Nelson Downriver Race 2019


This past Saturday, May 4, I raced in the Nelson Downriver Race on the Tye River near Tye River Deport in Virginia. It marked the 10th year I’ve been coming to this race.

I had decided well in advance to race my Nelo 510 in this race to see how well it stacks up to other boats.

I thought Paddling Buddy Dave would be racing his V7 but, unfortunately, Dave didn’t race because he’s recovering from an injury.

I had an elite paddler reach out to me the week leading up to the race interested in buying my Cobra Viper kayak, the fastest plastic kayak ever made, so we agreed to meet at the start of the race. He told me he intended to buy the boat from me and then race it downriver.

He showed up with no other boat to race so I let him race the Viper down river. I couldn’t leave him just standing there, could I?

You can guess the rest of this story, can’t you?

He came in first place overall with my Cobra Viper and then decided to not buy it, which didn’t sit right with me since I thought I was going the extra mile hauling it to the race to save him an extra hour drive time to buy the boat. To have him win the race in what we both knew was the fastest boat on the river, not buy the boat and then me have to haul 3 boats (my own two plus my shuttle bunny’s) back to the starting line was a bit much.

I might adopt this as my new strategy: show up at races, have people loan me the fastest boat, and then just walk away afterward.

Live and learn.

shelliPaddling buddy and Shuttle Bunny, Shelli, took 1st place amongst women

The good news, though, is it was a perfect day for paddling, the river was at a very good level, and I felt I had a pretty good run in the Nelo 510.

So good, in fact, the Viper came in 1st place, another elite paddle in a V7 came in 2nd and I came in 3rd, less than 3 minutes behind the Viper. It was definitely the most competitive men’s kayak division I had ever seen in this race. My time was 1 hr 11 minutes and some-odd. (Official results have not yet been posted and I can’t remember what they announced.)

The encouraging thing was how competitive the Nelo 510 was against these other boats. Much more competitive against the Viper than I thought it could be, in fact.

The tough part was each paddler was started, then the next one started two minutes later until all paddlers were launched. The Viper and the V7 were released early and I was released at least 10 minutes behind them, so I really had no way to know how I was performing relative to them during the race because I never saw them.

Screenshot_20190504-181333_Mi Fit

Time on my GPS not accurate because I started it well before the race and forgot to turn it off right away after the race

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Overall attendance was low at the race this year, which was sad to see. I’m not sure if the forecast calling for rain scared people away or what, but it was a far cry from the first time I race there in 2009 where there were 74 boats with 82 paddlers. I think there were only 16 boats, total, this year.

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I’ll add some more photos once they are posted online, but until then enjoy the video of my run.

This Saturday, May 11, it is on to my local river race, The Rivanna River Race, part of a larger RiverFest this year.

The river on the race section is low’ish right now, but rain is in the forecast for tomorrow and Saturday so I have no idea what the level will be on race day or which boat I’ll race.

I’ll do a scouting run after work tomorrow and then probably show up with 2 boats on my truck depending on the water level and who shows up with which boats. I want it to be as competitive as possible so I’ll most likely either race my Nelo 510, Phoenix Match II or maybe the Cobra Viper or “Secret Boat X.”

Paddling Buddy Dave is not racing in this race either (this makes me sad) so I’ll just have to see who shows up with which boats and make a boat selection on race morning. I’ll choose 2 options depending on water level and then pull one of those two off my truck to race based on what I see at the starting line.

With Paddling Buddy Dave not racing, I’d like to keep Secret Boat X a secret a little while longer. It was a preemptive counter-move in anticipation of a move I thought he might make this year. But THAT is a story for another time. šŸ˜‰

If you are not racing, by all means come on out to welcome the racers at the finish line at Darden Towe Park and join the after-race celebration at the Rivanna River Co.


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