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2006 Highlights and Challenges

Wildwater Continues to Make GREAT Progress

by John Pinyerd
USA Canoe/Kayak
Wildwater Committee Chairman

November 6, 2006 -- Atlanta, GA

2006 was a FANTASTIC year of progress for USA Wildwater. We performed well in International Competition. Through the efforts of many folks, including the Wildwater Board, our volunteer coaches, and our race and training camp organizers, Wildwater participation has continued to grow in the USA. In addition we now have about 100 active Wildwater racers. The creation of a masters’ class in International Competition is having a positive effect on our domestic program.

Individual sponsors are a real key for our growing success. We were able to fund housing again this year as well as contribute to meals for our international Teams. We have built a small nest egg that we will continue to grow. Thanks to Tom Calhoun, for the first time in more than a decade we were able to provide incentive funding for our top athletes. The challenge ahead is that we must continue to expand our sponsorship so that all of the race expenses of our top athletes are covered.

We are continuing to taking a “can do” approach to addressing our challenges:

  • Communication – Thanks to the efforts of Chuck Brabec, is “world-class”. To enhance communication, Doug Ritchie has started the list serve. To date, we have had close to 100 users sign up.
  • Boats – Getting boats into circulation is a challenge. Thanks to John Diller at Savage River we now have a domestic manufacturer. And Doug Ritchie is in the process of coordinating a 17 boat order from Zastera that is being pooled together to save on shipping costs.
  • Races – We truly appreciate our race organizers such as the NRC and FIBArk. We are excited about our 2007 race venues and our new organizers: Wilderness Voyageurs, Zoar Outdoors, and Durago Whitewater.
  • Shipping – We struck a deal with Old Dominion Freight Lines to be the official trucking company of USACK. This allows USACK members rates that are about 80% off of tariff rates and is a God send for getting boats cross-country.

We expanded the number of Training Camps which was part of our vision for this year. Training camps are key to our growth and the development of our athletes. Our largest camps this year were:

  • “Chute the Hooch Training Camp” in “Hotlanta” in January.
  • Front Range Paddling Association training camp in CO.
  • USA Nationals Training Camp.
  • Week of WV Whitewater Thanksgiving Camp.
In addition, we held organized training camps from Washington DC to Washington State, and nearly every weekend in NC leading up to Team Trials.

The NRC hosted Team Trials on the Nantahala River NC (April 1-2). And just like last year, this was one of the best-run Wildwater events I have ever attended. With nearly 50 participants the race showcased the growth of Wildwater racing in the U.S.A.

FIBArk hosted Nationals on the Arkansas River, Salida, CO (June 16-17). While the schedule change for the 2006 World Championships kept a few of our top racers away (because they were in Europe), we had 40 participants including the Irish Canoe/Kayak Team. The National Champions this year were:

  • Tom Gray – C-1m
  • Channin/Morrin – C-2m Jr.
  • Jessica Subido – K-1W Jr.
  • Jennie Goldberg – K-1W
  • Chan Jones – K-1mJr.
  • Andy Cora – K-1m

The World Championships and the World Cups were a GREAT STEP FORWARD. USA won 4 medals in the Masters Race at the Worlds in Karlovy Vary CZ. The organizers ran what has to be my favorite race ever (and that’s saying a lot). For the USA team, it was a blend of the “old and the new” as our best Masters Racers joined our Senior Team for the World Championships. We had 7 racers at the Worlds and 7 at the Masters Worlds. Three of the Masters racers pulled double duty (John Pinyerd, David Jones and Mike Beck) by racing in World Championship Classic and Team Events and the Masters Races. Tom Wier, Andrew McEwan, Geoff Calhoun, and Eric Orenstein also raced at the World Cups.

Andrew McEwan turned out several incredible finishes in the Classic Races, finishing just a few percentage points off of the pace of the winners. Tom Wier continued his string of top 20 finishes. And it was incredibly exciting to see USA on the Medal stand for the Masters Event as Pinyerd and Mason brought home Gold with Tognacci and Jones won Bronze.

Please congratulate the 2006 Teams to the World Championship, Masters Worlds, and World Cups:

  • C-1M Tom Wier (Worlds-19th, World Cups-11th)
  • C-1M John Pinyerd (Worlds–24th, Masters-Gold)
  • C-1M Mike Beck (Worlds–26th, Masters )
  • C-1M David Mason (55+ Masters–Gold)
  • C-1M Michael Harris (35+ Masters)

  • K-1M Andrew McEwan K-1 (Worlds–21st, World Cups-12th)
  • K-1M Geoff Calhoun K-1 (Worlds–32nd, World Cups-17th)
  • K-1M David Jones (Worlds–51st , Masters-Bronze)
  • K-1M Eric Orenstein (Worlds–52nd, World Cups-35th )
  • K-1M Maurizio Tognacci (45+ Masters-Bronze)
  • K-1M Bern Collins (55+ Masters)