With politicians debating just a dozen miles away, paddlers had some negotiations of their own going on – namely through the Class V Great Falls of the Potomac – at the 18th Annual Potomac River Festival July 12-13 in good ol’ Washington, D.C.
And they also partook in something the same way decisions are likely made in Washington: a near-world-record paper-Scissors-Rock showdown, pitting more than 60 paddlers against each other at once to raise funds for American Whitewater.
On the water, against a backdrop of arguably the most spectacular runnable falls anywhere in the U.S., the event boasted beefy water levels for mid-July, testing paddlers from far and wide in freestyle, downriver and other events. Drawing a cadre of core boaters from throughout the DC area, PoFest, as it’s known, has evolved to include the experts-only Hudson Trail Outfitters Great Falls Race and the all-skill-level Community Gorge Paddle.
More important than results, however, the event also boasted the first-ever Roshambo-off as a benefit for American Whitewater. “Liquidlogic’s Woody Callaway challenged nearly 60 AW members to rounds of Rock, Paper, Scissors for a boat of choice,” says event co-organizer Risa Shimoda. “While the race was great, the primary goal of the paper-scissors-rock contest was to raise money for AW, and it brought everybody together, from amateurs to pros.”
Combined with boat promotions offered by Jackson Kayak – in which the company offered a boat to anyone joining or renewing their membership at the festival party — the Liquidlogic Rosham event raised far more money than any auction would have. “At the end of the weekend more paddlers renewed their pledge to AW than ever,” says Shimoda. “And bragging rights were set for another season –both in Roshambo and on the river.”
In true paddler party fashion, the debauchery continued into the wee hours. “Let’s just say we ended up going into a few neighborhoods that hadn’t seen kayakers for a while,” says Beakes, fresh back from a six-week tour through Colorado with Team River Runner, a non-profit helping Iraqi war vets.
Falls Race Short Boat Class honors went to Danny Stock, with former U.S. Slalom Team member Jason Beakes taking first among long boats. Wave surfing 1st and 2nd places were claimed by local slalom royalty Ryan and Sarah Bahn, while Geoff Calhoun duked his way to a first from a mass start in the Boatercross event. Bryan Kirk and Seth Chapelle took the top Expert/Pro honors in freestyle and Steve Strothers mysteried deeper and longer to best Jeremy Laucks in squirt.