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2011 "Chute the Hooch" Training Camp and Race

Atlanta GA, January 15-16, 2011

by John Pinyerd
USA Canoe/Kayak
Wildwater Committee Chairman

January 18, 2011 -- Marietta, GA

WOW, Hot'Lanta really is a great place to train in the winter. With snow on the ground in most of America, Atlanta's temperatures hit highs in the mid 40's on Saturday and were 50ish on Sunday. Even so, I noticed that the cold weather for the past few weeks may have kept our participation to about 20 participants.

As always, the CTH clinic is a social gathering of my paddling friends and a way to focus on improving. Our coaches are truly dedicated to helping folks along with the sport and helping them to improve. Even a veteran like me can learn from the video session and from spending time with other racers!

The coaching at our clinic was again "world class." Head coach John DePalma (who is on the board at Lanier Canoe/Kayak Club and has considerable fame in Marathon and Sprint circles) was an incredible head coach. He was assisted by former Wildwater Team members Martin Bay, Tierney O'Sullivan and yours truly.

John DePalma's knowledge of the sport and how to efficiently/effectively harness your power into the forward stroke is incredible. His years of working with the Lanier Canoe/Kayak Club (LCKC) as a racer, coach, mentor, and board member really came through on his instruction. John would also like to encourage any developing racers to tap into the resources at LCKC. For more information see: John's personal email address is:

I'm also very grateful to several other folks that helped make the camp possible such my wife Lynn (host), Tom O'Sullivan (assistant and video) and Jim Griffith (assistant). In addition to coaching and doing video, Martin also helped me round up plenty of boats for everyone. The Atlanta wildwater community is always generous to lend boats for the event and this year was no exception with boats coming from several folks that were not able to participate.

It was great to see a dozen new faces at this years training camp.

  • Wildwater Team Member Mark Wendolowski gets the award for traveling the furthest (from MA),

  • Alec Mazzuckelli gets the award for being the youngest (15).

  • Rick Thompson gets the award for being the first newbie I know of to be able to paddle back up the Powers Ferry section in a Wave Hopper. I suspect that Bartosz Ilkowski could also have accomplished the feat but, upon my advice, he held back for his time trial.

  • John Griffith is working hard to get Wildwater/Downriver racing going strong at Warren Wilson College. It was a real pleasure to work with Alicia Rink and James Page as they look for ways to improve.

It is exciting to see the strides that folks are making in their training. Tierney O'Sullivan perfectly demonstrated the drills she has mastered on how to turn the boat and really does a fabulous job of driving the boat and staying on line. Haley Popp (K-1W Jr.) looked much stronger and is one of just a few junior women to be able to accomplish this feat of attaining the Powers Ferry section in a Wildwater boat.

In the Time Trial, Mark Wendolowski demonstrated just how much he has progressed over the past year and easily won first place. His stroke has become increasingly smooth, efficient, and powerful, and Mark continues to look for ways to get a more little reach on the front end. I won the C-1 category and stacked up very well against the kayaks. I was thrilled to see that I finished 1 second ahead of Bern Collins (my grandmaster's racing idol) who was 3rd overall, My victory on my home river is critical if I am going to beat Bern this year in our decade long "beer cup" rivalry. It was also great to see former team member Jack Krupnick back in a kayak and to see him do well. Jack was 4th overall.

Former Team Member Martin Bay was stacking up very well against the entire field when he stopped to help a swimmer. While, Martin wins the "gold" for being a great guy, technically Bartosz Ilkowski won the wavehopper class. Bartosz has committed to training with us on a regular basis and we expect big things from him. The same is also true of Rick Thompson who finished second in the class.

In the canoe class, it was great to have Kevin Miller back out. Kevin looked very smooth as he finished just off of the wavehoppers. Last but not least is newcomer Alec Mazzuckelli, who at age 15, is an incredible raw talent in C-1. In a short sprint, Alec is already quite fast and if he will stick with it, he has the potential to propel himself to the top of our sport. Of course, doing things like training smart, tapping into coaches, working out with other paddlers, will help us all reach our potential.

As always, this Atlanta clinic was free of charge to participants. However, it looks like someone "passed the hat" and raised enough money to help John DePalma sponsor a low income kid to be able to attend the Middle School Program at LCKC.

It's donations that help us provide for training camps, help support coaching and development, and of course to help the USA to have a Wildwater Team. You can now make (tax deductible) donations to USA Wildater online or by check. See our website link at for details. (Make sure you designate your donation for Wildwater.)


Please let me know how I can help you with your training. I hope to see YOU next year!!!!

John Pinyerd
USA Wildwater - Chairman