Thanks in advance to Buck Bowers, Riot Rep and Bryon Dorr, Go Big Distribution for the photographs.
Watch the 2006 NAWF video
Chris arrived in Atlanta from Uganda on KLM Airlines on Wednesday afternoon. When I picked him up his white Riot t-shirt, seemingly laden with hash browns and hershey swirls, looked like he had used it as underwear for a month without washing. He mentioned something about laundry service in Uganda... Could have fooled me. Other signs of his barbarianism included a partially grown, sparse, blonde mustache and beard. Looked like something out of Narnia or Lord of the Rings. I half expected his feet to be grown over with hair as well.
Ah, a great photo op of the bad hair. Pitiful if I do say so my damn self.
After hugging the kid (he's been in Africa for over a month) and throwing his stuff in the truck we headed westward for dixie land. Pink houses here we come.
NAWF, the North Alabama Whitewater Festival, was the purpose for our trip. We attended in '05 as well and had a real good time. This year proved to be bigger and better, rivaling the size of Cheat Fest, for example, but more focused on the competition aspect.
Friday, March 10th was the Short Creek Falls event close to Guntersville, AL. Here they hold a freestyle off the waterfall and a Boater-X race.
Two pics of Chris and I doing tricks off the falls... Keith Yell, local Alabama boy, took first in the freestyle of the falls with several really sick moves, primarily the rock spin to kick flip (can be seen in the video).
Chris paddled his Turbo 52 and I decided to try out the Nitro 58. We figured these would be great boats for this event. To our surprise we had great results in the Boater-X race. After making the cut from the prelim round we were faced with a 10-man mass start finals, which was scary enough off of a 15 foot falls.
Chris and I edged out Dave Finney in the prelims.
I lobbied for two, 5-man semifinals but got shot down. We were competing against Eric Jackson in this heat so hopes were low in my mind for winning a race against him. You start backwards and spin as quick as possible before hammering out 100 yards of flat water before the lip of the falls. I found myself co-leading the pack, side by side with EJ, clanking paddles on every stroke. About 20 feet above the lip I submissively decided it would be best to let him lead instead of both of us crashing and being landed on by 8 boats. As soon as I gave him the go ahead he swung around my bow at the lip of the drop, and to my surprise, got thrown off line. I stuck the boof and took the lead. As I was coming back up the eddy I looked over my shoulder to find Chris right behind me. We took 1st and 2nd in the race and I must say it was an honor to win, but most rewarding to beat EJ. It is a chore to beat him at any kayak contest, and a first for me.
Here we are in the finals, right above the lip of the falls.
Day two was the freestyle hole riding and big trick contest at the ender hole on the Locust Fork of the Warrior River. Chris took 2nd at this event.
Here are a couple shots of him throwing his nasty Space Gorriler.
Final results... Chris was crownd the NAWF '06 overall Champion. They gave him this zingy blingy trophy/cup thingy and $200. I got $100 for the Boater-X. Twas a good showing for Team Riot and a super fun event again this year. We will be back next year.
Ater we sent him this photo, Chris' Dad, Mike Gragtmans, emailed us back saying, "Spencer & Chris, Congratulations on your sweep at the big event......I am looking forward to collecting my cut of the winnings. That beautiful cup looks exactly like the cup that Louis XIV and Napoleon Bonaparte drank from when they conquered most of Europe. This cup has been missing for centuries and it may be worth millions if it is authentic. An old wise tale talked about it being stolen by half-witted red-necks from the West (much like the one's that were in the pictures). Drive safely home. - Mike"
Sunday morning we woke up at 6am, a la Punk Rock blairing from a neighboring camper's car (nice touch), rolled to Rock Island Tennessee for two days of surfing, then headed back home to rest and recharge.
I-40 East, coming into Asheville under the full moon.
Watch the 2006 NAWF video
Enter the Mustache Growing Contest, win fabulous prizes - Start date is April 1
Spencer Cooke, Team Riot