HOT TIMES, COLD RIVER ~ Cato Falls & The Manitowoc Hometown Val Jean D. Marcoe, action photos by Lynn Fretchel Lennert.

It was a brisk last day of winter at Lower Cato Falls in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, the temps slowly recovering from a low of 23°F. The local weatherman forecast a high of 39°. Boaters from all along the west side of the state made the trip to compete in the 2nd ever Manitowoc Hometown Throwdown, home to The Wave. This feature creates a very fast, solid shoulder wave at 2500cfs to 4500cfs. Today we only had 2100cfs. Although we had cold water and lower water, the competition was still on.

The Manitowoc River, which feeds into Lake Michigan, was known for it’s whitewater races back in the 60s and 70s. Now it’s all about The Wave, and many locals are getting curious about this new style of kayaking, “playboating”. Over 100 spectators lined the river banks to witness the event on this frigid day, smiling and cheering as the competitors got 60 seconds to rack up points on a flushy low wave. Eighteen brave souls challenged the cold waters, with one coming out on top. The up close personal feel of the crowd mingling with the competitors gave us a warm picnic day feel. Many children in attendance showed great interest in the action, with the more mature crowd commenting “what a show, what a show”.

After the competition was over everyone traveled up the road a mile to Spuds in Clark Mills for a warm sandwich and a cold beer, and the Awards and prizes. We had great sponsors:
and local help from Piggly Wiggly, Valders WI, Shadows Tavern and Spuds Tavern. As you can tell by our great sponsors, we had a great day on The Wave.
So all you fellow Dirtbags have a great season and get the locals involved with what paddling has to offer. And whenever in Manitowoc County, stop by lower Cato falls. Bring your disc! They also have a great disc golf course.

EDITOR ‘S NOTE: Val Jean D. Marcoe
is a great playboater and artist from Manitowoc, WI and member of Liquid Rush. We met up at last year’s Midwest Freestyle Championship to paddle and party together.
He has made some awesome trophies for local Midwestern whitewater events, including the Lester Race in Minnesota, the premier Class V race in the region, and both Kosir’s Rapid Rafts & Dirt Bag Paddlers’ events,  Peshtigo River Fest next month and Frank Fest in the summer. 
Playing on The Wave-
Lynn Fretchel Rennert took the action photos in the article. We caught up with her via Liquid Rush to ask about her art. “I’m just a hobby photographer and simply LOVE being outdoors and being a part of nature and others who love nature! I’ll be heading back out to Cato Falls this week as I’ve hear you all might be out there!! I have a Website (In need of updating but a goal I was to complete this Winter).” Check it out! 
Lynn Rennert Lakeshore Photography

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