In honor of the 50th anniversary of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, FB Canoe Racing will host one LAST AND FINAL running of the French Broad Classique on April 28-29, 2018. The 2018 Classique will return to its roots and consist of three events (river conditions permitting, as always): the BR 18, an eighteen mile race for experienced racers on Saturday, April 28 (note: we are returning to the original 18 mile distance); the FB 50, a fifty mile challenge (also on Saturday; advance registration required for FB 50); and the return of Fun Race, an eight mile jaunt past the Biltmore Estate on Sunday, April 29. The entry fee for either event on Saturday is $25 per person, plus $10 per person to attend the afternoon picnic (optional; advance notice please). There is no entry fee for the Fun Race on Sunday. Information common to all three events is set forth below. If you come, please print it and bring it with you!!

Event Specific Information

For information specific to the FB 50, click here.
For information specific to the BR 18, click here.
For information specific to the Fun Race, click here.

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.

Check-in and Shuttles

Friday evening registration (NOT mandatory) and check-in is at the Asheville Outdoor Center from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Last minute registration for the BR 18 will begin at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday at the FINISH line at Westfeldt River Park. Last minute registration for the Fun Race will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday at the finish line at the Asheville Outdoor Center. There is no last minute registration for the FB 50; advance registration is required.

We will organize shuttles for the BR 18 as follows: Come to the Blantyre access (the starting line) on Saturday morning and unload your gear. Then make the thirty (30) minute drive to the Westfeldt River Access (a map of the shuttle route can be found by CLICKING HERE) and park your vehicle (one driver per car; no passengers, please). From 9:00 to 10:00, we will have shuttles to give the drivers a ride back to the start at the Blantyre access.

We will not provide shuttles for the FB50, but if you have a need and let us know ahead of time, we can usually work something out.

For the Fun Race on Sunday, just show up at the finish line (Asheville Outdoor Center) in a timely fashion and we will work something out for shuttles. It will be chaos, but it will work out; always has before. Thanks for your patience!

Locations/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.

HAP SIMPSON RIVER PARK (start of FB 50): 666 Greenville Highway, Brevard, NC. GPS Coordinates: N35 21.785 W82 71.903
From the airport, go south on Route 280. Go approximately 19.0 miles. Turn left unto Route 276 South. Go 1.5 miles. Shortly after you first see the river, turn right into the Hap Simpson River Park.

BLANTYRE ACCESS (start of BR 18; first checkpoint for FB 50): Grove Bridge Road near Etowah, NC. 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.

WESTFELDT RIVER PARK (finish of BR 18; second checkpoint for FB 50): 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.

BENT CREEK RIVER PARK (start of the Fun Race on Sunday): 1592 Brevard Road, Asheville, NC. GPS Coordinates: N35 50.145 W82 59.347
From the airport, get on Interstate 26 West (which is actually going north) for 3 miles. Take exit 37 for NC-146 West. At the end of the ramp, turn left and go a half-mile. Turn right onto Clayton Road and go 1.3 miles. Then turn right on Brevard Road and to 1.1 miles. The Bent Creek River Park will go on your right just after you pass under the tall bridge that is the Blue Ridge Parkway, but before you get to the turn for the Parkway (again, this is as if you are driving north on Brevard Road from the airport; vice versa if coming from the other direction).

ASHEVILLE OUTDOOR CENTER (Friday check-in; finish of FB 50; Saturday awards & picnic; Sunday check-in and finish of Fun Race): 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.

Accommodations

There is camping available on the river immediately next door to Asheville Outdoor Center (site of Saturday picnic) 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 finish line for the BR 18 and the second checkpoint for the FB 50. 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

The River

The French Broad River, surrounded by Pisgah National Forest, is a terrific venue for paddle racing. 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. If conditions warrant, it may be necessary to adjust the start and finish points of the race. Real time flow information for this section of the French Broad 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.

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. These access points and more are shown on a terrific map published by RiverLink, an advocacy organization for the French Broad. For an on-line version (1.3 MB), see: www.riverlink.org/riverguide.pdf

More information about the river can be found on the French Broad River Paddling and Recreation blog.

Race Organization

The French Broad Classique has been hosted over the years by FB Canoe 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. Net proceeds from the French Broad Classique, if any, will be donated to the Taylor Hunt Fund for Rivers and Outdoor Learning at the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. For more information about the Taylor Hunt Fund, click here.

Event Contact: 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.

Last update November 19, 2017