The French Broad Classique is a collection of paddle sports events held on the fourth Saturday of April each year (except in 2017, when it will be held on the fifth Saturday, April 29) on the French Broad River near Asheville, North Carolina. The Classique currently consists of two events: the BR 12, a twelve mile race for experienced racers (PLEASE NOTE: shortened from the former eighteen mile course), and the FB 50, a fifty mile challenge (advance registration required for FB 50). The entry fee is for either event is $25 per person, plus $10 per person to attend the afternoon picnic (optional; advance notice please). Information common to both 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 12, 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 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 12 will begin at 8:00 a.m. at the FINISH line at Westfeldt River Park. There is no last minute registration for the FB 50; advance registration is required.

We will provide a shuttle for the BR 12 for those that need it. Come to the new Horse Shoe River Access (the new starting line) on Saturday morning and unload your gear. PLEASE LIMIT PARKING IN THE UNLOADING AREA TO 15 MINUTES.. Then drive to the Westfeldt River Access 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 Horse Shoe River Access.

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

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.

HORSE SHOE ACCESS (start of BR 12; first checkpoint for FB 50): 5294 Brevard Road, Horse Shoe, NC. GPS Coordinates: N35 19.733 W82 34.507
From the airport, go south on Route 280. Cross the river and go approximately another 3.0 miles. At a major traffic light, turn left onto Route 191. Go 2.8 miles, crossing the river along the way. At the first stop light after crossing the river, turn right onto South Rugby Road and go 2.6 miles to the stop sign. Turn right onto Route 64 and go 1.8 miles. Just before crossing the river a third time, turn right into the Horse Shoe Bend River Access. PLEASE NOTE: 15 minute parking only in the area designed for cars with trailers. You can park there to unload, then please move your car up the hill and, eventually, to the finish line parking lot at Westfeldt River Park. Thanks.

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.

ASHEVILLE OUTDOOR CENTER (Friday check-in; finish of FB 50; Saturday awards & picnic): 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 12 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 Horse Shoe Access at river mile 40 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 con 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 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. 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 when they are available (generally January of each year).

Last update November 27, 2016