One thing this week’s rain won’t put a damper on is the fourth annual Whitewater Triple Crown New England Championships, which will take place April 28-29 at the Tariffville Gorge in Simsbury and East Granby.
Indeed, prior to the heavy rains over the last few days, organizer Andy Kuhlberg said that the Farmington River’s water levels may have been too low to host the event.“We were sweating last week because the river got real low,” said Kuhlberg, a Canton resident. “Now it’s at a real good level; hopefully it won’t go way down before the event.”
The Triple Crown’s organizers boast that the event is the only one of its kind, combining three disciplines — a wild water downriver race, a whitewater slalom competition and a freestyle event for kayakers and canoers — and attracts some of the finest paddlers in North America. Kuhlberg said that he estimates between 30 and 40 competitors this year, which is slightly below normal because of the dry weather, combined with it being an Olympic year and U.S. trials on the horizon.
Still, Kuhlberg, an Avon businesman, said that many elite whitewater kayakers would be in attendance, including the Jackson family — Eric "EJ", Emily, Dane and Nick Troutman (Emily's husband) — who have numerous world and national championships between them. “EJ is one of the greatest whitewater competitors in the sport's history,” Kuhlberg wrote in an e-mail.
“He's a four-time world freestyle champion and U.S. Olympian in slalom. But his children may eventually better his incredible results! “Emily is already a past freestyle world champion (No. 2 in 2011) and presently ranked No. 3 in the U.S. in slalom. Dane is a current multi-discipline world champion and he's only 19! Nick is also a former world champion and is currently the World's freestyle silver medalist.”
In addition to the Jacksons, several other current and former U.S. team paddlers are scheduled to attend the Triple Crown, including Jessie Stone, Elaine Campbell, and Jordan Poffenberger.
Also Wildwater team (current or former) members Mark Wendolowski and Jeff Parker are entered. David Su, a past slalom national champion is also expected to compete.
“A lot of really good boaters are still coming,” Kuhlberg said.
The competition is divided into two days, with preliminaries held on Saturday, during which paddlers will have an entry in the wildwater race (fastest down the course wins), two slalom runs (negotiate the course as quickly as possible) and several freestyle runs (points awarded to entrants based on their tricks).
Kuhlberg said that this year’s slalom course has been moved downriver to include more whitewater and make the event more challenging.The field will be pared down on Sunday, with the remaining competitors - the top 10 men and top 10 women — paddling in the same three events. The winners of the Triple Crown will be determined on the final day.
Prize money will be awarded to the top three male and female competitors: $1,000 for the winners, $500 for the second place finishers and $250 for third. An additional $500 will be awarded to the top C-1 (canoe) competitor.
“It’s gonna be good,” Kuhlberg said.
The town of East Granby will help to accommodate the 1,000 spectators expected to attend the event. In the past, the town provided support in the form of fire, police and ambulance services. This year, according to Lee Sandora, chairman of the East Granby Economic Development Commission, the town is also providing two free shuttle buses from the Center Shops on Route 20 to the best viewing site on Tunxis Avenue during both days.
One of the shuttle buses and drivers is being donated by Z-Airport Parking in East Granby, according to Sandora, while the other is the Senior Center shuttle bus used by the town.Sandora said that, in the past, parking had been an issue with people leaving their cars on private property and having to walk between a quarter and half a mile to get to the river.
“It’s a bit of a cultural change,” Sandora said of people having to take a bus to the actual event, but being dropped off where the action is.
What’s more, Sandora said that a small Taste of East Granby has been organized for people to purchase coupons to take advantage of discounts offered by area restaurants.
“It’s the first year we’re doing it, but we’re hoping it will grow,” Sandora said.
The list of restaurants that have signed up thus far are the following: , , , and Lounge, , , and . The East Granby Ambulance Association will be selling water.Sandora said that the town will also continue its support from the following town departments: police, fire, ambulance and department of public works.
For more information on the Whitewater Triple Crown New England Championships, visit the website here.