Local youth team Redwood Rafters become national rafting Cadet division champions


The Redwood Rafters team won top honors at the national rafting competition, winning both the Boys’ and Girls’ Cadet divisions – that is, for those under 14 years old

“I am just over the moon about how these kids performed. I mean, last year they were scared to go on flat water,” coach Abby Grundman-Guthrie said.

That’s right– in just two years, the team has gone from some rafters being absolute beginners to Team USA National Champions.

“My kid said, I want to start a whitewater rafting team because they saw another kid be on a whitewater rafting team elsewhere in the country. And I said, I can do that because I’ve had some experience in the whitewater community a bit,” Grundman-Guthrie said.

Formed in January of 20-23, the redwood rafters have a surprising connection to the kinetic sculpture race.

“And then we really just needed to get the word out and we thought hey, the sculpture race we’ve seen, you know, that they tip over all the time, need safety, and that’s what the kids who are qualified to do at the time,” Grundman-Guthrie said. “They had been through, you know, five months of just safety training just for us to feel comfortable putting them up on the river.”

The Kinetic Sculpture Race gladly accepted the offer and invited the redwood rafters back this year.

“We’re going to be safety voting for the Kinetic Sculpture Race. If like on the bay, if one of their sculptures, like falls apart, then we’re going to be safety boating and go over and rescue them,” rafter team member Fern said.

The kids will be safety boating in Humboldt Bay Saturday, May 25th, and on Memorial Day on Monday, May 27th at Eel River if it is deemed safe enough to cross.

I asked some of the Team USA Cadets to show me their rescue skills.

“You grab them by the side of the boat. They’re going out and you will grab their shoulder. So it’s going to be really tight and you’re going to throw your whole body back,” raft team member Ember said.

“Even though, like, if you fall out, like, it might not sound fun, but sometimes it is fun,” raft team member Galaxy said.

The others echoed that sentiment.

“My favorite thing to about rafting is probably going down the rapids because really fun like navigating them and swimming. It’s so really fun,” Ember said.

“The rapids, like, they’re really fun to go down,” Kiera said.

With more fun on the horizon, the kinetic sculpture race starts tomorrow at noon at the arcata plaza. 

Plan to get there early to secure a parking spot, or take public transportation.  The end of day one will be at Halvorsen Park in Eureka on May 25th. 

The load-in on May 26th will be at the Wharfinger building, ending at Crab County Park west of Loleta, which is also the start of day 3.  The finish line in Ferndale opens at 1 p.m. on Memorial Day Monday.