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Saturday, April 7, 2001 - Sunday, April 8, 2001 -- Webster Springs, WV
Webster Wildwater Weekend (iPO Event Id#: 2098)
Story and photos by Julie Black

[1999 Coverage] [2000 Coverage]

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2]

Webster WW
Paddling out of a hole on the Back Fork of the Elk
This is one of those events that just keeps getting better every year. On Saturday, April 7th, the skies were sunny, and the weather was warm, warm, warm! It was a world of difference as compared to last year's "tornado" at Baker's Island, and for those of you who were racing the Elk in 2000, you know just what I'm talking about. Last year, folks were breaking out the pogies, and running for their vehicles to avoid a lashing of rough weather just before race time. At pre-race time last Saturday, it was time to bust out the bermuda shorts and do a little surfing at the 3rd Annual Webster Wildwater Weekend!

Some early April showers had yet to bring the flowers, but it sure brought the Elk up fast on Friday night! Race officials decided that the Back Fork of the Elk would be the designated place to race for the 85 registered paddlers, instead of the usual race course that winds it's way through the quaint town of Webster Springs, WV.

This class II+ four 1/2 mile stretch of whitewater is scenic, and refreshing. Being a paddler myself, I was lucky enough to skip downriver with the safety boaters as Mike Surbaugh lead the way. With my digital camera safely tucked under one of my float bags, I anticipated a great day of excitement for everyone.

Steve Kauffman
Steve Kauffman has a lot to smile about these days
A brand new race course, and a slew of brand new faces from over 10 different states & Washington, DC, set the tempo for this beginner to expert whitewater boat race.

One lone kayaker in a fiber glass boat emerged 1st in the last mile stretch of the Back Fork shortly after the race began. The tip of Steve Kauffman's boat lead the way, along with a big smile from the Men's K-1 Wildwater Team Member. Not only did Kauffman set a new course record on the Back Fork of the Elk with a first place time of 29:25, AND win the Webster Wildwater Race for the 2nd year in a row, but he's also been selected to travel to Europe to compete in the Wildwater Nationals in August on the Pigeon River! Congratulations Steve!

Webster WW
Plenty of water in Webster
Rafters, thrillseekers, sit-on-tops, play boats, you name it, and they were racing downriver. Bob Vernon and Donnie Hudspeth rounded out the overall top spots with Vernon(33:37) taking home 2nd, and Hedspeth(34:11) finishing in a strong 3rd.

With lots of categories and over 80 paddlers, there was plenty of fun to be had on and off the river. Folks stayed the night and topped off a great day of Elk paddling at Camp Caesar with an outdoor party! Sunday was another beautiful day in Webster Springs, and boaters finished off the weekend with fun paddled trips on various rivers of different levels.

This fairly new whitewater event is sure to keep growing in popularity. It's fun for paddlers of all levels and ages, because there's something for everyone.


Special Thanks...
Thanks to the West Virginia Wildwater Association & Webster County Office of Emergency Services for safety services. Thanks to Geary Weir for the race results.

Thanks to the Sponsors...
Webster County Chamber of Commerce; Webster County Watershed Association; Balzout Inc; Salt Sulphur Cafe; John's Exxon; United National Bank; First Community Bank; Addison Visitors Center; Kelly McCourt; Elk River Outfitters and Webster Memorial Fitness Center.