I’ve been to my fair share of whitewater kayaking races over the years, most of which were in Europe. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the race scene in Maine. Although always a good time, small races tend to be slightly disorganized, and little chaotic.
So to my surprise as I rolled into the parking lot at the Kennebec 10 minutes late for registration, the race crew were packing up and starting the race! A kayak race running on time? Awesome!
I quickly signed in, got an awesome T-shirt and threw my kit on as quickly as possible. The Kennebec race consisted of a long time trial race, followed by a mass start boater X in the afternoon. After each race there was even a bus and trailer to take us back to the start.
Still learning the river, my Time trial was fairly average but I managed to redeem myself in the Boater X with a 2nd place finish. Results were at the local bar where we received hand made wooden paddle trophies and a raffle with, in my opinion, pretty incredible prizes for a small race. I was even lucky enough to walk away with an Orion Cooler. Fantastic day!
Buzzing from an awesome experience I immediately looked forward to the Penobscot race. Again everything ran on time, actually ahead of schedule in most cases. This time a fairly long time trial was followed by a slalom time trial in the afternoon.
My time trial was going ok, although I didn’t feel like I knew the fastest routes on the wider sections, but I really blew it in the final crux where I missed my boof on the entrance and got pushed into a boulder garden on river left. Disappointed, I put my mind toward redeeming myself on the afternoon slalom race.
5 Eddie’s, throughout the cribsworks, a pushy class 4 rapid, everybody was tired, it was definitely slightly intimidating. I went for the slow is smooth, smooth is fast approach and managed to consistently lay down two runs for a 3rd place finish!
Again, more incredible handcrafted trophies, and excellent prizes followed.
Reflecting on these races I really appreciated how well organized they were, from the sign in, to the safety, and timing, everything seemed to go like clockwork and this gave both events a very relaxed vibe.
I left a paddling community in the UK behind and over the last year have been blown away at how close and welcoming the paddling community in Maine is, and by how much talent is here!
Races like these need to be pushed and supported, and the best way you can do that is to show up, pay up, and race! I promise, you won’t regret showing up at the Maine Whitewater Championships 2023! See you there….