Windy Fun at the 2023 Lake Champlain Challenge Race

On Saturday, September 9, rowers and paddlers from around New England gathered under sunny skies at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum for the annual Lake Champlain Challenge Race to set a new fastest time. In total, 63 competitors took on the three-mile triangular course, contending with a moderate wind that made for a bumpy ride.

Of the total 63, 21 rowed under the Museum’s name in the pilot gigs Redwing, Triton and Rising Tide. Another 12 rowers visiting from Gloucester, MA rowed the pilot gig Northern Sun and St. Ayle’s four-oared skiff Perseverance. The Hull Lifesaving Museum team from Hull, MA competed in the four-oared Whitehall gigs American Shad and Charlie Burchard. In addition, the four-oar St. Ayle’s Skiffs Resilience and Valkyrie, were rowed by teams from Bowdoinham and Blue Hill, ME. And in their first ever appearance at the Lake Champlain Challenge Race, the Albany Irish Rowing Club brought a four-person eight-oar Irish currach. The remaining racers used a mixture of fixed and sliding-seat single boats.

At 11 am, the first wave of six-oared pilot gigs and the currach, lined up at the start. On command, the boats lurched forward, racing toward New York. Shortly following, the second wave of four-oared boats began, with the third wave of singles not far behind. The Albany currach took an early lead at the first turn, with the crew of Redwing in hot pursuit. Along the second leg, speedy fours and singles began to catch up to the back of the first wave pack. As crews rounded the second turn, the Gloucester crew in Perseverance, a four, had passed all the sixes but Redwing. The wind pushed the crews home over the third and final leg.

In the end, one of the singles – Robert Watt in a racing kayak – took the fastest time of the day with 34:05. For the multi-person boats, Albany posted the quickest time at 37:40. The Museum’s crews placed first (Redwing), third (Triton), and fourth (Rising Tide) in the six-oared category. Debbie Hanley got the grit and determination award for paddling a stand-up paddleboard around the three-mile course. Full results are listed below.

After the race, all participants enjoyed a pot-luck lunch provided by the Museum’s community rowers. Nick Patch, Director of Maritime Programs at the Museum, reflected on the day, “Lots of happy faces and that makes the effort all worthwhile!” Rising Tide racer Lisa Percival added, “We have a great team and are so lucky to have this community of rowers that make us all work so hard.”

The Challenge Race was the Museum’s final race of the summer before a full slate of fall races for both the youth and adult rowing programs. The adult rowers will compete again on September 23 in Gloucester, MA and then on October 14 in Hull, MA. The high school youth program that is now under way has races on September 30, October 28, and November 18. Best of luck to all the rowers!

Full Results:

  • Currach – Albany Irish (37:40)
  • Six-oared – LCMM 1 (Redwing, 39:11), Gloucester 1 (Northern Sun, 43:18), LCMM 2 (Triton, 44:04), LCMM 3 (Rising Tide, 51:17)
  • Four-oared – Gloucester 2 (Perseverance, 37:21), Hull 2 (American Shad, 38:58), Blue Hills (Valkyrie, 40:10), Bowdoinham (Resilience, 40:15), Hull 1 (Charlie Burchard, 45:22)
  • Single Sliding Seat – Edward Keagle (38:15)
  • Recreational Kayak – Andrew Davis (38:51)
  • Racing Kayak – Robert Watt (34:05)
  • Paddleboard – Debbie Hanley (55:37) Outrigger Canoe – Diana Hanks (43:29), Jim Cunningham (48:28)

Enjoy these photos from the day courtesy of Buzz Kuhns