Whitewater canoe/kayak races

Icy situation two: Passagassawakeag River Race canceled

St. George River Race, postponed from March 29, now held April 6
By Ken Waltz | Apr 06, 2014

Belfast — A long, difficult, exhausting Maine winter now will have an effect on both of Waldo County's most popular springtime sporting events, namely the Passagassawakeag and St. George river races.

Those longstanding whitewater paddling canoe/kayak events have been canceled or postponed due to too much ice in the rivers, said Dale Cross, YMCA executive director, event organizer and longtime paddler.

The 35th annual St. George River Race will be run on Sunday, April 6 at 1 p.m., while the day before the 41st annual Passagassawakeag River Race was suppose to run on Saturday, April 5, but that event has been canceled due to too much ice in the water.

Both races are sponsored by the Waldo County YMCA.

On April 6, registration for the St. George race will begin at the Searsmont Methodist Church on Route 131 in Searsmont at 11 a.m. and end at 12:30 p.m.

The races have been a rite of spring for decades and rarely get postponed or canceled. The races have been run in brutally cold weather, rain and even snowstorms, in both lower and higher water. But ice in the river creates roadblocks and a dangerous situation.

"We have postponed this [St. George] race twice before, once because of [the] high water flood of 1987 — [we] could not get under the bridges — and the other time for the water being too low," Cross said.

The races are for the brave and hardy to sit in a canoe or kayak, in all types of weather, both good and bad, and paddle down rivers in Waldo County.

And the Waldo County YMCA makes those longstanding traditions happen year after year.

The whitewater canoe race circuit begins when the YMCA hosts the St. George River Race, usually on the last weekend in March, and the Passagassawakeag River Race, on the first weekend in April.

But Mother Nature has conspired to postpone one race and cancel another.

To many, those races mark a family fun beginning to spring in Maine, said Cross.

Click to watch video.

Cross said the races would not be possible without the support of financial sponsors Viking Lumber, Camden National Bank, Consumers Fuel Company, Allen Insurance/Financial and O’Donalds Concrete, as well as the volunteers "who work diligently to make these races a safe experience for all racers."

Paddlers can register for either race, or both events, by calling 338-4598.

The following is a summary of both races, even though the 'Passy' will not be held this year:

St. George race

The 35th annual St. George River Race will be Sunday, April 6 at 1 p.m. Registration is 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The cost is $20 per paddler. The event starts at the Searsmont Methodist Church on Route 131 in Searsmont.

The race course starts at the St. George Bridge in Searsmont Village, includes three miles of dead water, one mile of rapids, two miles of dead water and curves with one Class III drop. The race has Class II–III rapids, plus or minus depending on the water level.

'Passy' race

The 41st annual Passagassawakeag River Race, or "Passy," was suppose to be Saturday, April 5 at 11 a.m. The event was to start at on Savage Road at Littlefield Farm in Waldo.

The race course starts at the Littlefield Farm. The first mile is flat water with many curves. The course passes under a cement bridge to another mile of flat water followed by a short stretch of Class II rapids. Then a two-mile stretch of flat water to the Rolerson’s bridge, then Class I, II and III whitewater for a mile and a half, leading to a flat water stretch to the finish.

For more information on the races, go online to waldocountyymca.org.

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Ken Waltz
Sports Director
594-4401, extension 114
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Ken Waltz has been member of the media 30 years and has received hundreds of Maine Press Association and New England Press Association awards for his writing, photography and page design. He studied journalism at the University of Maine in Orono. He lives in South Thomaston with his wife, Sarah. The couple has an adult son, Brandon.

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