Saturday, April 14, 2012

Important Race Information...The 7th annual, Charlottesville, VA area Rivanna River Regatta Canoe & Kayak Races are coming Saturday, May 12, 2012, and they promise to be bigger and better than ever!

Do you have a canoe or kayak? If so then get on the water with us TODAY, May 12, 2012.

Rivanna River Canoe & Kayak Races are coming here!

Update Friday, May 11: The S. Rivanna dam and looking upstream and downstream from the Rt. 29 bridge as of 8am: 


You DO NOT have to be preregistered for any of the events.  Just show up on Saturday and join the fun.  Be sure to bring your kids for the free kids races in the afternoon on the S. Rivanna Reservoir.  They might just go home with a medal.

May 6, Update: Papa John's Pizza will have a booth set up at the Virginia Rowing Association location (S. Rivanna Reservoir) starting just before lunch time and will serve pizza by the slice or whole pie plus drinks so please consider Pappa John's pizza for lunch.  Let's support them for supporting us!

Also, thank you to The Hook for giving us a little love in their Fun Stuff preview and The Daily Progress for a mention in the local news section of Tuesday's paper.

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 The medals are ready to be awarded to top paddlers!

The 7th Annual, Charlottesville, VA area Rivanna River Regatta Canoe & Kayak Races are coming Saturday, May 12, 2012, and they promise to be bigger and better than ever!

- Traditional 6.2 mile downriver races in the morning ($15)

And new this year...
- Youth (ages 10-17) flat water races (canoes & kayaks) Free!

- Come set a record for the greatest number of canoes and kayaks on the S. Rivanna Reservoir at the same time Free!

- 7 mile, flat water, mini-marathon for the seriously fast & competitive kayakers ($15)

- “Anything that floats” race Free!

In the morning…

6.2-mile downriver race: Begin assembling at registration/start line, below the dam at the Route 29 bridge north of Charlottesville, VA (just north of the DoubleTree Hotel/Sam’s Club on the upstream side of the bridge off Rio Mills Road) between 8-8:30am. First race starts at 10am. Finish line is 6.2 miles later at the boat ramp in Darden Towe Park on the east side of Charlottesville.

Then in the afternoon...
We move to the S. Rivanna Reservoir starting at 12:30pm. Thanks to the generosity of The Virginia Rowing Association for allowing us to use the grounds at their boat house at 276 Woodlands Road, Charlottesville, VA 22901, we will gather at and launch from the VRA dock. This is a family-friendly afternoon of races, picnics, and fun! Race or just enjoy watching the festivities. There will be kids races (500m), an “Anything that floats” race (1,000m), and a 7-mile mini-marathon kayak race. Help us establish a record for the most canoes and kayaks on the reservoir at the same time!

Bring your own boat, paddle, and life jacket and join us on the water for friendly competition or just plain fun! No boat? Then come out to watch the fun and bring a picnic basket to enjoy the beauty of this scenic & precious natural resource—The Rivanna River.

- Medals awarded to top racers in each division -

* The race coordinator reserves the right to refuse any boat if deemed unsafe. All participants will be required to sign a waiver of liability and minors must have a parent or legal guardian sign for them. Race coordinator reserves the right to combine, modify, or cancel events depending upon the number of participants. All profits (if any) will be used to support Rivanna River recreational access improvement projects. Life jackets must be worn by all paddlers.

Race Categories (click here for printable copy):

The 7-mile, flatwater, mini-marathon race will start at the UVA/Rivanna Rowing dock and proceed to the bridge at Reas Ford Road, circle one bridge pier and then return.

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Map & directions for the starting line for the downriver race is found here.

View Larger Map

And a map of the downriver race is here.

Map & directions to the VRA Boathouse for flatwater events on the reservoir in the afternoon found here. ** Please note this is private property and VRA is granting us special access for this event only! This is not a public boat ramp and cannot be used by the general public except for May 12, 2012 during the Rivanna Regatta event.

View Larger Map

And a course for the mini-marathon is found here. It will start at the boat dock, circle one bridge pier at the Reas Ford Rd. bridge and then return..


Merrill Bishop, Race Coordinator
rambishop1 [at) gmail [dot} com or
Tel: +1 434-975-3072


Communications Coordinator:
Dave D.
dave [at} cvillepaddlers [dot} com or
Tel: +1 434-975-6584


Ask your question in a special, online forum that resides outside of our Facebook group at

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

We've been getting many questions about the upcoming races and I'd like to address the most common questions in this post.

Q: "I'd like to paddle this section of river before the race. Where can I launch/how do I get in through the gate below the bridge?"

A: It is not possible to launch inside the gated area near the bridge 364 days of the year. This is private land and the private land owner only allows us to launch from this area one day per year specifically for the races. However, if you go a little further up Rio Mills Road to where it makes a sharp bend, there are a couple of short trails through the woods that lead you to reasonably good launch areas. One is immediately below the dam and the other is a bit further downstream where a large rock makes for a good launch area.

Q: "I'm a little concerned about the rapids on this section of the river. Do you think I can handle them?"

A: It would be irresponsible for anyone to suggest to you what type of water you can or cannot handle without knowing anything about you or your paddling skills. Nobody can or should suggest to you what class of river you can handle. That said, this section of the Rivanna has a few sets of rapids but is mostly flat water. The biggest rapids on this section are Class II, BUT water conditions can change rapidly based on the weather and flow levels. These same rapids may come closer to Class II+ at times but do not typically qualify as Class III.

The answer to the question, "How is the river right now?" is also complicated to answer.

This section of the Rivanna is directly below the South Rivanna Reservoir/dam and there are no gauges on this particular section of river that are good indicators of current conditions. The gauge at Palmyra is the closest gauge but the water level on the Charlottesville section of the Rivanna depends upon if and how much water is flowing over the dam at any given time so the gauge at Palmyra may or may not be a good indicator of current river conditions on this particular section of the river. My personal, subjective way to judge the current river condition is to cross the Rt. 29 bridge and look upstream to see how much water is coming over the dam and then look downstream to see how high the river looks and whether or not any visible islands or sand bars exist.

Below is a video that shows a 9-yr-old girl solo paddling this section of the river for her first time. The video was shot on March 31, 2012 and the gauge at Palmyra was 843 cubic feet per second, 3.83' at launch time and the early part of the video shows the flow level over the dam at launch time.

Only YOU can judge for yourself what type of water you can handle and only YOU can best determine if the river is at a comfortable level for you at any given time.