FIBArk recap: Andy Corra wins his 10th Downriver Classic

Tom Lawson runs through Cottonwood Rapid Sunday during the Downriver Classic, a 26-mile whitewater race from Coors Boat Ramp in Salida to Cotopaxi. Lawson placed third in the men’s classic with a time of 2 hours, 17 minutes, 3 seconds.
Tom Lawson runs through Cottonwood Rapid Sunday during the Downriver Classic, a 26-mile whitewater race from Coors Boat Ramp in Salida to Cotopaxi. Lawson placed third in the men’s classic with a time of 2 hours, 17 minutes, 3 seconds.

From The Mountain Mail (Nick Jurney):

Andy Corra, Durango, captured his milestone 10th FIBArk Downriver Classic Sunday after making the 26-mile run from Salida to Cotopaxi in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 18 seconds.

“It doesn’t get any easier,” Corra said after winning his fourth consecutive FIBArk Downriver Race and 10th overall. His first victory came in 1985, 2 years after his first time participating in the historic competition.

Corra said some of the challenges in this year’s race included an upstream wind and cold water, though the flows near 3,000 cubic feet per second were an advantage to boats.

“It was windy, which was pretty cold and brutal on the hands,” Corra said. “But the water and flow were really good, up on the high side of medium levels.”

Corra’s 10th win came on Father’s Day, and he said he may look to pass the torch on to his 11-year-old son, Wiley, in the coming years.

“He said he was going to try and win as many as he can so I couldn’t catch him,” Wiley said with a smile after the race.

Second place in the downriver was captured by Jeff Parker, Concord, Mass., finishing in 2:16:28. Parker said he won the race in 1998, and his runner-up finish Sunday was his best finish since then.

“This was my 25th race, and I think it will be my last,” Parker said. “I want to go out with a second-place finish.”

Tim Lawson finished third in the downriver with a time of 2:17:03, while multi-sport competitor Natalie Anderson was the first female finisher at 2:30:06.

Team Blaze was the first team of rafters to come across the downriver finish line in Cotopaxi, finishing in 2:58:35.

“We had great water and great rafters,” said team captain Mark Mattson after paddling in his 30th race. “I like the high water; we don’t have to battle the rocks as much.”

Other members of Team Blaze included Matthew Petty, Joshua Mentzer, Tom Rice, Chadd Drott, Logan Myers and Jeff Flora.

The oldest participant in the downriver was Lynn Koester of Woodland Park, who said he is turning 77 today, while the youngest was Andy’s Corra’s son Wiley, who participated in the novice 10-mile downriver.

FIBArk board member Tom Barry said an issue with the spreadsheets used to tally results prevented race officials from getting full results and times put together by press time Sunday.

From The Mountain Mail (J.D. Thomas):

The Business After Hours Kickoff to the 66th FIBArk Whitewater Festival featured crashes of lightning, a scattering of hail and more than $1,000 raised at the event Wednesday at Salida SteamPlant. The annual kickoff, hosted by the Vaqueros of Heart of the Rockies Chamber of Commerce, was moved inside the SteamPlant because of the inclement weather.

“Welcome to the kickoff of the oldest whitewater rafting festival,” Salida Mayor Jim Dickson said to lead off the event.

After Dickson’s introduction, 2014 FIBArk Commodore Greg Felt welcomed people to the event and thanked them on behalf of the city for attending. “Thank you and welcome,” he said. “I hope you all have an unbelievable weekend.”

Following Felt’s speech, FIBArk Board President Christopher Kolomitz began an auction for a painting created for FIBArk by local artist Carl Ortman, depicting the “kayak wall” downtown.

Charlie Forster, CEO of Collegiate Peaks Bank, bought the painting to add to the bank’s art display.

“The painting really represents Salida, and the color and the quality make it a great piece,” he said. “Knowing that it will help out FIBArk is one reason (I bought it); the other is because this year’s commodore is Greg Felt. He’s a great guy.”

The money raised will go into the FIBArk general fund, Kolomitz said. Some of the money in the fund will go to the FIBArk youth paddling program, he said.

Along with local business people and guests, a visitor from South Korea took part in the festivities. Yun Ho Ra from Gunsan was riding his bike from Los Angeles to New York when he stopped in town. He said he would like to stay in Salida for a couple days to enjoy the festivities before he continues his travels.

The food, pulled pork sandwiches and baked beans, was prepared and served by the Vaqueros, and beer was provided by Eddyline Brewing, sponsor for the whitewater festival.

The first pour of Eddyline beer at the festival will be at 4 p.m. today in Riverside Park, said Kolomitz.

More whitewater coverage here.

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