Great Weekend at the NOC Shootout
Zack and I traveled back to North Carolina this past weekend to meet up with team members Mike Tavares and Haley Mills.
The Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) is one of the most legendary places in the history of whitewater paddling. Founded in the early 1970’s the NOC has taught countless people whitewater paddling skills and produced some of the truly great names in whitewater paddling.
Zack and I have worked for kayak schools and guide services that were direct descendants of the NOC and we guided some NOC whitewater kayaking trips in Honduras in the mid-90’s; so for us this was a chance to see a place that has personal and professional significance.
The NOC did not disappoint. The center is located in the Nantahala Gorge, a beautiful Class II river that wanders through a unbelievably green forest. Very clear (cold) water pours through splashy rapids with a few really fun surf spots. The Nanty is a perfect SUP run. Immediately above the NOC is Nantahala Falls, a short, punchy Class III drop that finishes off the run with some excitement.
The NOC Shootout is a freestyle kayaking event, but the NOC, with its two riverside resturants and expansive “campus”, draws regional paddlers every weekend. Zack and I were so impressed with the diversity of people out paddling, from young to old.
Our team rider and photographer Matthew Koch made the drive over and we picked up a new team member, his older brother Andrew who runs the SUP instructional program at the NOC. The oldest of the flying Koch brothers, Aaron was out representing Badfish at the Kern River Festival in California this past weekend. We have an army of Koch brothers out representing this summer and we are really proud to have them on board.
Between runs down the gorge, surfing at surfer’s rapid and lots of demos we were able to show a bevy of paddlers what a river specific SUP design does to improve the experience of paddling down a river on your feet. We hosted a fun SUP cross head to head race on Sunday on the MCIT’s. It was a great opportunity to introduce our boards to a lot of folks and was also a pilgrimage for Zack and I back to the roots of the sport we love. Thanks NOC for hosting us! -Mike Harvey, Salida, CO
Check out a couple of videos highlighting the weekend: