Paddlers hit the water for 16th River Quest

About 60 boats are in a race to the midnight sun. Paddlers splashed in at the start of the 16th annual Yukon River Quest at Whitehorse's Rotary Park on Wednesday at noon.

About 60 boats are in a race to the midnight sun.

Paddlers splashed in at the start of the 16th annual Yukon River Quest at Whitehorse’s Rotary Park on Wednesday at noon.

A total of 153 paddlers, including a defending champ and record holder, on 66 registered teams hit the water for the 715-kilometre race from Whitehorse to Dawson City.

Thirteen countries are represented in this week’s race including Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, French Polynesia, Great Britain, Guatemala, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland. That’s four more countries than last year.

“Big field from all over,” said Quest president Harry Kern. “I’m fascinated by the guys from Guatemala … It’s just fun to see them. They’re from a country that doesn’t have much water and they’re still using dugout (canoes) a lot there. And they’re up here in the race, so I’m interested to see how they do.”

Roslin, Ont.‘s Jeff Brainard is the only paddler back to defend a title from last year. The 52-year-old won the solo canoe division last year and was 10th overall in the race.

Perth, Ont.‘s Gaetan Plourde is back in his solo canoe. The 40-year-old set the solo canoe record of 48 hours and 28 minutes with his win in 2010. Plourde was on the winning two-person canoe last year, placing second overall in the race.

Faro’s Tim Lynch and Milton, Nova Scotia’s Dave Lewis, who were the overall winners of last year’s Quest in a tandem canoe, are not entered in this year’s race. Lynch and Lewis’s win was the first time the race wasn’t won by a voyageur canoe since 2006.

Grande Prairie, Alta.‘s Mary Obstfield, who won the women’s solo kayak last year, is in a mixed tandem kayak with Whitehorse’s Carl Rumscheidt this year.

Whitehorse’s Monique Levesque, who was on the winning women’s voyageur in 2013, is on Team Ts’alvit, a mixed voyageur team this week.

No men’s voyageur teams registered for this year’s Quest, leaving six mixed and two women’s teams.

Teams are expected to begin reaching Dawson Friday. The course record is 39 hours, 32 minutes and 43 seconds set in 2008 by Team Kisseynew with a crew of four Canadians, an American and an Australian.

Five teams – three solo kayaks and two tandem canoes – scratched from the race by press time on Thursday.

“Everything has seemed to have gone right,” said Kern. “It’s always a blizzard of activity and miraculously it all comes together.

“It gets better every year. We have great volunteers – especially our key people. They are just excellent. It just amazes me they just keep wanting to do it. It’s a lot of work.”

Contact Tom Patrick at

Just Posted

Silver rules out HST, layoffs and royalty changes

Yukon’s financial advisory panel has released its final report

City of Whitehorse budgets $30M for infrastructure over four years

‘I think we’re concentrating on the most important things’

Yukon community liaison for MMIWG inquiry fired

Melissa Carlick, the Whitehorse-based community liaison officer for the national Missing and… Continue reading

Yukon man holds no grudge after being attacked by bison

‘The poor guy was only trying to fend off someone who he knew was trying to kill him’

Straight and true: the story of the Yukon colours

Michael Gates | History Hunter Last week, I participated in the 150th… Continue reading

Get ready to tumble: Whitehorse’s Polarettes to flip out at fundraiser

‘There’s a mandatory five-minute break at the end, just so people don’t fall over’

Alaska’s governor goes to China

There are very different rules for resource projects depending on which side of the border you’re on

Yukon survey shows broad support for legal pot

But there’s no consensus on retail and distribution models

Yukon government releases survey on the territory’s liquor laws

Changes could include allowing sale of booze in grocery stores

Get family consent before moving patients to other hospitals: NDP critic

‘Where is the respect and where is the dignity?’

Bill C-17 passes third reading in House of Commons

The bill, which will repeal controversial amendments made to YESAA by Bill S-6, will now go to Senate

White Pass and Yukon Route musical chugs on without director

The cast and crew of Stonecliff are pushing forward without Conrad Boyce, who went on medical leave

Most Read