Big air is king in rodeo.
For playboats, this might mean getting several feet out of the water. However, stabbing the nose of a long boat into a strong hole can produce significantly bigger results.
The Big Air Bonanza on the White Salmon River presents competitors with the challenge of defying gravity with only one catch: long boats required.
Local kayaker Dave Hammond, a long-boater for life, hosts the event every summer on the Middle White Salmon. While several random old-school kayak models make an appearance every year, the Green Boat continues to dominate.
The Green Boat's popularity on the east coast was clear from the beginning. Dominating the results at nearly every race, the new-school long boat revived the spirit and finesse of kayaking's origin. However, it was only a few years ago that the first Green Boat made it's way to the Columbia River Gorge. Local and migratory kayakers have since taken the steep-creeking monster to the Northwest's most classic river runs: the Little White Salmon, the Green Truss, and more.
At the Big Air Bonanza the Green Boat's higher volume and bigger bow allowed competitors to get absolutely massive air. Kayakers found themselves 6 to 8 feet out of the water on the biggest moves. Paddle twirls, pirouettes, and the classic point move helped with style points. Judges assigned scores to each move based on cat calls and shouts from the audience on the rocks.
Grassroots kayaking events, such as the Big Air Bonanza, remind local boaters how fun the sport can be. While not publisized in the top kayaking magazines or talked about on the hottest blogs, these events keep the true spirit of kayaking going strong.
With prizes like dragon statues and 96 oz. cans of Wisconsin Cheese, who wouldn't want to enter such a fun competition. Overall winner Max Blackburn and best trick winner Tyler Houck will be eating good for the next few weeks.