In the 20th anniversary of the coveted Green Race near Asheville, N.C., Nov. 7, the world’s best kayakers met on one of the country’s best Class V runs for little more than bragging rights and a piece of glass.
The long boat course record was set by New Zealand’s Dawson in 2012, who blitzed the field with a winning time of 4:10, eclipsing Andrew Holcombe’s previous record of 4:27 and Tommy Hilleke’s of 4:34 set in 2005.
This time around, it was Dane Jackson and Eric Deguil's turn to shine, each finishing in an exact draw at 4:13 to claim the top spot on the podium. Jackson was paddling an 11'10" Jackson Karma Unlimited and Deguil a 12'5" Liquidlogic Stinger.
Their finish was just a second faster than Pat Keller's finishing time of 4:14 in 2013.
The result marked Jackson's first win, or even sharing of the podium, at the coveted race.
Following Jackson and Deguil was Geoff Calhoun a second back at 4:14, Isaac Levinson in third at 4:20, Hunt Jennings a second back in fourth in 4:21, and Robert Waldron in fifth at 4:23.
We caught up with Red Bull athlete Jackson for his take on the race and his record-setting year.
What makes the Green race so special to kayakers?
The intensity and difficulty to put together a smooth run when you only have one chance. The whole vibe and great community surrounding it also sets it apart.
What do you like about the race?
I have to train hard, paddle hard on race day, and put all the training into one run. The best part is definitely coming around the corner and seeing the roaring crowd. All you want to do is not eat it off of a rapid called Gorilla right in front of them.
How badly did you want to win it after three 2nd place finishes?
I wanted it pretty badly. But now, after three second places and tying this year, I’m definitely ready to take the top spot. Either way, I just love how fun that race is.
A tie, seriously? How improbable is that?
It was just a legend, a myth, that two people could tie for first place. And then I tied with Isaac Levinson last year for second, which they resolved with only one out of the four official watches, and then I tied again this year. It's definitely pretty wild.
Did you and Eric discuss your lines afterward to see who could’ve been faster where?
We never got a chance to. He sounded like he had a good run. I definitely made a big mistake at Go Left, but I was able to make up the time. I lost four or five seconds there, and maybe a second or two more at Zwicks, but I had a really good run at the bottom of the course. So I had a mix of good and bad.
You’ve have a big year, coming off wins at the Worlds and on the Russell Fork. To what do you attribute such a stellar season?
Just motivation. I’m pretty motivated this year and feeling at the top of my game.
How has your upbringing with EJ put you in a position to succeed?
Traveling the world with him and the rest of my family in my younger days, I’ve been around kayaking all my life. The opportunities he gave me, the amount of time he spent teaching me, and the positive way he got me into the sport has had a huge effect on my success.
Your dad never won the faster longboat division in the Green Race…how’s it feel to win something he hasn't?
He won the short boat division the year he raced, but he hasn't ever competed in the long boat category. I'm just stoked to be at the top with Eric even after a big mess up at Go Left, but I'm ready to be alone up there for sure.
What was harder, winning this or the Worlds?
The Worlds was the toughest competition I’ve done in a long time. But the Green was also pretty tough this year.
Hopefully, doing the Dreamline instructional video on the Zambezi, and then heading to Hawaii in January.
Top 5 Results
1 Dane Jackson 4:13
1 Eric Deguil 4:13
2 Geoff Calhoun 4:14
3 Isaac Levinson 4:20
4 Hunt Jennings 4:21
5 Robert Waldron 4:23
View complete results HERE