2022 WABASH RIVER CANOE AND KAYAK RACES
It would be hard to imagine a better use of a Saturday than the Wabash River Race this year. In some respects, the race was as benign as it could be: the temps were nice (in the 70’s), water was deep and free of obstacles (apparently a local event and rains in other parts of the state prompted a bigger dam release than usual), and there was nothing particularly tricky to navigate. Basically we put in at Davis Ferry Park and paddled as hard as we could along the river to Fort Quiatenon Park, where Terry called out “MARK!” and we could relax again. But with a fast current and some great competition, this was actually a fun race (with some very pretty scenery) – and it was great to be able to go full bore without the threat of impending doom. Terry lists the race as 10 miles, but the Holly GPS’d the course at 9.1 miles and George at 9.3 miles. I guess we did have the challenge early on of navigating around a number of rafts carrying festival goers, but they were spaced far enough apart to make that a non-issue.
Notable among the racers this year were George and Holly Hall and Elaine Harold. Holly and Elaine are USCA Nationals champions, and they teamed up to paddle K2 Open in a Stellar S2EL surf ski. George Hall brought his Stellar Falcon to the field and gave us a K1 Open paddler for this race as well. Unfortunately, several of our usual fast kayak competitors were unable to make the race due to work, illness, etc, so it was largely up to the canoes to generate as much competition as possible. I teamed up with Colleen Curan in my OC2 to see if we could at least push Holly and Elaine a bit, but those gals are incredibly fast; we set a smoking time in the OC2 and second overall, but still came in 4 minutes behind them (I was pleased that we at least kept them in sight the whole time). As a side note, I paddled a shorter canoe paddle this time (48”), and saw a bump in my performance and endurance.
Bill Kanost pushed his C1 to an excellent time to lead the canoe pack, followed by Matt Conrad leading the Sea Kayakers. Matt really looked strong in this race, and his time proved it. Skeet Craig was trying to put the moves on Tom Thomas, but Tom prevailed this time around. Skeet had pre-scouted the river a few days earlier when it was very low, determining the optimum course to run. But the heavy influx of water blew that planning…uh…out of the water. So much for the best laid plans. Terry Howard followed a little further back, followed by Larry Swift. Larry has been running quite fast this year, but he said he just couldn’t seem to get his C1 to move this time.
Deb Kanost was our sole K1 Sea Kayak Woman representative (but don’t get complacent Deb – we have a new competitor in this class who should be coming to next week’s race!) Deb brought out her Stellar S18S for the first time. She said it was quite a workout to paddle, but she turned in an excellent time.
George Hall said he wasn’t quite comfortable with the stability of his Falcon yet, but others said he looked really smooth on the water. George mixed it up well in the pack, slotting in between Tom Thomas and Skeet Craig.
Our two recreational racers – Kyle Wills and Vicky Tillotson – are really impressing. They’re paddling with plastic boats and standard paddles, but running times that put them in with some of our race canoes. Kyle came in just ahead of Terry Howard, and Vicky just shortly after Roger Crisp (who also paddled an excellent race). Naturally they’re starting to discuss faster boats. It’s a slippery slope… And then our faithful Aluminum team of George and Tinsley followed shortly after Vicky. And when you consider the challenges of paddling a wide, heavy aluminum canoe, that’s downright excellent!
Following the race, Roger, his daughter Julie, Vicky, Kyle, and I headed over to 9 Irish Brothers for some excellent post-race vittles and discussions. Many thanks to Terry Pontius for hosting an excellent race!
C1 Man 1st Bill Kanost 1:07:52
2nd Tom Thomas 1:10:41
3rd Skeet Craig 1:10:58
4th Terry Howard 1:15:36
5th Larry Swift 1:18:42
K2 Open 1st Holly Hill 1:00:49
OC2 1st Steve Horney 1:04:58
K1 Sea Kayak 1st Matt Conrad 1:09:52
2nd Roger Crisp 1:18:38
K1 Women Sea Kayak 1st Deb Kanost 1:11:15
K1 Open 1st George Hall 1:10:48
K1 Man Touring 1st Kyle Wills 1:14:47
K1 Women Touring 1st Vicki Tillotson 1:19:01
C2 Aluminum 1st George Tinsley 1:19:59