Lions Paws for Support Paddlefest (Fish Lake Race) Report
Emily Howard outdid herself once again for our beloved Fish Lake Race and festival (put on by the Lions Paws for Support). She had a few things working against her this year: the guy who typically runs the racing was unable to be there due to work, and it seemed like fewer people took part in the races (a number of people were renting the recreational kayaks, but none signed up to race). Nevertheless she and her helpers (including Julie Birge, who helped out significantly by taking care of race timing with another volunteer) persevered to put on a very fun event. The weather was beautiful, waters were calm, and all was as it should be for some excellent racing.
The first race was the “pro” race, with all USCA classes running together. Not a long race at only 4 miles, but it can be intense in that shorter distance: longer than a sprint, but not really marathon distance. It was a rather diverse group of us that lined up under the flag line for the start: a tandem canoe powered by two local recreational racers, my OC1, a trio of Open class kayaks, and 4 sea kayaks – including Ken Stelter, who was back racing for the first time in a while – and with an Epic V8 surf ski instead of his “normal” wooden kayaks! And for this race we had a decent crowd of festival goers watching and cheering us on! When Emily sounded the air horn, we charged away hard, and I made some serious tracks in my OC1 (it’s amazing how quickly you can accelerate a light, stable craft) leading the pack, but only for a short time. Once Bill Kanost and Paul Kane had their mounts up to speed, I knew it was only a matter of time before they took the lead, but I gave it my best shot. This year we had a twist in the course layout: the course was run counter clockwise, instead of clockwise as in prior years. And with a few buoys missing, it was up to us and the honor system to keep a reasonable semblance of running the perimeter of the lakes.
Heading out of the channel and into Upper Fish Lake, we hugged the right shore over to the channel into the attached large pond, where we rounded a couple of buoys before heading back into the Upper Fish Lake. Heading to the pond, Paul Kane was in the lead in his SEI, with Bill Kanost pushing him hard in his Nelo Razor, while I held third position. Paul held Bill until roughly the channel exit out of the pond, but then Bill worked his paddle magic and moved into the lead, a position he never relinquished. But Bill is like that… As Bill later said (paraphrasing Matthew Quigley from the movie “Quigley Down Under”): “I don’t have much use for a kayak, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to use one!” And he definitely does know how to use one! And from that point the 3 lead positions remained the same though the rest of the race.
From Upper Fish Lake we passed back through the channel between the lakes (where we start and finish) to Lower Fish Lake, and again ran a counter-clockwise circuit around the perimeter of the lake. And apparently at this point there was some interesting racing going on behind me, as Matt Conrad, Ken Stelter, and Deb Kanost were battling it out with Sea Kayaks. Matt Conrad and Deb fought a serious battle, with Matt edging out Deb by just 3 seconds! Ken fought hard as well, staying with Matt and Deb the first two miles, but he couldn’t hold it in the second half of the race and came in a minute behind Matt and Deb. Brent followed in a few minutes later. Brent anticipated a better race in his Falcon, but apparently his Bumfortable seat elevated him enough that he never felt stable during the race. Ironically, Bill told me that Deb wanted to work a deal with me to buy back her S18Sx, but if she beat Brent the deal was off. Well, she beat Brent, but we still worked a deal. We all decided it was likely the paddler that made the difference, and Deb paddled an excellent race! Roger followed next, followed by the “Beach Boys” in the C2. Everyone had a good race time, and a good time overall. The Lions Paw for Support group provided paddlers with snacks and drinks, and Emily handed out trophies with a paw on them for each 1st place finish, and medals for second and third place finishes. Plus there were these steak sandwiches available for purchase that smelled irresistibly good…
But wait – there was more! Following the morning “pro” races were the SUP and recreational races. I was the only entrant in the SUP race, and ironically the only entrant in the recreational kayak race was a guy who just bought a boat off me a couple of weeks ago and happened to live locally. As we paddled off, I was keeping just ahead of him on my SUP, but giving him padding lessons as we went. All of a sudden he started applying what I taught him, and he took off harder than I could keep up! That will teach me not to give out good advice until we’re close to the finish… After that I gave him a few more lessons, then put the boats away and headed over for one of those steak sandwiches and some baked beans. And yes, they were delicious!
Many thanks to Emily for all her hard work in putting on this event, and for all those who volunteered to help, and to Julie Birge who has become our defacto race timer and photographer.
All photos and videos are by Julie Birge.
4 Mile Course
1st Bill Kanost 39:00
2nd Paul Kane 39:24
3rd Brent Ernsberger 46:14
K1 Sea Kayak Man
1st Matt Conrad 42:51
2nd Ken Stelter 43:51
3rd Roger Crisp 51:00
K1 Sea Kayak Woman
1st Deb Kanost 42:54
1st Steven Horney 42:16
1st Michael Beach / Mason Beach 52:04
2 Mile Course
SUP Expert: 1st Steven Horney 25:10
Recreation Kayak: 1st Mark Woodcox 24:18