It was a busy week of racing for eight Yukon paddlers competing at the 2019 Pacific Cup in Maple Ridge, B.C., on Sept. 7 and 8.
Representing Flatwater North, the eight youth athletes picked up a total of 13 top-10 finishes at the regatta, which is specifically geared to paddlers at the under-12 and under-14 age levels.
Dan Girouard, executive director of Flatwater North, said the new format of the regatta — switching from 200- and 500-metre races to 500- and 1,000-m races — made the event all the more valuable to the young competitors.
Because Whonnock Lake is only 600 m long, paddlers had to perform a turn around buoys in order to complete the 1,000-m races.
“It’s good skill development,” said Girouard. “They had mass starts too because of (the turns), so they had anything between 15 and 20 kids on the start line every time.”
Shorter distances, he explained, are better suited to older paddlers as they typically require more strength and speed.
“Kids at 10, 11 or 12 don’t really have much strength, so we try to build endurance more when they’re younger,” said Girouard. “This regatta, because it’s designed for the younger kids, they wanted to switch it up so it matches more with the developmental phases.”
Three Yukon boats found the podium at the regatta.
In the novice men’s 500-m four-person kayak race, Joel Girouard, Rogan Parry, James McCann and Kaleb Parry finished third overall.
Kaleb also finished third in the under 13 and novice men’s 1,000-m solo canoe races. The regatta was also his first competing as a canoeist, and he also finished fourth in the under 14 men’s 1,000-m solo canoe race.
“He did really well,” said Dan. “He surpassed the expectations that I had for him. … It looks promising for the future.”
It was also the debut for Marin Lewis and Rue Chahurn, whose best finish came in the novice women’s 500-m tandem kayak race, finishing fifth.
“They faired really well and they seemed motivated to stick with the sport,” said Dan. “I’m excited for that.”
Other top 10 finishes included Joel, Rogan, McCann and Kaleb finishing fifth in the under 14 men’s 500-m four-person kayak race as well as sixth in the under men’s 500-m four-person canoe race, McCann and Parry finishing sixth in the under 14 men’s 500-m tandem canoe race, Joel and Rogan finishing sixth in the novice men’s 500-m tandem kayak race and seventh in the under 14 men’s 500-m tandem kayak race, Joel finishing eighth in the under 14 men’s 1,000-m solo kayak race, Rogan finishing eighth in the novice men’s 1,000-m solo kayak race, and Lewis and Chahurn finishing 10th in the under 14 women’s four-person kayak race alongside Komal Gill and Sophie Drover from other paddling clubs.
The regatta is the last major event for Flatwater North and Dan said this year was one of improvement.
“Our season was really good,” said Dan. “I found the kids’ development this summer went up a notch because Lynwen (Birch), our head coach, did a really good job with the technical aspects and just getting the kids ready for competition.”
Enthusiasm is high and dry-land training will continue throughout the winter for interested paddlers.
“The kids are excited. They’re wanting to train this winter,” said Dan. “It’s fun because we’re finally getting a good core group of kids that want to be together and that’s how you build a club. I’m sure our numbers are going to keep growing and it makes for exciting times in the future.”
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org