Due to the many complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic we find it necessary to cancel the 2020 Fiddlers Elbow Slalom. We hope to be back in 2021.
Somewhere in time a group of bored paddlers looking for a challenge decided to hang some poles over a section of moving water and race through them. To make it more difficult they placed the poles close together, called them gates and gave a penalty for touching them. In 1975 three neophyte kayakers from a group known as Harrisburg Area Whitewater Kayaks – HAWK – hung some gates on Swatara Creek at a bend called Fiddlers Elbow near Hummelstown, PA. Two years later HAWK joined their race with several other club slaloms producing the first Pennsylvania Cup series. There being no other such series in the state, it came to represent the state championships of Pennsylvania. HAWK disbanded and in 1978 the Canoe Club of Greater Harrisburg inherited all assets of the Fiddlers Elbow Slalom and has been producing the race every fall since.
The Penn Cup is a fall series currently consisting of several races designed to introduce paddlers to the sport of slalom racing. Races are held on Sundays, with Saturdays reserved for course construction, practice, and clinics. Clinics are taught by experienced racers -- including some of the top-ranked paddlers in the state and in the US -- and serve to introduce beginners to the sport, and to help more experienced racers advance from the basics of running the gates to discovering and paddling the most efficient lines.
Awards are presented at each race, and overall series awards (earned on a point system) are presented after the final race. Overall series awards are given in the classes listed below on this page. Additionally, competitors representing regional paddling clubs contend to earn the coveted club trophy.
There are many classes available at each race for open and decked boats, solo and tandem boats, juniors, cadets, masters, and well, just about everyone. The emphasis is on fun and learning, and so the races in this series make an excellent introduction to the sport.
Our race is in the Penn Cup Series. The race is sanctioned by the American Canoe Association (ACA). It is aimed at novices and class C-D racers who are trying to move up in the rankings. We have racers from 6 to 86 years old. The real stars are the children and teens who are learning the basic skills that someday may take them on to national and world class competition. The ACA Middle Atlantic Region, of which we are a part, produces a disproportionate number of racers for the United States due very much in part to races like ours.
Remember that the key word is “novice”. Anyone is welcome to race and everyone is encouraged to give it a try. You can’t believe how much fun it is and you are guaranteed to learn something that improves your paddling skills. We have special “cruiser” classes for those who don’t have race boats, so bring out that old klunker and let’s go racing! And while you are there sign up for the free slalom clinic and learn the best line through the course.
Penn Cup: Competition Eligibility
Participation in the series is open to all boaters and competition for the Penn Cup is optional. To compete for the Penn Cup, individuals must:
- Compete in at least 3 of the 6 races in one or two of the contested classes.
- Beginner or Intermediate paddler for racing classes. No restrictions on ability for rec boat classes for Penn Cup awards.
- Must not have placed in the top 50% in an international slalom competition or at US Senior Slalom Team Trials.
- Must not be ranked currently in the top 15 in K-1 or C-1 or the top 10 in other racing classes on Aug. 1st of this year.
- Have not previously won the Penn Cup award for the class(es) you are entering.
- Use legal race boats (per ACA rules). Plastic race boats (e.g., Fluid Donsa, Delsyk Toro) are grouped with race boats and prohibited in rec classes for Penn Cup Awards.
Penn Cup: Competition Awards
Competitors are awarded points for first, second, and third places based on their individual performances in the series. These will be determined by the points earned at their best three races in the contested class(es). Winners are determined by the lowest accumulation of points. Points are not calculated for non-Penn Cup competitors. Note that these points are earned on the basis of the Penn Cup class, not the race class (e.g., K-1 cadet, K-1 junior, K-1, and K-1 master are combined when determining Series points). Points will be awarded as follows: 1st Place earns 1 point; 2nd Place earns 2 points; 3rd Place earns 3 points; etc. Overall ties are broken by placement in the last race in the Series.
Penn Cup Awards will be presented in the following eleven categories:
- Men's and Women's Solo Kayak (K-1/K-1W).
- Solo and Tandem Open Canoe (OC-1/OC-2).
- Men's and Women's Solo Decked Canoe (C-1/C-1W).
- Men's and Women's and Mixed Tandem Decked Canoe (C-2/C-2W/C-2M).
- Men’s and Women’s recreational whitewater kayaks (K-1rec/K-1Wrec).
Individual Races: Classes of Competition
All standard classes (according to boat, gender, age, and ability) will be contested provided the three boat minimum is met. Race registrars have the right to reclassify paddlers to assure fair and competitive classes. Using the same boat in more than one class is prohibited (e.g., racing K-1 junior and K-1 open in same boat), except for tandem boats and plastic rec boats (e.g., racing K-1rec and K-1 open is allowed if a plastic boat is used in both classes).
Individual Races: Race Clinics
Special-training clinics will be taught by successful racers, coaches, and US Slalom Team members. Please indicate on your entry form if you are interested in participating. Note: Courses are closed for practice during races and clinics.
Individual Races: Scoring Rules
All races will be conducted according to current Slalom Racing Rules of American Canoe Association (ACA) and the ACA Open Canoe Slalom Rules. For decked (open) boats, a two-second (10-sec) penalty will be assessed for each touched gate and a fifty-second penalty for each missed gate. Placements will be determined by the better of the two runs. Minimum legal gate heights are 6 inches for open boats and 8 inches for decked boats.
How to determine which age group to enter (may be combined by race organizers depending on number of entries):
- Expert (open, no age restrictions)
- Intermediate (age 19 to 39 inclusive as of Jan 1st of this year)
- Cub/U12 (age 12 and under as of Jan 1st of this year)
- Cub Cadet/U14 (ages 13-14 as of Jan 1st of this year)
- Cadet/U16 (ages 15-16 as of Jan 1st of this year)
- Junior/U18 (ages 17-18 as of Jan 1st of this year)
- Master (age 40 and older as of Jan 1st of this year)
Volunteering: Participants are expected to help with gate judging and event clean up. Please arrive early and stay late.
**ALL RACES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE AT THE DISCRETION OF THE RACE ORGANIZERS**
The slalom course will be set on Swatara Creek at the Fiddler's Elbow Road bridge southwest of Hummelstown, PA between Hershey and Harrisburg. From US 322 East take the Hummelstown/Middletown exit, make a left on Middletown Road, make an immediate left onto US 322 West (you just did a U-turn). From US 322 West make a right on West Main Street at Hoss's, make a right on Fiddler's Elbow Road; and go 1.1 mile to race site.
Please park in designated areas only. Parking in other areas will ruin our relationship with the landowners, who so graciously allow us to use their properties for this race. Therefore, parking violations may disqualify you from the race. We will provide an unloading area near the center of race activities. Additional parking will be available at the garage across the bridge from the race site. Do not park in the quarry driveway.
8:00 - 1:00 PM - Hang slalom gates
9:00 - 3:00 PM - Check-in
12:00 - Dark - Practice runs(except during clinic)
1:00 - 3:00 PM - Slalom clinic (course closed)
6:30 - 8:00 AM - Practice runs
8:30 - 9:00 AM - Competitors' meeting (course closed)
9:00 AM - Race starts
PM Course take-down and awards
There will be a food stand at the site on Sunday.
Lodging and Camping
- Hershey Highmeadow Campground, off Hershey Park Drive, HERSHEY, PA; (717) 534-8999.
- Harrisburg East Campground, 1134 Highspire Rd., Harrisburg, PA; (717) 939-4331.
- Hershey Conewago campground on Rt. 743 between Hershey and E-town. (717) 367-1179. It's about 13 miles from the site.
At the landowners' request, PETS AND VENDORS ARE NOT PERMITTED AT THE RACE SITE. Please leave your pets and crafts at home. Also, the course will be closed for practice during the race and clinics. Pedestrians have the right of way on crosswalks in Hummelstown and watch your speed on Fiddler's Elbow Road!
For more infomation contact
or phone: 717-439-6931