Paddlers showcase skills

Friends of the Yampa River Kayak Series begins May 14

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The fast-moving waters of the Yampa River will provide the perfect playing field for some of Steamboat Springs' most extreme athletes this spring.

Area paddlers will get the chance to show what they can do during the four-event Friends of the Yampa River Kayak Series.

The first event of the series, a rodeo, was slated for May 7. But cold weather moved the opener back a week.

"It was about 40 degrees out there Wednesday," organizer Dan Brabec said. "There were a few diehard paddlers in the river, but nobody was motivated enough to compete."

So the series will open May 14 with a rodeo at the new feature behind Bud Werner Memorial Library.

Paddler Peter Van De Carr said the series has run for several years and offers boaters a chance to compete with friends in an informal setting.

"In the past, we've stood on a rock with a bullhorn and a clipboard and completed the registration," Van De Carr said. "It's pretty laid back, but it's a lot of fun."

Brabec is hoping to get 15 to 20 paddlers to the first event and hopes the series will continue to gain momentum this spring.

"There are a lot of paddlers here in Steamboat and we just want to build a sense of community through the series," Brabec said.

Each week, paddlers will compete in a different type of event designed to keep the series fun. The first and fourth events will both be rodeos. There also will be a Get Vertical Race (better known as a "GVR"), where the boaters will race down the river to different holes. Before leaving each of the holes the paddler will have to perform a trick where the boat pops out of the water in a vertical position.

"It's a combination of freestyle and downriver paddling," Brabec said.

There also will be a boater-cross event in which experienced paddlers will have to jump in an unfamiliar boat and compete.

"We might put a guy in a boat that is way too small for him and another guy in a boat that's way too big for them," Van De Carr said. "Then we will just have to see what happens."

There is a $5 entry fee for each of the races and there will be a raffle after each. Brabec is hoping to hold a few barbecues during the series and is working on getting a grand prize to be given to the series' overall winner.

"We all want to see who the top dog is, and this series will be a good way to find out," Brabec said.

The series will host events May 14 and 21, and June 4 and 18. For more information, call Backdoor Sports at 879-6249.

-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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