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Teams battle weather, low water in Yukon River Quest

“Well it was a challenging race, but it was extremely successful”
Paddlers make their ways across Lake Laberge on June 26 for the 2019 Yukon River Quest. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

The 21st annual Yukon River Quest concluded in Dawson City on June 29 with 86 teams reaching the finish line.

This year’s race included 31 scratched teams, a product of tough conditions from Whitehorse to Carmacks.

“Well it was a challenging race, but it was extremely successful,” said Jeff Brady, media director for the race. “We had a bit of a headwind at the start, but then it tapered down and by the time teams got to (Lake Laberge) … it was pretty calm out there. For the second half of the lake, it was a different story.”

Nearby thunderstorms led to windy conditions, with one to two metre waves coming at teams from just off the bow.

“That in itself is a challenge for any team because you’re going to get water going over the bow and that sort of thing,” said Brady, adding that while most boats have spray decks for just such an occasion, some of the voyageur boats do not.

“Hatchet Lake Voyagers actually flipped and luckily we had a boat nearby and got them to shore,” he said. “They got a fire going and were able to keep on after about 45 minutes. There were some other boats — Yukon Wide Adventures was one of them — that had to stop several times and bail just to get all the water out of the boat. Those fast teams can pick up time, but it’s a challenge for everybody.”

The cutoff time at the Carmacks checkpoint was extended — something Brady said doesn’t usually happen — in the hopes of keeping more teams in the race.

With a number of wildfires burning across the Yukon and many near Dawson, smoke was “a bit of a factor” for the back half of the race on June 30.

“Most of the smoke held off until it was over,” said Brady. “Sunday in Dawson you could hardly see; it was so smoky across the river.”

On the water, this year’s overall winner was the men’s tandem canoe team #wepaddletogether, composed of Mike Vincent and Ivan English from Saskatchewan. The duo finished the race in 44 hours, 59 minutes and 10 seconds, reaching the finish line just before 7 p.m. on June 29.

In second place was the fastest open voyageur team, Yukon Wide Adventures, who won the voyageur category for the third year in a row. The team finished the race in 45 hours, nine minutes and 40 seconds.

Third place this year belonged to the men’s four-person canoe team, Alpha Super Awesome Strokes of Genius Wolf Squadron, with a time of 45 hours, 20 minutes and 50 seconds.

The fastest kayak in the race was the mixed tandem team, The Kiwis, who finished sixth overall with a time of 46 hours, 39 minutes and 55 seconds.

Men’s solo canoe team Cedar Strip Chip, Chip McKay of Vernon, B.C., was the fastest with a time of 50 hours, 28 minutes and 54 seconds.

The fastest women’s solo canoe belonged to Alison Eremenko under the name Gulo Gulo with a time of 61 hours, 17 minutes and 42 seconds.

Team Lootas was the fastest women’s solo kayak, as Kelley Watson finished in 55 hours, 29 minutes and 57 seconds.

Andrew Adam, paddling as Time’s Up, was the fastest men’s solo kayak with a time of 51 hours, 3 minutes and 45 seconds.

Rounding out the solo categories, Shauna Magowan was the fastest women’s standup paddleboarder with a time of 62 hours, three minutes and 45 seconds, and Bart de Zwart was the fastest men’s standup paddleboarder with a time of 56 hours, 47 minutes and 47 seconds. This was the fourth year that de Zwart has won his category.

The fastest mixed tandem canoe in this year’s race was Golden Lake Crew with a time of 49 hours, 58 minutes and 15 seconds. The fastest women’s tandem canoe was Momentary Lapse of Reason with a time of 52 hours, 36 minutes and 17 seconds.

The fastest women’s tandem kayak was Sportsbasement with a time of 57 hours, 49 minutes and 41 seconds. The fastest men’s tandem kayak was Green Mommels Saxony with a time of 50 hours, 53 minutes and 23 seconds.

The fastest mixed four-person canoe was An Old Guy, Two Young Women and Someone Else, who finished in 47 hours, 23 minutes and five seconds. As this is a new category, this time is also a record.

Dinjii Njuu-til Ka’t was the fastest women’s four-person canoe with a time of 52 hours, 43 minutes and three seconds. Like the mixed category, this was a new addition to the race and this time is a new record.

The fastest mixed voyageur team — a third of the team had to be women — was CAP Engineering with a time of 52 hours, 20 minutes and 57 seconds.

The fastest women’s voyageur team was Stix Together with a time of 53 hours, one minute and 16 seconds.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at

2019 Yukon River Quest results

Women’s solo canoe

1 Gulo Gulo 61:17:42

2 Jennifer Fratzke 67:57:43

3 XBrew 70:23:32

Men’s solo canoe

1 Cedar Strip Chip 50:28:54

2 Bent Shaft 52:36:45

Women’s solo kayak

1 Team Lootas 55:29:57

2 Amy Byers 57:37:59

3 Team Number Onesie 62:00:47

Men’s solo kayak

1 Time’s Up 51:03:45

2 Atollman 51:06:00

3 Hai Voltage 56:19:39

Women’s standup paddleboard

1 Mama Said 62:03:45

Men’s standup paddleboard

1 Bart Starboard 56:47:47

2 SUP N IRISH 59:22:06

3 Brad Friesen 65:28:41

Mixed tandem canoe

1 Golden Lake Crew 49:58:15

2 Avery’s Legacy 52:27:55

3 Mix of Sun and Clouds 54:54:15

Women’s tandem canoe

1 Momentary Lapse of Reason 52:36:17

2 Huptown Girls 58:33:27

3 Canoe Believe 63:53:09

Men’s tandem canoe

1 #wepaddletogether 44:59:10

2 Gun Runners 51:43:19

3 Anything for a Beer 52:32:20

Mixed tandem kayak

1 The Kiwis 46:39:55

2 Dawsons to Dawson 55:10:33

3 Spirit of America 57:45:37

Women’s tandem kayak

1 Sportsbasement 57:49:41

Men’s tandem kayak

1 Green Mommels Saxony 50:53:23

2 MoKanPaddlers 67:50:07

3 Cockleshell Endeavor 67:52:07

Mixed four-person canoe

1 An Old Guy, Two Young Women and Someone Else 47:23:05

2 Trois Riveres 54:36:22

3 Valllard Mash Up 69:03:13

Women’s four-person canoe

1 Dinjii Njuu’til Ka’t 52:43:03

2 In the Crosshairs 54:40:47

Open four-person canoe

1 Alpha Super Awesome Strokes of Genius Wolf Squadron 45:20:50

2 C4Daze 47:49:12

3 Northwestel 59:16:21

Mixed Voyageur (1/3 of team must be women)

1 CAP Engineering 52:20:57

2 Aurora Dancer 57:44:24

3 Spreegurken 69:39:11

Women’s Voyageur

1 Stix Together 53:01:16

2 The Wilds Irises 57:25:23

3 Team Whoa 57:32:21

Open Voyageur

1 Yukon Wide Adventures 45:09:40

2 Hatchet Lake Voyagers 45:42:40

3 C6 Heave Paddlesports 46:21:05

Special Cash Awards

Top Indigenous Team: Hatchet Lake Voyageurs

Top All Yukon Women: Dinjii Njuu’til Ka’t

Special Awards

Top Yukoners: Dinjii Njuu’til Ka’t

Youngest Paddler: Isaac Adams, 15, from Hustle and Flow, and Emile Gauthier, 15, from Canadian Frostbikers of Quebec

Oldest Paddler: Holger Fischer, 75, from Old Danube Pirates of Austria

Spirit of the Yukon: Northwestel

Red Stove: Zooom

Top Overall Team: #wepaddletogether