From The Mountain Mail (Calley McDermott):
For the ninth time, Andy Corra, 52, Durango, crossed the finish line first in the 26-mile FIBArk Classic Downriver Race, with a time of 2 hours, 20 minutes, 55 seconds. The seasoned racer won his first Downriver in 1985.
Racers in the Classic Downriver Race travel from the Salida Whitewater Park to Cotopaxi.
Despite flows that had “dropped a bunch” since Thursday, Corra said, “It was a nice flow, with good clean lines in the rapids. It sure was a treat over last year.” He said the medium flow of about 1,500 cubic feet per second resulted in a “medium time.” Corra finished the race in 1:58:07 in 2009, the fastest recorded time since 1995.
With nine wins under his belt, he admitted he would like to win at least one more because “there is something perversely satisfying about the number 10.” However, he said he plans to “pass it on to Wiley.” Wiley Corra, 10, took third place in the 10-mile Cadet Downriver Race.
Jeremy Rodgers, Boulder, finished second overall with a time of 2:26:50. Rodgers flipped in the Cottonwood Rapid, east of Coaldale, and struggled to resurface.
Ben Morton, a safety boater, assisted in turning him back over. “At this water level you have to be decisive, and I hesitated. Cottonwood punishes. It’s great when the water level is lower and higher, but it’s tricky at 1,500 (cfs),” Rodgers said.
Last year Rodgers finished fourth.
About Corra, he said, “Andy sure shows up every year. He shows us younger paddlers what experience does for you.”
Steve Holmes, Salida, finished third overall with a time of 2:29:04.
First woman finisher was Lisa Adams, Durango, in a C2 boat. Adams finished fourth overall. Her teammate was not listed.
Some of the later downriver competitors paddled through rain, thunder and some lightening in Bighorn Sheep Canyon.
For the first time, organizers had the rafts leave 1½ hours before the classic race started, to allow the rafters to run the course without slowing the other boaters. Volunteer June Gober, Salida, said the early raft start “worked out well.”
“Mark Mattson’s Crew” from Salida won with a time of 1:40:27.
“Holly Harz and Crew” from Buena Vista entered two rafts; one finished second with a time of 1:42:37.
The other raft, with two more people than paddles, finished third with a time of 1:59:47.
Watching the race from the sidelines, Larry Zuk, 90, said it was his first time watching “from the road.” He competed in the race 10 times and was a slalom race champion in both K1 and C2 in 1976. “I’m writing a book about early canoeing in the Rockies,” Zuk added. Zuk was inducted into the FIBArk Hall of Fame this year.
Corra said, “It’s good to keep the tradition (of the Downriver Race) alive.”
From The Mountain Mail (Calley McDermott):
The 65th FIBArk Whitewater Festival kicked off with induction of Larry Zuk and Steve and Eric Frazee into the FIBArk Hall of Fame during Business After Hours Wednesday at Salida SteamPlant.
FIBArk board member Christopher Kolomitz introduced FIBArk Hall of Fame inductee Eric Frazee, who also accepted the award on behalf of his late father, Steve Frazee. Steve Frazee was born in Salida in 1909 and served as the 1959 FIBArk commodore. His son Eric, a longtime paddler, represented the United States in the 1954 International Slalom Competition in Germany. “I think it’s a great honor. I’m happy to accept it. I’m also happy to accept for my father, who is long gone now, who worked his rear-end off to make kayak competitions in the United States a success here in Salida,” Eric Frazee said.
“Right here in Salida we have the top international kayakers come from around the world. All I had to do was get in my little truck and drive my boat down to the river and compete. That was pretty cool.”
Kolomitz said Larry Zuk, another 2013 FIBArk Hall of Fame inductee, was unable to attend the event. Zuk first raced in FIBArk in 1954, earned the national championship in the K1 slalom race at FIBArk in 1956 and competed in the 1976 Olympics. Zuk is also the founder of the Colorado Whitewater Association. He recently published the book “Stories of a Century of Canoeing and Canoes” and is in the process of writing a second book titled “Early White Water Canoeing and Kayaking in the Rocky Mountains 1949-1969.”
Kolomitz introduced 2013 FIBArk Commodore Ed Loeffel, who congratulated FIBArk organizers for the success of FIBArk over its past 65 years. “FIBArk and I both qualify for Medicare this year,” Loeffel joked. “I’m now looking forward to my next duty as commodore – no public speaking is going to be required – only drinking the first pour of Eddyline beer tomorrow afternoon at 4. Hope to see you all there.”
Loeffel also cast the winning bid in a live auction for a signed print of this year’s FIBArk poster, designed by Lindsay Sutton. He bid $630.
“We’ve got great weather, great water, and we’re looking forward to a great FIBArk,” Kolomitz said.
More whitewater coverage here.