Boydes top small field to win Yukon 360 wilderness race
Jim and Pam Boyde’s skill at finding fast water allowed the paddling duo to pull away from their competitors
Photo by Whitehorse Star
TRICKY PADDLING – Solo kayaker Gary Seed and tandem canoe paddlers Mia Lee and Pat McKenna were neck-and-neck throughout the majority of this weekend’s race (top). WINNING COMBINATION – Jim and Pam Boyde are the 2013 Yukon 360 champions. Photos courtesy of PETER COATES
Jim and Pam Boyde’s skill at finding fast water allowed the paddling duo to pull away from their competitors and win the Yukon 360 race this weekend.
The event saw three teams take to the windy Dezadeash River for an unsupported wilderness race which also serves as a prerequisite to the Yukon 1,000.
The Boydes beat out the team of Mia Lee and Pat McKenna, as well as solo kayaker Gary Seed for the win.
Organizer Peter Coates told the Star the plan was to have paddlers navigate the river from Dezadeash Lake to Haines Junction, but poor weather forced the teams to start out from Champagne Landing instead. The teams started out at 4 p.m. Saturday.
“We looked at the lake and decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and decided to put in at Champagne instead,” Coates explained of Dezadeash Lake’s bad reputation.
“It is almost always windy with the winds pouring down off the mountains, and the waves build towards the north end of the lake where the river exits.”
The river was a much more technical challenge than past years.
“The Dezadeash River is one of the most tortuous rivers in the Yukon,” Coates said bluntly. “The joke was that the 360 in the face name referred to how far you turned on every bend.”
Blind bends hid obstacles such as log piles, forcing paddlers to keep their wits about them at all times. Each of the competitors was a seasoned paddler however, allowing Coates to breathe easier from the shoreline.
Saturday’s paddle ended in the swampy area of Cracker Creek, with paddlers allowed to stay in the river until 11 p.m. before setting up camp. Most pulled out at 10:30 p.m.
Sunday’s paddle on the lower half of the river was of a different character, said Coates.
“It became braided and had odd boulders scattered around,” he said. “It was on this section that Pam and Jim Boyde’s skill at finding fast water paid dividends.”
The duo built a good three-hour lead over the two other boats, arriving in Haines Junction at 1:08 p.m., a paddling time of slightly more than 13 hours from Champagne.
Pat McKenna and Mia Lee and Gary Seed in a solo kayak completed the course in 15:55 hours.
The Yukon 360’s concept is to have paddlers take on a different river each year, said Coates.
Last year’s race took place on the Nisutlin River, and was won by a tandem canoe team of Bob Vincent and John Bugge.