Bruce Porter races a sprint kayak during the Yukon Championship Flatwater Regatta on July 28. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

Flatwater Yukon holds championship regatta

‘It was also to get new people out and new people on the water learning to race in a fun environment’

The Schwatka Lake day use area was the centre of the action in Whitehorse on July 28 for the Yukon Championship Flatwater Regatta hosted by Flatwater Yukon.

Forty paddlers took part in 17 races over the course of the day.

Brianna Hartness, head coach for Flatwater Yukon, said conditions were ideal for the event.

“We had a perfect day,” said Hartness. “The water was pretty calm all day. It started to pick up just as we finished everything and were starting to clean up.”

Although motorboats can often make things a little trickier for racers by creating wake, Hartness said it didn’t impact any of the races.

“Usually we have issues with motorboats,” said Hartness. “But they stayed far away and we didn’t have any issues with motorboats either, so it was a really good day.”

The turnout this year was twice as many as the previous championship, and Hartness said organizers were happy with the number of people wanting to participate and race.

“Our Yukon championship was for our sprint and competitive athletes to get times and showcase what they’ve been training for,” said Hartness. “But it was also to get new people out and new people on the water learning to race in a fun environment.”

Paddlers raced in canoes — marathon, sprint and recreational varieties — as well as kayaks and on standup paddleboards.

There was even a dragon boat for the “halftime show.”

A number of first-time paddlers got in on the action, including a pair of sisters who came to the event with some other paddlers.

“They tried one race and then they wanted to race again,” said Hartness. “Then they just kept jumping in boats and loved it.”

It was somewhat of a theme for the day.

“Family and relatives that were like, ‘we won’t go in a boat’ and by the end of the day, parents and other siblings were jumping in the boat because they saw how much fun everyone else was having,” said Hartness.

While the championship may have been the biggest local race of the season, there are still some dates worth circling on the calendar this summer.

The Chili and Bean race is scheduled for Aug. 7, with registration starting at 5 p.m. at Rotary Park. The race itself goes to the Takhini River Bridge and wraps up with prizes for paddlers and the aforementioned chili and beans.

The Yukon will also be represented at the Canadian Sprint Canoe Kayak Championships, held this year in Sherbrooke, Que., from Aug. 28 to Sept. 2.

Maeve McManus and Savannah Cash will be the first Yukoners to ever compete at nationals in the sport.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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Carmen Gustafson paddles her kayak during the Yukon Championship Flatwater Regatta on July 28. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

Kaleb Parry races in a sprint canoe during the Yukon Championship Flatwater Regatta on July 28. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

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