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Top Yukoners overcome adversity in River Quest

With all now said and done, Relentless was a perfect name for the mixed tandem canoe team of Tim Hodgson and Jane Vincent.

With all now said and done, Relentless was a perfect name for the mixed tandem canoe team of Tim Hodgson and Jane Vincent.

The two Whitehorse residents were the top Yukon paddlers in last week’s Yukon River Quest, finishing fifth overall and first for canoes—including the men’s canoes—despite encountering problem after problem.

“That’s what I’m most proud of: we kept having these crazy things happen and we kept overcoming them,” said Hodgson.

Besides facing “crazy headwinds,” which all the paddlers faced, the relentless duo ran into difficulties before the race even began.

“We had problems with our boat being bow heavy—we made some technical mistakes,” said Hodgson. “We started the race sleep deprived because we only got our boat the night before the race to work on, to get it set up.

“We actually got faster as we got going—once we got more organized.”

Even health problems cropped up with Vincent suffering from flu-like symptoms in the middle of the race.

“Around Carmacks it seemed like I was getting a nasty cold—it was a pretty bad feeling,” said Vincent. “We came up with a plan to switch seats, where he’d go to the stern and I’d go to the bow and then if I was feeling sick I could and just sit in the boat and we’d still get to Dawson.

“So we came up with that coping strategy and when we left Carmacks we didn’t leave all gung-ho. We left with a more steady, slower pace and as it turns out it was pretty decent and then I felt better.”

Even their high-tech gadgetry wasn’t co-operating.

“I have a GPS—it has all the short-cuts and all these various (routes) marked in the GPS so it tells you when they are coming,” said Hodgson. “The GPS just stopped working so I had to go back to old school navigating, which was a mental challenge.

“So lesson learned: don’t rely on technology.”

Four hours from the finish line in Dawson, Hodgson and Vincent spent some time paddling with the leading men’s tandem canoe team, Canoe-Dog Lackies, featuring Gaetan Plourde from Perth, Ontario and Aaron Hachey from Whitehorse.

“We were all really hurting, so we rode their wash in exchange for showing them where to go, because they weren’t sure,” said Hodgson. “It gets pretty confusing after Kirkman Creek. There’s a lot of back channels and lots of really good short-cuts.

“With four hours to go we started racing harder and took the lead.”

The Canoe-Dog Lackies, finished just 10 minutes behind Relentless with a time of 47 hours and 32 minutes.

“They were welcome to (ride our wake) but they didn’t practise that and it does take a bit of practise to position your boat on the wake of the leading boat,” said Vincent. “But it was definitely mutually beneficial.”

Hodgson and Vincent originally intended to race in a voyageur canoe—Hodgson’s voyageur team won the race in 2008—but the pair decided on a tandem canoe as team members dropped out. It was not the first time the two shared a boat, having won the Ice Breaker race between the Marsh Lake dam and Schwatka Lake at the start of June.

Jane Vincent, a former Olympian who competed in cross-country skiing in 1992, finished second for tandem canoes in last year’s Quest with Bodo Lenitschek from Australia.

Contact Tom Patrick at