and also in time frame. All the races are well established and each event is more technically demanding. The Gauley is # 1, the Russell Fork is # 2 and the Green Race in NC is the final event. Racers in the series must compete in all three and race for a cash purse of $1,000.

While business in general may be down in some industries, this event remains strong showing the Gauley ANIMAL is alive and well in West Virginia. Congratulations to all participants and thanks to all our local sponsors- we can’t do it without you. Sponsors for our 2011 event include; Enel Green Power, Pies & Pints, AT Paddles, ACE Whitewater, Boxley, Quality Inn, ACE Adventure Center, Waterstone Outdoors, NRS and Songer Whitewater.

Click Here For 2011 Race Results