Lions Paws for Support Paddlefest 7.28.18
“Ya shoulda’ been there!” If you didn’t attend the Lions Paws for Support Paddlefest and Fish Lake Festival (more informally known as “the Fish Lake Races”), you missed out on what may well have been the most fun racing we’ve had this year. Certainly some of the best weather: sunny and 70’s! Toss in a festival, food (free snacks for the paddlers), live music, interesting vendors (especially that Stellar tent…), and great prizes for competitors and you have the makings of a really great day both on and off the water. Not to mention shorter races that are kinder to older paddlers… The Fish Lake venue is really optimum for this kind of event; situated on a channel joining the two larger lakes, spectators are treated to a great view of racers coming and going with opportunities to rent a kayak or canoe to get the “kayak challenged” out on the water. Emily Howard and her crew put on a very well run event and treated all our paddlers very well.
Out on the water, races started beneath a flag line on the channel close to the overpass for State Hwy 4. At the (very loud!) blast of the cannon, racers headed north into Upper Fish Lake, crossing over to a buoy on the far side of the lake then turning southeast and heading toward the small lake that joins Upper Fish Lake. Weaving through the somewhat weedy channel into the small lake, racers crossed this lake to a buoy on the far side, rounded it, and headed back to Upper Fish Lake where paddlers ran closer to the south side of the lake returning to the channel. USCA Canoe & Kayak racers crossed through the channel (the SUP race and novice race stopped at the flag line), headed south onto Lower Fish Lake and a buoy on the far side of the lake. After turning at this buoy there was another buoy along the western shore closer to the channel end that had to be rounded, then it was back to the channel and the starting line.
Although a lake race, water conditions varied quite a bit; deeper waters prevailed in Upper Fish Lake but “Bill Kanost” waters (i.e. shallows) were the order of the day in Lower Fish Lake. Weeds could be encountered in various places along the way as well. As our gang of racers got underway, some of the challenges of a channel became immediately apparent: boats blocking forward progress! Bill Kanost, Paul Kane, and I were running side-by-side right at the start until a few errant kayaks and a pontoon boat directly ahead dictated a discretionary speed reduction and placement change on my part. Now situated just to the side of and a little behind Matt Conrad, I was treated to a cooling spray of water from Matt’s furious paddling (Matt really goes full bore at the start of a race!). Moving around Matt, I bumped his boat a few times with my paddle as Matt was working to stay on my wake but I passed Matt and caught back up with Paul. Meanwhile ol’ Bill and his “cheater” boat had put a few boat lengths on us. I was paddling my SR in this race instead of the SEL (because I needed the SR for display and could only fit 3 vessels on the roof of my wife’s truck). It’s a fast boat but I needed every advantage I could get to run with Bill and I was sorely missing my SEL at this point. As Paul and I worked together some in the deeper waters of Upper Fish Lake, we started to gain a little on Bill but it was not enough. Heading into the shallower, weedy passage into the small lake, Bill gained again. I was hoping my shorter turning radius would reel in some of the distance but it wasn’t enough. Bill kept his lead back to the channel and bumped it up some more when we hit the shallower waters of Lower Fish Lake after first pausing for effect at the end of the channel to see how far we slackers were behind him… Speaking of going through the channel, I kept hearing an incessant buzzing sound each time I passed through, leading me to wonder if Bill was using a “performance enhancing” electric motor. Turns out it was just a drone checking out our photogenic qualities.
Meanwhile some serious action was happening behind us in the Sea Kayak class. Deb Kanost was putting some hurt on Larry Swift, really pushing him hard (note that Deb came in only 8 seconds behind Larry!) while Roger Crisp and Matt Conrad were hanging on behind them. Unfortunately for Roger, he encountered a foot cramp that caused him to slow while he worked it out but he still managed to put up a good fight. Matt was doing some wake riding with Larry and Deb then with Roger but when Roger had to pull back, he had to work extra to catch back up with Larry and Deb. He didn’t quite catch them although he wasn’t all that far behind.
I am sometimes humored by the “boat character” of different races; some races, like this one, are predominantly kayak races while others have a heavy C1 presence. In this case, Terry Pontius was our lone C1 paddler, but what a great sight it was to see Terry in his C1. Cleared to paddle by his doctor, Terry looked really strong and paddled quite well. Our stalwart Aluminum C2 paddlers (George and Hilman) were at it again, but this time with some Aluminum competition in the form of a couple of local paddlers. George and Hilman demonstrated their mastery of the Aluminum C2 and it sure was great to see some other folks willing to take on the challenge.
And then there was the SUP race. It was probably a little unfair, in that my competition didn’t have a lot of experience (I noticed in the photos that they appeared to be using their paddles backwards), but they were some really nice folks and we had a fun race. Unfortunately for them neither one realized you didn’t have to go back to the Upper Fish Lake turn buoy on the return trip, which cost them some additional time, and then Clint fell off his board turning round that buoy. They were good sports anyways about it all, and we all had “podium” finishes. As Dave Hendrich is fond of saying, “a win is a win!”
Many thanks to Emily Howard and her crew for a great day and a really fun event! There were 14 USCA competitors, 7 “novice” competitors, and 21 “fun” paddlers.
And many thanks to my wife, Julie, who took care of race timing and all the challenges of guiding the uninitiated in the ways of race timing and recording (like having the surprise of hearing the cannon go off starting a race when she was still at the registration desk logging in racers on the timesheets!)
We’re looking forward to being there again next year!
Results are listed below.
1st Bill Kanost 39.08
2nd Steven Horney 41.07
3rd Paul Kane 42:43
Sea Kayak Men
1st Larry Swift 45:49
2nd Matt Conrad 46:10
3rd Roger Crisp 47:40
Sea Kayak Women
1st Deb Kanost 45:41
1st Terry Pontius 50:39
1st George Tinsley / Hilman Culp 51:51
2nd David Smolnicky / Mark Lakin 1:22:37
2 Mile Course
1st Steven Horney 26:53
2nd Clinton Worthington 36:54
3rd Holly Wireman 43:18