October 22, 2007

The Craziest River Race Ever

Second Annual Flying Carp Canoe & Kayak Races September 15, 2007
Cooper's Landing at the Port of Nashville
River Ladies Auxiliary & Missouri River Relief

text by Steve Schnarr, photos by Melanie Cheney, map by Tim Nigh
If any of you were lucky enough to catch the second ever Flying Carp Races at Cooper's Landing last month...I imagine you'll never forget it.

The trouble with canoe races on the Missouri River is that they're difficult to watch. You can watch paddlers one by one cruise by your spot, but then you've got to get up and move if you want to see more. And let's face it, there's just not a lot of places to see the river.

The River Ladies Auxiliary, a group of longtime River Reliefers from the mid-Missouri area, have that problem solved. Just make the paddlers go upstream!

Sept. 15 was gorgeous, and a slew of paddlers showed up to strut their stuff and brave the ridiculous course designed for them by the RLA. The first race was with one adult and one child in canoes. The paddlers had to cruise upstream, navigating around wing dikes and several placed buoys. When they got to the sandbar at the mouth of the Perche, they had to hop out and find one piece of recyclable trash for each catagory: glass, plastic, steel & aluminum. They bagged up their stash and then ran back to their canoe to continue downstream, past Cooper's then back up to the ramp.

Tim Nigh and Heidi Bennett came up with names for all the obstacles and Tim put together this map:

The upstream part of the race was brutal. But the heart that these kids and their parents showed was totally amazing. No one gave up and everyone finished with huge, exhausted smiles.

The second race was run with two classes at once: tandem canoe and solo kayak. Here's the lowdown on how the race was run: Folks started at the wingdike by Cooper's ramp. They ferried across the river, around the buoy at "Carpbait Curve". Then they muscled upstream, passing through a pair of buoys at the end of "Deadman's Dike". Crossing the river again, they flew downstream to snag a flag from the beach called "Scurvy Sandbar". Back in the river, they entered the mouth of Bonne Femme Creek (the "Maiden's Mouth"), swung around a buoy, then hit the channel again, passing Cooper's ramp and maneuvering around a very tricky buoy in the eddy at "Pirate's Cove". The final push was upstream again, over a wingdike and into "Cooper's Bay."

It was an outrageous race. Tim Nigh and Dyno did the play-by-play over the PA, with occasional on-the-spot reports from Racin' Dave on the roving safety boat. One person tipped over, just as the first place canoe and kayak were passing over the final wingdike. Each race entrant had a name. There were play-by-play reports like this: "The Pirates missed the Maiden's Mouth! And now look, the Booty Snatchers are now snatching the lead. Folks, just goes to show that you should never forget the Maiden's Mouth...it's a mortal sin!"

Racers got great prizes like pies, massage gift certificates and the "Cooper's Cup", filled with beer or root beer.

The action was followed up by a jam by Naked Dave & the Blue Cats and a dance-off hosted by Los Desterrados (called, in typical Heidi Bennett style the "Charlie Brown Boogie-Down Danceoff"). Once again...just about the coolest party of the year, celebrating the river and the amazing community of river rats that call Cooper's Landing home.

Here's the rundown of winners:
Cooper's Cup, adult & child tandem: "The Hartsburgers" - Bill and Maggie Rotts
Cooper's Cup, tandem canoe: "The Booty Snatchers" - Eric Hempel & Rod Power
Cooper's Cup, solo kayak: "Dump Diva" (or "ankle-biting sand flea") - Jessi Just (back from Oregon!)

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