By Ted Waddell
CALLICOON July 13, 2004 The 6th Annual Callicoon Regatta was held Sunday on the Upper Delaware River between Hankins and Callicoon, a distance of 7.3 miles.
The event was part of the Upper Delaware Grand Slam Canoe Series. All proceeds of the regatta and the chicken barbeque that immediately followed the race benefitted the Delaware Youth Center.
More than 50 boats were entered, including a duck boat complete with a Black Labrador, which rounded out the field of competition and recreational kayaks and canoes.
John M. Kelder, Sr. of Callicoon, zone chairman of Ducks Unlimited of Orange, Rockland, Sullivan and Ulster counties, showed up for the race with Gunney, his 10-year-old retriever.
Hes ballast for my big butt, joked Kelder of his ribbon-winning dog named Son of a Gunner, or Gunney for short, in honor of his owners favorite U.S. Marine Corps sergeant.
At the start of the regatta, things got so congested on the water that Dave Fay of Elbridge got swamped in the wakes.
After bailing out his solo racing canoe, Fay was soon back in the race.
As the eventual overall winners got to within a mile or so of the finish line, they nearly tipped over after striking a rock in the middle of the channel, but righted their sleek two-man competition canoe without losing too much time.
It felt good to win, and my partner pushed me all the way down the river, said bowman Nate Derr of Unadilla.
Matt Rudnitsky of Gilbertsville was sternman of the winning 18-foot, 6-inch V1 pro-canoe.
Although they train together during the week, this marked the first time Derr and Rudnitsky ever paddled the same canoe together.
As the racers came within sight of the bridge marking the finish line and the end of their paddling ordeal, Rich Cucci and Dan Peters, both of Callicoon, used their 28 years worth of experience competing together and a knowledge of the local river currents to upstage several competitors.
They placed second in their category.
It was a great race, it was fun, said Peters with a grin that nearly matched the shark jaws painted on the bow of their canoe.
Cuccis take on the race?
It was fun and it was tough, just like always, he said. The guys that won it were faster than us, and our only advantage was knowing the right spots in the river.