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Labor day weekend in the Northeast is a celebration for many reasons. Everyone is happy to get their three-day weekend and the paddling community is even more excited.
The Raquette and Beaver Rivers release several times over the three-day period. The Raquette is short section of river with five major drops and a few other rapids sprinkled in between with a sharp riverbed. The Beaver is a section of whitewater deep in Adirondack Mountains of New York, the three sections of this river release very few times a year. There is a huge turnout year after year for this event, dubbed “Beaver Fest.” Most of the Northeast boaters attend and we even drag some fast Southeast and Quebec boaters down!
The great turnout is in part due to the King of New York race series. A series of races that happen throughout the summer and fall. There are four races in the series, the Black race, Raquette, Beaver and Moose races. These all are scored through a points system and the overall champion is crowned “King of New York” Saturday night at the Mountain Man shop in Old Forge New York, on the banks of the Moose River. The Raquette and Beaver races take place back to back days, Saturday is the race in Colton, NY on the Raquette and Sunday, the Beaver race, on the Eagle Section.
This year anticipation and nerves were high coming into the weekend, with Beckwith in the lead with 100 points, if anyone wanted a chance they knew they would have to take some podium spots away from him. Facebook messages, texts and phone calls were going around all week about the speed that was traveling to the KONY races. Southern boaters like Jake Greenbaum and
Jared Seiler’s names were thrown around, the local favorites and past KONY champions such as Justin Beckwith, Geoff Calhoun and Matt Young’s names were in the mix as well. Although everyone’s social media feeds were filled with likes, shares and comments about local Dave Gardeners training video! https://vimeo.com/73263617
I traveled over with the Vermont crew Friday night, set up camp at the put-in and slept as best as you can with rain and screaming Quebecois that come in at 3 in the morning on a mini bus! The morning fog and drizzle didn’t let up much all day, but the day was still enjoyed! Showing up at the put in and seeing the number of racers was wild! What a great turnout we thought, when we got down to the start I realized how many long boats there were.
Billy Thibault amongst "Particle Accelerator" Photo" Nick Gotlieb
I lined up to run second behind Matt Young and put all I had into the race. Fast off the start, blowing my line in the first major rapid, Colton falls, but fast and clean through everything else. It was hard to tell from the finish line, everyone thought they could have been a little faster except for Demshitz Jared Seiler, calling the win as he finished. The course proved to pack a punch, Jake Greenbaum opted for the rodeo line in the Tubs and Jesse Willensky had a little pin in the first drop. The results were close, but as he called, Jared took top of the podium, earning himself a rather fashionable fanny pack, Billy Thibault in second, myself (Ryan Mooney) in third and local nija Justin Beckwith and Marcos Gallegos tied for fourth.
The top 4 places at the Raquette Below: Ryan Mooney- Moishier Spillway
Next up was the Ealge race, a different style of racing. It is short, narrow and technical. The race is 1:30-2:00 so there isn’t any margin for error. Favorite, Justin Beckwith claimed the first SUP descent of the Moishier section earlier that morning and many others were hiking running the infamous “Spillway” drop at the put in. After a practice lap on the Eagle, it was race time on this whitewater playground. Two runs, your fastest run counts. This race was close, there’s no other way to describe it. Little errors like drying up on a rock for a few seconds can cost you the race. Three major drops although dogging kayakers and avoiding shallow rocks seem to decide your race. After the racing was done and the water dropped, race organizer Kenny Unser and fellow racers tallied up the results. Sunday was the day of the Quebecois with Billy Tibault and Emerik Blanchet tied for the win. Jared Seiler second and local Dave Gardener third.
The standings are now very close within the top 3 spots. Jared Seiler, Billy Thibault and Justin Beckwith are all within a handful of points. The final race on the Bottom Moose will decide it all. Will anyone be able to take the race away from, legend and Moose river local Justin Beckwith??? We shall see!
The race series is the premier series of Whitewater kayak races in New England. This series is organized by mater mind Kenny Unser. He sure knows how to organize a race! Don’t worry, he can paddle as well! Thank you to everyone who supported the race in anyway, Dagger Kayaks, Werner Paddles and NRS. Especially Dagger Kayaks, the main sponsor of the series!