Sometimes you feel like a nut…
Saturday’s running of the 2022 Hoosier Regatta on the White River in Noblesville started our season much like a military boot camp: a shock to the system, a lot of hard work, but with a solid dose of humor and good memories. When George Tinsley planned this date, I’m sure he had no idea this would be an 80 degree, sunny day in April. In Indiana. Unless he’s more of a prophet than I suspect. Yet that’s exactly what we experienced: sunshine, clear skies, and a nice water level. You couldn’t ask for more in a canoe race. Except for being in shape to paddle, and most of us were severely behind in our training – as a 13 mile race into a stout headwind pointed out rather profoundly. But trained or not, that nice weather rewarded us with the best turnout in years for the Hoosier Regatta – a total of 19 competitors, with experience ranging from the current winner and record holder of the AuSable Marathon to recreational paddlers to old pros. A few of our classic paddlers were MIA due to injuries or other reasons (I’ll have to razz them about pathetic excuses…), but several old pros showed up unexpectedly.
George’s brother ran the shuttle, but neither George nor his brother were prepared for the turnout, so when we got to the take-out, only 4 people were able to squeeze into his car. He promised to return, but knowing the turnaround time, we hijacked Larry Swift and his minivan to transport the rest of us back to the put-in. Once back it was a bit of a hike to get the boats to the water, but that just served as a “warm up” to the race.
Once on the water, we eventually organized somewhat (slightly better than a herd of cats), lined up (kind of), and George sent us on our way. Overall the course was reasonably clean, although you did have to watch for rocks here and there, and I did scrape bottom twice (having to get out of the boat one of those times). My river reading could still use a bit of improvement. Nobody swam, in spite of the warm temps, but I will say a lap full of chilled river water does get your attention – especially when it remains in your seat for a bit!
As we started the race, Matt Meersman and Lacy started off solidly, with Pieter Visser, Jody Runion, and myself running close by and the others close behind. To no one’s surprise, Matt and Lacy worked themselves into a solid lead they kept the entire race, but Pieter Visser pushed them hard – and in a plastic Epic V7! Jody and I fell back a bit early on, but kept a good pace. Jody had some back issues going on, and my shoulders were beginning to feel the workout, so it wasn’t long before Larry Swift and Jon Henderson caught up and passed us. They pulled ahead, but we managed to keep pace with them a few boat lengths behind. All the while I was wondering what happened to Bill Kanost; this was past the middle of the course and I expected him to be passing us up anytime. Well Bill had a slow start, but unlike me (I started fast, then slowed) Bill kept picking up speed and caught us around 2/3 of the way. I passed Jody, Bill caught me, and we paddled together a short distance before Bill took off in a vain attempt to chase down Larry and Jon. And I slowed some more, my shoulders constantly provoking me with comments about how good it would be to see the end of the course. Grinding out in one shallow area was actually kind of nice; I appreciated the break as I got out of the boat to free it. But that cost me time, and it wasn’t long before I heard some furious paddling coming from behind – Matt Conrad was tearing up the course! Matt said “Hey Steve!” and took off down the river. He was really on fire for this race! Coming to the end, Brent Ernsberger just about caught me, but I managed to hold him off for a few seconds crossing the finish. Ironically, Brent and I were the only two paddling the K1 Open class, and we finished just like we used to do years ago when we were battling for K1 Open supremacy, only a bit slower these days…
The rest of the gang trickled in behind us. Of particular note, two new racers in the K1 Rec class, Kyle and Vicki, paddled plastic boats for their first time in a race and came in with very respectable times. As if 13 miles wasn’t enough, they had lunch and then headed out for another 13.5 mile paddle. Must be nice to be young! Roger Crisp commented that he was so slow that turtles refused to get out of the way, but I’m thinking that paddling a 2.5 hr race at 80 years old is a heck of an accomplishment in and of itself!
Following the race, George organized his classic randomized give away of vintage items (always fun!), but not before some of our paddlers proved the usefulness of their paddling muscles. Someone at the ramp managed to get their truck well and fully stuck in the mud. Matt Meersman had a tow strap, and hooking it up to the front of the guy’s truck I assumed they would connect it to someone else’s truck to pull him out. But we don’t do things the normal way; Matt, Bill, and one or two others grabbed the strap and helped pull the guy out just by their own strength!
As a grand finale, several of us headed to Sahm’s restaurant for a post-race meal (per the suggestion of George’s brother). Brent Ernsberger led our convoy, with the directions that you went to Allison road, turned right, and it was two buildings down. But as we followed Brent he kept going well beyond Allison, then turned south a mile or so, then east again. At first I thought he knew a secret way to get there, but after a bit I called and said “Brent – where are you going?” It seems his phone GPS was taking him (and us) on some weird tour, so we reorganized and followed my phone GPS gps back to the restaurant. We had a great meal, a lot of fun catching up, and then departed to our respective destinations full and thoroughly tired, knowing that the next day was going to be rough. It was a fun day, and many thanks to George for all his efforts putting on this race! And to Julie Birge (Roger’s daughter) for helping with the race, timing, and photos, as well as to Roger’s brother for helping with shuttle and additional photos!
1st Bill Kanost 1:51:24
2nd Jody Runion 2:00:25
3rd Skeet Craig 2:03:22
4th Terry Pontius 2:19:36
1st Hilman Culp/Chris Leek 2:38:33
1st Matt Meersman / Lacy 1:42:11 (fastest overall)
2nd Guy Gilman / Sonja Gilman 2:02:16
K1 Sea Kayak
1st Pieter Visser 1:44:25
2nd Jon Henderson 1:49:20
3rd Larry Swift 1:49:27
4th Matt Conrad 1:55:10
5th Roger Crisp 2:27:46
1st Steven Horney 1:56:36
2nd Brent Ernsberger 1:56:41
1st Kyle Wills 2:03:40
2nd Vicki Tillotson 2:06:22