by johnny-chase
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
The 9th annual Gnarlfest- California's hardest whitewater race - saw a record breaking twenty-six racers along with a new course record of 2 minutes and 36 seconds set by Dane Jackson.
Johnny Chase
by Johnny Chase

   Full Bio

Gnarlfest—California’s hardest whitewater race; where no one ever shows up and someone always swims. In 2017, there was a total of seventeen racers. In years’ prior the maximum amount of racers present was twelve. Gnarlfest 2018, however, saw a record breaking twenty-six racers along with a new course record of 2 minutes and 36 seconds - set by Dane Jackson. Gnarlfest comes with a few guarantees: 4LOKOs, a ton of beatering, and someone joining the South Fork swim team. Only one year did all of the paddlers make it to the bottom in their boats. The difficulty of the race is dwarfed by only one thing — the difficulty of chugging your bright green 14% 4LOKO within your race time. So is winning really winning? Let me answer that for you… Yes! One of the great parts of this race is anyone can do it as long as you think you can survive the course! So for next year let’s have an even bigger start list with faster times!

Gnarlfest 2018
Gnarlfest 2018

The race starts out in an eddy at the base of the Little Grass Valley Reservoir. Your first strokes pull you across fast moving current into a perfect ten foot boof. The run continues with a class 3 rapid into one of the longest pools of the course, which is only twelve strokes long. Next, you enter a shallow rocky rapid that spits you out at the lip of Mad Dog. Mad Dog is a make-or-break rapid during the race. The crux move is right at the entrance, left to right behind the hole at the top, break through a small curler and turn your nose back left. After getting your nose back left, hold on for a wild ride, as you drop about seven feet down a slide that’s a complete white out the entire time. At the bottom of the slide you’re either straight and moving fast, backwards, or upside down getting destroyed wondering how you got there. Mad Dog doesn’t let up there. Next you exit the crux far right up onto a pillow, avoiding the boof that looks so great, but never ends well. Lastly, the rapid funnels into a river-wide ledge hole. It’s mandatory to boof the left side of the hole, the biggest and most retentive part. As you come skipping through the hole, hopefully, you are out of Mad Dog, and into a calm section that leads right into the twenty-five-foot drop called Trash Can. Trash Can is notorious for a shallow ledge on the right side of the landing that dishes out hurt ankles and peton boats. Boofing the lead-in and going either center or left on the drop is crucial. Nailing a clean boof however is easier said than done. Many people plug, go over the bars, or land completely sideways. A few strokes down from the waterfall is the pinch, a tight slot that drops about five feet. This drop often sends people end over end and into a big eddy that is hard to get out of.

Johnny Chase - photo by Darin McQuoid
Johnny Chase - photo by Darin McQuoid

Just downstream, you find yourself at the last major drop, a clean ten foot boof with a cave on the left. With a nice late boof stroke you come flying into the runout of the race. One minute later, you can see the finish and are giving it everything you have left in the tank. Once you hit the finish rock, try to catch your breath and wait until your hands stop hurting from the cold water. One of the best parts of the day starts right after that. When the last person finishes, everyone that participated in the event, whether it was racing, setting safety, or timing, does a cruisy joy lap down the bottom section of the river.

Evan Moore - photo by Alex Hurr
Evan Moore - photo by Alex Hurr

Once you’re back at the campsite the real hard part of Gnarlfest begins— chugging a 4LOKO within your race time. Without a doubt this part of the festival is the hardest and gnarliest part. The remainder of the night consists of hanging around a campfire with all of your closest friends. It doesn’t get better than Gnarlfest.

Johnny Chase lines up the 4LOK

This year was the most stacked lineup in the history of Gnarlfest, Dane Jackson managed to set a new course record at 2 minutes 36 seconds. Nine racers had a time under three minutes. There was only one swim, but a ton of carnage on Mad Dog. So next year, make sure to mark your calendars to make it out for the the 10th Gnarlfest, the weekend after Feather Fest!

Dane Jackson 2018 Gnarlfest chanpion - photo Alex Hurr
Dane Jackson 2018 Gnarlfest champion - photo Alex Hurr

2018 Gnarlfest Results:

1. Dane Jackson 2:36

2. Galen Volckhausen 2:47

3. Evan Moore 2:49

4. Will Pruett 2:52

5. Pat Keller 2:53

6. Johnny Chase 2:54

7. Carson Lindsay 2:55

8. Hayden Voorhees 2:56

9. Alec Voorhees 2:58

10. Rush Sturges 3:00

11. Tie: Tad Dennis /Jamboy 3:02

13. Chris Madden 3:06

14. Jason Hale 3:08

15. Tie: Phil Boyer / Noah Metzler 3:19

17. Tie: Taylor Cavin /Louis Norris 3:22

19. Scott Lindgren 3:23

20. Thomas Moore 3:26

21. Justin Patt 3:28

22. Evan Smith 3:29

23. Jessie Bohn 3:33

24. Darin McQuoid 3:35

25. Darby McAdams 9:18

26. Wyatt- Did not finish