There’s only one word to describe Arkansas this year. DRY! Most paddlers have had to go out of state, either east or west to find water. Some ventured into the Grand Canyon, others the Yampa, and still others took advantage of releases on the Cheoa and Ocoee, but there’s one thing that can still bring paddlers together during the dry times and that is Hometown Throwdown. The first event was held on the 9th of June at the Ouachita River Whitewater Park. As usual we grabbed the SWAG from W.K., the P.A. system from Ouachita Outdoor Outfitters and headed on down to the park to set up. Entergy’s license includes recreational releases on the weekends from 12-3. Not much playtime, but we were going to make the most of it; except when we arrived at the park, there was no water! We checked guages and set up everything thinking maybe they were just running a bit behind schedule. NOPE! No WATER! Plan B! I thought, well, I guess we could do a rolling rodeo or something like that and still have a good time. The Arkansas paddling community wasn’t having it. A carload of paddlers coming from the Cossatot River Clean-Up, decided to stop by the dam. Apparently, they knocked on the door, found someone who was in charge, reminded them it was the weekend, and BOOM! 2 hours later, we had water at the ledge and Hometown Throwdown was on!
Here in Arkansas, we do things a bit differently than nationally with our Throwdowns. Instead of standard Rodeo format, we do a Jam Session. Each heat gets 15 minutes and each paddler a maximum of 30 seconds. They are scored on a simple 1-10 scale and keep their highest scored run. This works out amazingly well. If you wash out, you’re not necessarily penalized and it really boosts the confidence of newer paddlers and takes the intimidation factor out.
Michael Sacomani of Saline River Canoe, a local livery, became a World Kayak local sponsor by donating a bunch of custom T-shirts as prizes. As I mentioned above there was a river clean-up on the Cossatot River and in an effort to promote both events, local paddling shop, Ouachita Outdoor Outfitters donated an ENO hammock as a prize for anyone that attended both events. It was Doug Webber who won the hammock!
All in all, the first Throwdown saw 23 participants. And here’s how the scores broke down…keeping in mind that the maximum score possible was 30 points.
There was a 4 way tie for 3rd Place at 24 points:
Chris Handley (open boat)
There was an 8 way tie for 2nd Place with 26 points:
Bob Tyler (open boat)
Cole Mullican (open boat)
And in first place with 27 points:
Thanks to everyone that came out and we’ll see you in a month at the next Throwdown! Big thanks to all the W.K. sponsors this year…These smiles wouldn’t be possible without y’all!!