Thrill-seeking paddlers compete to tackle rapids at Ocoee River Championships.
About 100 competitors are expected to converge on Polk County, Tennessee, this weekend to challenge the Ocoee River’s rapids.
The Oco e e River Championships will begin Friday, Aug. 24, continuing through Sunday, Aug. 26, based at the Ocoee Whitewater Center, 4400 Highway 64 in Copperhill, Tennessee. The actual competitions will be staged in the Cherokee National Forest at locations along the Ocoee River.
Thrill-seeking paddlers will compete in seven divisions: freestyle, slalom, SUP ( standup paddleboard slalom and cross), boatercross, raft, Ducky Cross and downriver racing (canoe or kayak).
In addition to watching these contests of skill, spectators can listen to live music or browse booths of regional vendors. All proceeds will benefit the Ocoee River Basin Foundation, whose mission is river revitalization, ecosystem preservation and promoting t he Ocoee River Basin as a premier outdoor recreation desti- nation.
There is no charge for spectators, but there is a $3 parking fee per day, according to Terinda Whisenant, assistant director of the Ocoee Whitewater Center. Guests will be directed to park at the cen- ter, with spillover parking at Boyd Gap on Highway 40. Shuttles will run from the parking areas.
Whisenant s ays as many as 1,000 spectators are projected to attend this weekend. Venue amenities include restroom facilities, pavilions, shaded areas, gift shops, parking, level sidewalks and easy access to mountain biking trails.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
› Dogs must be on a leash with someone present at all times. › No alcoholic beverages allowed. › No glass bottles or containers allowed. › Coolers are allowed. › Food vendors will be on-site. › Water available with a donation to the Ocoee River Basin Foundation.
COMPETITIONS AND LOCATIONS
› Canoe slalom: On the Upper Ocoee from Slam Dunk to the bottom
bridge of the course. › Freestyle: Callahan’s Ledge. › Downriver Spring
Race: Upper Ocoee from t he top bridge of t he Olympic Center to bottom bridge of the Olympic course.
› Boatercross: Heated races through the Olympic section of Upper Ocoee with four to 10 racers at one time.
› S UP Sl a l om: A timed race in which competitors navigate through downstream ( green) and upstream (red) gates.
› SUP Cross: Competitors start in mass from the top of the Olympic Center bridge to bottom of Slam Dunk.
› Raft Slalom: From below Smiley’s on the Olympic course to the bottom bridge.
› Ducky Cross: A race from Slam Dunk to the bottom bridge of Olympic section.
Stand-up paddleboarders navigate the rapids on the Ocoee River.