Saturday dawned bright and clear – and somewhat chilly. But the cold is no deterrent to hard-core race paddlers. 16 of us converged on the banks of the Tippecanoe River mid-morning for a 10 mile adventure downstream on one of the prettier rivers in Indiana. Naturally the pre-race trash talking occurred, mostly along the lines of “I haven’t been on the water all winter, and I can’t even lift my arm to paddle…”. It appears that Ibuprofen is the performance enhancing drug of choice among most of our paddlers. But not all of us were aged; the young Josefik family showed up, with their two young daughters (Eden and Noel) joining their father Nick in their recently acquired Minnesota II, taking on the terrors of the river – and these pro-racers. Not only did they come in with a good showing, these girls were probably the happiest paddlers I’ve seen on the water. I think they were singing the whole way down the river! There’s also a rumor they made faces at Terry Pontius as they slipped by him towards the end, but our source is Skeet Craig, so fake news is a definite possibility.
The last few years I have experienced some shoulder pain on longer kayak races, and since I was paddling kayak this time I had the mindset of going easy and just enjoying the race. Naturally that lasted until the word “Go!” was shouted; then my competitive nature took over and I joined up with what was now the lead gang of 4: two C1’s powered by Bill Kanost and Ted Beatty respectively, Larry Swift in his Think Evo surf ski, and myself (Stellar SEL surf ski). We ran remarkably closely for most of the race, occasionally changing leads, but otherwise staying together as a group. About 3 or so miles from the end we got into some good (for me) water (I ran faster in deeper water, while Larry held the edge in shallower water), and so pulling ahead and holding the lead for awhile, I had grand visions of victory. But the rocks were not in favor of me winning so easily, and one of them tossed me into the drink. It was a great opportunity to experience the refreshing goodness of the cool Tippecanoe river, and ice sore muscles. Thankfully it was fairly shallow and I got back into my ski pretty quickly, but meanwhile the other three had passed ahead. And now it was work to regain ground. Meanwhile Bill Kanost decided he was tired of paddling and wanted to finish the course, so he shot out ahead. About half a mile or so from the end I managed to catch and pass Ted and had hopes of reeling in Larry, but as I was gaining on him we hit some shallows that lasted to the finish and Larry had the advantage. The race is not always to the swift as the saying goes, but this time it was – at least in the K1 Unlimited class. Kanost, of course, was the grand victor.
Meanwhile, not far behind our group, Tom Thomas was making good time. Tom was the one who said he could get hardly get his hands high enough to paddle, but they must have been high enough! Matt Conrad showed all the Sea Kayak class how to make the boat move. Rumor is that Matt has been working out, and if so it’s having a great effect! Brent Ernsberger was a minute or so after Matt. Brent registered in the K1 Unlimited class, but was actually paddling a Sea Kayak class boat, so his performance was definitely solid. Deb Kanost followed just shortly after Brent, really putting in an impressive showing in Sea Kayak Woman against an otherwise all male group.
Next up were the C1 duelists of Skeet Craig and Terry Howard. These guys came across the line in a true photo finish. The times listed below show a 2 second difference, but I suspect it was actually less than a second. Pretty amazing for 10 miles of racing! Roger Crisp came in next, completing the Sea Kayak group. At our meeting afterwards we figured out that Roger, at age 80, is likely our oldest athlete. Awesome job, Roger! Next came the Josefik gang, singing their way down the river and putting in an excellent showing. They’re from IL, but we may seem them at a few of our western races. Rounding out the C1 group was Terry Pontius, our beloved race director, followed by the Aluminum gang of George Tinsley and Hilman Culp Jr. Just barely over 17 minutes separated the first from the last on this race, meaning that all contenders paddled an excellent race. Great job by all, especially this early in the season!
Following the race 7 of us met up at the Oakdale Dam Grill for some excellent vittles and a social time, which we also labeled our USCA Spring Meeting. Biggest item from the meeting was the notification that the USCA Nationals are being held this year in Warren, PA August 11 – 15.
Remember that Sugar Creek is next week!
Keep paddling strong!
1st Bill Kanost 1:20:57
2nd Ted Beatty 1:21:49
3rd Tom Thomas 1:23:18
4th Skeet Craig 1:28:04
5th Terry Howard 1:28:06
6th Terry Pontius 1:35:55
1st Larry Swift 1:21:22
2nd Steve Horney 1:21:23 (Also top swimmer award!)
3rd Brent Ernsberger 1:25:53
K-1 Sea Kayak Man
1st Matt Conrad 1:24:55
2nd Roger Crisp 1:31:01
K-1 Sea Kayak Woman
1st Deb Kanost 1:26:22
1st Hilman Culp and George Tinsley 1:38:01
Nick Josefik, Eden Josefik, Noel Josefik 1st 1:35:01