Sunday, August 03, 2008

Wausau Baby, Wausau!

Ahhh, so good to be back... After nearly completely missing out on Wausau all together last year, it sure felt great to get back. The course, the paddlers, the county fair and the VFW all made for one amazing weekend. It was great to see so many boaters that I hadn't seen in a long time (Brian & Marie, Mike & Melissa, Team Pabst, etc, etc, etc), and even better to see the newbies absolutely rocking on the water. Laura, Pike, and Bryan K and Sara all made the trip out and did a fantastic job surfing, punching holes, and navigating features. All four of them now have bomber combat rolls and got the chance to prove that again and again. All four also tried surfing in every hole on the river, ran the entire river from the reservoir to the bottom, and generally nailed every move they were supposed to. They've definitely landed solid class III boater status. I think the Gold Star for the day has to go to Sara, though, for nailing her first (and 2nd, 3rd, 4th....) combat roll, first real surfs, and for surviving a thrashing in Diagonal.

Even though she's not a new paddler, I think Nora's also got to get some props for her performance yesterday. Now that she's confident in her roll, Nora is absolutely tearing up the river. She's surfing everything (though it seems particularly difficult to drag her away from the rodeo hole by the train bridge) and throwing moves like I've never seen her even attempt before - Spins, Cartwheels, and almost landing loops! It's just plain fun to watch her and I can't wait to see her at the freestyle competition.

The folks at WKCC revamped the course again, changing nearly every feature on the river. For the most part, they made the holes less pushy and easier to control while maintaining or increasing retentiveness. There are also two holes at the very bottom of the river that are smaller and friendlier, yet deep enough to throw loops in. It's great. There are now about 8 really good places to throw cartwheels on the river. The only improvement that I wasn't a huge fan of was to the hole below the street bridge. It's much easier to surf, spin, and wheel in, but you can't dive your bow down for a loop without smacking it into the rocks. Not a huge problem because the hole's great for so many more things now, but it's definitely not the looping machine it once was.

In addition to the paddling, Laura and I hit up the Marathon county fair Friday night and had a great time looking at cows and going on a couple of really great rides. We even ran into Dave and his new bride there on one of the rides. Then we headed to the VFW for drinks with more than a dozen paddlers (including Team Pabst, of course).

I went into this weekend with high expectations and higher hopes and both were absolutely blown away by how much fun I wound up having. Now if only I could remember how to loop....

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