Hoosier Regatta Race, IN 6.27.2020

The 57th running of the Hoosier Regatta has now passed into history, and what a run it was.  George Tinsley was in prime form, even calling down some “paddler refreshment” from the heavens to help prevent heat stroke and sunburn.  In fact, for the entire race – all 12 or so miles of it!  Lesser mortals avoided the race for fear of dangerous thunderstorms and torrential rains, but the more insane among us went anyway – albeit somewhat slowly at those points where it was a tossup as to whether we were actually seeing the road or Sasquatch.  But as we gathered under the park facility, the rains lightened somewhat and it appeared that there would be a roughly 2 hr break coming.  Getting wet is nothing new to paddle racers (it’s actually nice during a race in some respects), so we rapidly unloaded our gear and headed south, with George’s brother acting as shuttle commander.  I’m not sure his wife would have approved of a half-dozen wet, stinky paddlers in their nice Pacifica, but she wasn’t there to complain.  In an attempt to ensure a healthy continuance of paddle racers, everyone was required to wear a mask in the car.  As far as we can tell, no one expired on the shuttle.  Or even during the paddle.

George and Hilman were somewhat concerned that the water levels would be on the low side today, but a solid rain from yesterday into today raised the levels of the White River notably, and even gave us a nice current.  As we lined up, it was noted that nearly everyone was in their own class, except for Roger Crisp and Matt Conrad (both of whom were in Sea Kayak class).  Otherwise we had Ted Beatty paddling C1 Man, Brent Ernsberger in K1 Down River, Hilman Culp Jr. joined by his wife’s son Christopher Leek in C2 aluminum, and me in K1 Open.  Sort of like the current trend in “participation trophies”…

As George shouted “Go!”, we all charged off down the river.  Ted and I were running neck and neck, so we spent more than half the race having a nice chat as we paddled side-by-side.  At one point I let Ted move ahead as we entered a water channel, which put me behind, but then I took a different side of the river a short time later with a faster flow and caught back up.  But along the way I did learn the classic lesson that boats are typically much faster if they’re upright and you stay inside them.  Off to the right side of Ted, I hit a long, angled log or ridge in the water that tossed me for a swim.  Then I needed two attempts to reenter before I got going again.  Ted graciously waited on that one, and we resumed our “racing visit” towards the finish.  Alas, such was not to remain for long.  Lining up beside and just slightly behind Ted at another channel, I thought my boat was going to be pushed into his, only to suddenly find myself swept to the opposite side and grinding out in shallows.  No swim, but I did have to exit my boat and move it to deeper water.  At this point, thinking the finish bridge was coming up soon Ted continued on his way, and even upped the pace.  I started to gain ground, but about that time my shoulders said “Enough, you fool!”, and I kept a slightly easier pace the rest of the way.  Aging just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be at times. 🙂  Thus, Ted came in a solid first overall, with me trailing a bit. 

Behind me Matt Conrad was charging strongly, and he wasn’t all that far back.  Matt is really paddling well!  Roger also put on a splendid performance, coming in a little further back than Matt.  Apparently Roger and Matt were running together until Roger hit some shallower water and Matt took off.  Brent followed Roger in his down river boat, having chosen to leave his newer Sea Kayak at home with the knowledge that rocks in the White River may suddenly, without provocation, rise up and smite thee. Finally the C2 Aluminum team closed out the race. While slower than the rest, I’m still impressed with what these guys do with a relatively heavy and slow hull!  Naturally, once we all got our boats out of the water the rains broke and the sun came out…  As a side note, every time I passed under I bridge I recalled the time Betsy Arnold attempted to affect the outcome of the race by running me into a pylon. But there was no Betsy this race; I had to cause my own demise.

George runs his races a bit differently, and this race was no exception.  To start with, he didn’t bother charging a race fee. Nice!  Then rather than holding an awards ceremony and sending everyone away with a sheet of paper, George pulls out his collection of unique antique tools, coins, etc. that he has collected over the last year and has a bingo-style random selector to choose entrants to come forward and select a prize.  Really a fun way to end the race!  Everyone came away with a cool toy and a fun race experience.  Many thanks to George for running a great race, and for keeping the Hoosier Regatta alive, in spite of many challenges with race dates, weather, etc!


Race Results
C1 Man:     Ted Beatty                1:53:34

K1 Open:     Steven Horney        1:57:00

K1 Sea Kayak:    Matt Conrad            1:59:55
    Roger Crisp             2:06:36


K1 Down River:     Brent Ernsberger    2:11:11


C2 Aluminum:    Hilman Culp Jr. / Christopher Leek       2:33:50

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