The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

December 16, 2013

Small group of surfers ride waves in Chattahoochee

(Continued)

"You have one right now -- but it is fairly small," he said. "I promise you will have a bigger one and it will be grown locally. You will also have people coming in from the Atlanta area. You already got guys coming in from an hour away."

Don't start thinking Malibu, but those involved in the Chattahoochee whitewater project are embracing the possibilities of more surfers sharing the waves with kayaks and rafts.

"This is not exactly what we were thinking, but it is kind of cool," said John Turner, the Columbus businessman who was the driving force behind the $24.5 million whitewater project.

Richard Bishop, president of Uptown Columbus Inc., which manages the Chattahoochee River Park, said surfing is just another possibility for new recreational activities in the rapids.

"What this feature creates for us is an opportunity to grow the surfing community locally and to expand it outside of this region and bring more people into Columbus," Bishop said.

People like O'Ravitz are leading the way to developing that community, Bishop said.

"Dare is absolutely a great ambassador for the Chattahoochee River Park and the Columbus wave," Bishop said.

Getting a stamp of approval from surfers like Mack is also important, Bishop said.

Mack also predicts that there will be a surf shop in downtown Columbus.

"I am telling you, there will be a surf shop here within five years, because there will be a larger surfing community here," Mack said.

O'Ravitz also sees that as a possibility.

"I went to Missoula and they had a surf shop downtown," O'Ravitz said. "It looked like a surf shop from the ocean had been dropped in the mountains. Their wave is good, but it is not as good as ours. As far as a surf shop in Columbus, I think it is a possibility."

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