Boater Chick Festival 2014

Boater Chick Festival 2014

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Never Give Up

     I was discussing festival ideas with a fellow boater at the festival this year. She said something that resonates with me still. "What you are doing here at this festival is something no other festival has ever done or even tried to do." I wasn't sure if I was suppose to be offended or if that was a compliment. I chose to believe the latter. Putting on a festival of this magnitude every year is nothing short of difficult and miraculous. We have come to expect the unexpected and this year was no different. After the death of the venue owner, the cancellation of the food guy a week beforehand, and the typical drama that goes with gathering a large number of boaters together, I can assure you this year was full of the unexpected. But if there is one thing you can say about female boaters it is that giving up is not an option. The many people that help put this festival on never give up and neither do all of the chicks that come to this event.

     It was 2009. A trip leader cancelled at the very last minute. There was no backup (learned that lesson the hard way). I led the beginner creeking trip down the Nantahala. I can honestly say it was the best time teaching I have ever had. I had my hands full with 14 chicks in the group. We boofed and surfed our way down the river. Somewhere about half way down while surfing in a pretty substantial wave for beginners this chick Ashley Cork flipped. After several failed rolls I was just sure she was going to swim. Suddenly she surfaced and yelled out the biggest roar I have ever heard from a woman. I knew right then she was going to be a great boater someday because she absolutely refused to give up. I have never been so proud to not only witness that but that it happened during BCF. Ashley has been at every BCF since then. We have become very close friends over the years. 

     Fast forward to 2014. My job during the festival is to get the Cheoah happenings going. It is always the one river where we have the most spectators, largest trips, clinics, and the Boater Chick Boater Cross Race. This is an outstanding race to watch and compete in. I tried it a couple of years ago. Thank God I swam at Yardsale because it gave me an excuse for my lousy finish time. I yelled at Charli Kerns the entire time through the race to pass me but all I got back was "I can't! I don't know the lines!" I finally swam and she passed me. "Whew!" I thought, "There is my excuse for getting spanked!" Then I look up to see about 50 people all over the banks. I dumped the boat and finished with my tail tucked. I had been humbled by the race I started! it should be :) I refused to give up too. That same thing happened to me during a World Cup wildwater event many year ago. Same outcome too. I didn't give up then either and I crossed the finish line. Just about every female boater knows that to succeed in anything giving up is not an option. Even if you finish last you finish. We at BCF especially know this to be true.

     So I'm at the Cheoah this year about to get the race started and who walks up to grab a BCF Kokatat jersey? None other than Ashley Cork. I could not have been more proud of my friend. I could not have been more proud of this festival. If just one person can benefit from this festival every year then we have done a great job. I've never seen her smile so big. She was scared. A full on 1.7 mile sprint in class IV+ whitewater is no joke. It's hard but it's worth it just to finish. Especially when your right behind the person in front of you. No swims, no flips. The perfect run. Congratulations, Ashley!

          Saturday night at the fast and furious gathering we thank everyone, eat some southern grub, give out the awards, and raffle gear from our sponsors. Afterwards a chick came up to me. She had something she wanted to say. She said, "I'm not a great boater. I swim sometimes. Today I swam four times. I've never swam that many times in one trip but today was one of the best days of my life and the best day I've ever had on the river." She never gave up. She started crying and hugged me. This happens every year and every year I tell that person, "That's what BCF is all about. You are what BCF is all about." BCF, while we donate proceeds, is not about raising money, that's just a great bonus which is what makes us a bit different from other festivals. BCF is about teaching female chicks to never give up. We provide relatively free instruction from some of the best boaters and instructors in the business. We are tremendously grateful for the volunteers who believe in the goal of BCF. You can do and be exactly what you want if you never give up. This philosophy is useful in every aspect of a woman's life. It is what makes us strong and BCF celebrates and encourages that strength. 

     I would like to thank Kokatat for being our biggest sponsor every year and for continuing to support women in whitewater. I would like to thank Mary Anne Grell and Nikki Malatin for their commitment to this project from the very first year BCF existed. Thank you ladies for yanking the mic from me at the festival to give me an award. I can't tell you how much it meant to me to be honored like that. What a special thing we all have here with this awesome festival. 
     Congratulations to Mary Anne for finally beating Nikki in the Cheoah Chick Boatercross Race! It's about time! You never gave up either, MAGS. 

     Congratulations to our 7th Boater Chick of the Year Erin Savage! We got several emails plus countless likes and shouts for Erin to be BC of the Year. She is one of the most patient, encouraging, level headed, and humble chicks around both on and off the water. This award is always given to a chick who gives back to the boating community. Erin earned it and her friends knew it. Thank you for being a great leader, for working hard to save the environment, and for helping out with BCF in so many ways. We love you, Erin!

     Thanks to all of our wonderful sponsors, volunteers, and attendees who helped put this festival on. You simply showed your support for women in boating and that's what this festival is all about. We also raised a little bit of money for First Descents! The folks at FD are some of the most amazing people I have ever had the pleasure to be friends with. Our donations aren't enormous but we wouldn't think of donating anywhere else. We Boater Chicks have something in common with the survivors at First Descents...they never give up either.

Thanks everyone,
We will see in you May 15-17, 2015 for the biggest BCF ever! 
Anne Connolly

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Boater Chick Festival 2012

It's time to start getting ready for BCF 2012. This years fest will once again be at Nelsons Nantahala Hideaway. Call now to reserve your campsite, rv site, or cabin. There are only a couple of cabins left! The dates for the festival are Friday May 18th at 5pm until Sunday May 20th at 5pm.

Nelsons Nantahala Hideaway

We will be adding a few more trips and clinics this year. If it rains, of course, we will add many more. Please keep in mind that we need trip, clinic, and instruction volunteers! Send an email if you are interested to: This festival runs on volunteers so please help out.


Tuckaseegee - class II
Nantahala - class II-III
Hiawassee - class II-III
Ocoee - class III
Upper Ocoee - class IV
Tellico - class III-IV (rain dependent)
Chattooga Section 4 - class IV
Cheoah - class IV
Nantahala Cascades laps - class IV-V
Green Narrows - class V


Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) - Chris Tilghman
Beginner playboating - Hiawassee
Intermediate/advanced playboating - Ocoee or Nantahala
Beginner creeking - Upper Nantahala or Ocoee
Intermediate/advanced creeking - Cheoah - Anna Levesque, Girls at Play
Slalom racing - Nantahala or Tuckaseegee -
Swift Water Rescue - Tuckaseegee


Cheoah Boater Cross race - Saturday May 19th @ 11am.
Advanced Playboat Competition - Ocoee or Nantahala Saturday May 19th @ 4pm (time could change)

Beginner Playboat - Hiawassee Saturday May 19th @ 3pm
Slalom race (we hope) Tuckaseegee or Nantahala - Saturday time tbd
Downriver Race - Ocoee Sunday May 20th 10am

2011 Boater Chick of the Year

Congratulations to Mary Ann Grell for supporting all kayakers with dignity and respect. She is heavily involved in Chota Club. She has never met a stranger and is always willing to show people down new runs, offer her expert advice, and help out in rescue situations. Her kindness and cheerful demeanor are always a welcome site on any river. Mary Ann has done more for the boating community than many of us combined. She has also supported BCF since the very first year and continues to help put this festival together, gladly and with a smile. Thank you Mary Ann. We could think of no one more deserving of Boater Chick of the Year.

Boater Chick Festival 2011 volunteers.. THANK YOU!!

The Boater Chick Festival is all about giving back. We could not have this festival if it weren't for our many volunteers who make it all possible. So many people come together to give women in whitewater the opportunity to meet, paddle, and hang out with other women. We cannnot thank you all enough for GIVING your time and expertise to this event. Without you this festival would not be possible.

Mary Francis Hasford, Anna Levesque, and all the ladies at Girls at Play. Your instruction, leadership, and donations are what this festival is all about. Thank you so much!

Juliet Kastorff. You have been with BCF since the inception. Your advice, donations and incredible instruction are so very appreciated. Your knowledge of kayaking is unsurpassed and we so appreciate you sharing this knowledge with the women in whitewater. You are the best and we love you so much!

Andria Davis. Your donations and your leadership on the Green narrows trip were outstanding. The ladies love and admire you so very much. Thank you so much for leading BCF's !st ever class V trip down the Green Narrows.

Mary Ann Grell and the ladies of Chota Club. The Cheoah River belongs to you ladies. Thank you so much for supporting BCF from the very beginning, leading trips, and offering rescue. You have all helped grow this festival into what it is today and you are so appreciated.

Casey Jones with Pyranha kayaks. Thank you so much for teaching the ladies how to throw down in their playboats, Casey. Your enthusiasm and skill are addictive and the ladies loved you! thank you so much.

Sam and Boyd Ruppelt. You have both been with this festival since the beginning. You have helped and watched it grow into the awesome festival it is today. Your instruction, safety skills, and knowledge are admired by all of those whose lives you have touched with your love of kayaking. Thank you so much.

Shayne and Candace Day. You two have done so much for this festival. Your beautiful necklaces, outstanding creek boating instruction, your willingness to help at every turm and greatly appreciated. You both are the hardest works at every BCF and we love and respect you so much for that. thank you!

Kat Levitt. The best play boater chick around. Always willing to do everything you can to teach women to becomae better boaters. You are greatly admired and appreciated for you continued devotion since the 1st year of BCF. We are your biggest fans. Thank you so so much!

RIVERBONE!! Music, food, donations, tents, pa systems.. the list goes on and on. You guys are the best thing to ever happen to BCF and we honestly can't thank you enough. We love you! Thank you!!

And a special thanks to all of our trip leaders, river coordinators, instructors, and safety personal. This is the toughest job and hardest to fill. Thank you so much for donating your time. The ladies appreciate it so very much! Big thanks to the people who ran registration, helped out around the festival, took photos, created the web site, and kept Anne off the porch ;)

Wendy Arthur
Mary Francis Hansford

Francheska Thompson
Rick Thompson
Christopher Robinson
Amy Rae Fox
Stacy Durden
Allison Barth
The "V" Club!!
Tonya Chaffin
Laura Dillon
Adrianne Clough
Mary Ann Grell
Nikki Malatin
Hailey Popp
Andria Davis
Terran Viehe

Mike Kennedy
Casey Jones

Juliet Kastorff
Kat Levitt
Shayne Day

Jordan Sherman
Bill Dement
Sam Ruppelt
Boyd Ruppelt

Fern Abrams
Grayson Taff
Lee Thonus
..and many more..

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Boater Chick Festival 2011 Results

Boater Chick of the Year- Mary Ann Grell! Congrats Mary Ann!!

Beginner Playboating with Casey Jones on the Tuckaseegee-
1st place-Pauline Thine
2nd place-Wendy Krause
3rd place Francheska Thompson

Advanced playboating with Kat Levitt on the Ocoee-
1st-Julie Clemens
2nd-Alexis Jennings
3rd-Tish Benton

Cheoah Chick Boatercross Race-
1st-Nikki Malatin (14:08)
2nd-Mary Ann Grell (14:36)
3rd-Amy Kinkennon (14:57)
4th-Kaylan Ellis (15:21)
5th-Sarah Hunter (15:22)
6th-Emily Shanblatt (21:00)

The 2011 Festival

It's one more year until Boater Chick Festival 2012. Every year when the festival ends everyone talks about how they can't wait until next year. By Sunday afternoon of BCF 2011 all of the cabins were booked up for 2012. That says a lot about Boater Chick Festival 2011.

BCF started up over four years ago with the idea to bring women paddlers of all levels together in one location for a weekend to paddle and hang out. That idea began to grow

and BCF is now a tradition going on it's 5th year. Many people said this years festival (2011) was the best yet and it was. Everyone started piling in late Friday evening. Breakfast by Riverbone was ready to go at 7:30am Saturday as everyone gathered in groups for the days activities. There were a lot of activities going on. Trips, clinics, and competitions on the Nantahala, Cheoah, Ocoee,and Tuckaseegee rivers.

A favorite competition to both participate in and watch is the Cheoah Chick Boatercross Race. 1.7 miles of giving it all you've got in consistent class IV+ whitewater. It's not easy. The Cheoah is a roadside run so spectating is easy. A dangerous favorite is to chase down the racers via an automobile full of people. Everyone is running fast and snapping pictures. At the finish line the racers are smiling big.

An interesting place to be is behind the scenes looking at the dynamic of each river event. Some were exciting like Shayne's advanced creeking clinic on the Cascades. Some were hard like Kat Levitt's advanced playboating clinic on the Ocoee or Casey Jone's beginner playboating clinic on the Tuckaseegee. Juliet Kastorff's slalom clinic was a fantastic learning experience in a great environment. All of the river trips were fairly relaxed.

Saturday night the party started around 6 or 7. We ate dinner, gave out awards, and gave away a bunch of gear. thanks in ALL to our sponsors. The fine folks from First Descents dropped by to talk about who they are and what they do. All of the proceeds from BCF are now donated First Descents.

After all of the awards and speeches were given Mary Ann Grell received the Boater Chick of the Year award! Mary Ann is a great boater with a lot of respect from her friends and fellow, or should I say chick, paddlers. She does many things to better the boating community and the paddlers within it and she deserved this award. Congrats, Mary Ann!

The party continued and we were all up as early as we could be Sunday morning. Literally everyone was a little late. Because of that no one had to wait long and all the trips went perfectly. I'm most grateful to Andria Davis for leading BCF's 1st ever class V trip down the Green Narrows. All of the chicks loved the river and the guide. I wish I could have been there.

Mark your calendars for the 3rd week in May of 2012. The festival is in a secluded campground on a beautiful mountain side by night and on the rivers by day. I hope you will consider coming to Boater Chick Festival 2012.