Slalom Weekend on the Housatonic

It’s slalom race weekend on the Housatonic, so I decided to join a trip that would allow me to take a turn running the gates.

For those who aren’t familiar with whitewater slalom, racers run a course of upstream and downstream gates through the rapids (kind of like ski slalom). Each gate consists of two poles hanging from a wire strung across the river. There are 18-25 numbered gates in a course and the gates must be run in order, with green gates being run downstream and red gates being run upstream. Upstream gates are typically placed in eddies. Downstream gates are often offset to require ferries or rapid turns. If a gate is hit a 2-second penalty is given. If a gate is missed a 50-second penalty is given. Best time for the run wins.

We were running a section of the river that includes not just the slalom course, but also about 6-miles of quickwater. I brought my Yellowstone Solo, so I knew running the gates would be a challenge – it was. I missed 6 of the 22 gates. The Yellowstone Solo doesn’t spin or side slip as fast a dedicated whitewater or slalom boat, but it was a lot more comfortable for the quickwater sections downstream. After running the slalom course, we took some time practicing rescues and boat recoveries before heading downstream.

Few pictures here: