On the River: Racing the Crystal | AspenTimes.com

On the River: Racing the Crystal

High school paddlers and others will test their skills when the 42nd annual Crystal River Kayak Races commence today with a downriver run on what promises to be a speedy course.The Crystal near Carbondale is running at about 1,200 cubic feet per second – twice the flow racers faced during last year’s races, according to organizer Peter Benedict.”It will be a very exciting time. Hopefully, it will not get too hot between now and Saturday,” he said Thursday.At 1,200 cfs, the downriver race will feature some big waves and swift finish times on Class II water, but Saturday’s slalom and boatercross competitors will find the gated course more difficult as a result of the higher flow, Benedict predicted.The races, hosted by Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, will feature six high school teams, including boaters from the Front Range, Durango and Grand Junction. CRMS will field a team of 12 to 15 competitors, said Benedict, a CRMS math teacher who also directs the school’s kayak program.The races are open to anyone who wants to compete, however, as a solo or tandem entry. Boats of choice are typically kayaks and canoes – no handmade vessels – though the races actually began as a make-your-own-boat affair.”So many people got injured in the make-your-own-boat races that we discontinued it,” Benedict said.He expects the races to draw 30 to 40 high schoolers, plus 10 to 15 adults.For those who’d prefer a vantage point on dry land, Benedict recommends the CRMS bridge over the Crystal in Carbondale.Today’s race starts at the north River Valley Ranch bridge at 5 p.m. Registration is at 4 p.m. at the CRMS bridge.Saturday’s action starts at 10 a.m. with the slalom competition. The boatercross races, at 1 p.m., pit four to six boaters on the slalom course simultaneously.Registration for Saturday’s events is from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the CRMS bridge.Saturday afternoon will feature a “fun run” for everybody – a float down the Roaring Fork River from the Catherine Store bridge to the pink bridge below Highway 133.

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