One of extreme kayaking’s most iconic events has thrown in the towel…and not just to help dry off its competitors.
Citing insurance issues, whose coverage used to come through the American Canoe Association, as well as growth and other problems, organizers of the heralded North Fork Championships on Idaho’s North Fork of the Payette have decided to cancel the long-standing event.
According to the event’s Facebook page, organizers said there were just too many issues to keep the race going. The Voorhees family, including racers and North Fork locals Alec and Hayden Voorhees, took over organizing the race from James and Regan Byrd, who created the North Fork Championship ten years ago in 2013.
In its final hurrah last June, for the men it was local paddler and event co-organizer Hayden Voorhees powering through the maelstrom of holes and waves fast enough to come out on top, just two seconds ahead of second-place finisher and three-time winner Dane Jackson, who had won the race three out of the last four years. In the women’s division, Jennifer Chrimes took first, with Darby McAdams taking second and Sage Donnelly in third.
Jackson and the event’s other competitors are all saddened by the news.
“The North Fork Championships being cancelled is definitely a big hit to myself as well as the community as a whole,” says Dane. “I know it wasn’t an easy decision for them, but as someone that has run events, though on a smaller scale, I’m aware how just the one aspect of insurance can be one of the hardest parts. I know that the NFC is a massive undertaking, but the impact it has on the kayaking community is huge. It was everything you could ask for in an event and brought the greatest gathering of kayakers from all over the world, each there for the love of the sport and the event, but spectators as well. Even those who took it the most seriously and trained the hardest to chase that crown still were there for the love of the event. Its vibe is truly indescribable and something we will all miss. My hope is this is a setback and isn’t the end.”
A Few Words from the Vorhees from the Event’s Facebook Post
Over the past decade, NFC has pushed the progression of whitewater kayaking and brought legends from all generations together on the river each year. The North Fork of the Payette has had a special place in our family for decades. It has been an amazing experience participating in each year’s evolution of NFC and an honor taking on the event as organizers in its final few years. That is why with heavy hearts we are announcing the cancelation of North Fork Championship.
We wish that there was only one hurdle to overcome with a simple solution. However, the reality is that there are numerous obstacles NFC faces, that even if overcome, would alter the event from what we know and love about NFC at its core. The event has grown exponentially, but with that growth came a new set of logistical challenges: from parking/spectating safely on the river banks, to the record numbers of both paddlers and spectators reuniting in the town of Crouch. At the same time local businesses and our sponsors are having to navigate a very different economic climate in these post-pandemic times. The final blow to NFC was the change in paddler insurance coverage previously provided by the ACA, the loss of which may shut down many other class V races in the USA this year as well.
This is a decision we did not settle upon lightly, it took a cascading series of circumstances and a long period of internal discussion to decide to cancel the event. However, we were honored to be able to continue the NFC legacy for a few extra years and hope that we did it the justice it deserves.
We cannot thank the staff, athletes, spectators, supporters, and sponsors enough for all the amazing times we were able to celebrate on the banks of the iconic North Fork of the Payette River.
See you on the river.
The Voorhees Family