Three Rivers Canoe & Kayak Races Report
Neither threat of rain, nor storms, nor gloom of drizzle shall keep paddle racers from their appointed engagements. But thankfully all that was behind us by the time we hit the starting line. With a significant amount of rain the prior few days and drizzle in the morning, there was some concern the St. Joe River could be up to flood stage. As it was, it the river level was high, but the water was below flood stage and fairly passive. With temps around 70, mostly overcast, good water, pretty scenery, and no powerboat traffic conditions were ideal for this year’s running of the Three Rivers Canoe & Kayak Races.
Special guests George and Hollie Hall graced us with their presence this year (Hollie is the current USCA K1 Open Woman and K1 Sea Kayak Woman National champion – maybe some other categories as well), coming over from Ohio in search of good competition for Hollie. And they weren’t disappointed! We had a spectacular turnout of kayak racers answering the call to challenge themselves against the best. The only single-blade paddlers to show up were George Tinsley and Hilman Culp Jr paddling C2 Aluminum. Had any of the C1 paddlers in our usual crew showed up they would have won 1st place by default! 15 kayak racers came to the line, and the competition was fierce.
When Julie & Julie yelled out “Go!”, an entire chorus of double-bladed paddles began to beat the water, and almost immediately the group began to divide up into racing subsets. Hollie Hall jumped to an early lead, with Oleg Ovengerowsky right behind her. Rick Widman, another Ohio import invited by the Halls, quickly took over the third place spot with me holding on beside him, and others fell in behind us. But not more than a half mile up the river as I fell back behind Rick, I could hear the sound of a certain “I am not a kayaker” Bill Kanost doing his best Bill impression. Starting a little more slowly but gradually building speed and power as the race went on, Bill passed me, passed Rick, and soon became part of the lead trio. Hollie continued her lead, but that wasn’t to last long. I couldn’t tell much of what happened in the group prior to the bridge, but at the bridge turn Bill out-turned the others and moved to the lead. This “turn” of events wasn’t to last either, as Oleg figured it was time to light the afterburner, shift gears, and show this gang how it was done back in Ukraine. Powering up his ICF boat, Oleg took the lead and held it to the end, with Bill and Hollie in hot pursuit.
Meanwhile Paul Kane was making his S18S move, and catching me shortly before the bridge turn he managed to pull away going back downstream trying to catch Rick Widman, but to no avail. Rick is an incredibly powerful paddler, moving his Epic 18X Sea Kayak like most people move an elite ski. Paul and I figured eventually the physics of moving his Sea Kayak that fast would take over and he would slow, but it never happened. Rick managed to keep moving that boat fast enough for a 4th overall placement, followed by Paul and then me. The next sub race consisted of Larry Swift, Brent Ernsberger, John Christensen, and George Hall. These guys were all running right together coming up to the bridge. Larry reports that he had tried a special wax treatment on his Think Evo, but found it actually hindered him more than it helped. Brent showed his paddling strength among this set, taking revenge for his loss to John Christensen at the Fort Wayne Race. Brent not only edged out John, but also Larry and George. Speaking of George, he came here claiming he was going to be slow, but he ran right with the rest of the Sea Kayak group. Always watch the guys who claim to be slow!
Deb Kanost continued to show her strength in the Sea Kayak Women class, coming in after George Hall and ahead of Matt Conrad and Ken Stelter. Speaking of Ken, it was great to see him back paddling again. Ken brought his pretty home-built Pax 18, and definitely put it to good use. As the story goes, Ken was moving some stuff in his garage, came across the Pax 18 covered in dust, and decided it was time to get it wet again. And we’re glad he did!
Kymberly Byers came out for her second USCA race, also sporting a wood sea kayak. Kymberly is moving up fast, coming in just a few minutes behind Ken. With her determination I suspect we’ll see Kymberly giving the rest of the crew some serious competition in short order!
Roger Crisp shows a notable time lapse in his finish time, but things aren’t always as they seem. Roger decided to conduct his own biathlon and go for a swim shortly before the bridge. There’s also a rumor that he was testing out his own “Rogerism” that boats are actually faster upright than they are inverted. Either way he was probably delayed a good 10 or 15 minutes by the time he was able to get to the bank, empty the boat, collect all his gear, and get back into the race. And he was still 10 minutes faster than last year! You’ll note that our C2 Aluminum team of George and Hilman was a little ahead of Roger at the finish. Apparently when they stopped to check on Roger, he told them “go ahead; I’ll catch you before the finish”. With that threat looming over their heads, the boys got motivated and moved that old aluminum canoe just a tad faster than usual…
Many thanks to all who came! And a huge thanks to my wife (Julie) and Roger’s daughter (Julie) for taking care of timing, certificates, etc. They sure made the race run a whole lot more smoothly! I joined Roger and his Julie for some great burgers at Bagger Dave’s following the race. We saw George and Hollie Hall go past the restaurant, and later come back by it again, so we assume they must have gone for either the Asian or Mexican food options. Hopefully their food was as good as ours!
1st Oleg Ovengerowsky (ICF boat) 1:11:49
2nd Bill Kanost (Nelo Razor) 1:12:38
3rd Hollie Hall (Stellar SEA) 1:13:17
4th Paul Kane (Stellar S18S G1) 1:17:43
5th Steven Horney (Stellar SEL G2) 1:18:23
6th Brent Ernsberger (Stellar S18R G2) 1:20:57
7th Larry Swift (Think Evo) 1:21:07
K1 Man Sea Kayak
1st Rick Widman (Epic 18X) 1:15:31
2nd John Christensen (Epic Endurance) 1:21:22
3rd George Hall (Stellar S18S G2) 1:22:04
4th Matt Conrad (Epic 18X) 1:23:41
5th Ken Stelter (Pax 18) 1:24:03
6th Roger Crisp (Stellar S18R G2) 1:45:41
K1 Woman Sea Kayak
1st Deb Kanost (Nelo Razor) 1:22:43
2nd Kymberly Byers (wood sea kayak) 1:29:52
1st George Tinsley & Hilman Culp Jr. 1:43:14