Elite kayakers from all over the world will converge on Idaho June 8-9. They’ll compete to see who can run the North Fork of the Payette River the fastest. The first ever North Fork Championship is one of only six events worldwide that make up the Whitewater World Series.
Kayakers and whitewater enthusiasts compare the North Fork of the Payette River to graduate school for its difficulty. It’s Class V on an international scale from I to VI. Class VI rapids are considered impossible to run.
James Byrd of Boise organized the North Fork Championship. He says it’s taken a lot of work to put the event together. "Trying to rally like the best, most recognized paddlers in the sport from all over the world to come here and compete with maybe not as well known, but very powerful locals."
Byrd says the effort has paid off. Kayakers from Canada, the Czech Republic, France, New Zealand, and South America will be among the thirty chosen to compete. Several slots are reserved for local paddlers who’ll race a day prior to the main event. Top locals will then join elite kayakers along a three-quarter mile stretch of rapids called Jacob’s Ladder and Golf Course. Byrd says, "The way I set it up is kind of a giant slalom course through Jacob’s Ladder at kind of the peak flows of the year with the intent that these paddlers will be really pushed you know, on a hard feature."
The top two North Fork finishers get an invitation to the Whitewater Grand Prix in Canada. And paddlers can rack up points to win the Whitewater World Series Championship. Other World Series events this year are held in Austria, the Czech Republic, Norway, North Carolina, and Washington. Byrd hopes to make Idaho’s North Fork competition an annual event.
Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio.