Information about the French Broad Classique

OVERVIEW:

The French Broad Classique is held on the fourth weekend of April each year (2015 dates are April 25-26) on the French Broad River near Asheville, North Carolina. It currently consists of following events:

A) 18 mile downriver race on Saturday (for experienced racers)
B) 16 mile downriver race on Sunday (for experienced racers)
C) 8 mile Fun Race on Sunday
D) Picnic dinner/awards on Saturday evening (AT LEAST ONE WEEK NOTICE REQUIRED; details below)
E) 50 mile challenge on Saturday (ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED; details below).

Much more detailed information about these events is set forth below. If you come, please print it and bring it with you!!

ALL THE GORY DETAILS:

Eighteen (18) mile downriver race on Saturday
(part of Southeast Paddle Sports Championship Series)

For experienced competitors; entry fee $25.
Blantrye Access to Westfeldt River Park, Henderson County. No rapids but swift water, possible strainers.
8:00 am to 10:00 am: Check-in and late registration [Westfeldt River Park]
9:00 am to 10:30 am: Shuttles from Westfeldt to Blantyre [Westfeldt River Park]
***(drivers only; must have dropped off own boats and gear at Blantyre already)
11:00 am: Competitors meeting [Blantyre Access]
11:30 am: Race start (approximate) [Blantrye Access]
5:00 pm: Awards Ceremony at the Picnic [Asheville Outdoor Center]

Sixteen (16) mile downriver race on Sunday

For experienced competitors; entry fee $10.
Westfeldt River Park to Asheville Outdoor Center, Buncombe County (primarily). Some Class I rapids; definitely some rocks to dodge.
8:00 am to 9:00 am: Check-in and late registration [Asheville Outdoor Center]
8:30 am to 9:30 am: Shuttles from AOC to Westfeldt [Asheville Outdoor Center]
***(drivers only; must have dropped off own boats and gear at Westfeldt already)
10:00 am: Competitors meeting [Westfeldt River Park]
10:30 am: Race start (approximate) [Westfeldt River Park]
2:00 pm: Awards ceremony (approximate) [Asheville Outdoor Center]

Eight (8) mile downriver Fun Race on Sunday

For a variety of skill levels; entry fee $10.
Bent Creek Access to Asheville Outdoor Center. Some Class I rapids
Please confer with the race registrar about age minimums, and PFD's must be worn at all times in the Fun Race.

8:30 am to 9:30 am: Check-in and late registration [Asheville Outdoor Center]
10:00 am: Shuttle from AOC to Bent Creek [Asheville Outdoor Center] (competitors, boats and gear)
10:30 am: Competitors meeting [Bent Creek Access]
11:00 am: Race start (approximate) [Bent Creek Access]
2:00 pm: Awards ceremony (approximate) [Asheville Outdoor Center]

Picnic at Asheville Outdoor Center on Saturday; ADVANCE NOTICE REQUIRED

The Saturday evening picnic will be held at the Asheville Outdoor Center at 5:00 p.m. and is designed for competitors, sponsors, volunteers and their guests. The cost is $10 per person and while you can pay when you arrive, we have to know AT LEAST A WEEK AHEAD of time how many folks are coming. Consequently, please e-mail us at fbracechair@earthlink.net to reserve your spot(s) at the picnic. Thanks.

Fifty (50) mile challenge on Saturday; ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED

For experienced, self-reliant paddlers in good physical condition only; ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED.
For details on the Challenge, click here. The primary purpose of the Challenge is to raise funds for RiverLink, an advocacy organization for the French Broad River.

The River

The French Broad River is a terrific venue for paddle racing. The Saturday courses have good views of Pisgah National Forest and the Sunday courses takes the competitors by the historic Biltmore House. The water level is not dam-controlled and, therefore, can vary dramatically. The median flow for late April is around 1,000 CFS, which is plenty of water; the run can be made at considerably lower flows. At extreme high or low flows, it may be necessary to adjust the start and finish points of the race. Real time flow information for the French Broad at Blantyre can be found at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?03443000. The expected river level for the next few days can be found at http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=gsp&gage=blan7.

To view some photos and videos of the race and/or the river from previous years, click here or on the link above.

River access is very convenient thanks to the tireless efforts of RiverLink, an advocacy organization for the French Broad, and others. The Blantyre Access at river mile 34 and the Westfeldt River Park at river mile 52 are maintained by the Henderson County Parks and Recreation Department. The Bent Creek Access (start of the eight mile Fun Race on Sunday) is at river mile 60. The Asheville Outdoor Center is located at river mile 68. All of these can be found on a terrific map published by RiverLink. For an on-line version (1.3 MB), see: www.riverlink.org/riverguide.pdf

Check-in and Race Facilities

Race headquarters will generally be the Asheville Outdoor Center which is the finish line for both Sunday races. Check-in and registration will be there on Friday evening (6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.) and Sunday morning. The Sunday awards will be there also. Please note, however, that check-in and late registration for the Saturday eighteen mile race will be at the Westfeldt River Park.

For the longer races on both days, we will run shuttles for drivers only from the finish area back to the start line. This will require competitors to drop their boats and gear off at the start area each day and arrive at the finish area within the time windows shown on the schedule in order to catch the shuttle back. For the eight mile Fun Race on Sunday, we are often able to transport boats and gear as well as competitors; just check with us at the Asheville Outdoor Center during the time window shown on the schedule above. The Asheville Outdoor Center usually has some boats available for rent for the eight mile Fun Race. If you would like to rent a boat to use for the eight mile Fun Race on Sunday, please make those arrangements directly with the Asheville Outdoor Center by calling (828) 232-1970.

Course Maps

CLICK HERE for a map of the Saturday course.
CLICK HERE for a map of the Sunday courses.

Directions

The following directions are provided using the Asheville Regional Airport as a starting point. The airport is located just off of Interstate 26 at Exit 40. These directions should be used in conjunction with a map or a GPS. We will have some maps available at race check-in.

WESTFELDT RIVER PARK: Ferncliff Park Drive, Fletcher, NC. GPS Coordinates: N35 25.317 W82 32.508
From the airport, go south on Route 280. Proceed about 1.25 miles around the airport and past the fairgrounds. Just before crossing the river, at a traffic light, turn right onto Ferncliff Park Drive, then immediately left into Westfeldt River Park.


BLANTYRE ACCESS: GPS Coordinates: N35 17.952 W82 37.402
From the airport, go south on Route 280. Go approximately 10.5 miles. Look for a sign directing you to the town of Etowah and, just past it, turn left onto Brickyard Road. Follow Brickyard Road for approximately 4 miles, right through the middle of the golf course. Near the end of that 4 miles, at a stop sign, you have to make a 90 degree turn to the right to stay on Brickyard Road. Shortly after the 90 degree turn, you will come to a stoplight which is the town of Etowah and the intersection with Route 64. Turn right (west) onto Route 64 and go approximately 2 miles. Not long after crossing into Transylvania County, turn left onto Grove Bridge Road. Cross the railroad tracks CAREFULLY BECAUSE there are no warning gates or lights!! After crossing the tracks, you will cross the river and the Blantyre access area is on your left.


ASHEVILLE OUTDOOR CENTER: 521 Amboy Road, Asheville, NC. GPS Coordinates: N35 33.947 W82 35.265. From the airport, get on Interstate 26 West (which is actually going north) for 9 miles, then merge onto Interstate 240 East for 2 miles. Take exit 1C, Amboy Road. Turn right onto Amboy Road and go a tenth of a mile. Asheville Outdoor Center will be on your right, 521 Amboy Road.

Classes

For the Saturday 18 mile race, we will utilize the standard classes for the Southeast Paddle Sport Championship Series. Other than that, it is our intent to offer as many race classes as we can, but we generally combine age and gender groups when there are fewer than three (3) craft in a class. Additionally, no one 14 years of age or younger will ordinarily be permitted to enter the longer races unless racing tandem with someone 18 years of age or older.

Competitor/Sponsor/Volunteer Picnic

The Saturday evening picnic will be held at the Asheville Outdoor Center at 5:00 p.m. and is designed for competitors and their guests, sponsors and volunteers. The cost is $10 per person and while you can pay at the door, we have to know AT LEAST A WEEK AHEAD of time how many folks are coming.

Accommodations

There is camping available on the river immediately next door to Asheville Outdoor Center (site of Saturday dinner and Sunday finish line) at Wilson's RV Park; see http://www.wilsonsrvpark.com/ or call 828-254-4676. There are National Forest Service campgrounds and other private campgrounds in the vicinity as well. There are lots of motels in Hendersonville and Asheville. Any of the hotels near the Asheville Regional Airport (town of Fletcher, NC) will be convenient because they are within a mile or so of Westfeldt River Park, the Saturday finish line and Sunday start line. The airport (Fletcher) exit is Exit 40 off of Interstate 26.

Weather

The average high temperature in the area for the end of April is 70 degrees and the average low is 45 degrees but, as always, be prepared for extremes and for rain.

Click here for Asheville weather from National Weather Service

Race Organization

The French Broad Classique is hosted by FB Paddle Racing, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation whose purpose is to promote paddle sports races, especially on the French Broad River in North Carolina.

Event Contact and Registrar: Tom Blue; 1540 Fountain Ridge Road, Chapel Hill, NC, 27517; (919) 428-4302 (mobile); fbracechair@earthlink.net (E-mail is preferred method of contact for questions and will generally be returned within 24 hours unless we are off on an extended river trip somewhere; thanks). Click here to access the entry forms when they are available (generally January of each year).

Race Chair: Andy Kluge; 828-231-4794; andykluge@att.net

Last update December 14, 2014