The NFC: Eight Years And Counting
Welcome to the rowdiest weekend of the summer. The North Fork Championship has been going strong for 8 years, going on 9 now thankfully! NFC owner and founder, James Byrd, came up with what was once an unpopular idea of racing in the middle of the North Fork Payette, do to the fact that these intense class 5 rapids pose certain safety risks. Over those 8 years it has become one of the most sought after kayak races in the world. After a successful run just short of a decade, James has decided to hand over the NFC to the Voorhees family which will run the 9th race in "The Center of The Universe" Banks, Idaho this summer.
This is a gallery of NFC's 1-8 (excluding 7, *couldn't attend*), mostly featuring everything other than kayaking and the afterparties. "The Ship" could not operate without the athletes, volunteers, media teams, sponsors, and authorities allowing for this three day event to happen. Enjoy...
NFC 1, the anxiety, the pressure of making this event a staple, and the biggest question "who will win the first NFC?".
(1st) Evan Garcia drops into Jake's on the Red Bull ramp that would later be modified to have more speed for the paddlers to launch off.
(2nd) Andrew Holcombe stretches while looking down the barrel of the beast, Jacobs Ladder.
(3rd) The Out To Lunch crew getting a nice talking to about where to go #1.
(4th) Dan Simenc looks to the paddler on course, seeing where the fastest line lies.
(5th) Skip Armstrong set the precedent as the first filmmaker to shoot the NFC and left us in awe with his visual story telling.
(6th) The first NFC king crowned, Idaho local, Ryan Casey.
(1st) The late Sam Grafton sleeps in the middle of the athletes camp the morning of qualifiers.
(2nd) Todd Wells loads up on food before qualifiers.
(3rd) The infamous bus telling folks where registration is for the Lower 3 race.
(4th) Local legend, Brian Ward, talks strategy to Ryan Lucas at registration.
(5th) The record for biggest party wave? The pro's putting on a demo at Kelly's Whitewater Park in Cascade, Idaho.
(6th) The Melt Awards, held in downtown Boise, Idaho, brings out the hooligan in everyone.
(7th) The Melt Awards turned into the Whitewater Awards, recognizing the best athletes in the sport in the Egyptian Theatre.
(1st) Matt Baker and Rush Sturges interviewing the paddlers who are about to race on Jake's, the big show.
(2nd) James & Regan Byrd have their badass families help with making the Red Bull ramp, cam straps are always included.
(3rd) Aaron Mann and Sam Grafton dissect Jacob's Ladder bit by bit days before the big race.
(4th) Benny Marr and Nouria Newman collect their thoughts on the lines they just had minutes before.
(5th) James Byrd, if he's not on a walkie talkie, he's on a phone during the event. He's always in the flow of coordinating and helping out anyone he can.
(6th) Safety first, second, and third. Paul Yelda and Matt Eskelson unit up by one of the many problematic features of Jacob's Ladder.
(7th) Tyler Allen utilizes his mountain bike to travel quickly up and down the road by the rapid S-Turn for the boater-cross event.
(1st) Trent McCrerey shotguns a tall can of Payette Brewing's "Jacobs Ladder Lager". A beer made specifically for the North Fork Championship.
(2nd) Boys club? Nay, the talented women of this sport also come to Banks to participate and cheer on whomever is in the water.
(3rd) More beer? Never a question at the NFC. Always beer.
(4th) Liam Fournier reps his Torryd tattoo.
(5th) There's always a special stoke when someone new rolls into the pullout of Jake's. Conversations fly, questions of where people have been, if they want to go for a lap, and what's going on that night at their camp are typical.
(6th) Brenden Cronin carbo loads with day old pizza. Get. it.
(7th) The red bus is a common ground for conversation wherever it is during the NFC.
(8th) If you're not smiling, you're doing the NFC wrong.
Last year the women's category opened up and was packed full of talented kayakers. The energy was palpable.
(1st) Kiwi's... always up to their own set of antics.
(2nd) Jah Banana riding around camp spreading the kind words of Jah everywhere.
(3rd) Nothing but love and support from friends and family when anyone gets on that podium.
(4th) Dane Jackson hugs Mariann Saether congratulating her on placing first in the women's category.
(5th) Photographer Tait Troutman rallying the mini bike, which typically leads into two people on mini bikes racing in the field at Wielmunster Park. Crouch, Idaho.
Without either of these guys, the NFC wouldn't have its style. Ryan Bailey (Left) is the MC extreme, the man can make water into wine with his words. A true sense of entertainment, he nails commentary during the race, award ceremony, and the night of the Whitewater Awards.
Preston Woods AKA D.J. Revolve is the NFC's music maker. During the Jake's race he amps up the athletes and crowd with a solid line-up of beats. Later on he takes the stage at The Dirty Shame after the winners have been announced and blasts funky jams till the sun rises.
A million thanks go to this couple for raising this event off the ground and putting in countless hours into making the NFC what it is. This is right after the last racer was safely off the course last year (2019). There's a unique exhale of breathe after that by both James and Regan Byrd, a relief, another year in the books without any major issue. With that, jubilation, a mark of 8 years in whitewater history, and a joyous feeling worthy of celebrating till the early hours the morning. Thank you James and Regan, your event is in good hands.