To kick off the New York 2021 racing season, on Saturday 4/17 the re-branded USPP race was held on a modified COVID course and the name changed to Legends of Wells Bridge race. The theme of the event is to recognize and reward a local paddler for contributions to the sport. The inaugural recipient is Bob Zaveral, an obvious and great choice. Bob has long been one of the cornerstones of marathon canoeing, responsible for many technological breakthroughs, and sponsoring and promoting various athletes and events over the years. Congratulations Bob!
In prior years the Legends calendar slot has long been held by the USPP race, starting in Oneonta and finishing in Otego. This year, the race started and finished at Wells Bridge. Boats lined up 400 yards upstream of the bridge, pointing downstream, set off, rounded a buoy, headed back up stream for 4.75 miles, rounded another buoy at the famous Pacman's house, and finished downstream at Wells Bridge for a total distance of 9.98 miles. It was a cold 42 degree day, typical for Upstate New York in early April.
In the Pro C2 division, it was a 2 dog race all the way with Mike Davis of Michigan and Shane MacDowell of Lake Placed nabbing the top spot over local duo Ryan Zaveral and Ed Curley by 1 second. Rounding out the podium was Ben Schlimmer and Paul Olney. First place mixed was Greg Lowry and Melissa Swislowsky, coming in 6th overall. The woman's division was won by Phoebe Reese and Ashley Wisse, great job ladies! In the C4 class, Jeff Shultis, Bob Zaveral, Bob Wisse, and Larry Harrison won by a resounding margin and also secured the fastest overall time of the day. C1 Pro was won by Patrick Madden, with 2nd place secured by the great Terry Kent. Usually an interesting race, Patrick showed fine early season form and maintained a high pace, winning by over two minutes. Jeff Pedersen and Ed Wagner won the C2 Open division, a fine result worthy of the training and dedication both have shown over the cold early months. Pam Fitzgerald and Dan Mechlanburg were 1st mixed, placing 2nd overall, with Brooks and Tanner Reed coming in 2nd, and 5th overall. K1 Touring was won by Robert Michalec, with Chris Legard coming in 2nd despite saving some unfortunate swimmers. Dave Wiltey won K1 Unlimited, Ted Kenyon C1 Open, Michael Pruinmer C1 Stock, Mark Copta and Steve Martin C2 Stock.
Overall turn out was great with 49 boats and 95 racers, with people coming from as far out as Massachusetts, Michigan and West Virginia! There definitely was a feeling of pent up competitive relief in the air, as racing has been slowed to almost a stop for the past year. It was great to reconnect and chat with friends not seen in a long time, everyone socially distanced and masked of course.
With the Legends of Wells Bridge in the record books, next up on the calendar are the Canton Canoe races. Be sure not to miss it! Register online at https://www.cantoncanoeweekend.org/.