Come see ‘The Wave’ on the Nantahala

The Nantahala Gorge Worlds Organizing Committee will celebrate the completion of The Wave on Friday, Dec. 16, with a ceremony, reception and paddling exhibition starting at noon.

The Wave is the competition site of the 2013 ICF Freestyle Kayak World Championships on the Nantahala River, an event expected to draw 500 international paddlers and thousands of spectators. The Wave is an underwater apparatus cemented into the riverbed that generates a wave on the surface for paddlers to perform tricks and stunts.

The debut of The Wave has been highly anticipated, with paddlers eager to assess just how good the wave action is — as that in turn dictates the caliber of moves paddlers can perform.

During the 30-minute dedication ceremony, organizers will explain how the wave works, how it may evolve over time, and the current state of the event planning. Some of the world’s best freestyle paddling athletes will be on hand to discuss their impressions of the 2013 Wave, and the ongoing preparations for the games. They will then paddle the new wave.

Paddler feedback is being sought so adjustments can be made benefit the public as well as advanced freestyle athletes. To facilitate the feedback, there will be an open paddling session after the meeting so that boaters who paddled it can discuss their recommendations and impressions. Non-paddlers are welcome as spectators, and light refreshments will be provided.

Crews had just one month of decreased water flow in the river, thanks to Duke Energy holding back water at the dam upstream, to get the wave built.

“I’m very relieved and excited,” said Lee Leibfarth, board member for the Nantahala Racing Club and member of the organizing committee. “We’ve still got work to do on the competition site, though. The feature needs refinement and adjustments that can only be made through experimentation. As the Nantahala goes through its usual winter release schedule, we’ll be tweaking the features that produce the wave to make it optimal for most paddlers.”

Now that the competition site is constructed, event organizers will move on to new challenges like scheduling, ticketing and other logistics. As that process gets under way minor work will continue on the 2013 Wave preparing it for its first big test: the 2012 World Cup event in September.

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