Monday, 20 May 2024

Cache Creek kayak race attracts top competitors



CACHE CREEK More than 40 whitewater boaters from throughout the Western United States gathered at Cache Creek this past weekend to participate in the Sierra Club’s 10th annual Downriver and Slalom Races.

The kayak and canoe competition was held over two days, mostly in a short section of whitewater that wraps around the Yolo County Campground about five miles east of Lake County.

Organizer Sharon Schumacher said the event is growing in size but retains a friendly atmosphere.

Winners were announced by first name only during an award ceremony interrupted by a paddler’s tent that flew past in a strong wind.

The 18-gate course set up over a class 2+ rapid had paddlers stretching the limits of their skills.

Participants from age 11 up participated in races that ranged from single paddlers in inflatable kayaks or “Iks” to tandem fiberglass or plastic canoes.

Boaters, who were clocked and monitored at a series of stations along the river, had to pass through numbered gates, poles hanging from lines strung across the river. The gates are either green (downstream) or red (upstream), indicating the direction they must be negotiated.

Upstream gates are placed in eddies, where the water is flat or moving slightly upstream; the paddler makes the “breakout” and paddles upstream through the gate

Touching the gate incurs a two-second penalty. If the competitor misses a gate completely, displaces it by more than 45 degrees, goes through the gate upside-down, or goes through it in the wrong order, a 50 second penalty is given, according to Olympic standards.

Boaters were classified as cadet (age 14 and under), novice, intermediate, master, expert B and expert A, according to the individual’s winning history.

Several Olympic hopefuls participated in the Cache Creek event, including Jessica Subido of Rocklin. The 16-year-old rising star is a two-time Junior Olympic champion whitewater slalom kayaker and canoeist.

Subido placed third in this "Expert A" class kayak race on Cache Creek Sunday.

Subido said she is not deterred from the International Olympic standard that does not separate men and women in her canoeing event, instead noting that progress is being made.

“It was kind of disappointing,” she said. “Sure, men have upper body strength, but we have more finesse.”

The 2012 summer Olympics will be the first to host the same number of whitewater kayak and canoe events for both men and women, but in the meantime, Subido is content to compete with anyone who shows up for a race.

“I’m definitely going to go for it,” she said of the upcoming 2008 Olympic trials.

Subido, who also took a blue ribbon with her father in Sunday’s first event, the parent-child team slalom, credited her father for initially teaching her the sport.

“What first attracted me was the people,” she said.

Subido has competed in China, Australia, Canada and Slovenia.

E-mail Maile Field at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Jan and Jim Bollermann of Portland, Ore., head for gate 17, one of several upstream gates in the 1/4-mile slalom course on Cache Creek. The Bollermanns won first place in the doubles canoe event held Sunday. Photo by Maile Field.



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