By Kenny Unser
The reigning King of New York, Jared Seiler, recently filmed a 30-mile "training lap" around Manhattan to promote the fourth season of the Whitewater King of New York point series. The annual competition showcases the Adirondack rivers and festivals that host four downriver events from August through October.
"The King of New York combines all kinds of formats," explains Matt Young, one of the series' organizers, "there's mass-start, individual start, races where you start out of your boat, race where you start in your boat."
The series starts August second, when racers face their boats upstream for a chaotic mass-start that sends a heap of long boats down the class IV Black River in Watertown, NY. This year the Black River Festival organizers have added a freestyle competition and changed the venue to accommodate growing interest. At 4+ miles, the Black Race is the endurance event of the King of New York series where dramatic crashes often result at the "Poop Chute" rapid when tired racers lose control of their 13+ foot boats.
"The main event is really on Labor Day weekend," says Young about New York's Beaver River Rendezvous, "[There are] two races that weekend. If you can pick one weekend to come to New York, that's it."
Beaver Fest, as the Rendezvous is more popularly known, features releases on three sections of the Beaver River including a one-day-a-year release on the waterfall laden Mosier section. The Stone Valley section of the Raquette River is the most technical course of the race series. The Raquette has proven to be a king-maker with all three past series winners claiming victories at Stone Valley.
The short and steep Eagle race course sees the largest competitive field of the series. The Eagle Race is a spectator favorite since the rapids are impressive and the short course can be seen almost entirely from a single viewing area.
"We finish things off on October 18th with the Moose Race," Young admits, "That one, for me, was brutal. I ripped my drysuit. I flipped over. It wasn't pretty."
After the Class V Moose Race, Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company hosts a King of New York awards party where the King is crowned, prizes are given away, and an NRS sponsored rock, paper, scissors tournament raises money for charity.
"I'm really pumped about it," Chris Gragtmans says of the grand prize Dagger Green Boat, "You don't have to be a race winner to win the Green Boat; you just need to attend one of the four races."
A competitor raffle will see most of the prize bounty go to race participants at random. Prizes include a Werner paddle and a Bomber Gear spray skirt. Werner paddles is sponsoring an additional raffle just for women racers which means that ladies have a better chance of taking home prizes than men. The racer with the best crash will take home the Immersion Research "Are You Gonna Eat That?" consolation prize.