Rescue @ Green River Race- Luc Strickland is the live baiter. Swimmer- Nick Fiedler. From Micah Cox: "Nick has a compression fracture of L1, L2, and his tailbone. He's in high spirits and wants his redemption. He'll be back in a boat in about 8 weeks."If you know him, and even if you don't, applaud this man because he paddled out afterward.Longer video with more racers: https://youtu.be/_o43JnQknus
Posted by Gwendolyn Sarah Arvidson on Saturday, November 7, 2015
By Eugene Buchanan
In case you didn't see Colorado river ranger Luc Strickland's vault-over-a-kayak, live bait rescue below Gorilla rapid at this year's Green Race, get with the other half-a-million viewers and watch Gwendolyn Arvidson’s video above. Now put your tongue back in your mouth and read on, as Luc talks us through his flying rescue.
“It all goes back to my roper and friend, John Abercrombie. Without a rope attached to me being controlled by a teammate, I’m just some crazy guy jumping into the river. A lot of dialog goes on between us as a rescue situation materializes. That communication is super important. Since I trust him completely, there isn’t much anxiety about live baiting. All the credit goes to him, giving me just enough slack to make the rescue and tension at the right moment to bring me back in quickly. Luckily he’s big and strong. Me, plus a kayaker I rescued, plus a boat full of water at times–that’s a lot of weight but he’s still able to reel us all back in.
“The kayak was in the way. I didn’t think much about anything other than getting to the swimmer. Especially after I just watched him swim over gorilla. I wish I had been a gymnast at some point in my life. I might have been able to give a more impressive dismount.
“Safety in the pit below Gorilla is touchy. There were years where the safety crews were assisting kayakers too soon, and not giving the kayaker enough time to work out the situation without assistance. It’s important to be there for safety but also to let the race happen as naturally as you can without getting anyone hurt. Knowing the right time to intervene is important. It’s a fine line that’s floating by you rapidly.
“This rescue was a pretty black and white: Get him out of the river!
“Safety is so huge for a race like this. There are so many racers (around 200) and a small fraction of time between starts (just 30 seconds) on very technical, difficult river. If one person gets held up, there's potential for a chain effect from the racers upstream. Clearing the river for the following kayakers is super important. Then there are the thousands of spectators walking around slick rock next to Class V rapids without PFDs.
“While the safety crew is a big asset to these events, a lot lies in the competitors’ hands. Knowing when to throw your bib down and help your fellow racer or knowing when to back off the racer in front to avoid an incident comes second nature to most. Some folks are harder to snap out of that race mentality regardless of the situation. It’s important to remember why we’re all out there: for the love of it. There aren’t any big cash prizes at the end; it’s all about a great community coming together to celebrate a beautiful river.
“Props to the rest of our safety crew stationed all along the race course. Gorilla always gets the publicity, but there are many more complex rescue scenarios happening all over that take a lot more skill than just jumping on people in the water. It’s a true team effort.
Want more Green Race rescue action? Here’s Gwendolyn Arvidson’s full cut, featuring 7 solid minutes of carnage and sweet lines.