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2004 Southeastern Championships
(May 1-2, 2004)

The Classiest of Classic Wildwater Races - The 36th Annual Southeastern US Wildwater Championships

by John Pinyerd
USA Canoe/Kayak
Wildwater Committee Chair

June 14, 2004 -- Atlanta, GA

The Southeastern U.S Wildwater Championships, held this year May 1-2, on North Carolina's Nantahala River, is one of the oldest and most prestigious races in the United States. The Georgia Canoeing Association with the assistance of the Nantahala Outdoor Center and the Nantahala Racing Club did a fabulous job of hosting the race again this year.

The classic top to bottom 8 mile wildwater run is character building as it requires endurance for the long shallow flats and demands whitewater skills for rapids ranging up to class II-III such as Patton's Run and Nantahala Falls. This race has a long and rich tradition with many of the great names of wildwater participating over the years. They include John Sweet, Payson Kennedy, Alan Button, Dave Mason, John Butler, Angus Morrison, Andy Bridge, Terry White, Kath Bolyn, David Jones and Mike Hipsher. The Georgia Canoeing Association offers a $100 bounty to any Southeastern's racer who can beat the course records for the 8-mile top to bottom race. The records are:

  1. K-1 - Terry White (1981) 42:04
  2. K-1W - Kathy Bolyn (1989) 45:20
  3. C-2 - Mike Hipsher/David Jones (1989) 45:11
  4. C-1 - John Pinyerd (1997) 46:43

The 2004 races had a solid turnout with several US Wildwater Team Members competing. In spite of the fog and just average water levels, Maurizio Tognacci (K-1) turned out a blazing time of 44:39 and had the fastest time of any boat down the river. John Pinyerd (C-1) won his 9th Charlie Patton award this year with a time of 52:17. The Charlie Patton Award is presented to the fastest solo canoe (open or decked). Wildwater Junior Team member, Erin Wilder (K-1W), won her second Julie Wilson Award with a time of 57:40. The Julie Wilson award is presented to the fastest female competitor.

Joel Abrahams deserves special recognition for helping a fellow wildwater paddle rescue his brand new race boat after the racer got mixed up with a raft. This is the spirit of wildwater racing as we support each other however we can. Our $1200-$2000 composite race boats are not only expense, they are difficult to replace and we deeply appreciate Joel's aid to a fellow racer.

1 John Pinyerd Master 52:17 Charlie Patton Award
1* Joel Abrahams Junior* 1:04:23

1 Erin Wilder Junior 57:40 Julie Wilson Award
2 Bailey O'Sullivan Junior 58:12
3 Anne Connolly Open 59:39
1* Tierney O'Sullivan Cadet* 59:53

1 Maurizio Tognacci Master 44:39 Fastest boat
2 Lincoln Williams Open 51:13
1* Clay Wilder Junior* 52:12
3 Rob Murphy Open 53:58
4 Bern Collins Master 1:01:21

John Pinyerd
USACK - Wildwater Committee Chairman

John Pinyerd is Chair of the U.S. Wildwater Committee and a C-1 Wildwater racer living in Atlanta. Reach him at