It finally happened: paddle racing resumed in Indiana! Many thanks to Lori Schaffer for hosting the Fort Wayne Canoe & Kayak Races today. You could tell our Indiana (and a few Ohio) paddlers were hungry to get back on the water; we had a very respectable showing! We missed a few regulars, but had a number of paddlers who don’t usually make this race show up and generate some stiff competition. Conditions today were “warm”, with essentially no wind and no current. So it was a “muscle it out” race without a lot of strategy. Except that with no current to speak of you could stay deep on the way up and avoid shallows.
Looking carefully at the results below, you’ll see we had a number of “races within the race”, and even a few photo finishes.
The start of the morning race was rapidly followed by jockeying for position as we headed down to the Coliseum Street bridge. Oleg, Bill, and Matt Meersman quickly took the lead, with Ted Beatty trying hard to hang onto Matt’s wake. I jumped onto Ted’s wake, but Matt Conrad wanted it as well, so I ended up “solo” for a bit, giving Ted a bit of a lead. Oleg was gliding along smoothly, but as we rounded the pylon Bill managed to turn inside of Oleg and take the lead, while Matt Meersman was paddling furiously to stay with Oleg, with the rest of us scattered behind. Fortunes changed again as a couple of miles up the course Oleg hit a stump with his paddle, ejecting him from the boat. By the time Oleg was able to get in the boat he apparently decided it was a lost cause and returned to the ramp and departed. Meanwhile Matt Meersman was working to catch Bill and I was paddling hard in a vain attempt to reel in Ted. What surprised me on the way up, however, was hearing Skeet Craig’s voice not all that far behind me! Skeet hasn’t raced much the past couple of years as he’s dealt with some health issues, but apparently that time off was good for him; after rounding the Mayhew Bridge pylon and heading back I looked over and sure enough: Skeet in his C1 was leading a pack of Sea Kayaks! At the bridge all the sea kayaks were able to turn tighter, and left Skeet behind, at which point it appears he ran out of zip and dropped back. But he had an impressive run for most of the race.
Heading upstream I stayed an almost constant distance behind Ted, but the last mile or so to the Mayhew Bridge Ted managed to build up some additional lead as he was able to cut in through some downed trees that I had to detour around. But as with most of our canoe races, Ted leads upstream but I tend to build up steam heading downstream. And so it was again. As we headed back downstream our distance stayed constant for a bit, but in the last two miles I started to reel Ted in. It wasn’t quite enough to catch him, but I got within 18 seconds of his time. I’ll take it! A few minutes prior Bill and Matt Meersman crossed the finish line 1 SECOND APART! Bill just edged out Matt in a true photo finish. Meanwhile Paul Kane split the difference and finished between the Bill/Matt contest and Ted. Other photos finishes include Deb Kanost and Larry Swift, with Larry just edging out Deb by 2 seconds! Just shortly after their finish Brent Ernsberger edged out John Christensen by 2 seconds! This was John’s first time to race with his new wing paddle, and he really picked up the pace. John’s becoming quite a strong paddler. Skeet dropped back quite a bit after his earlier charge, but he came in just 2 seconds ahead of Terry Pontius. That’s quite a string of close finishes!
The heat of the day didn’t seem to bother Matt Conrad at all, and he ended up taking the Sea Kayak class victory pretty easily. Unfortunately Roger didn’t fare as well; he made it in ok, but he was feeling it.
We had two C2 racers in the morning race, since the afternoon races have been cancelled several times in the past due to lack of participation. But today Danielle Meersman and Kelly Harrington swooped in to create a potent C2 Mixed class in the afternoon. Colleen Curran brought a friend, Paul, to race with her in the morning, while George and Hilman joined them in C2 aluminum. But Colleen wanted to race in the afternoon as well, so she teamed up with George Tinsley to form a third C2 mixed team for the afternoon competition, competing against the Meersman boat and the Ted/Kelly boat. The afternoon racers weren’t wild about racing as far in the heat, so race director Lori granted them some grace and chopped off the 2 mile downstream loop. As it turned out a light breeze and some cloud cover improved conditions, but all the racers were still happy they didn’t have to race any farther after the morning efforts. In the afternoon races the Meersman’s showed their dominance in C2 racing, with Ted/Kelly coming in a few minutes later. Colleen and George were a fair bit further behind, but George was giving Colleen some lessons in boat handling that were much appreciated.
It was great to get back on the water racing, so much appreciation to Lori Schaffer for making it happen!
Results are listed below. Enjoy more photos HERE.
Morning Races (10 mile course)
Matt Meersman 1:31:42
Ted Beatty 1:39:16
Skeet Craig 1:53:04
Terry Pontius 1:53:06
Steven Horney 1:39:34
Oleg Vengerowsky DNF
Bill Kanost 1:31:41
Paul Kane 1:35:17
Brent Ernsberger 1:45:36
K1 Man Sea Kayak
Matt Conrad 1:41:00
Larry Swift 1:42:16
Roger Crisp 2:05:46
K1 Sea Kayak Woman
Deb Kanost 1:42:18
John Christensen 1:45:38
George Tinsley/Hilman Culp Jr. 1:59:05
Colleen Curran / Paul 1:53:10
Afternoon Races (8 mile course)
Matt Meersman / Danielle Meersman 1:15:39
Ted Beatty / Kelly Harrington 1:19:50
Colleen Curran / George Tinsley 2:00:09