Englishman again steals show at Saturday’s Yampa River Festival | SteamboatToday.com

Englishman again steals show at Saturday’s Yampa River Festival

Friday's kayak race winner tops two more events

Rafters attempt to wrangle Charlie's Hole Saturday during the 36th annual Yampa River Festival in Steamboat Springs. There is one final event on Sunday, the 11:30 a.m. kayak slalom race at Dr. Rich Weiss Park.
Austin Colbert

— Despite earning the nickname “007” because of his bib number, Joe Morley is not a British Secret Service agent, though the native of Great Britain did manage to steal the show Saturday during the 36th annual Yampa River Festival as only James Bond could.

A day after winning the Fish Creek kayak race, Morley, a former world champion in the sport, won both the tube rodeo and kayak cross events, his American flag shirt standing out among the crowd.

“When it comes to laying it down, the river will tell the story,” said Josh Burton, last year’s tube rodeo champion. “He earned it, 100 percent. When it comes to the tube rodeo, you’ve got to come in and present your best game.”

Burton, sidelined this year by a knee injury, applauded Morley’s efforts in the water. Morley struggled during his first few tube rodeo attempts, as Charlie’s Hole was unimpressed by his accolades. Eventually, however, Morley figured it out and made a lasting impression on his final run.

“I just had to get a feeling for the hole. It looked a bit stickier than it was,” Morley said. “I saw the raft and thought I could forfeit my tricks and just try to get in the raft, clean the river out for everyone else. It worked pretty good.”

Just before Morley entered the water for his final run, a raft had been taken captive by the hole’s tug and pull. Instead of waiting for it to be removed, Morley took it upon himself, riding his tube into the chaos, plunging in to commandeer the stranded raft, then acrobatically leaping off its stern to the delight of spectators.

The move earned him the tube rodeo crown.

“The thing about tube rodeo is, it’s going to kick your (butt) and you are just trying to stay on,” Burton said. “Once you can kind of figure out how it’s pushing you around, then you can begin to play around with it.”

Morley has been traveling the United States this summer with a couple of his English friends, going from event to event. Like many others competing in Steamboat Springs this weekend, he plans to make it to the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail next weekend, then to Idaho for the North Fork Championship the week after.

Vail duo takes top spots in SUP Cup

As with most who relocate to a ski town, New York native Rob Prechtl moved to Vail for the winter sports. Little did he know, stand up paddleboarding would soon become his primary activity.

“You come across mud season, and what else is there to do? It’s raining a little bit, it’s cold, wet, so you might as well just get in the water,” Prechtl said. “We got three or four guys that paddle fairly frequently, and we all kind of push each other and make sure we are staying on top of our games.”

Prechtl, who only started paddleboarding competitively last year, finished second in Saturday’s SUP Cup, a series of stand up paddleboard races held throughout the day. He finished behind fellow Vail resident Matt Paula, a sponsored athlete for Peter Hall’s Steamboat Springs-based Hala Gear paddleboard company.

“Peter is a good guy. He does a very good thing for the Yampa,” Paula said. “I’ve come in third place, but haven’t won it. It’s pretty awesome — really fun. It was a good event.”

After a lengthy discussion regarding the points system, Hall was officially awarded third place in the SUP Cup.

Winning the kayak freestyle rodeo was Steamboat’s Marty Smith, the impressive air he gained on a loop giving him the title in a competitive field, which included Morley and fellow Routt County kayak extraordinaire Dan Piano.

Winning the raft race was the team from Kremmling’s Adventures in Whitewater rafting company.

There is one final event scheduled in this weekend’s river festival, Sunday’s 11 a.m. kayak slalom race at Dr. Rich Weiss Park.

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email acolbert@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert

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