With a flow of 13,400 cfs, the Wenatchee River was cranking for this June's 2011 Wenatchee River Festival. Thirty-three paddlers ranging in age from 13 to 67 competed in a variety of events ranging from a downriver race and river games to a surf competition in the world-class Rodeo Hole this June 11. Astral Buoyancy, GoPro, Jackson Kayak, and Outdoor Research were among the companies that sponsored the event, which was also a fundraiser for American Whitewater. As festival volunteer Renee Paradis stated, “We met new friends, connect with old friends and learned something new along the way!”
“Rodeo Hole was big and dynamic, the entrance is fairly simple and it puts you into a left-hand lateral which surfs you into a center, munchy hole,” said Adam McKenney, owner of nearby Leavenworth Mountain Sports. "We saw big entrance loops, cartwheels, air blunts, split wheels, back-stabs, a felix, and some good old-fashion window-shading.” Adam and Dave Zimmerman where the only standup paddleboarders to surf Rodeo Hole during the festival both armed with Starboard Whoppers. Rob McKibbin won the Men’s Open Class of the freestyle event with Darren Albright and Kelly Gillespie coming up behind him (Click HERE to read more about McKibbin). In sixth place was 13-year-old Jeffrey Steehler, the youngest competitor at the event.
Rochelle Parry surfed her river boogieboard, often getting up on her knees to before being blown downstream. Rafters flowed by during the competition with one flipping in the hole, sending its riders through the churning whitewater. A large crowd of spectators enjoyed the carnage from the large rock that overlooks the hole.
Added McKenney: “Rodeo Hole is a perfect location for this type of event. This is a world-class wave/hole with an easy one-minute walk from your car." Given the size of the Rodeo Hole, the women decided to surf Turkey Shoot downriver. Clea Hixon edged Becky Dias in the Women’s Open Class.
The Washington Kayak Club‘s Downriver Race was well attended with long boats, short boats, a boogieboard, and SUPs. Four miles in length and running fast, the run started at Rodeo Hole and ended at the bridge in Cashmere, Wash. Participants enjoyed a quick ride with comfortable air temps in the upper '70s. The RiverBooty Annual Raft Games also included a downriver race and a Flip and Recover Event held at the takeout. In the end, Kelly Gillespie won for 9-foot-plus boat division 16 minutes, 41 seconds. Darren Albright won the division for boats under 9 feet in 17:44. McKenney won the SUP division in 19:14, while Parry took home the dubious for boogieboard title. — Rob Casey