Racers paddle up a storm at the start of the Vernon Paddling Centre's annual Freshwater Challenge Saturday at Kin Beach.

Racers paddle up a storm at the start of the Vernon Paddling Centre's annual Freshwater Challenge Saturday at Kin Beach.

Paddlers take Freshwater plunge

Approximately 170 paddlers descended on Kin Beach for the Vernon Paddling Centre's annual Freshwater Challenge Outrigger races last weekend.

Sunshine and the Vernon Paddling Centre’s Freshwater Challenge Outrigger races seem to go hand in hand.

Approximately 170 paddlers from across B.C. and Alberta enjoyed stellar weather as they descended on Kin Beach last weekend.

A total of 52 racers competed in single and double outriggers and surf skis Saturday, with several Vernon athletes reaching the podium in the 10-kilometre race.

Vernon’s Bob Woodman, competing in the master’s surf ski division, was the overall winner, covering the course in 39 minutes, 45 seconds. Club mate Glenn Bond crossed the line in 40:29 to win the open division.

In the single outrigger class, Vernon’s Scott Siemens claimed first in masters in 46:36, and was just four seconds behind the first overall paddler. Kim Dolaszar, in the senior master’s, won in his division and fourth overall in 48:09.

In mixed doubles, the Vernon duo of Donna LePape and Ken Crosby recorded first in senior masters in 44:43. Valaine Anonson and Guy Paulson, both founding members of the Vernon club, reunited to pocket second in the master’s division in 51:32.

Greg McElgunn combined with Eric Prehofer of Kelowna to take second in the men’s masters division in 49:06.

The six-person outrigger (OC-6) races took place on Sunday, with 17 teams participating in 24- and 44-kilometre distances.

Teams of six took advantage of calm waters to clock great times in the 24-km course.

The Penticton men placed first, covering the course in 2:16:05, while the women’s division was won by the Calgary Canoe Club in 2:26:30. The Calgary club also earned first in the short course, change division (nine paddlers) with 2:45:55.

Battling windier conditions in the afternoon, the Vernon men took the 44-km change race in 4:06:12, recording their third title in four years.

Crew captain Siemens noted they had never encountered water as big in past races. Several times, the whole team was paddling on the same side to prevent the boat from capsizing.

The local crew consisted of Dolaszar, Woodman, Bond and Crosby, bolstered by Chris Nicholson and Darryl Spencer (Kamloops), Ian Chadwick (Prince George) and Harry James (Vernon).

Second place in the men’s class was Pacific Reach of Victoria in 4:12:54, with third going to Calgary in 4:18:23.

The Penticton Racing Canoe Club took the mixed division for the second year in a row, finishing in 4:48:03. Second place was the Wailua (Kamloops) club in 5:04:01, while the False Creek Canoe Club of Vancouver took third in 5:06:09.

The Vernon women’s crew used the 24-km race in the afternoon as a training run for an upcoming race in Kona, Hawaii. They will be racing against more than 100 teams in the 40th annual Queen Lili’uokalani Outrigger Race Sept. 3.

Crew members Monika Lawrence, Donna LePape, Peggy Kassa, Christine Castrucow, Debbie Jones and Lorellei Sullivan covered the route in 2:38:26.

For more information on the Vernon Paddling Centre, visit www.vernonpaddlingcentre.ca.