Ice Chips & Canoe Quips

The inaugural, Current to Killarney!

Wow! A what can only be called (the much too used) “epic” adventure happened this past Saturday. The first annual Current to Killarney canoe race, normally traversed by big water, yachts or power boats that may decide to go for their fish and chips on “another day!” However, 150 brave souls set out to make the 40km-ish trek. Of course, when you plan for months and work to become sanctioned by the province’s paddle-sport governing body, you can’t say “try tomorrow” to 40-plus km/h gusting headwinds on the start-line!

To begin with, the proposed race distance is fine if you can fly as the proverbial crow flies. When one has to paddle into or around winds such as that  you have to adjust your tack on sometimes individual waves so you don’t take on too much water that will swamps your canoe. 

Mark Gibeault, who has piloted canoes in a 360km race in the Yukon and a couple of 200km non-stop races from Kingston to Ottawa, still gave this daunting task its due. He describes having to tell his team that they need to prepare for a mere, two km “wind ferry” just to get across Fraser Bay. The ferry described meant they would have to paddle so far out of their way but only to keep their canoe above water. That being said, even though they were the first voyageur team (Iain McGale, Joanne Mellan, Nick Chapman, Rob Mellan, Jon Balfe, Tina Balfe, Mark Gibeault and Heather Pennie) to finish (4 hrs., 49 min) and despite lots of bailing they could have been one bad wave crest from submerging.

The fastest boat on the day was a two person OC2 outrigger canoe designed for ocean races. This slick invention crossed the line in a mere 4:15 but pilot Peter Butij even gave homage to the perilous crossing after winning when he revealed that when nobody dropped out and the race was still happening that he may as well try! Peter should know as his family comes from a long line of national and Olympic paddlers and coaches!

The second fastest voyageur canoe was built by the Wiky High school (thanks additionally to Mark Gibeault and Rob Mellan) and paddled by many of the community leaders! Way to go: Cameron Beaudry, Jacob Fox, Nimkii Lavalle, Roman Trudeau, Tim Ominika, Jesse Peltier, Jesse Peltier, Terry McAffrey. The tandem canoe event was won by Lance Collins with Wayne Drabick and ‘hats off’ guys, it could not have been a fun day. In the tandem kayak division the winner was the Emilio Nunez team…sorry partner. All by himself, winning the solo kayak race was our own north shoe’s Jim Olding.

Again, enough cannot be said about what a race participants put in but the organizational prowess put in by many people including Mark, Rob, Nishin and Blair to get so many paddlers on the line including the most “big boats” since Expo ’67, we can only wait till next year!

Miners’ Mayhem mavens

Hats off to the Little Current runners Jeff Graham and Tammy Rolston who took place in Sudbury’s Miner’s Mayhem!

Local Dragon boat Racers 

The Manitoulin and area has always been known for their paddling power and as the Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival has become popular some local talent has been finding themselves on Ramsey Lake. Locale teams from Noogmowin Teg among others have been in impressive in their sprints that could pull a water-skier. 

This year another boat with local connects are the Papertown Paddlers, mainly based out of Espanola who have been out on the water for the last six weeks on Anderson Lake prepping for the 20th annual Dragon Boats races. This being the third year for the team, this year they are paddling in honour of Brandon Boomhower, one of their former tea mates who has joined the spirit world. Brandon loved to ski, specifically in colours yellow and green! Some of the team members worked hard this spring to refurbish their practice boat with a decal “Live, Laugh, Ski” in honour of Boomer. The team would like to thank the Anishnaabe Spiritual Centre for allowing them to dock their boat for this year’s practices. By the way, all Dragon Boats proceeds go to Neo Kids. Good luck teams!

Mountain Bike at McLean’s Park!

The ninth annual McLean’s relay race is set to go for August 31. Teams of two to four people will race to complete as many laps as possible in six hours. Solo riders are also welcome if you’re brave enough! This race is gaining popularity in recent years due to the laid-back atmosphere and fun, technical, twisty trails. Come see what it’s all about!

The course will possibly be switched up this year to provide some variety and more passing opportunities. A course map will be posted on Facebook at McLean’s Park 6-hour MTB relay race, so stay tuned. More info to come! 

A good sport is good for sports