Paddle Battle 2021, Friends of the Lower Appomattox River Kayak Race

I only learned of this race last week but in lieu of driving back up to the New York area again (I’ve had far too much windshield time the past couple months and have driven back and forth to NY no less than 3 times in 2 months) to paddle in the Hack Race, I very quickly made the decision to enter this race since, a) It would be much less driving, in fact a day trip and b) I always try to prioritize supporting races in my own state of Virginia.

As a bonus, Paddling Friend Shelli would join me and I loaned her one of the old Wanda Canoe Club boats to paddle in the race. I thought it was a fitting tribute to the Wanda Canoe Club that one of their old K-1 training kayaks they paid forward to me would be racing on the same day as their big race. The icing on the cake was the fact that this old Struer Slender, built in 1975, won a race on a modern race day and the Wanda Canoe Club have helped progress the skills and paddling career of a wonderful, deserving person I’ve been coaching for the past couple years.

I’ll let the video do most of the talking, but everyone should know about this race and I’m hoping all of you competitive kayak and surfski athletes will come to this race next year. It is a great 10-mile race between Petersburg, VA and Hopewell, VA on a flat, tidal section of the Appomattox River, just before it flows into the James. I was told that depending on the tide, they sometimes reverse the direction of the race so it is always going with the tide.

As I say in the video, I propose we competitive paddlers all sign up for this race next year but clearly communicate to the organizers that we will be our own separate division and govern our own rules so as not to overly complicate their race for them. They only have a few competitive divisions (Male/Female, under age 50 and =/>50) and we tend to make things overly complicated with our boats’ specs and splitting of hairs. Let’s not put that burden on these wonderful race organizers. Maybe we can all agree to show up 60-90 minutes early and create divisions based on the paddlers and boats that make it there by some pre-race cutoff time. If the race organizers at least agree to time us, let’s figure out on our own who placed where and come up with our own awards (if any.) We do not want to invade, ruin and/or overly complicate a wonderful community event. BUT, a 10-mile flatwater competitive race on the East Coast that supports a great river conservation cause seems awwwwwwwefully appealing.

THE CENTRAL MISSION OF FOLAR (Friends of the Lower Appomattox River) is to conserve and protect the Appomattox River for all to enjoy, the means to this end focuses on a bigger picture that involves developing awareness, cooperation, community support and public policy, and the overall economic strength of the region.

Shelli and I both did well in this race and I managed to set a new race record with my West Side Boat Shop Marauder kayak. In fact, Shelli also beat the previous race record on this day.

The first place trophy is very special so please check it out and read the story below:


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