The Whitewater Nationals Regatta on the Penobscot River wrapped up Sunday. Hundreds of people drove out to Old Town where the race started.
One man, a Maine local from Brunswick, took first place in the ACA 2015 Whitewater SUP National Championships, better-known as the stand up paddle board event.
A great feat considering it’s only the second time he has ever done it. I asked how many people were in his class.
“It was pretty stiff competition. I don’t really know exactly… There was actually zero people.”
Besides him, of course. He is still taking home the title, and a medal.
For the Penobscot Nation, hosting a national event like this means a bit more when it is on the stretch of river that has been closed to recreational use for almost 200 years.
One of the leaders of the Penobscot River Restoration Project said he is excited to bring the river back to being a community resource.
“To be able to paddle down through these open stretches, go through these former dam sites, to be on the river and part of that. I was ecstatic. l had a smile on my face the whole way down,” said George Aponte Clarke, Deputy Director of Penobscot River Restoration Trust.
The awards ceremony was the icing on the cake for some. And for others, not coming in last they considered a great accomplishment.
“We almost got into a little trouble in one of the whitewater sections. Almost flipped over. Almost swam. Very close,” said Ted Steele, a Hope resident, who raced with his son.
The U.S. Whitewater Nationals Regatta moves every three years, but Clarke said residents can look forward to the Penobscot Nation’s annual canoe races back on the river next weekend.