Spout at Rock Island. Photo: Philip Byard

April 27—The World Kayak Rock Island Open kicked off last weekend with the first two of four events for the series. The series was started to showcase the natural beauty and amazing whitewater that Tennessee's Rock Island State Park offers.

"This place is a gem, and all paddlers need to know about it!" Philip Byard, Nashville ambassador for World Kayak, said. "You've got both high and low water releases, and it's just the perfect freestyle playground." Byard has the right of it; the Jackson team is based and trains at Rock Island.

On the 27th, at 9 a.m. was the Rock Island Timed Race where paddlers sprinted from the powerhouse put-in, through the waves section and blue hole, and finished at the mouth of the lake. Then at 2 p.m. came Rock Island Boater X. Paddlers raced in heats of five to six, and the winners from each round faced off at the end to decide the overall champion. "This was a no-holds barred race where playing dirty is totally acceptable," said Byard. At the end of the day, everyone gathered for a ceremony where free gear was raffled off, and organizers gave out trophies to the winners.


Rock Island Boater X

1. Rami Ayoub
2. Neil Arvidson
3. Tim Schramm

Rock Island Timed Race

1. Rami Ayoub
2. Mike Loftis
3. Neil Arvidson

To see full results, go to the World Kayak Nashville site.

The World Kayak Rock Island Open was a collaboration of several local entities throwing in time and effort. Nashville World Kayak headed the planning and administration, the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association provided safety boaters and volunteer support. The Outdoor Experience in Cookeville, TN obtained prizes for the event's raffles, and WeStroke.com headed up the publicity department.

Stay tuned for the next part of the Rock Island Open on Saturday, May 11th.

Line of paddlers. Photo: Philip Byard