The Georgia Canoeing Association (GCA) has sponsored its Southeastern United States Wildwater Championships on North Carolina’s Nantahala River for forty-four years. The races have left us with many fond memories.
The Southeasterns are the oldest canoe and kayak races in the Southeast, and the slalom portion, held from 1969 through 2008, was the nation’s second oldest slalom race that was continuously held at the same venue by one sponsor. The first canoe race on the Nantahala was held by the GCA on July 4th and 5th, 1969. The GCA’s 1966 founders, Horace Holden, Sr., and Bill Crawford, together with Payson Kennedy, had in 1968 visited the Canoe Cruisers Association of Greater Washington D. C.’s Petersburg races on the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River. They were impressed and met many experienced racers who were excited about the idea of coming to the Nantahala to race the following July 4th. Thus was born what was ambitiously termed the “First Annual Nantahala Race… to promote the sport in the Southeast, as well as advance the cause for wild rivers.”