This past weekend was the 28th annual American River Festival on South Fork in Coloma. There was a rodeo, a slalom, some kids clinics, a couple downriver races and a couple of parties (officially - probably many more unofficial parties). I was teaching a private lesson on Saturday which was great to get back to teaching but I was free on Sunday. I had planned on doing the slalom competition but when I went to pick up a slalom boat from the CCK warehouse it wasn't there. But there was an old Lazer hanging around which would be perfect for the downriver race.
The downriver race was dedicated to paddling legend Lars Holbek on the Chili Bar section and it was decided to do a mass start, at least with those who weren't busy doing the slalom competition beforehand. The race was divided into long and short boat categories with 11' being the cut off. There was quite a range of boats but my buddy Alex Wolfgram showed up with a Lazer of his own. So at least the two of us had an even playing field and I decided I would try to stick to Alex's tail as long as I could. The plan was working well and two thirds through the race I was right on his stern with only a couple longer boats ahead of us. Then I blew it: Alex was heading for a narrow channel full of rafts and I chose an alternate left route hoping the rafts would slow him down. When the channels joined I was a good 100 yards behind with just a mile of flatwater left before the final rapid (troublemaker) - too much to make up.
So Alex ended up winning the short boat category but I was not second. Nor third. Nor any place. When we got to the take out the question came up as to exactly how long the boat was and what class it was in. After lots of debate and approximation we finally got out the tape measure to settle things. Turns out my boat was 11'3/4" - long boat class. But we also measure Alex's boat since it was from a later version of the Lazer - and it was only 10'11.5". So all told I was third in the long boat category. Next year I will sand down the ends of the boat and give Alex a run for his money!