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The New Haven Race: A Great Beginning to the Paddling In The Northeast

IMG_2053The paddling season is officially under way in the Northeast!!  In one week we went from full-on winter conditions to beautiful, sunny, Spring.  On Sunday, most of the rivers still had ice and the skiing conditions were all-time.  By the time the following Friday rolled around the rivers had broken free, and they were raging.  As usual, my first event of the season was the annual New Haven Race in Bristol, VT.  This is one part uber-compeititve race, and one part paddler’s reunion.  Most of the people attending the race hadn’t seen each other since the Moose River Festival six months ago.  It was great to catch up with everyone and make plans for the season ahead.

Photo: Scott Martin

Photo: Scott Martin


I ran out of work on Friday before the race to make it over to the river for a few practice laps and my first strokes of 2014 to find a very high flow.  Melting snow from the top of Lincoln Gap had brought the river up to a level much higher than optimal for the race. Only a small handful eager paddlers were out there, and I jumped in.  We dodged holes, escaped a few near misses and declared ourselves ready to race after two quick laps.

Photo: Scott Martin

Photo: Scott Martin

The next morning the sun was shining, and there was a perfect “forgiving” flow in the river.  The optimal conditions led to a record level of participation and enthusiasm was high.  One by one paddlers got sent off in one-minute intervals off the ramp constructed by race organizers.


I am extremely grateful simply to have the opportunity to put a bib on and race hard on one of my favorite class IV creeks in the Northeast.   The New Haven Race is a great way to kick off the season.  If the success of this event is any indication of the season ahead, we are in for a good one!