2012 American Canoe Association Whitewater Open Canoe Downriver Nationals

The 2012 Nationals are complete. The day by day, class by class results can be accessed by following the link above or by clicking here. When viewing these results, please keep in mind that competitors are required by the rules to stop and help other competitors in need. We very much appreciate the efforts of the competitors and our safety volunteers in assisting others during the competition. To view a listing of the special awards, follow the link above or click here.

Photos of the competitors from Thusday, June 21 and Friday, June 22, can be viewed and puchased at http://www.noc.com/noccom/buy-photos/

Congratulations to Payson Kennedy (shown below) for winning the Most Venerable Paddler award (time in minutes divided by age in years)!!

The pre-race information about the event, set forth below, will be left up for a few months for reference.

Information about the event

Nantahala River, Topton, North Carolina
Monday (June 18) Practice
Tuesday (June 19) Downriver Races: OC-2 Mixed, OC-2 (10-16/25-up), Kayaks
Wednesday (June 20) Sprint Races: All Sprint classes
Thursday (June 21) Downriver Races: OC-2 Women, OC-1 Men & (10-12) & (13-15)
Friday (June 22) Downriver Races: OC-1 Women, OC-2 Men & (10-12) & (13-15)

A Race For ALL Ages

Whitewater canoe racing is a sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. The minimum age per the ACA rules is 10 and there is no maximum. The 2012 organizing committee is committed to increasing participation by paddlers of all ages. Our goal is to get at least ten competitors in each decade of life (e.g. ten folks in their teens, ten in their twenties, etc., all the through the seventies). To that end, we are going to have $5 entry fees for racers 16 and under and a special MVP award (Most Venerable Paddler) given on the basis of minutes on the course divided by age in years. These 30-40 year olds are really fast, but are they fast enough to score lower than a 70 year old who is pretty fast? We intend to find out. Please help us attract entrants of all ages; suggestions are welcomed: fbracechair@earthlink.net.

Race Course

The downriver race course will be on the full eight miles of the Nantahala River from the power plant to just downstream of Nantahala Falls. The sprint races will be on the first mile of the river, through Patton's Run and ending at the bridge for the Winding Stairs Road (first metal bridge). For the downriver races, we will probably start in heats of five to ten boats, but we will probably start on one-minute intervals for the sprints. It is estimated that competitors will take approximately 50 minutes to 70 minutes to complete the downriver course and 5 to 8 minutes to complete the sprint course. The location of the races for the younger age group classes (10-12) and (13-15) will be determined at the time of the event, but it is likely to be from The Ledges to just upstream of Nantahala Falls, a distance of about three miles.

River Information

The Nantahala River is one of the classic runs for whitewater open canoe racing. The WWOCD Nationals have been held there many times, last in 2003. The Nantahala consists of about eight miles of continuous Class I and II, with one rapid near the start of the run (Patton's Run) rated II+ and one near the end of the run (Nantahala Falls) rated III on the American Whitewater Association's Standard Rated Rapids list. The average drop is about 35 feet per mile. The median volume in mid-June is around 600 CFS. The water is COLD, having been pulled off the bottom of Nantahala Lake and fed through the power plant before filling the river bed. There are multiple access points because Highway 74 parallels the river along the entire eight mile section. A superb source of information about the Nantahala is Chris Bell's Boating Beta page about the Nantahala; click here.

Dates and Times

The four days of racing for the 2012 National Championships are Tuesday through Friday; June 19-22. The races will start in the morning (a tentative starting time of 8:30 AM is planned) before most of the raft traffic on the river begins (however, racers may encounter other river users). The sprints are scheduled for Wednesday and downriver classes for Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The day (June 18) preceding the race days is for practice, although the Nantahala can be practiced at any time that the power plant is operating. See Chris Bell's web site or click here for the Nantahala release schedule.

River Access

River access is very convenient because Highway 74 parallels the entire run. There is sufficient parking at the starting line/put-in area because of the overflow parking area across Highway 19/74. The primary parking at the takeout is on the property of Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) at a time of year when they are already incredibly busy. The competitors will need to minimize their use of NOC parking between the river and the railroad tracks. Those with the luxury of a separate shuttle driver should utilize that. Alternatively, at the end of a run, it may be possible to have NOC throw a boat up on top of one of their busses and give the competitors a lift back up to the top. On those occasions when parking at NOC is unavoidable, competitors will need to carpool and cross the railroad tracks before parking, thereby leaving the prime parking spaces for NOC's rafting guests. The race will be conducted under a Recreation Event Special Use Permit from the Nantahala National Forest. PLEASE NOTE: COMPETITORS WILL HAVE TO PAY FOREST SERVICE USER FEES AND OBTAIN A BAND FOR THEIR LIFEJACKETS ($1 per day or $5 for season). THESE CAN BE OBTAINED AT MOST OF THE LOCAL OUTFITTERS, INCLUDING NANTAHALA OUTDOOR CENTER (NOC). FB CANOE RACING WILL NOT BE ABLE TO SELL THESE BANDS (WE ASKED).

Check-in and Race Facilities

RACE HEADQUARTERS WILL BE AT NOC'S CABIN A (CROSS THE TRACKS AND TURN LEFT UP THE HILL). Headquarters will be open from 2:00 to 5:00 each day, June 18 (Monday) through June 21 (Thursday), PLUS ADDITIONAL HOURS MONDAY EVENING (UNTIL 8:00 P.M.) and possibly at other times. All competitors must be registered, at a minimum, by the day before they compete. Boat inspection can be completed during the normal hours that headquarters is open each day. AWARDS CEREMONIES WILL TAKE PLACE AT 5:30 EACH DAY at The Pourover Pub at NOC ON THE TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY AND AT 11:30 A.M. ON THE FRIDAY AT THE MYSTIC RIVER LODGE (WHICH IS ALSO THE TAKEOUT FOR WEDNESDAY'S SPRINT RACES).



Microtel Bryson City: 828-488-7900 (21 miles from start line)
Sleep Inn Bryson City: 828-488-0326 (21 miles from start line)
Freeman's Motel Almond: 828-488-2737 (14 miles from start line)
Nantahala Village (12 miles from start line)
Nantahala OUtdoor Center (8 miles from start line)
Quality Inn Andrews (11 miles from start line)


Tsali Recreation Area (USFS) (16 miles from start line)
Turkey Creek Campground (14 miles from start line)
Almond Boat & RV Park (14 miles from start line)
Lost Mine Campground (9 miles from start line)
Nelson's Nantahala Hideaway (3 miles from start line)
Brookside Campground (2 miles from start line)


The easiest way to give directions is just to use those posted by Nantahala Outdoor Center; CLICK HERE. Keep in mind, however, that these are directions to the finish line of the full length downriver events, while the start line for every day (downriver and sprint) will be at the upper end of the run, eight miles farther west on Route 74.


For being in the sunny south, the Nantahala Gorge can be a relatively cool place in the summer, in part because the river is a moving icebox down the middle of it. The mean high temperature in June is just over 80 degrees and the mean low temperature is just over 50 degrees. The water temperature in June, however, never cracks 55 degrees.

Running of the Event

The event will be conducted in accordance with the American Canoe Association Whitewater Open Canoe Downriver Racing Rules as modified; see the latest version by clicking here (or visit www.wwocd.org) and in accordance with a Recreation Event Special Use Permit from Nantahala National Forest. The event will be hosted by the FB Canoe Racing, Inc., a North Carolina nonprofit corporation.

Race Committee Members:

Pre-race registrar and contact: Tom Blue; 400 Tinkerbell Road, Chapel Hill, NC, 27517; (919) 428-4302; fbracechair@earthlink.net (E-mail is preferred method of contact and will generally be returned in the evening within 24 hours; thanks)

William McDuffie: Race Chairperson and Master of Ceremonies
Lynne McDuffie: Downriver Chairperson
Ed Sharp: Chief Judge
Safety Officer: Will be provided by American Canoe Association

ACA WWOC Downriver Chair: George Stockman

Links to more Accomodations and Area Information

NOC's list of area lodging and activities
Andrews Chamber of Commerce
Bryson City Chamber of Commerce