So everyone’s sites are on the 14th annual Green Race. Not Andrew Holcombe’s, who recently cleaned up with a new course record at the Lord of the Fork race on the Russell Fork River. Paddling the much bally-hoo’d Dagger Green Boat, and fresh off a fifth-place finish at the Adidas Sickline race, Holcombe dusted the field of 49 competitors, finishing with a time of 9:57 — the first paddler ever to come in under 10-minutes not paddling a Perception Wavehopper.
“Lord of the Fork is always a super fun race,” says Holcombe. “It’s put on by paddlers for paddlers. There’s always a cool crowd, because everyone there is psyched to be on the Russell Fork and racing.”
As well as being heralded as one of the most beautiful runs on the East Coast, the Russell Fork is also a classic race venue. “The course combines distance and difficulty,” says Holcombe, fast proving himself as one of the strongest downriver and creek racers around. “The Russell Fork Race is one of the best events I enter. It combines a great section of whitewater with a good distance, the times are around 10 minutes to you’ve got to be able to paddle at a fast pace for a while. Also you can’t get a better venue than the Russell Fork Gorge, one of the most beautiful places on the east coast. I think the best part about the race is that its put on by kayakers for kayakers. Everyone is there to race simply because they want to.”
“As far as the actual race course goes, the toughest parts are Maze thru Trip Drop,” he adds. “Maze has a pretty tight line and then you feed right into Triple Drop which is very swirly making it really easy to spin out. This also comes around the mid point of the race so you’re really starting to feel the burn so to speak. Climax is the other difficult spot that comes to mind. It’s a pretty long rapid that’s very confusing, made even more so because its the last rapid and the biggest.”
For its part, the 11’9” Green boat again proved the craft of choice for extreme racing. For years, the fastest boat on the river had been Perception’s Wavehopper. “The Green was designed for speed, while maintaining the agility, turning and boofing capabilities of a smaller creek boat,” says Confluence’s Brook Sutton, in defense of Holcombe’s craft choice. “While most of us can only dream of a run as fast as Holcombe is able to deliver, the Green Boat is proving that it’s the tool to get us there.”
Top Three Finishers
Andrew Holcombe 9:57
Geoff Calhoun 10:06
Chris Gragtmans 10:07
Adriene Levknecht 11:08 (new women’s record)
Laura Farrell 11:16
Rachel Curtis 12:45
Photo Credit: El Horrendo on the Russell’s Fork, by Jeryl Yantis.