By Fred Stabbert III
CALLICOON Two weeks ago, Callicoon Canoe Regatta race organizer Tom Freda was more than a little worried.
A wet spring and summer had apparently slowed down the enthusiasm of the canoers and kayakers and he was worried the race might not have enough entries.
Yesterday, Freda was smiling from ear to ear as Sunday’s 13th Annual Callicoon Canoe Regatta proved to be one of the biggest and best ever.
“We had 91 boats in the races,” a delighted Freda said. “It was a great day for canoeing on the Delaware River and a great day for the community.
“You guys made it happen,” Freda told the races following the regatta. “Give yourselves a hand.”
Besides a “Chamber of Commerce” day which featured bright sunshine and 84 degree temperatures, the race is expected to set records for number of canoes, number of racers and fastest times.
A complete list of all entries will appear in Friday’s edition of the Democrat.
“The Delaware was perfect,” Freda said.
Stories behind the story
Before the race began, Freda gave the racers a brief run down of the rules as well as a cautionary warning to help other racers if they needed it.
One team, Steve Slaughter and Michael Murphy, did just that, stopping their race midway to help two stranded boats and three racers.
“It looked like they were going along when the kayak hit a rock and the canoe hit the kayak,” Murphy said.
Using a technique which he learned at a National Park Service seminar called a rescue triangle, Murphy and Slaughter freed the boats and got the people to shore.
“They sacrificed their race to help some stranded contestants,” Joe Freda said. “It was the right thing to do.”
The rescued paddlers, John and Peter Canter of Hurleyville, were happy for the help.
“Everything was floating away and the kayak was really stuck on the rock,” Peter said. “We are glad they stopped to help.”
Following the presentation of all the awards at Lander’s River Trips in Skinner’s Falls, a drawing was held for a new kayak.
The proceeds of the regatta as well as the raffle all go back to the Delaware Community Center in Callicoon, which last year benefited to the tune of $3,200.
This year’s winning ticket was purchased by Irv Claar, who lives near Altoona, Pa.
Not only has Claar been a regular at the Callicoon Regatta for the past nine years often winning the Men’s Rec Kayak Class like he did this year he also brings along other paddlers.
When he went up to receive his prize he was overcome with joy.
“I just want to tell you where this kayak is going,” he said. “A little 8-year-old boy in our hometown was born without a hand. I’ve helped him to get into kayaking and encouraged him along the way.
“This is going to be his new kayak,” Claar said.
It was a fitting end to a great day.