Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by John Tonin

A FINAL PUSH – Julianna Girouard, bow, and Cole Wilkie-Hobus, stern, paddle through the finish line at the Takhini River Bridge on Tuesday, just ahead of Stuart Hamilton, back right, to win the Chili and Beans Downriver Race.

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Photo by John Tonin

Image title

Photo by John Tonin

Paddlers race toward the chili and beans

The canoes, kayaks, and stand up paddleboards, sat half on the edge of the Rotary Peace Park boat launch while the other half bobbed in the Yukon River on Tuesday evening.

By John Tonin on August 7, 2019

The canoes, kayaks, and stand up paddleboards, sat half on the edge of the Rotary Peace Park boat launch while the other half bobbed in the Yukon River on Tuesday evening.

The paddlers took their positions in the boats as the countdown to the start of the race began. Five minutes, one minute, go. In what resembled the start of the Yukon River Quest, just on a smaller scale, the boats were pushed into the water for the mass start and they were off.

Their journey was an 18.5-kilometre paddle to the Takhini River Bridge. At the end waited chili and beans and other snacks to enjoy.

The name of the event was aptly named the Chili and Beans Downriver race.

As quickly as they had started they disappeared down the river, the water and their stroke rates moving them quickly.

The rain held off at the start line but that was not the case at the finish. It poured down on the group of onlookers as they awaited the first boat to round the bend onto the Takhini River.

The support boat could be seen first, a good indication the first boats were about to arrive. Then two kayaks appeared a solo and a K-2 racing toward the end.

The K-2 with Julianna Girouard at the bow and Cole Wilkie-Hobus at the stern, who tipped right before the final bend were able to edge past Stuart Hamilton to win the race.

Girouard and Wilkie-Hobus were one of the first boats to break away at the start of the race and from there, they did not look back.

“At the start, we were kind of like we will follow the big boats wash,” said Girouard.

“Then it turned out we were the people in the front.”

“Nobody passed us until we flipped at the corner here at the last bit,” said Wilkie-Hobus. “We got back into the boat didn’t even empty it and just paddled it full of water.”

The teammates said it was fast water until the last quarter of the race.

“The wind picked up and we got a pretty bad headwind,” said Wilkie-Hobus.

“There are sections which are straight and got some headwind there and it’s like ‘this is never going to end,’” said Girouard.

Both Girouard and Wilkie-Hobus will be representing the Yukon at the Western Canada Summer Games. Joining the top pair at the Games will be Joel Girouard and Bruce Porter, the third-place boat on Tuesday in a K-2.

Joel and Porter have paddle together before but mostly in sprint races.

“This is probably our longest K-2 together,” said Porter.

The two will be partnered together at the WCSG in Swift Current.

“At Westerns, we are doing the 500 (metres) and 1,000 (metres) together,” said Joel when asked about the pairs paddling future together.

The duo both agreed that they had a good paddle with good stroke rates and set a good pace throughout the race, only stopping a few times to take water breaks.

They both touched on balance in the boat as things they would like to improve upon for when they race together again.

Girouard and Wilkie-Hobus’ winning time was 19:23:30 just a nose ahead of solo kayaker Stuart Hamilton.

Porter and Joel came in seconds after the top two boats in a time of 19:24:35.

A rush of boats came in after the top three making the bank under the Takhini Bridge a hopping place. With the smell of chili wafting through the air it was no wonder everyone wanted to finish as soon as possible.

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