Tweaks could be coming to Chattahoochee River whitewater course in advance of upcoming world competitions


COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The Chattahoochee River whitewater course into downtown Columbus is wrapping up its eighth season of outdoor adventure.

And it is looking to the next two years when the world’s top kayakers will be competing in Columbus.

Rick McLaughlin has been in Columbus this week and that poses some interesting questions.

Who is Rick McLaughlin?

McLaughlin is the Colorado-based engineer who designed the two-mile whitewater course built into the Chattahoochee River.

He designs courses all over the nation and hasn’t been in Columbus since 2017.

With eight years of operation, he is impressed with what he sees developing around the course. But says with major world kayak competitions coming, the waves could always be a little better.

“You got some really cool competitions coming up – freestyle kayaking, 2022 and 2023. And we want to make sure the venue is doing its best,” said McLaughlin, senior project manager, McLaughlin Whitewater Design Group

Tuesday, McLaughlin, Whitewater Express owner Dan Gilbert, Uptown Columbus president Ed Wolverton, and John Turner, the vision behind the whitewater course, were at the last rapid on the course.

“The reality is that everything that’s here is really great for hosting an event,” McLaughlin said. “This is one of the best venues for hosting a free-style event because of the features that are already there and working great, but because of the community and community support.”

Could changes be coming to the $26 million course?

“The river can host it right now,” said Whitewater Express owner Dan Gilbert. “We are set with our waves. … We are at a high level and if we can bring it up even more, I think that’s a good thing to do.”

One of the things they were exploring is making it possible to adjust the waveshaper quickly, changing the wave on the fly, said Wolverton.

McLaughlin and Gilbert were guests this week on The Chuck Williams Show.

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