NFC VIII Finals: Jacob's Ladder

by: Capo Rettig

Edit // Liam Fournier 

The NFC VIII and this year's World Championship (extreme racing), lived up to the hype that has been created over the past seven years. This NFC VIII 2019, dubbed the "Ocho", not only brought the world's top athletes together, but once again united the global whitewater community while celebrating one of the the America's most notorious section of whitewater.

As in year's past, the North Fork Championship was as much about celebration as competition, as was demonstrated by all the activities that this event generated, including the Whitewater Awards, the Whitewater Festival in Crouch, ID, and other community outreach events.

And of course when it comes to whitewater and racing, the new format + the world title on the line ramped up the intrigue, anticipation, and competition, making this the most attended NFC ever in terms of athlete participation, with over 160 athletes participating in NFC VIII.

The final day on Jacob's Ladder was a stunning scene to witness with emotions high and athletes reaching deep to focus on the intensity of the course.

This year's race ended up being the biggest NFC to date, in terms of vendors, spectators, supporters, and racers. 137 male and 18 female extreme sport whitewater racers competed on class V rapids on the North Fork of the Payette River, once again bringing the best of the sport together.

The rotating world title, organized by the Association of Whitewater Professionals (AWP), came to this year's NFC, which meant this year's race winners become World Champions for 2019. This title clincher certainly influenced the record number of international racers who participated in this year's event, with 19 different countries being represented.

The new format cut the field down from 137 male racers to 40, and 18 female racers to 10 during the Kokatat Qualifier (round 1). The second day saw the field get cut from 40 to 20 in the male division, and from 10 to 5 in the women's division, during The North Face Head to Head (round 2) on S-Turn rapid.

Kalob Grady on Jacob's Ladder photo// Fred Norquist

"I like the new format because it forces you to paddle well all three days," said long time NFC competitor and crowd favorite Tyler Bradt. "This definitely has a fresh feel to it." Bradt, whose fame reaches to the most extreme parts of the sport including a 1st decent of Palouse Falls (186 ft.) and a decent of 100+ ft. Alexandria Falls, would go onto to place 11th overall.
The NFC final took place on the infamous Jacob's Ladder rapid, the hardest rapid on one of the most notoriously difficult sections of whitewater in North America. The format of this final round took on the iconic part of the North Fork Championship: setting up slalom gates in this class V rapid. Not only do you have to run the rapid fast, racers must navigate these gates that set them up for technically difficult moves throughout the course.
"I can run the rapid," said one class-V local Idaho boater who was spectating on the day of the final's race. "But I can't hit those gates."
The pros that made it into the final round had a hard time as well. The first gate next to the feature called Rodeo Hole in particular, was very difficult to hit with few athletes able to make that first move in the course. The race course is relentless with multiple hard moves in class V whitewater. In the end experience paid off, with two veteran kayakers Dane Jackson (USA) and Mariann Saether (NOR) winning the NFC championship and World title in their respective divisions.
NFC Ocho was special in many ways, but the people once again was the secret ingredient that made this event magical for the eighth year in the row. A special thanks and congratulations to James and Regan Byrd for making the North Fork Championship and all the good that comes with it a reality.

The North Face Head-to-Head: Round Two

By: Capo Rettig

There was lots of joy and some pain, with a palatable energy that can only come from one thing: fierce competition. Today's race felt different. It felt like it mattered more and yes, became more personal. No longer were athletes racing against a field. They were racing against another specific individual, a 'who is faster, me or you?' format, that left little room for pleasantries.

After cutting down to 40 men and 10 women, NFC VIII round two, the North Face Head-to-Head, placed each athlete against another racer determined by how they ranked from round-one. 1st place time from yesterday was put with the 40th place finisher, the 2nd fastest time with 39, etc, etc. The racers did not actually compete on the course together, but had to beat the other individual's time in order to advance.


Edit // Liam Fournier


Some interesting match-ups included:

Evan Moore vs. Galen Volckhausen - Both crowd favorites, Evan would win this match

Sean Madden and Velentin Gutierrez - Valentin would win and finish on the podium

Mike Dawson vs. Louis Geltman - Dawson would take down the former King, knocking him out

Isaac Levinson vs. Pedro Astorga - Tough race, but Astorga would win this on his way to the podium

Todd Wells vs. Tad Dennis - Tad would take this tight race

Anna Wagner vs. Natalie Anderson - Gorge residents battling it out. Anderson would win this

Hanna Kertesz vs. Jennifer Chrimes - Jennifer would win by less than one second


This was one of those races that you would have liked to see more athletes, well..... win. It was exciting to see the victory, but also hard to say goodbye to some of the crowd favorites. Such is competition. At the awards ceremony in Crouch, which also marked the opening of the Whitewater Festival, the winners were announced one by one. Gathered up on the stage it was obvious that the level of talent not only was great, but ran deep. Looking at those that made it past round two and into the finals, and then looking around at those that didn't, one is quickly reminded of just how much talent surrounds the North Fork Championships. It is a big part of what makes it so special. Congratulations to the winners. Your prize: two laps through Jake's!

Photos // Mike Leeds, Jeremy Allen, Liam Kelly, John Webster

[gallery size="medium" ids="3451,3443,3447,3437,3440,3444,3448,3441,3435"]

Kokatat Qualifier: Round One

By: Capo Rettig


There was a tangible sigh of relief as the first kayak made contact with the water, and the NFC VIII numero ocho, was officially underway. Many of these racers have been waiting a year from this moment as NFC VIII got underway.


The sun came up early in Crouch, Idaho as if she too wanted to get the North Fork underway. The sky was bright blue with a few fluffy Idaho clouds that if anything, brought out the green in the surrounding landscape after a rainy Spring. It was one of those days in Idaho that you would say, “hell, I could live here.”

The registration for NFC VIII felt like a reunion of old friends, and indeed it was. After 7 years of racing on the North Fork of the Payette, a community has formed around the NFC. Sure many of these people see each other outside the event (that is the beauty of things and part of event’s magic), but for this special short moment in time, everyone can be on ‘North Fork Mode’ and that brings out something different in us all.

The Kokatat Qualifier was an important race. The field would be cut down from 137 male competitors to 40, and women, 18 to 10. The winners of this round will then be matched up based on their placing (1 vs. 40, 2 vs. 39, etc.), with their times in round-two going head to head with the person they are matched up with. The fastest time advances to the final round on Jacob’s Ladder.

Bagels and hot cups of coffee were served during registration. All athletes listened closely as NFC staple, Abe Herrera who runs safety for the event, broke down the day’s plan and went over how to keep everyone safe.


Spectators gathered on the banks and athletes lined up to take their race lap. Athletes seemed to understand what was at stake and the mood was serious and focused.

After all the racers took their lap, the team met up for a group shot beneath the flags. It was a great moment for the international whitewater community as this high concentration of whitewater talent, gathered for their moment of glory. 19 different countries were represented.

The hard part about this day was cutting the field of racers. The winners were announced during the Whitewater Awards at the Egyptian Theater in downtown Boise. The top 40 men and top 10 women celebrated. Some never expected to make the top 40. However for some, this day marked a quick exit in this year’s NFC VIII and the hurt carried through the night.

The winner of the Kokatat Qualifier for the men's, with a time of 1:45.92, was Joe Morley. The winner of the women's category with a time of 1:53.46 was Mariann Saether.


Joe, Mariann, and the rest of the advancing racers will be back on S-Turn Rapid for the North Face Head-to-Head competition of round two, where once again the field will be whittled down to 20 men and 5 women. These racers will move onto the final round, at Jacob’s Ladder. The winner of that final round will not only be crowned King / Queen respectively, but  will also become the World Champions of Extreme Racing.

Check out FULL RESULTS HERE for more details on what athletes will move on to round two.



North Fork Championships 2019 Countdown: Your Guide to NFC VIII

By: Capo Rettig

It’s the first week of June and the door to summer seems to have just opened. For the global whitewater community with a taste for class V racing, this transition from Spring to Summer has been highlighted by one event, so brazenly awaiting us on the other side of that summer door, met with excitement, but certainly fear; an anxious awakening of anticipation: The North Fork Championships. Lucky year 8. With the World Championships on the line and a new race format, we welcome you to your official guide to NFC VIII.

Vavrinec Hradilek NFC 208 photo// Jeremy Allen

The NFC Hosting This Year’s World Championships

This year’s NFC is a special event, as this race will represent the AWP’s World Championships of Extreme Kayaking. This title-holding event is rotated annually between different competitions and is overseen and organized by the (Association Whitewater Professionals). The AWP is a non-profit organization with a mission statement including the desire to “coordinate world class events of extreme whitewater kayaking in increase media visibility of our sport on a global scale and provide our athletes the opportunity to progress on personal and international levels.” This year the NFC will have the opportunity to host this rotating World Championship title. This means that the winner of the NFC VIII is also the AWP World Champion for 2019.

Whitewater Awards

This annual event will highlight the top athletes in the sport and give out awards for accomplishments over the past year. This media-driven event will take place in downtown Boise on Thursday, June 13th at 5:30 PM, at the Egyptian Theater. Come celebrate the best of every discipline of kayaking and river conservation! This is a fun night to come recognize the best in our sport and share in a fun night with the whitewater community.

Whitewater Awards in Downtown Boise, ID

New Race Format

The format of this year’s race will be quite different from years past, providing an exciting new element for racers and spectators. This year the theme is “everyday matters” as the event's new format offers racers a do-or-die formate over three-rounds of racing, the field being whittled down each day. This new structure allows winners to pass through each round, eventually ending up in the final on Jacobs Ladder on Saturday June, 15th.

Here is a breakdown of each round:

Round One: Kokatat Qualifier (S-Turn) 10:30 a.m. – The 186, pre-Registered racers will all get a chance to deliver their fastest time in S-Turn Rapid. Top 40 men and top 10 women go on to round two.

Round Two: North Face Head-Head-to Head (S-Turn) 3:00 p.m. – The 40 men + 10 women who qualified on the previous day will move on to the North Face Head-to-Head. Racers will get placed based on their times from the previous day, with the fastest time (1) being matched up with slowest time (40), and (2) with (39), and so forth. The winners of each round will advance to the finals on Saturday, held on Jacob’s Ladder. This will leave a field of 20 men and 5 women for the final.

Round Three: Jake’s Final (Jacob’s Ladder) 1:00 p.m. - The Marquee Event. Racers will have to be the fastest of 20/5 in order to be crowned King/Queen, on this challenging class V racecourse. The final will take place on Jacob’s Ladder, with competitors needing to maneuver the gates set-up throughout the course. The final placement of the gates will be confirmed race weekend. This format is simple: the fastest time wins!

Kalob Grady on Jacob's Ladder photo// Fred Norquist


This year there has been a record number of pre-registered athletes, 186 in total, who will compete in round one of the NFC VIII. That means that 136 athletes will not make it past the first round and will be cheering from the shore. The competition will be fierce, as this format gives no guarantees to any racers and forces everyone to be on it, each day, each race.

There will be 18 different countries represented in this year’s NFC, which will host another stacked athlete line-up. At least four of the former NFC Kings, Gerd, Dane, Aniol, and Louis, will be competing.

The women’s category will be very competitive. Former World Champion (sickline) winner Marian Saether is registered as is long-time competitor Adrian Levknecht Up-and-coming paddler Darby McAdams is also expected to race this year and could be in line for an upset win in this year’s race. Nouria Newman also may join this field as well, but her attendance is not yet confirmed. If she does make it to the race, she will be the overall favorite in the women’s category, due to her strong finish in last year’s event. This is going to be a very competitive race.

As in past NFCs, the race will also host a number of competitors with a background in slalom, including 2x Olympian from New Zealand, Mike Dawson. In Rio de Janeiro 2016, Dawson made it the finals finishing 10th place overall.

[caption id="attachment_3383" align="alignleft" width="1024"] Alec Voorhees keeping that bow up. Jacob's Ladder NFC 2018 photo// Mike Leeds[/caption]

Cash Prizes for All (winners)!

This year the NFC organizers have brought the same amount of money to the table for both the winners in the female and male categories. This move by organizers reflects the reality, that the sport of kayaking has women that crush just as hard as the men, and deserve equal cash prizes. Nice move NFC. Cash prizes this year for Men and Women is 5k 1st place, 2.5k 2nd place, and 1k, 3rd place.

Bold Predictions for NFC VIII?

Each NFC has many different factors. Flow. Weather. Injuries. Athletes competing. This year’s big X factor will be the new race format. After years of covering the NFC as a beat- writer/media team member, I feel it is important to stir the pot and speak my voice. Take a look at my predictions for this year's NFC VIII

  • At least one former NFC Elite Division won’t make it into the Top 40 after round one. Sorry, no highlight reel can help you now!
  • At least one winner will emerge from the BOTTOM 10 racers during day two, knocking off a top 10 athlete from day 1. Picture sponsored pro, sitting in disbelief in the eddy as they look upon the recent high school grad safety boater, that just beat them, because well, maybe they wanted it just a little more. The format favors the underdog and puts all the pressure on the top.
  • Year of the wild card: this year there will not be a repeat King of NFC. A new king will be crowned.
  • Kyle “King Hesh” will once again place in the overall top 10. King Hesh has been one of the most consistent racers in NFC History. Last year Hesh placed 5th overall.
  • One of these Former NFC Kings will place top 5 overall: Gerd, Dane, Aniol, Louis
  • Mike Dawson will be this year’s NFC King and Marian Saether will be this year's NFC Queen. I am betting on experience and competitive paddle strokes from these two veteran legends in the sport. Yeehaw.

Former King Dane Jackson Catching Air photo// Mike Leeds



NFC 2018 Media Coverage




NFC VII Elite Division 2018: Glory is the Destination

By Capo Rettig





The NFC VII’s iconic Elite Division Race on Jacob’s Ladder brought everything we have learned to love about the North Fork Championship: elite competition on a world-class race course, a ‘family reunion' of the wonderful whitewater community, and a celebration of our wild places in the whitewater state of Idaho.





‘Jake’s,' as the race is commonly called, delivered as always. Year VII did not disappoint, and ‘Jake's,' as the race is known colloquially, gave athletes and spectators a spectacle that is unmatched in the sport. As helicopters and drones buzzed overhead, athletes gathered around the Red Bull ramp waiting their turn. Vendors lined the river-right bank creating a festival-like atmosphere while DJ Revolve and the announcers entertained with music and commentary from the Toyota Tower of Power. The commentary blared through the loudspeaker at the ramp, hyping up competitors and all those who rented Kaleidisco's headphones.





Past NFC Kings, former Olympians, expedition legends, and whitewater racing gurus all battled it out on the course, dropping one-by-one into Jake’s to face the chaos of a slalom course set on one of the world’s most difficult rapids.





Each athlete got two laps on the race course, though only the fastest time would count for their result. Some nailed it on their first lap, others their second, and some sat in the eddy below the finish gate, shaking their head at two disappointing laps. Regardless of the outcome of their run, competitors celebrated, taking in the moment of respect and appreciation  from being at the  bottom of such a mighty section of whitewater.




This was not your typical slalom event.


Complex slalom gates forced competitors into the meat of the rapid, demanding they take lines locals usually choose to avoid, cheered on by the spectators lining the banks.





As the 30 racers made their way through round two, the Idaho sun came out and delivered a few rays of glory to wrap up the competition. The question of, “who won?” was on everyone’s mind. As spectators, athletes, and organizers begin to depart for the after party and awards ceremony at the Whitewater Festival in Crouch, speculation began to run wild.





Many said this was Alec’s year. Winning Jake’s would make him the only person to win all three events in the same year (Qualifier, Boater X, and Jake’s). Kyle “King Hesh" Hull looked fast, and many thought they would see him atop the podium. And what about last year’s champion Dane Jackson? Or Gerd, also a former King, currently undefeated in his race season? There must be one dark horse in the top three? Vavra Hradilek, a silver medalist at London Olympics was still a contender, while EG ‘the Killa’ is always more than capable of winning it all. In fact shit…. Everyone on this list could be a winner.



Crouch was thumping with energy and excitement to the tune of Bootjuice Jams as the community gathered for the awards ceremony in Weilmunster Park. The well-attended Whitewater Festival was pulsing as they announced the winners.





NFC guru and Banks legend Ryan Baily took his traditional position on the stage and announced the top ten finalists. As he reached the podium spots, the anticipation for athletes who still had a chance at top three was so acute they could taste the metallic tingling of hope begin forming in the back of their throat. This final reveal would define many of these athletes approach to not only the after-party but the upcoming year ahead. Would they be top-three finishers or possibly King of NFC… or would they need to wait another year for a chance glory?




As Dane Jackson was announced as the 3rd place winner, there was a rustle and buzz through the crowd. Gerd in second place amped up the energy even more. No repeat Kings? The crowd exploded when they announced the Serrasolses name for the second time to invite the NFC VII King Aniol to the stage. Standing in between his brother Gerd and Dane, two former NFC Kings, Aniol raised his hand in victory.




After the winners were announced, the slide into the after party at the Dirty Shame was quick, multi-layered, and emotional as the community did the only thing still left to do at this year’s NFC: rage.

  1. Aniol Serrasolses 1.49.61
  2. Gerd Serrasolses 1.50.39
  3. Dane Jackson 1.50.78
  4. Alec Voorhees 1.59.27
  5. Kyle Hull 2.00.53
  6. Evan Moore 2.01.19
  7. Vavra Hradilek 2.01.66
  8. Todd Wells 2.02.75
  9. Tad Dennis 2.03.35
  10. Pedro Astorga 2.03.37


Check back for more media, analysis, and results of NFC VII.

Can’t get enough NFC? Follow us on Instagram: northforkchampionship or Facebook: North Fork Championship

















NFC VII The North Face Boater X from North Fork Championship on Vimeo.


By Capo Rettig


Boatercross is always a crowd favorite. You don’t need to know too much about kayaking to want and stop and stare as six paddlers battle to be the first down a rapid. It is almost instinctual for anyone, regardless of their connection to the sport.



Following a glorious night at the Whitewater Awards and the Tom Grainey’s Downtown-and-Downstairs after party, the NFC moved to the North Face Boatercross on S-Turn Rapid, where the top 35 finishers from the Kokatat Qualifier had the chance to have some fun. Parents and support crowds were out in force to watch the carnage unfold.





Boatercross is a get-your-hands-dirty type of event. Some athletes are better inclined to win this event than others. It is a race that demands an approach unusual in the sport of kayaking, where space between paddlers is considered a necessary part of being safe.



One unique thing about S-Turn Rapid is the double turn the river makes. Both times the river bends, racers are funneled into narrow sections of whitewater, forcing boaters together as they fight through a series of holes and features. Athletes must make game-time decisions as they confront the ever-changing and dynamic course. Charge out ahead early and keep the lead for the entire race? Wait back and make your move once the leaders get tangled up? We saw both techniques work throughout the day, with an overall theme of physicality and power, particularly at the finish line.



Eight heats of five boaters began the day, with only the top two in each preliminary round advancing to the semi-finals. The best rose to the top of the pack, but the eliminations continued. The final round consisted of Dane Jackson, Kalob Grady, Alec Voorhees, Trent Long, Vavra Hradilek, and Eric Parker, who ran a tight race from top to bottom. The finish line was an epic jostling of paddles, kayaks, bodies, and flying hands as athletes tried to be the first to touch the banner. The finish was too close to call, and the judges deliberated, reviewing the video footage before proclaiming the results: It was Alec Voorhees, barely scraping his fingers over the North Face banner, in front of the powerful Kalob Grady and Dane Jackson.



Congratulations to all of today’s racers. More info, updates, and analysis soon.

































by Capo Rettig

The Whitewater Awards once again exploded on downtown Boise, Idaho, highlighting some of the best in the sport and bringing together the whitewater community for a night of reminiscing, socializing, and celebration.



The festivities kicked off with the announcing of the Wild Card Bib Winners, guaranteeing high spirits for the duration of the night. People lined up to grab beers from Payette Brewing, and check out the raffle prizes while they waited for the Whitewater Awards to start.


This year’s Whitewater Awards were once again hosted by NFC guru Ryan Baily with a must-have stage appearance by the iconic Jah Bananah helping with the raffles, stoking the stoke, and other MC responsibilities.



The Whitewater Awards takes pre-submitted whitewater clips over a wide range of categories and allows voters to choose their favorites. A new format meant the audience was treated to a video montage featuring the finalists, keeping stoke high throughout the event. The crowd peaked during a surprise showing of Dream 2, a short film by Skip Armstrong, starring the ever-popular, though absent, Ben Marr.



Some big winners of the night include Aniol Serrasolses, who won Best Waterfall Line, Honey Badger, Best Beatering, and the Expedition of the Year, for his decent of Scimitar Canyon with his brother Gerd Serrasolses, Ben Marr, and Chris Korbulic.


Photo of the Year was won by Kiwi Mike Dawson's image of Ben Marr and Rush Sturges scouting on the Indus River, Pakistan.

Mike, along with Ciarán Heurteau, also won Long Film of the Year for their feature film, Inside the Indus.



The Short Film Award was taken by Torryd, with their unique and hyphy film Aphelion, which mixed the concepts of space travel and whitewater.


Line of the Year and Rider of the Year went to heavy-hitters Ben Marr and Nouria Newman, while Grom of the Year went to Boise local Hayden Voorhees.


The Stewardship award went to Outdoor Alliance Policy Director and former King of the North Fork, Louis Geltman.










Stay tuned for more NFC Updates.




NFC VII KOKATAT QUALIFIER from North Fork Championship on Vimeo.


The Kokatat NFC 2018 Qualifier Event

By Capo Rettig


The NFC Kokatat Qualifier is a humbling race. For athletes who did not get voted into the Elite Race at Jacob's Ladder, this is the opportunity to prove themselves. For others, it is an opportunity to race in the NFC with the prize being participation and personal best.


This year's Qualifier Race took place for the first time on S-Turn rapid instead of the historical racecourse from Otter Slide to below Crunch. This new course favoured explosive yet technical paddlers and those who knew the course well at lower flows.



Why the Qualifier event? There are three ways to earn your spot into the Elite Division of the NFC:

  1. Place top 10 in the previous year’s Elite Division Race.
  2. Submit a video to earn your spot, voted on by the previous year’s top 10 finishers (10 spaces available).
  3. Place in the top 10 in the Qualifier Event (Excluding invited racers).



Earning a spot in the Jake's Race regardless of the voting process is the ultimate goal. Many of the best kayakers in the world don't get in. It is humbling whether you are at the top of the talent pool or towards the bottom. It is humbling to earn it, and humbling if you don't. Humbling to have the courage to race the North Fork of the Payette with a 100-athlete field of the athlete's best. But, giving the opportunity to everybody to race and qualify on one of the world's most intimidating and challenging courses against an elite field is one of the things that make the NFC so special.


Thursday, June 14th, 10:00 am, Big Eddy below S-Turn. North Fork of the Payette. 107 paddlers.


The sun came up a little brighter as athletes and organizers met for the Safety Meeting and the first event of the NFC VII. Head of NFC Safety Abe Herrera organized his team while the masses gathered around the registration booth, breaking their morning fast with steaming cups of coffee from North Fork Coffee Roasters and bagels with a variety of delicious cream cheese spreads, curtsey of Kokatat.



With the safety meeting complete, we were underway. The NFC 2018 had officially begun.


S-Turn at lower flows is like a racetrack with speed bumps. Holes, rocks, and crashing waves slow racers down at every point. Racers needed to know the fast lines and pull hard on their strokes to maintain speed.



With racers on the course, the sun rising high overhead, and more and more spectators arriving, that familiar feeling which is the North Fork began to take over. Families lined up on Idaho boulders to cheer on loved ones. Friends competed against friends and old rivalries were re-kindled. The community had assembled.



Competitors collected in the bottom eddy to catch their breath and gauge their finishes by asking fellow racers how they did. The automatic timing system and the “go as you please” format made for a quick day and left little indication of who may have won.



For many, this would be their only day racing this weekend at the NFC. For the pre-qualified athletes, the event would determine their starting order on Saturday, but none would know where they finished until the Whitewater Awards in Boise later that night.


















  1. Matej Holub
  2. Sean Madden
  3. Adrian Mattern
  4. Geoff Calhoun
  5. Vavra Hradilek
  6. Galen Volkhausen
  7. Cole More
  8. Will Grubb
  9. Andy Hobson
  10. William Griffith


Full Results: Click Here



Stay tuned for more updates and analysis of the NFC VII 2018.



The power of a river. The glory of whitewater. The love of a community. The excitement of celebration. The importance of honoring our wild places. Welcome to your off-the-hip guide to this year’s North Fork Championships VII.

The Event


NFC 2018 is bringing the race into year VII (lucky number seven) with much of the same event format from years past, but with a few fundamental changes.

The NFC VII will begin on Thursday, June 14th with the Kokatat Qualifier. This year, the Qualifier will take place on S-Turn rapid, a shorter, and dare we say, more competitive course than previous championships. The top ten finishers will automatically qualify for the Elite Division, which will take place on Saturday at Jacob’s Ladder. The top ten finishers will be announced at the Egyptian Theatre in Boise on Thursday night as part of the Whitewater Awards.


Whitewater Awards (Thursday)

On Thursday night, The Egyptian Theatre in Boise will once again host the Whitewater Awards. This night will highlight the sports best athletes, photographers, and videographers, and announce the 2018 Whitewater Award winners. Doors open at 5:30 pmContinue the party at the always rowdy (and event staple) Tom Grainey’s Sporting Pub.




Friday, June 15th, will be the North Face Boatercross, where five racers will battle head to head through S-Turn rapid. This visually spectacular and physically dramatic clash is a crowd favorite.


Saturday, June 16th, will be the main event at Jacob’s Ladder, which highlights the top athletes as they race slalom gates down the grade V rapid. The Elite Race is one of the defining events in the sport of kayaking and not to be missed. Racers get two runs with the best time counting. It is the ultimate in whitewater slalom courses and the granddaddy for whitewater bragging rights.


Join us in Crouch’s Weilmunster Park on Saturday evening for the family-friendly whitewater festival and the crowning of the NFC VII King.


For a full schedule of events, click here.


The Match-Ups

This year is all about the individual match-ups Saturday's Elite Race, on Jake's. With lower water levels predicted for this year's event, the advantage may shift to paddlers more comfortable with making gates. Though high water brings a certain ‘X' factor, lower water means tight times, and small mistakes can make a big difference. Each paddler has a distinct style; but who will come out on top? Be on the lookout for some of these storylines throughout the event.


Dane Jackson, Jules Domine, and Gerd Serrassolses, all former winners of the NFC, will all be racing this year. Who will finish number one among these three? Will one of these past NFC Kings retake the title this year?


Vavra Hradilek, who finished 2nd at the Olympic games in London (slalom) will be competing at this year’s NFC. Vavra will have to finish top 10 in the Kokatat Qualifier to compete in Jake’s, a feat he should be well qualified to accomplish. How will a silver Olympic medalist stack up to this year’s field?

Evan Garcia has finished in the top 10 every NFC race he has been to (raced 6/7). A win at this year's NFC would solidify Evan Garcia as one of the all-time NFC greats.

Nouria Newman was the first female to join the Trick Force (previous top 10 finishers from the Elite Race). Nouria finished 8th place in NFC VI and qualified her way into NFC VI. Can she do it again?


Gerd Serrasolses, Isaac Levinson, and Matias Lopez have been battling it out for the podium spots at 2018 Little White Race, Big Fork Festival, and the GoPro Mountain Games. All three are strong contenders for the top three spots at NFC.


Sixteen-year-old Owen Doyle from Jackson Hole Wyoming finished third at the Big Fork Festival, proving that he can keep up with the big guns. Will he qualify in to be the NFC’s youngest Elite Race competitor?

Louis Geltman, the winner of the NFC II and recently recovered from shoulder surgery, will also be racing in the Kokatat Qualifier to earn his spot in the Top 10. If he wins a Wild Card Bib, NFC VII will have four out of five former kings in one race. The only champion missing will be local legend, Ryan Casey.


Whitewater Festival


Get in on the NFC party with food, drinks, music, and games in the Weilmunster Park in Crouch, ID on Saturday and Sunday. Join us at 7:00 pm for the BoaterCross Awards on Friday, June 15th, and 6:00 pm following the Elite Race at Jacob’s Ladder on Saturday, June 16th. Bring the family and check out cool booths from product sponsors and supporters while enjoying the whitewater community. The after party at the Dirty Shame will kick off following the awards ceremony. Come and celebrate!








All Rise. NFC VII 2018 Teaser. Edit by River Roots and Darby McAdams.


NFC 2017 Media Coverage





The sun came out early for the NFC 2017.


After a few days of overcast skies, racing Jake's at the record breaking flow of 3900 CFS felt a bit more manageable in the bright blue of early morning after breakfast burritos at the Dirty Shame.


The Jacob's Ladder Race is the premier event of the NFC weekend, highlighting the hardest rapid on the North Fork of the Payette. The top 10 athletes from last year received automatic bids;  those 10 then voted in 10 more athletes, who through an application process, attempted to convince the panel that they deserved a shot at racing Jakes. The top 10 finalists from the Kokatat Expert Division Qualifier also earned the right to race, rounding out a highly competitive field.


The crowds lined the banks of the river alongside Jakes in anticipation. Wireless headsets from Kaleidisco were passed out for viewers to listen in on the announcer's commentary and music from DJ Revolve.


The athletes arrived by bus to begin their practice laps on a rapid that by anybody’s standards was big simply to run, yet alone race.



“That is a massive rapid,” confirmed crowd favorite Tyler Bradt, who has been running the North Fork since he was in middle school.


With the highest flows the race had ever seen, the mood among athletes was serious and focused.



The first major feature of the rapid, Rodeo Hole, provided the initial challenge for competitors. Many ended up shoved far left or right, risking missing the first gate. Below lay Rock Drop, the steepest single drop on the river, which leads directly into what at these flows, is a viscous unpredictable feature called Taffy Puller.


“All of the features are just pushing into one another at these flows,” said podium finisher Kyle “King Hesh” Hull after taking a practice lap.



The crowd swelled to well over 500 as the first racer hit the water. Each competitor had two runs through Jakes, with the top time counting.  Racers started by sliding down the Red Bull Ramp and into a sheet of fast moving water directly above the rapid.


As spectators watched the best whitewater kayakers in the world battle to stay on line, one could clearly see the raw power of the North Fork at these flows. Several of the athletes didn’t even make it to the bottom of the course, being pushed into the side of the river where they chose to simply exit the rapid versus continuing downstream into the chaos of white.



The course highlighted the athleticism of kayaking's best, and most athlete's second laps showed smoother, faster, and more confident lines. The paddlers had begun to settle into the rhythm of the river.


Athlete after athlete passed through, and then we were done. No swims, very little carnage; a testament to the quality of kayaker assembled.



In front of a lively crowd in Crouch, Idaho, results were announced. Ryan Bailey, event host and MC began reading out the winners. Jah Banana stood anxiously to the side. All eyes were trained on the stage.


The single fastest time would take the title.


Pangal Andrade Astorga from Chile…. Third place. No huge surprise, perhaps, as the Astorga's hail from the Maipo River, Chile’s equivalent to the North Fork.


Second place……. Upcoming, head turning, Evan Moore from the glorious granite state of California, lap after lap on high water Cataracts of the Kern paying off..


And when it came to first, well….. the crowd already knew. Those were there at Jakes saw it play out first-hand. They saw who was clearly the fastest.


The first ever NFC repeat champion… Mr. Dane Jackson taking home the crown for 2017.




This year, for the first time ever, there was the Toyota Dash for Cash, a $5000 total  purse to be awarded to the top three athletes with the fastest combined times, rewarding consistent lines.

Gerd Serrasolses was third, Evan Moore Second, and once again, the NFC VI overall champion, the man in pink, Dane Jackson.


1st: Dane Jackson 1:07:58

2nd: Evan Moore 1:09:60

3rd: Pangal Andrade 1:10:98

4th: Kyle Hull 1:10:99

5th: Gerd Serrasolses 1:11:29

6th Evan Garcia 1:11.77

7th Alec Voorhees 1:12:40

8th Nick Troutman 1:13:12

9th Isaac Levinson 1:13:21

10th Aniol Serrasolses 1:13:50


For full results check here: 




North Fork Terminology – An Insiders Guide


When the pullouts along highway 55 fill with license plates from states near and far, it's a clear sign that the North Fork Championship is underway.

As boaters and spectators assemble to watch the carnage, the chaos and the glory, it becomes easy to pick out the locals. Here on the Payette Rivers, they speak their own language, a river slang unique to the “Greater Banks Area.”

We broke down a few key terms so you can make the most of the scene, enjoy the NFC, and sound like a local.


“50-mile an hour scout” Even though the NF Payette is all roadside, locals rarely scout, except for the drive by on highway 55. “Its all good,” says Ryan Bailey. “That's about how fast the rapids come at you anyway.”


T to B” Short for “Top to Bottom,” or when you run all 15 miles of the class five section of the North Fork Payette.


“Lower 5” A five mile stretch from Houndstooth Rapid to the town of Banks. Includes Houndstooth, Otterslide, Juicer, and Crunch.

Hounds Tooth Rapid.

“The Warm-Up” A section in the lower five that most use as their foray into the North Fork.


“The Slide” The stretch of pavement that parallels Otterslide Rapid. This is where most of the Cascade Rafting Staff live for the summer. You are also likely to find most of the NFC athletes here at some point or another this weekend. It is also an alternate put-in for the Lower Three.


“Upper Five” A five-mile stretch of increased difficulty. Rapids include Steepness, Nutcracker, Disneyland, and S-turn.


“Vasectomy” When you run everything but Nutcracker Rapid, also known as “Ze Nut.”

Hayden Voorhees on Nutcracker

“Middle Five/Swinging Bridge” Includes some of the North Fork’s crux rapids, like Bouncer Down The Middle, Chaos, Pectoralis Major and Minor, Jacob’s Ladder, Golf Course, Jaws 1, 2, and 3, and Screamin’ Left.

Jacob's Ladder

“Jacob’s Ladder” AKA Jake’s: This is arguably one of the most difficult rapids in the lower 48. This rapid has been home to the Giant Slalom race of the NFC for the last six years. As in.. “ Have you run Jake’s?”

Rodeo Hole: The first main feature of Jacob’s Ladder. Watch for competitors to get spun out or smashed into the right bank here.

Kalob Grady getting air out of Rodeo Hole.

Rock Drop: This feature is responsible for serving legit mystery moves at higher flows. Athletes may get surfed here.

Gerd Serrasoles at high water Rock Drop

Taffy Puller: Located on river right. Paddlers may completely sub-out underwater here.

Ocean Wave: A large, clean (for the North Fork) wave at these flows.

Witches Tit: Can be an amazing boof, or a nasty peton rock. It is currently lurking underwater, waiting to surprise someone.

Golf Course: Named Golf Course in reference to the “18” holes in it. There is one massive hole right by the finish line, so if athletes are tired or feeling winded, they may struggle.


“Right Banked/Left Banked” When one of the features on the Payette typewriters you hard into either the river left or river right wall. (See Dave Fusilli’s hand for reference. More than a few racers have had their dreams of being king ended here.)


“Teleport” When you drop into a feature, disappear, and then re-surface somewhere completely different.”


“Pounder” Banks terminology for the more colloquially popular “Beater,” or when one messes up a move on or off water.


“Splashy” General North Fork terminology for the Payette’s big water feel. As in: “She’s splashy right now.”


“Ryan Casey” Local hero, the first ever King of the North Fork, all around bad-ass paddler, and possibly the tallest man out on the river.

“Banks Mag” A literary masterpiece produced by Ryan Bailey here in Banks. Be sure to grab a copy!

“Salt Flats” Local term for the Banks Café Parking lot. Be careful, once you eddy out here, you may end up in the “Vortex” and find it hard to leave.





















Fear and Loathing at the NFC Boater X 2017


NFC VI North Face Boater X from The North Fork Championship on Vimeo.


The Boater X Event is the kayak race that everyone feels they might be able to win. It is the race that makes the most sense and is perhaps the easiest to understand: A section of river is established as the race course (in this case, S-Turn Rapid on the Upper Five of the North Fork Payette), all kayakers start at the same time, and the fastest to get to the bottom and touch a "gate" wins.


Big water. Multiple kayakers trying to pass each other in a class V rapid. People understand this because in the end, the most savage paddler wins.



In this case, the most consistently savage was Dane Jackson. Jackson won every single heat he was in throughout the day, and took home the title in this event last year.



Rain drops fell on a healthy, and lively crowd lining the banks of the North Fork Payette. Well hydrated on a keg of Humm Kombucha, the spectators were undeterred by the refreshing Idaho rain. The rain seemed to only fuel more energy into athletes and spectators alike, whom, like diesel on fire, seemed to be spurred on by the precipitation as only river people can be.


There is little that demonstrates the rhythm of a river better than the NFC Boater X. Competitors come down the course  compromised of a series of huge breaking waves, causing the crowd to strain for visuals as they disappeared and reappeared at the crest of each wave. Green, red. Blue and yellow. Each flash of color a boat cresting and disappearing again. Boom, boom.



The first round cut to the top two racers who moved on until a winner was established. The final heat consisted of Alec Voorhees, Pedro Astorga, Matias Lopez, Dane Jackson, and Joe Morley.



The last round was the most competitive, the racers as close as any heat of the entire day.

The final savage six battled it out, fighting for the finish, Dane Jackson once again taking the win.

NFC North Fork Boater X Results

  1. Dane Jackson
  2. Joe Morley
  3. Pedro Astorga
  4. Matias Lopez
  5. Carl Whitehead
  6. Alec Voorhees






The Boater X leaves one main question up in the air: Three-peat for Dane Jackson?


More soon from the NFC Media Team






Held at the Egyptian Theatre in Boise, the 2017 NRS White Water Awards was a ruckus celebration of all things whitewater.

Prizes were awarded for River Steward of the Year, Short Film of the Year, Photographer of the Year, Line of the Year, (Male/Female), Expedition of the Year, Beater of the Year, The Honey Badger Award and Rider of the Year (Male Female), among others.


New films were showcased, including a piece from Substantial Media House highlighting some of the West Coast's best and biggest drops, and a special edit from Banks Mag of  intimidatingly high water runs North Fork Payette.

The winner of the River Steward of the Year, The Balkan River Tour, accepted their award in abstenia, showing their new film "Undamaged," a powerful piece advocating for free-flowing rivers in the Balkans.

A raffle followed, with prizes such as a Yeti Cooler, an NRS lifejacket and drybag, and a Pyranha 9R.

The highlight of the evening was the unveiling of the Top Ten Wild Card Qualifiers of the Kokatat Down River Race. Find the full results here: 

Congratulations to all the winners of the evening's awards, and a massive thanks to NRS and the Egyptian Theatre for their continued support.


James McLeod as François Payette

Paddlers and river lovers of all ages came out for the White Water Awards.

Erik Parker accepting his award for Photographer of the Year for his third consecutive year.

MC extraordinaire Ryan Bailey.

Spaniard Aniol Serrasolses with the Rider of the Year trophy. "My brother and I came from nothing," he said. "You can do anything, be anything, just do what you love."

The Top Ten Wild Card Qualifiers receive their bibs.

Congratulations to Dove for her new, shiny 9R. Thanks Pyranha!

Nouria Newman took home the win in every female category, including Rider of the Year.



Male: Aniol Serrasolses

Female: Nouria Newman


Male: Gerd Serrasolses

Female: Nouria Newman


Substantial Media House


Chasing Niagra


Galen Volckhausen


Erik Parker


Into Twin Galaxies, Erik Boomer, Ben Stookesberry, Sarah Macnair-Landry


Erik Boomer


Male: Galen Volckhausen

Female: Nouria Newman


Male: Benny Marr

Female: Nouria Newman


Gerd Serrasolses


The Balkan Rivers Tour






Only one more day to suss out lines before Saturday's race. Check out a quick course preview with North Fork Local Alec Voorhees.


Jakes Preview from The North Fork Championship on Vimeo.


2017 Kokatat Expert Division Down River Qualifier Recap from The North Fork Championship on Vimeo.


The 2017 NFC VI started off with the Expert Division, a high-water time trial highlighting the very best of the whitewater community. 83 racers competed on a section of the North Fork called the “Lower 3,” featuring the major rapids “Juicer” and “Crunch.”



The top 10 finishers from the Time Trials receive automatic bids into the Elite Division held Saturday, June 17 on Jacob’s Ladder.



With flows ranging today between 3800 and 4000 cfs, the river was high and powerful, leaving many athletes to question if they would actually want to compete on Jacobs Ladder if given the opportunity.



Additionally, the top 35 racers will move onto compete in the North Face Boater X, which will take place at 3:00 p.m. on Friday June 16th.












See full schedule of events HERE:


10. Brad McMillan 6:00:19

9: Matias Meneses 6:00:02

8: Tyler Bradt 5:59:99

7: Ryan Casey 5:59:96

6: Carson Lindsay 5:59:85

5: Johnny Chase 5:59:30

4: Pedro Astorga 5:55:24

3: Geoff Calhoun 5:55:19

2: Hayden Voorhees 5:55:07

1: Gerd Serrasolses 5:47:60

See Full Time Trial Results HERE: 



"The ConTENders?"

For those not pre-selected to race Jacob’s Ladder on Saturday, Thursday is the day.

The opening race of the 2017 North Fork Championship down the Lower Three selects the competitors who will have the chance to race alongside their brethren on Saturday.

Higher levels meant a smaller field, leaving athletes wondering who will make the top 10 spots.

Here are our picks for a few solid bets:

Hailing from New Zealand, Carl Whitehead is a former slalom paddler known in the southern hemisphere for being strong and fast. Despite not being super familiar with the lines on the lower three, Carl won the 2017 NZ Extreme Whitewater Association Extreme Race Series, making him one to watch.


A former North Fork Champion, Gerd Serrasolses had to rejoin the masses to earn a spot to have a second chance at being crowned King. Gerd wasn’t feeling too confident today, saying he thought brother Aniol was faster.


Nouria Newman has been the only female on the Jake’s course for the past two years running. Will she be able to place amongst the men to take one of the top ten fastest spots? Most think yes.


South Easterner Bennett Smith is a strong freestyle paddler, but can he hang with the big boys? Clean teeth, clean lines?



Pedro and Pangal Astorga- cousins from Chile well-known for their aggressive paddling style. Pedro has an injured shoulder at the moment, and Pangal has said that he finds Jake’s intimidating. Even if comes through in the top 10, will he choose to race?


Antonio Reinoso and Matias Meneses, recent graduates of WCA and representing Mexico and Ecuador respectfully, have been turning heads on the international racing community and are expected to do well in the qualifier for the Elite Division. Earlier this year Matias took 1st place at the Jondachi Race in Ecuador, and Antonio won this year’s Alseseca race in Mexico. With both competitors under the age of 17, we expect to see more of these athletes in the years to come.



Let's not forget about Tyler Bradt, the man the myth the legend. Off the proverbial couch and right back into the North Fork.



Local Seth Stoner has set safety the past few years, but know the North Fork better than most. He looked good until getting left-banked in Crunch.. will it be enough?


Young’un Hayden Voorhees might be under 18, but he looked smooth, fast and consistent on his home river. Hayden beat big brother Alec at the GoPro Mountain Games Homestake Creek Race… will it happen again today?


Good luck to all those who competed today! Stoke is high, levels are higher- see you all at the Egyptian Theatre in Boise tonight. Whitewater Awards kick off at 5:30 pm, followed by race results.


Athlete Profile: Meet Matias Lopez

Every year, the North Fork Championship is gaining repute on a global scale as athletes from all over the world apply to race against the best of the best in the Elite Division Giant Slalom on Jacob’s Ladder.

2017 is no different, with some of South America’s most talented whitewater paddlers making the journey north in hopes of being crowned King of the North Fork. Meet Matias Lopez.

Once a relative unknown, Argentinian Matias Lopez has been gaining notoriety and respect for clean lines and fast times, making him one to watch this NFC. He qualified to race amongst the elite as the second place wild card last year, and was voted in by his peers for a second chance to take the crown at the NFC VI.


Lopez has been paddling for 15 years across a wide range of disciplines, from freestyle and flatwater sprint to extreme creek racing. Matias has spent much of the past year exploring and opening up new rivers in his home country of Argentina; his dream is to see Argentina become a staple destination for paddlers from all over the world. In his spare time, Matias also teaches kayaking to kids with the goal of helping grow and develop the South American paddling community.

Last year, Lopez finished second in the NFC V’s boater cross, proving he is both fast and consistent. This year alone, Matias has put down impressive race results, with a 4th place finish at the 2017 Little White Race, 4th place at the 2017 Homestake Creek Race, 2nd place at the GoPro Mountain Games Down River Race, and winning the overall title at the 2017 Futalefu XL.


What does the North Fork Championship mean to Matias? “The NFC is a special event for me,” Lopez says. "It is a personal challenge, given the high technical level of the river, but what I like most about this event is that the connection between the athletes and the public. Last year, I felt very good thanks to the support and encouragement of the spectators. The NFC is on my list of favorite events!”

For more on Matias, check his Instagram:



Guide to the 2017 NFC VI

In keeping in line with the traditions of the past, the NFC is looking to once again create one of the most progressive kayak races with a community element to it that is rarely seen at races.

This year the Whitewater Awards will kick off the NFC weekend, bringing to Idaho a video competition format that highlights the best in the industry. High water will also be a theme of this year’s NFC, with an anticipated flow of among the highest levels the race has seen. Changes in the qualifier, which now allow the top 10 to compete, will help give the whitewater community a wider wild-card chance of racing Jakes.

Whitewater, community, and party. This is your guide to this year’s NFC Championship

The Athletes

The top 10 finishers from last year + 10 new athletes voted into the race make up the current race roster for the Elite Race on Jacobs ladder. Check out the full list of racers in the Elite Division.

All riders who finished last year’s top 5 will be returning, with Dane Jackson defending his title.

The Expert Division on Thursday will allow racers to compete for the chance at racing in the Elite Division on Jacobs Ladder. The top 10 finishers in the Expert Division will move onto the Elite division.

Water Levels

The water levels are anticipated to be the highest the race has ever been held. Over the weekend prior to the race, the river was at around 5,000 CFS, with a normal year on the NFC being around 1800-2600 CFS.

Big water will mean a much meaner Jacob’s Ladder for the Elite division, as well as adding an intensity to the entire river.

The Whitewater Awards

New to the NFC, is this year's Whitewater Awards, which highlight the best athletes in the sport through video and photo. This night is to celebrate the talented people behind the lens, documenting all the amazing places our kayaks bring us, as well as the athletes pushing the sport to new highs. The Whitewater Awards will be held at the Egyptian Theatre in downtown Boise, Idaho on June 15th, 2017. Check out the website for more information. Don't miss what is going to be an unforgettable night.

NFC VI Schedule

There are lots of things going on this NFC VI, from a variety of kayak races, to the Whitewater Awards, to the Whitewater Festival with live music, booths, and entertainment. See the FULL SCHEDULE of events. You will not want to miss this one.






NFC V Jacobs Ladder Giant Slalom Short from The North Fork Championship on Vimeo.






The sun rose in a cloudless sky Saturday morning, with wisps of clouds and gusts of wind that rustled the tents and gear littering Weilmunster Park. Competitors met at the Dirty Shame where coffee, bacon, eggs, and tortillas waited before boarding a bus that would take them to the course. Cameras were rolling, asking for predictions on who would make it to the top of the podium.


Spectators vied for parking and lined the rocks alongside Jacob’s Ladder’s right bank, settling in for an afternoon of watching some of the world’s best whitewater paddlers battle it out for the crown, competing for the title “King of the North Fork.” The winner would take over from reigning Spaniard Gerd Serrasolses,  writing their name on the iron circlet and into the history of the North Fork.



Spectators find the best viewing spots alongside the Idaho state Highway on the banks of the Payette. Massive thanks to the fire department and traffic control for keeping everyone on the roads safe.


Pruett Jah

Will Pruett Walks Jah for his pre-race warm up.



Safety set up while DJ Revolve played out of a Red Bull rig, hyping the crowd and setting the vibe to “epic.”



Abe Herrara setting safety. We couldn't do it without these guys!

Ryan Bailey and James McLeod stood atop the Tower of Power, microphones in hand, ready to announce, entertain and inform as 30 contenders lined up, waiting their turn to weave their way through a seven gate course on some of the most challenging and notorious whitewater in the lower forty-eight.



Starter Marty gets Will Pruett gets fired up atop the ramp



Long time river advocate and North Fork Legend Rob Lesser with Brendan Wells.


Jacob’s Ladder and Golf course are considered by many “North Forkers” to be the crux rapids on the river they call home. Almost a mile long, “Jake’s”, as locals know it, contains five of the Payette river’s largest and most distinctive features.


Rodeo Hole was the location for the first gate, which competitors needed to pass on the left, before boosting and catching a left eddy for Gate 2. An upstream directly above a rock siphon, Gate 2 was considered by many to be the hardest move on the course, proving divisive in determining which paddlers would make the top 10.



Frustration is evident on Todd Well's face as he is rejected from the eddy, incurring a 50 second penalty on his time.


Below Gate 2 another Upstream waited on river left below Rock Drop, a boof next to a jagged, triangular rock that drops into a swirling vortex of an eddy. Gate 3 was visible high in an eddy directly across the river, forcing athletes to fight surging waves and inconsistent boils.



Kalob Grady Sending. Despite a clean run, Kalob missed out on this years top ten.



Young Gun and North Fork Local Alec Voorhees peeling out of Gate 3.



Galen Volckahusen flying towards the gate.


Gate 5 was another upstream on the left below Taffy Puller, and Gate 6 dangled above Oceana wave, one of the largest and rowdiest of the course, capable of kicking paddlers left and right seemingly at random. The last gate marked the finish on the right at the Golf Course, named for the 18 holes in its midst.


All week competitors lap Jakes trying to get the top moves right, taking out below Taffy Puller and walking back up the hill- but few spend the time dialing in the fastest line through Golf Course to the finish line, and it is here that the tenths of seconds determining the placing can be made up or lost.



Nick Troutman Working his way across the river. It is chaotic, turbulent, and violent on the Jake's course, leaving paddlers no time to relax.


The anticipation was palpable as the first kayaker sat atop the Red Bull Ramp marking the start line. Each competitor would take two runs down the course, with their fastest time counting. Bibs differentiated the riders-red for the wild card winners, black for those voted in, last years number one gold bib visibly absent. This year, the bottom 20 were seeded accorded to the Kokatat Time Trial on Thursday, and the previous years top ten reverse seeded according to place, making Dane Jackson the last rider of the day.



Dane Jackson waiting his turn. He would be the last of the 28 riders to go, earning the advantage of watching how others fared on the course before him.


Ryan Bailey’s voice echoed in the air with a cry of “make some noise for Ben Kinsellaaaaaaaaaaa….” As the first rider launched of the ramp into the water with an audible smack, instantly paddling hard on his Werner blade.



Anna Bruno joining Ryan Bailey ontop of the Toyota Tower of Power



Joe Morely making his way into gate 3


With penalties of 5 seconds for a touch and 50 seconds for a missed gate, athletes took different strategies after the first five paddlers got rejected from Gate 2. Pyranha athlete Dave Fusilli was the first to make all the gates cleanly, eliciting roars from the crowd.



Dave Fusilli with Louis Geltman and Ben Kinsella.


The largest cheers of the day resonated off the walls as C-1 paddler and last minute alternate Tad Dennis crushed the course, looking smooth and fast. “Incredible” Tren Long breathed, shaking his head in admiration. Everyone watching had Dennis high on their list for the top three, with bets that he would take the crown.



Second Place Finisher Tad Dennis. Half the blade, twice the paddler?


Because times are recorded on RFID chips, neither athletes nor competitors knew where they would finish until the awards ceremony later that evening. Speculations and wagers were high, tensions building as each name in the top ten was announced. Wild Card Evan Moore was the first called to the stage, Rush Sturges and Will Griffith taking 8th and 9th. Competitors were apprehensive as they waited to see if their name would follow. The shock, excitement and uproar when Kyle “King Hesh” Hull was announced as third place was overwhelming. “I forgot about Kyle!” voices exclaimed over the sound of whistles and cheers. Even Hesh was surprised, thinking that his 5 second penalty on Oceana had taken him out of the top ten. The noise and suspense peaked as Ted Dennis placed second, and applause rippled through the crowd as Dane Jackson was crowned king. Smiling, one fist in the air, one hand holding his giant $5000 check aloft, Dane reveled in his moment as “King of the North Fork.”



Top Ten Celebrate On Stage.


Jackson, Hull and Dennis weren’t the only winners of the evening. Jah Bananah called out the names of those lucky enough to win incredible raffle prizes like a Yeti Cooler full of Payette Brewing Company Beer, Yakima Racks, Mountain Mind Collective DVDs and merchandise, NRS straps and swag, GOPROs, a Werner paddle, and a one of a kind NFC Dagger Mamba.



Todd Wells and Nate Garcia admire the NFC Dagger Mamba up for grabs in the raffle.



Payette Brewing, the offical beer of the NFC. Try their North Fork Lager. We did- it is delicious!


The stoke and party high continued across the road to the infamous bar The Dirty Shame where bartender Holy poured drink after drink and DJ revolved turned tables. Athletes and spectators mingled, twerked and celebrated until the early hours of the morning when the bar doors shut on another North Fork Championship.


A massive thanks to the incredible James and Regan Byrd, and the many volunteers and sponsors that come together to make this weekend a success.



Hand Welded NFC Fire Braziers warmed the evening, getting the crowd fired up.



  1. Dane Jackson 1.57.60
  2. Tad Dennis 1.58.28
  3. Kyle Hull 1.59.00
  4. Alec Voorhees 2.00.31
  5. Aniol Serrasolses 2.00.53
  6. Joe Morley 2.01.67
  7. Nick Troutman 2.08.90
  8. Will “Jam Boy” Griffith 2.10.35
  9. Rush Sturges 2.10.71
  10. Evan Moore 2.11.82


For Full Results Go To:







Boater Cross Recap from The North Fork Championship on Vimeo.

Top 3 finishers:

  1. Dane Jackson
  2. Matias Lopez
  3. Kyle Hull



SPECTATORS lined the banks of the North Fork Payette's S Turn rapid for what many consider to be the most entertaining of the three NFC races. The Boater X is eXtreme, it is eXciting, and it is anyones race to win.


The North Face Boater X official Bracket. 6 Heats of 6 competitors made up of the Elite Athletes and the 30 fastest paddlers from the time trial, only the top 2 finishers of each race continued on to race again.



This is a crowd favorite event, as the S-Turn rapid is nearly a quarter-mile long and the race offers chaos at every turn.



Competitors check heat lists with NFC organizer and mastermind James Byrd.


6 Heats of 6 paddlers make their way down the quarter mile long rapid, battling it out all the way to the finish line, as only the top two paddlers in each advance on in this burly, elimination style race. It truly isn't over until its over, and it isn't over until 2 people touch the North Face banner on river right.



Racing down the course.



Dane Jackson and Evan Moore fighting for the finishing touch.


Safety was on hand, making sure every one made it down uninjured. Taking a paddle or the bow of a boat the face is not uncommon in this event, and it is no wonder that several of the Elite competitors for the next day's Jacob's Ladder Giant Slalom opted out.



Safety Crew and Payette River Local Parker sharing some stoke and North Face Love.


Kalob Grady leading the charge through S-Turn with Matias Lopez and Kyle Hull behind him. Kalob may look like he is in for the win, but  it was Matias and Kyle who snuck through to advance into finals.


Brendan Wells and Matias Lopez were two of the fastest paddlers, each coming through first in their heats to make it to finals alongside Kyle Hull, Dane Jackson, Alec Voorhees and Wild Card bib winner Evan Moore.

The six duked it out, with Dane Jackson taking the win in front of Matias and Kyle Hull.


For Full Results, check out



Dane Jackson showing off his winners trophy.




BEHIND THE NFC: Profile: “McLeod-Bursting” with James McLeod



James McLeod


In his recent literary achievement How to Shake a Stick at Anything, Regardless the Quantity, James McLeod counsels readers that “If Jamaica can have a bobsled team perhaps it’s time that I reconsider my own perceived limitations.” It is advice McLeod has certainly taken to heart. A man possessing a mysterious aura of hilarity, James is at once a talented kayaker, skateboarder extraordinaire, artist, stand-up comedian, friend, and legend in the Banks and Northern California paddling communities.



Skateboarding on Cali Classic Dinky Creek. Friend Todd Wells Paddled the Skateboard in for the First D.


Almost anyone who has paddled the North Fork Payette has a story about the hyper-talented James, ranging from the summer he kept his entire wardrobe in a bush near the Banks Café, or when claimed the first descent of the NFC 1 Ramp (it has since been “McLeod-Proofed”), or hitchhiked a ride to a friends house in California without any plans for a ride back, and decided instead to move in for a while.


The respect and appreciation are mutual, with James attributing a huge part of his inspiration to all the amazing he has found in Banks, Idaho. "It would take me a whole day to list the names of all the rad people I've met here in Banks" says McLeod. "It's a pretty amazing community."

Self described as a “wingless bird of flight”, attendees of the NFC may best recognize James for his creative Zines published every year with titles such as Fry Sauce and Banana Hammock or ask: “is that the guy in the banana suit?” What they may not realize is that James’ boundless, out to lunch, positive energy is a driving force behind the NFC and has been for the last five years.


The Man Behind the Banana


“What does James bring to the NFC? Dude- everything!” says founder James Byrd. “This year, I needed someone who could JB Weld something for me- and I mentioned it to McLeod, and he was like “oh, yeah, I did some of that in high school” – and he absolutely crushed it. The guy is a wizard.” Elliptical, plaid, interleaved- there is no box in which to place James McLeod.

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Boater X Winner Dane Jackson shows of his JB Welded Trophy


Watch out for his subtle genius on Saturday at the NFC main event, where he will be announcing alongside Ryan Chainsaw Bailey. If you don’t his get humor, don’t stress it, and be sure to buy a copy of this years “MANKS BAG.”





The 2016 Melt Awards Recap from The North Fork Championship on Vimeo.

THE MELT AWARDS kicked off at Boise’s Egyptian Theatre last night. Designed to showcase and highlight the multi-talented individuals in the world of whitewater, The Melt Awards brings an assortment of films and images to the public eye. An integral part of what makes the NFC what it is, The Melt Awards is a moment of appreciation for the progress made each year in whitewater and for those who capture and share it with the world.


Crowds filter into The Egyptian for the Evening


First up on the film reel for the evening was Chasing Niagara by Rush Sturges and River Roots, followed after a brief intermission by short edits from Evan Garcia, Kyle Smith and Seth Dahl, and a humbling highlight reel by the Serrasolses brothers.

Photo submissions from Tait Troutman, Evan Garcia, and Galen Volckhausen and others drew the audience in, with images incarnate of 1000 words telling the story of the captivating beauty that is whitewater wilderness.



Jah Bahnanah, and MC Ryan Bailey on the Microphone


Roughly 200 people made the rally to the big city to share in the festivities and crown a peoples choice favorite for film and print. Payette Brewing Company poured liberally, the libations contributing to the general buzz and atmosphere.

The spectators mingled as they voted, before regrouping to hear the final results.  Erik Parker took the win in the photography class for his image of Aniol Serrasolses in Iceland to the shouts and cheers of the crowd.



Parker and Aniol Celebrate with MC Bailey to the Cheers of the Crowd


The Official TMA Results


Despite not being to compete in the Jacob’s Ladder Giant Slalom this Saturday, Evan Garcia came away a peoples choice favorite, winning the Reel category for his Cali Love edit.



Evan Garcia winning accolades from the other side of the lens


Jah Bananah made a surprise guest appearance, joining legendary MC Ryan Bailey in announcing the raffle, where winners of note were Joe Morley with a coozie, and the far luckier Talitha Fagen, who walked away with a Pyranha 9r.



MC Ryan Bailey on the microphone. He’s smooth, he’s creamy, the ladies love him.


Just before the evening closed, the crowd gathered and collectively hushed as the time trial results and wild card bib winners were announced. Chilean Pedro Astorga was the fastest man of the day, followed by young gun Alec Voorhees and Dane Jackson. The men of the evening were Pedro Astorga, Argentinian Matias Lopez, Evan Moore, Sam Ellis, and Phil Mitchell.


Pedro Astorga, Phil Mitchell, Mattias Lopez, Sam Ellis and Evan Moore celebrate earning their Wild Card Bib for the NFCV Giant Slalom on Jacob’s Ladder.

For Full Time Trial Results Click Here


Celebrations abounded and the usual chaos ensued as the Melt awards closed and the crowd migrated to nearby Tom Grainey’s. A massive Thank You to The Egyptian Theatre, Loku Onu and the Red Lion, Payette Brewing and the many others who make this night possible.



White Slalom Love in Boise with Kyle "King Hesh" Hull and Jo Kemper one of many who made the rally to support friends and neighbors with films and images on display.


Rush Sturges and Sam P. Grafton celebrating before heading into the competition. Rush's film Chasing Niagra was this voted this years best adventure film at the BANFF, but lost out on the peoples choice of the Melt Awards to Evan Garcia's Cali Love. 





Hailing from the Pacific Northwest’s paddling mecca of Trout Lake, Washington, Todd and Brendan Wells have grown up with the river as their playground. The two have recently taken their love of whitewater to the big screen with the creation of the production company Mountain Mind Collective. Their film For The Love was on tour in the United States this past spring, and their success is clear- athletes and spectators alike at the NFC are showing the love in the form of MMC hats, t-shirts and stickers.

The only brothers to compete in the fifth North Fork Championship, the Wells bring positive energy, some brotherly love and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry to the racecourse. Todd is a four time top-ten finisher, and Brendan snuck into last years Elite Race with the fifth wild card bib. With Brendan voted into the Elite division this year, both the Wells are strong contenders for the top 10. Check them out at and



Todd Wells


Brendan on Todd: There is definitely some sibling rivalry between Todd and I, but it only makes us faster knowing that stakes are even higher racing against each other. Todd has said many times that he’d retire if I ever beat him in a race. Although I finally crushed him in the GoPro Games, I have a feeling he’ll still be plunging off the ramp into Jake’s this weekend. I guess it just means I’ll have to beat him again so he knows his place!



Brendan Filming for Mountain Mind


Todd on Brendan: Brendan did beat me at GoPro Games, but I’m still here. Guess it just means I’ll have to show him his place this weekend! No, while there is definitely a little rivalry between us, and I always want to beat him more than anyone else, I was stoked for Brendan to do well at GoPro and am fired up to race him this weekend.



Truck Life

Brendan on Todd: Todd and I definitely have way different styles of boating, but when you see us on the race course we usually take the same lines which other racers don’t take. I think this is a product of growing up on the style of rivers we did in the PNW. I think our main difference would be that Todd usually takes a lot more strokes than me, when I concentrate more on staying perfectly on line. This works sometimes, but on a race like Jake’s it usually takes as many strokes as possible to win. So I might have to rethink my strategy a bit this year.



Brendan taking it to the face on Jake's


Todd on Brendan: Brendan has some more off the couch steeze than I do- I paddle more often, but Brendan has this out of the blue style: he can take risks, but he usually sticks it and manages to somehow make it work, and look good doing it.


On the North Fork Championship:


Brendan: The NFC is an amazing event because the energy that is shared between the racers on the water and at the start line is unlike anything I experience all year or at any other event. It’s definitely a family style event, and the same camaraderie that we all usually share on the water really comes through. This weekend is about paddling with your friends and there is nothing better.


Family Reunion

Todd: This event is the sickest event in kayaking. Its super fun- we call it the family reunion because amazing people from all over the world rally in for the weekend. Whether it is for the sickest party, stoutest race, its about enjoying the river, the weekend and the friendship.






North Fork Championship V Day 1 Recap from The North Fork Championship on Vimeo.





Banks Cafe: A NFC staple for food, friends, and info


CLOUDY SKIES and intermittent rain made for a damp start to the first race of the North Fork Championship. Groans were audible as competitors rolled out of their tents in search of coffee before making the journey down Otter Slide road to the registration tent where warm bagels and cream cheese waited.



Kayakers Assemble at Otter Slide

Despite inclement weather, stoke was high as over 100 people queued to sign in or snag a last minute entry bib. Athletes discussed lines, angling to see who knew the fastest routes with lower water levels. Some were still waking up, having driven through the night from California. When the list of 99 competitors was finalized it included paddlers from the US, Chile, Canada, France, Slovenia, New Zealand, Mexico, Argentina, Ireland, the UK and Costa Rica. There was a strong ladies crew representing with fifteen women racing, a new NFC record, and a handful of under 18ers.



Brian "B-Real" Ward leading the Safety Charge

Six locals were on hand to set safety under the guidance of Brian Ward, reminding competitors that while the most friendly of the three North Fork Championship races, Juicer and Crunch were still to be taken seriously.




Registration Tent Chaos: I got 99 Bibs but yours ain't one


NFC Lady Love

For those already racing Saturday, today was designed to seed the Elite, giving the public their first taste of who to be on the watch for. The roughly eight minute time trial will also determine who joins Saturday’s race, with the top five fastest “Wild Card winners” announced tonight at the Melt Awards. Few who have won wildcard entries have gone on to place in the top 10, local legend Tren Long being a notable exception. This could be the result of different race formats- a longer distance race without gates perhaps highlighting a different skill set than what is needed to excel on Jake’s more defined maneuvers.



Brit Phil Mitchell finishing strong


Rush Sturges leading the Masters Class


Kayakers clustered together in the eddy below the highway bridge, waiting for their turn to pass under the Kokatat banners demarcating the start and finish lines. Microchips stuck to each individual’s helmet make this race a bit of a free-for-all, with competitors able to race at their leisure. The free flow format means that people can choose to paddle down with a crew for additional safety or for the push of paddling faster than your friends.



Team Racing.. More friends, more fun


3rd Alternate Tad Dennis showing that one blade is just as fast as two. Look out for him on Saturday

From the road, the river looks deceptively easy until you place the paddlers in perspective with the waves. It is hard to give the shift in gradient its due as the river careens around corners, flowing from headwaters in the Sawtooth and Salmon Mountains until it joins its sister, the South Fork Payette in Banks. Water rises and falls, dwarfing the kayakers, momentarily obscuring them from the view of the spectators watching on the banks. Heavy showers of rain precluded all but the staunchest of onlookers, though sunshine at the takeout had racers stripping down, enjoying cold beverages, and making plans to paddle before migrating to Boise for the Melt Awards and the evening’s festivities.










THE HYPE IS REAL. As the fifth edition of the North Fork Championship approaches, boaters from all over the world are flooding into the town of Banks, Idaho (population 17) for what has become possibly the world of whitewater’s most notorious race.



Fred Bailey on the Megaphone


Every year for a week in June, all eyes turn to a select group of individuals chosen to compete on a Giant Slalom course down the North Fork Payette’s Jacob Ladder and Golf Course rapids, arguably the crux of a steep, continuous, 15 mile, big-water class five stretch of whitewater.


Nate Garcia launching the boof at Rodeo Hole. NFC 2015

Nate Garcia launching the boof at Rodeo Hole. NFC 2015


The winner walks away with $5000 and the hard earned title “King of the North Fork.” Past winners include Ryan Casey, Louis Geltman, Jules Domine and Gerd Serrasolses. No athlete has ever claimed the rank of King more than once- and with last years reigning royal injured, this year’s crown is available for the taking.


Casey Carried Jessica Murri


The 30 athletes competing for imperial status this weekend are comprised of the top 10 finishers from the NFC IV, with another 15 voted in from a pool of online applicants, leaving 5 Wild Card spots yet to be filled.


This year’s NFC will consist of three races: Thursday’s Kokatat Time Trial down Juicer and Crunch, where the five fastest finishers will earn the right to compete among the Elite and fight for Saturday’s crown. The winners will be announced Thursday night at The Melt Awards, a film festival dedicated to celebrating those behind the lens, devoted to capturing and sharing the magic of whitewater.




On Friday, the top 35 racers from the time trial will continue on to compete alongside the 25 invited elite athletes in a Boater X through “S Turn”, an elimination style race where heats of six will battle their way downstream, with only the top 2 advancing to the next round.


Boatercross Race. Eric Parker shown.North Fork Championship III 2014.

Boatercross Race. North Fork Championship III 2014.


Saturday will bring the climax of the weekend: The Elite Division Giant Slalom on Jacob’s Ladder. 30 Athletes fighting for the fastest, cleanest line down seven gates on class five whitewater. The final awards will be held at the family friendly NFC Whitewater Festival Saturday night, at the Weilmunster Park in Crouch, Idaho.




For complete details on each event, or for more information on being a spectator at this year’s NFC, please visit the NFC website at

For more on THE MELT AWARDS, where attendees will have the chance to view and vote on some of the latest images and videos, crowning a peoples choice favorite, please visit