The Phatwater Kayak Challenge is a 42.5 mile kayak and canoe race on the Mississippi River, from Grand Gulf, to Natchez Under-The-Hill, held the second Saturday of October. Here is a correspondence from the 2007 Phatwater Challenge by Keith Benoist with pictures by Robbie Capel.
This year's Phatwater attempted to see a solo paddler break the 4 hour mark, for a cash prize of $1000.00. The goal was not achieved, although Mike Herbert, 3X Olympic sprint champion, did set a new record, of 4:16:55. The previous record, held by Wim Nouwen, of Memphis, Tennessee, was set in 2004, at 4:22:02. Mike was paddling a WSBS Thunderbolt.
In a conversation with Mike following the race he lamented not breaking the 4 hour mark, but promises to return next October 11th, for Phatwater VII, when the prize money will grow to $2000.00. High winds, in excess of 20 mph, which caused Mike as much as a 40 second delay per mile, developed from the halfway point in the race, near Waterproof, Louisiana, and along with record low water, contributed to make for a slow course this year. Anything could happen next October, however, to change these conditions, and a record breaking time under 4 hours is likely.
First women's solo was taken by Melissa Farish Morrison, of Natchez, Mississippi, with a time of 5:21:38. Melissa, co-founder of the Phatwater, was paddling an Epic 18X.
Mass start on the Mississippi, 0830, October 13, 2007.
The Phatwater, 2007, saw 109 participants in
89 craft. The United States Coast Guard, Memphis Marine Safety Zone, initiated a total river closure from 0800 to 1600,
stopping all barge traffic.
Taking the inside curve of the first bend of the Phatwater, at the starting line, Grand Gulf, Mississippi.
Mike Herbert, 1st Overall in WSBS Thunderbolt, 2007 Phatwater Record Broken at 4:16:55, Natchez Gauge, 9.2', record low water.
Kiril Florov, of Countryside, Illinois, took second overall, in an Olympic K-1, with a time of
This is the 27' "Findeisen Cobra" which took overall 3rd, 1st K-2, paddled by Daniel Sikora, of Des Plains, Illinois, (forward) and Chris Van Meter (aft) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their time was 4:35:34.
Roger Dunn and John Kim of Mountain View and San Jose, California, respectively, took fourth
in a Simon River Sports K-2 "Arrow" with a time of 4:40:33