Archived Outdoors

First major paddling race of the season

Watch world-class paddlers compete in both downriver and slalom competitions in the season’s first major competitive event on the Nantahala River March 26-27.

Paddlers from across the country will be compete in the Bank of America U.S. Open, which serves as a qualifying race to make the USA Canoe/Kayak team. Nantahala Outdoor Center is hosting the event, while the Nantahala Racing Club is the organizer.

There will be two events: whitewater slalom, where competitors must weave through a series of gates hung over the river, and wildwater racing, where competitors paddle down a section of river in the fastest possible time.

In slalom competition, competitors are allowed two runs of the course, which are usually paddled in less than two minutes each. The paddlers negotiate 20 gates and get a two-second penalty if they touch one and an insurmountable 50-second penalty for knocking a gate by more than 45 degrees, proceeding in the wrong order or passing through upside-down.

Wildwater racing features both a Sprint competition, where the course is 500-750 meters long, and a Classic competition, which could be up to nine miles long. In wildwater racing, all paddlers compete in one run, head-to-head.

Go to for more information and click on events.

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