Team Peak UK at NFC!

Posted By: Jen Chrimes Published: 08/07/2019


Image: Andy Kettlewell

Hot days, warm water and some steep continuous class 5 rapids are what draw kayakers to the North Fork of the Payette. With some 16 miles of rapids running beside the highway, it is accessible and scoutable, and makes it relatively easy to hold an event there. For the eighth year in a row, the Payette saw the North Fork Championships, the only difference this year was it was now the official World Championships.

Water levels were very healthy this June adding extra excitement to an already intimidating race. Qualifiers were held on a rapid called S-Turn, a continuous rapid with a couple of holes to dodge and waves to time that meandered, around an S-bend in the river. The top 40 men and top 10 women would continue to the head-2-head semi finals on S-Turn the next day.

Image: Andy Kettlewell

Due to the explosive nature of the Payette, racing was a little more unpredictable than other races I’ve competed in before, one unlucky wave break could add seconds to your time, or greening waves could let you swiftly pass. This unpredictability left some of the race favourites, like Kyle Hull and Evan Garcia, out of the game from the first round of racing.

After the qualifier race competitors, spectators and the public descended on the Egyptian Theatre in downtown Boise for the Whitewater awards. The Whitewater awards recognises the individuals in the sport who are out there pushing the limits and inspiring the next generation, this years Rider Of The Year awards was respectfully presented to Aniol Serrasolses and Nouria Newman. It was also where the racers would find out if they had made it through to the next round of racing or not.

Image: Jason Schutz

Those who didn’t manage to make the cut (and some who did) sent a bender downtown post awards. The head-2-head race two people against each other i.e 1st place against 40th and 2nd place against 39th etc.. the aim is to beat your opponent rather than the field of kayakers. It can produce some unexpected results and makes the competition more exciting and also, more personal from a racers point of view. The semis saw some strong matches, such as Mike Dawson Vs Louis Geltman and Isaac Levinson Vs Pedro Astorga.

The top 20 men and top 5 women who were successful in beating there opponent would go through to the grande finale on Jacobs Ladder the next day.Jacobs ladder is one of the harder rapids on the North Fork. Its big, steep, fast, explosive, continuous and swimming is not really an option. Add some extra water and put some gates in some hard to reach places, and you have the race that defines the NFC. It was a stacked final with the likes of defending champion Aniol Serrasolses and ex champions Gerd Serrasolses and Dane Jackson in the mix with slalom experts Mike Dawson and Joe Morley.

Image: Andy Kettlewell

The women’s final also saw some big names on the start list including Natalie Anderson, Adrianne Levknecht and Mariann Saether. The finals was an exciting race, the format was the best run out of two counting, allowing the athletes to lay it all on the line with the opportunity of a second run if that one didn’t quite go to plan. The gates on the course were hard, moves to make that if you didn’t time right could send you upside down on the rocks, or which required you to paddle back into a hole you’d probably normally portage on a river.

Image: Andy Kettlewell

The powerful water led to lactic arms before you had reached the second half of the course, making dodging holes even more challenging. Reaching the finish line you were ether stoked on making the gates or disappointed in missing a few, but either way elated that you had made it down in one piece. Dane Jackson came out victorious for the men, closely followed by Joe Morley with just seconds between them. It was a tight race in the women’s with Mariann Saether taking first, and Pavlina Zasterova in 2nd place. The awards were handed out at the festival that night in Crouch followed by the legendary after party at the Dirty Shame Saloon.

If you haven’t already been, put NFC on your radar and the North Fork of the Payette on the must paddle list!!

Race Highlights:


NFC website: https://northforkchampionship.com/

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