Meet the Sweets of the East Team; Sarah Merritt

Team member Sarah Merritt

I grew up in Asheville, NC and have been boating since I was about 7 or 8 years old in duckies, rafts and kayaks. I started guiding as soon as I turned 18 on rivers in TN and NC, mainly on the Pigeon. I kayaked the Upper Gauley for the first time when I was 17, and started videoing and guiding each Gauley season after that selling moonshine on the side to supplement my meager earnings. I worked at a Christmas tree farm after Gauley season to bridge the gap between rafting and snow seasons, and met a West Virginia boy who gave me a great excuse to move to WV permanently.

Photo Credit: Candace Evans Photography

My first taste of raft racing was the 2016 Animal Race on the Upper Gauley. We came in first place not only in the women’s division, but placed ahead of the men as well. It was such an amazing high, and it was kinda funny to me that I was so sore, blistered, and happy all at once. I was asked to join the team after that, and that leads us up to now.


Having done whitewater for some time, raft racing was a new, unexplored avenue for me, like starting all over in a way. Racing makes you look at lines through rapids in a totally different way than commercial guiding. The teamwork it takes is like nothing else I’ve ever seen or experienced. When each person is helping to control the direction of the boat and communicate exactly where we want to go, it can be hectic and frustrating at times, but it can also be pretty amazing when we have those ‘mind meld’ moments and make it happen with precision and grace.

National Championship

The National Rafting Championships are coming to southern West Virginia! The US Rafting Association (USRA) recently announced the New and Gauley Rivers will host this prestigious whitewater event September 4-8, 2018. This event is the qualifier for the World Rafting Championship to be held in Australia in May 2019.

Read more here: West Virginia’s Raft Race Team; Sweets of the East

Who is on the team?

This dedicated group of ladies have worked, played, and trained hard together this year to proudly represent the home team. The Sweets of the East team started in 2015 and has rotated team members over the years to accommodate R4 and R6 competitions.

Photo credit Candace Evans Photography

2018 Sweets of the East team members from left to right; Sarah Merritt, Margaret Cadmus, Katee Knight, Jo-Beth Stamm, Abbie Clasgens, Melanie Seiler and not pictured alternate Christian Mullins.

Sweets of the East Sponsors

To become a team or event sponsor please contact Mike Cassidy.

National Championship Event Sponsors

Tags: , , ,