July 10, 2004 -- Atlanta, GA
Without a doubt, FiBArk is the "longest, oldest, most prestigious and toughest Downriver Race" in North America.
The only question is if this badge of honor should extend to the whole planet. The
26 mile long downriver race through some of the Arkansas River's
most exciting waters is a race against time that challenges the
competitor's skill, endurance and grit. The first race began in
1949 over a bet. In 1951 the course was set at its existing length
of 26 miles from Salida to Cotopaxi, CO. This year's race had
nearly 50 competitors in spite of the most of the US Wildwater
Team being in Europe.
Following tradition, the expert boaters still begin the 26 mile race in
a mass start at the Salida Slalom course. This year's race had
a few additional challenges to the will of the competitors. The
lower water level (of approximately 1150 CFS at Salida) caused
competitors to have to push across more shallow water and the
slower currents added. At times, strong headwinds truly tested
the metal of the competitors.
For me, racing at FIBArk was like going home. My wife and I love Chaffee County
Colorado (home of the Arkansas River, Salida, and Buena Vista).
It was a true honor and pleasure for me to get to participate
and to discuss tying in 2005 USA Wildwater Nationals to next year's
In the duel for K-1 supremacy and the fastest time down the river, Nic Borst
battled it out with Olympian and many time World Slalom Champion
Scott Shipley. We are honored that Scott would make his debut
wildwater race at FIBArk. In the end, Nick Borst's efficiency
won out as he bested Shipley by a couple minutes with a time of
2:34. It was truly a great week of racing for Nic as he won the
Western Junior Wildwater Team Trials just two days earlier. Perennial
winner Gary Lacy was third with a time of 2:37.
Perhaps the real winners of this year's Expert Downriver Race were John Pinyerd,
Tom Gray and Michael Thurman. Due to faster hulls, wildwater kayakers
should beat C-1's by 15% and beat wavehoppers by 10-12%. Had the
race been handicapped accordingly, the top C-1s who battled being
on their knees for 3 hours, John Pinyerd (7.8% back, 4th boat
overall), and the second place C-1 Tom Gray (11% back, 7th boat
overall), would have won first and second. The top wavehopper,
Michael Thurman (10.5% back, 5th boat overall) also did extremely
well and could arguably claim a share to the medals. Michael will
be in glass next year!
I am also extremely proud of the women's K-1 finishers. Junior, Lisa Adams
turned out a very respectable time for such a grueling race. She
was followed closely by Perin Pring (also a junior).
For more information about FIBARK and complete race results, please see www.fibark.net.
For FiBArk - Expert Downriver Race Finishers (June 20, 2004) click to open
MS Excel web document here.
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 email@example.com.