He’s nearly twice as old as the race is long, but that didn’t stop Durango's Andy Corra, 50, from paddling to his seventh title in the 26-mile FIBArk downriver kayak race on June 19, setting a record for number of wins in the 62-year-old race.
Corra's time of 1:58.07 marks the fastest winning time since 1995, when Aspen's Nelson Oldham reached the finish line in Cotopaxi in 1:47.18 and Corra finished in second. This year’s flows were about 1,500 cfs lower, but still running a high 3,350 cfs, enough for Corra to set the second-fastest mark.
Last year, Corra, who owns Durango's 4Corners Riversports and won his first title in 1985, missed the event to set a new world record on Canada's Yukon River by paddling 273.5 miles in 24 hours, breaking Ian Adamson's 2004 record by 12 miles.
"My advantage was water reading. I'm pretty good at finding the fastest current,” Corra told Denver Post reporter Jason Blevins. “There are real textures and things going on in moving water, and I look for those textured seams that keep my boat moving the fastest," he said. "It takes years of practice to find and stay on that narrow strip of water. There's a real art to it. I think my boat control now, at 50, is better than it's ever been."
Mike Freeburn, who won the race in 1991 and 2010, finished second, with Spencer Lacy taking third and Shane Sigle taking fourth. Freeburn was on Corra’s heels until Cottonwood Rapid two miles from the finish, where he spun out in an eddy.
"Andy is always able to pull out all the stops,” Freeburn told the Post. “We always push each other. It's definitely a battle, but it's all in good fun."