photo courtesy of Rick Thompson

Hello there fellow paddlers! i just wanted to take a second a tell you about my awesome weekend at the Chattahoochee River Games.

Bryan Bonner gets ready for his turn in the freestyle event

It all started Thursday afternoon when I texted Rick Thompson to see if he knew anyone heading down to the games. He was planning on going as well, so we gathered our gear and took off Friday afternoon. I was already in Atlanta, so it really wasn’t that far of a trip down to Columbus.

Janice Kyle Camp gets the right spin points!

We arrived just as the sun was going down Friday night, to find a super cool set up with the registration table on the sidewalk at Outside World Columbus downtown. If you’ve never been to Columbus, I strongly suggest it. Not just because of the whitewater paradise that exists there, but also for the nightlife and entertainment and the refurbished factory feel! The Outside World is an awesome outfitter located right in downtown Columbus.

Klay Camp making it look easy!

As soon as we got to the water, Rick was ready to get in, dark or not. I followed him down there and to my surprise, someone had set up halogen work lamps shining down on the feature for some late-night practicing. We took turns ferrying out and catching the wave, then taking out and walking back up. After a few turns I was tired enough to give it up for the night. We dried off, got dressed and went to find camp.

Dan Allison killing it!

We made a parking spot in Woodruff Park our campsite, me stringing my hammock between a tree and a lightpole, and Rick making his truck home. That night we found that Bryan Bonner had brought his ultimate tailgating trailer and set it up there in the park serving hotdogs and hamburgers to folks arriving.

EJ Jackson surfs above Cutbait! Photo courtesy of Rick Thompson

I was pleased when I saw Clay Wright pulling up in his big diesel pickup. I knew that even though I didn’t really know anyone there, at least I had a couple friends around, although Ricky T disappeared after a short bit and went to play E-Pool on his Ipad in the truck, and never came back out that night.

Jimmy Dykes shreds it up!

I finally got to meet EJ Jackson for the first time ever. Our paths have just never crossed. I was surprised to find out he had heard of me and the things I was doing up in Tennessee in the wintertime. I thought that was pretty cool.

Dare O'Ravitz, local river tough guy,giving that wave a stern talking to! Watch out mean River!

About that time, a couple other guys and a girl asked us to head out and check out Broadway St. I’m always down for some nightlife, so I obliged. I asked Clay if he wanted to come along and grab a brew. He obliged as well, and off we went. I can’t remember the name of the place we went, but they had good beer and it hit the spot.

Clay Wright throws it down in Workout Hole. Photo courtesy of Rick Thompson

While we ate and drank, I learned that one of the guys we were with, Chris Serwan, worked for Shred Ready down in Auburn, AL. Him and his girl were up here in Columbus,  representing Shred Ready at the event.  These two turned out to be super cool people and I enjoyed being around them immensely. They cooked Jambalaya for EVERYONE at the event on Saturday!

Emily Jackson styles it to win the Womens! Great job Emily!

Well, we all had to be up super early the next morning as the competition was starting up at 730am! The river runs on a schedule and is bigger in the morning than in the afternoon, so all the freestyle had to be done before noon. So we all said our goodnights and headed off to hit the sack.

Area local, Tyler Smith, gets in on the action!

As I settled in to my urban campsite between Rick’s truck and a big Oak tree I stopped to think about the beauty of this night, still relatively warm outside with a nice crisp breeze. I stretched out on my hammock and marvelled at how lucky I was to be able to take part in such a cool event.

Local competitor, Ryan Cornuet, steps up the competition!

Sleep came quick, and the morning came even quicker. 6am. Im up and out of the hammock, start up the day by packing up my gear and heading off into downtown Columbus to find a coffee shop open at this absurd hour. I found one place that hadn’t even opened yet. The barista was kind enough to let me in early. I had my typical Yerba Matte and headed back down to the water. People were already getting suited up! I geared up, grabbed my boat, and headed down to the island.

Bryan Bonner goes for the spin!

My shoulder was giving me a lot of trouble already this morning, so I wasn’t feeling the competition so early, so I found Kyle Katich, Event Manager, and asked him how I could help. I was assigned to work as a judges scribe. Ricky T would take photos of the event.

Tyler Smith again, working up the points!

I did my duty fully working as Kyle’s scribe, and even figured out a more efficient way to fill out the scoring sheets. I was so proud of myself! We moved so fast, we were able to get all the amateur runs in before lunch, all the while, Nich Troutman was upstream running the Pro competition at Workout Hole. Nich has been recovering from a minor shoulder injury, so he was sitting this one out.

Ryan Cornuet again, making all the other competitors jealous with his epic style!

Emily Jackson had come out and was competing Amateur Girls.  She had some really good runs out there. At one point, she’d come up and was talking to me while I was supposed to be working. Kyle turned to her and yelled “Stop distracting my Scribe!!!” We all had a good laugh on that one, but I realized right then, that Kyle Katich is not a man to be trifled with, and that I’d better get my mind back in the ballgame.

At that point the action migrated out to Cutbait Rapid, where the downriver freestyle contest was to take place. I made it out there too late to work as a scribe, but at least I got to see how a real downriver freestyle event was scored. And I got to watch the CARNAGE that was about to ensue.