Sending It, Sierra-style: 28th Annual Cherry Creek Race Celebrates Beloved Capt’n Kirk


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While Class V kayak races like the Green and North Fork Championships seem to garner the lion’s share of the press, countless others throughout the country draw a core group of boaters every year to celebrate their local waterways, loved ones and more. And few draw as core a group of dedicated kayakers as the Cherry Creek Race on the upper Tuolumne River in the Sierras of California.

This year’s 28th annual running of the extreme kayak race proved no exception, drawing whitewater paddlers out of the California woodwork for the white-knuckled whitewater race.

Originally organized by Mark Hayden in 1994 in memory of Kirk Huffnagel (AKA Captain Kirk), who passed away just before he was supposed to leave for an expedition on Tibet’s Salween River, the race has drawn a diehard group of boaters every year to Cherry Creek. This year, 25 kayakers showed up vying for the coveted Captain Kirk Jersey—all well familiar enough with the Class V run to race through the gauntlet. Even longtime boater Dieter King showed up again at age 67, rumor has it attending every single race since its inception.

Water releases provided the flow down the romping Class V stretch, with racers boofing, bouncing and rear-endoing their way through such Class V drops as Jawbone, Mushroom, Unknown, Blind Faith, Sky King, and aptly named Eulogy and Coffin Rock to the finish.


Long Boat:

  1. Carson Lindsey
  2. Jim Addington
  3. Scott Ligare

Short Boat

  1. Jordan Golnik
  2. Scott Lindgren
  3. Xander Gulman

Watch vid of previous race HERE

Read 2021 racing account by Pyranha’s Pete DeLosa here:


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