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2007 Aluminum Nationals in Pocahontas, AR

Left to right: The women: Open champions (brandishing swords) Arkansans Ashley Partridge & Ruth Sayger, and Master champions Texans Teddy Gray & past champ Cindy Meurer.

The men: Master champions Arkansans Dale Burris (who made the women’s trophies) & Don Walls, and Open champions Arkansan Casey Rickey & Michigander Jon Webb.

Aluminum Nationals in Pocahontas, AR a Big Success

2007 USCA National Stock Aluminum Canoe Marathon Championships — Results June 30, Current and Black Rivers, Pocahontas AR Current River Beach to Pocahontas – 15 Miles

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gareth Stevens Casey Rickey and Jon Webb are the new USCA Open Men Stock Aluminum Canoe Marathon Champions for 2007. Ruth Sayger & Ashley Partridge are the Open Women Champions. Dale Burris & Don Walls handily became the Men Master Champions (over Rocky Caldwell and, paddling for a second time, Jon Webb who placed a very solid second). Cindy Meurer & Teddy Gray won the Women Master competition. Congratulations to all our new champions.

Women Open Aluminum 1 2 3 4

Men Open Aluminum

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The Open race course was just under 15 miles downstream starting on the Current River and ending on the Black, in Pocahontas. The Master course was 11 miles, a looped course starting and finishing at the morning’s finish line on the Black River in Pocahontas: one mile downstream, buoy turn, 31/4 miles up (past the start to an upstream buoy), then 21/4 miles back down, buoy turn, back up again 21/4 miles, then 21/4 miles back down to the finish. The two rivers provided a good variety of technical challenges: shallow and deep stretches, good current, sharp eddy lines, a couple of bridges, sand and gravel bars, a few downed trees, and a couple of thunder showers added to the interest of the course! Without exception, the paddlers approved the courses, their lengths, and characteristics. “Perfect” and “Just right” were the most common comments. Only Stephen Lynn expressed any reservation: while the race lengths were pretty good, he thought, given two races in one day, then about an hour and a half might have been even better.

Jon Webb (MI) / Casey Rickey (AR) . . . . . . . . . . . 2:01:56 Cody Brown (AR) / Sam Perkins (AR) . . . . . . . . . 2:06:48 Jim Short (MO) / Doug Pennington (MO) . . . . . . . 2:07:13 Doug Berg (MN) / Dave Dahl (MN) . . . . . . . . . . . 2:08:09 Gareth Stevens (WI) / Tave Lamperez (IL) . . . . . . 2:10:05 Clifton Rickey (AR) / Elmore Holmes (TN) . . . . . 2:11:05 Nick Swafford (AR) / Stephen Lynn (AR) . . . . . . . 2:14:20 Frank Gray (TX) / Cody Rickey (AR) . . . . . . . . . . 2:19:12 Aaron Vidusek (IL) / Zachary Waters (AR) (1st < 18) 2:19:38 Daryl Simon (MO) / Rosie Laughlin (MO) (1st mixed) 2:20:35 Dustin Lee (AR) / Tabitha Garrett (AR) . . . . . . . . . 2:25:39 Cody Lee (AR) / Trason Johnson (AR) . . . . . . . . . 2:27:17 Scott Meier (AR) / Carson Munn (AR) . . . . . . . . . 2:27:38 Nathan White (AR) / Cody Thomas (AR) . . . . . . . 2:39:08 Leigh Ann Moore (AR) / Tony Eubanks (AR) . . . . 2:42:26

June 30, Black River, Pocahontas AR Looped Course at Pocahontas – 11 Miles Women Master Aluminum

1 Cindy Meurer (TX) / Teddy Gray (TX ) . . . . . . . . . 2:07:55 2 Becky Burris (AR) / Nadalyn Riggins (AR) . . . . . . 2:09:54 3 Donna Short (MO) / Nancy Allen (OK) (1st > 50) 2:25:44

Doug Berg thought “the whole event was first rate”. “No complaints,” he said. “I thought the rivers were excellent.”

Men Master Aluminum

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I asked a number of particpants if they would change anything. Elmore Holmes from Memphis, TN liked a lot about the whole set-up but asked Clifton if next year he could do something about the humidity and the mosquitoes, a subject taken up later by Jon Webb. Clifton Rickey and his team of supporters had looked ready to break a record for the standalone Aluminum Nationals, and

Canoe News, August 2007

Ruth Sayger (AR) / Ashley Partridge (AR ) (1st < 18) 2:20:11 Pat Bayers (FL) / Jeannie Shaffer (FL) . . . . . . . . . . 2:36:01 Summer Schwartz (AR) / Josi Robertson (AR) . . . 2:36:07 Amber Rich (AR) / Sarah Swafford (AR) . . . . . . . 2:43:03

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Don Walls (AR) / Dale Burris (AR) . . . . . . . . . . . . 1:52:30 Jon Webb (MI) / Rocky Caldwell (MO) . . . . . . . . . 1:55:21 Tave Lamperez (IL) / Gareth Stevens (WI) . . . . . . 1:58:39 Doug Berg (MN) / Dave Dahl (MN) (1st > 50) . . 1:58:54 Jim Short (MO) / Doug Pennington (MO) . . . . . . . 1:59:01 Paul Guenther (TX) / Mike Guenther (CO) . . . . . . 1:59:17 Neal Sanders (TN) / Jim Normandin (SC) . . . . . . . 1:59:44 Clifton Rickey (AR) / Cecil Runyon (IL) . . . . . . . . 2:05:55 Photograph copyright ©2007 by Joyce Radcliff


2007 Aluminum Nationals in Pocahontas, AR Three-time Men Open Champion, Casey Rickey: in 2005 with brother, Cody; in 2006 with father, Clifton; and this year with Jon Webb.

Volunteer registration staff at the Current River Beach Resort on the morning of June 30, 2007. Left to right: Cassie Mitchell, Allecia Troxel, and Judy Rickey. they did, with 15 teams in the Men Open race, 8 in Men Master, 4 in Women Open and 3 in Women Master, totalling 30 boats. The total number of participants (52) was less than those who took part in the 2002 Palestine, TX Aluminum Nationals (56), but Clifton had the clever – and popular – idea to run the Open classes at a separate time from the Master classes, giving Master paddlers a chance to do two races in one day. Eight Master paddlers did just that, either with the same or with a different partner, though Jon Webb from Michigan commented that his heart rate monitor told him that perhaps he shouldn’t have! Don Walls from Arkansas liked the idea of the two Aluminum race opportunity (Open and Master) but “didn’t take advantage — wasn’t sure the collar bone I broke earlier this year was up to it.” And Pat Bayers from Florida, said that if she had had an additional partner she would have liked to race twice.

Above: Start of the Men’s and Women’s Open classes at the Current River Beach Resort, kind hosts for the event. Below: Start of the Men Master Open championship in mid afternoon, after about a two hour break for eight of the participants from the morning’s Open race.

And the Big Dog Race, too! As an additional bonus, Clif had arranged for the Aluminum Nationals to take place on the same weekend as Arkansas’ Big Dog C2 Pro Race. On Sunday morning, with light rain, with the threat of heavier weather coming, and with some long distance paddlers anxious to head out, Clifton shortened the Big Dog to one loop of the

The 2007 Men Master champs in the making, two miles into their race. 1993 Men Open champ/2006 Master champ Dale Burris in stern, Don Walls in bow.

Trason Johnson and Cody Lee, from Pocahontas High School, receiving their awards from race director Clifton Rickey for 1st Boys in the School Challenge Competition. Photographs copyright ©2007 by Joyce Radcliff

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Canoe News, August 2007


2007 Aluminum Nationals in Pocahontas, AR Aluminum Masters course. The river had risen significantly with heavy rainfall overnight and had changed how paddlers would handle sections of the course. An island had disappeared, and a channel had opened up on the inside of the final bend by an old bridge pylon. The current was swift and rolling. Nine teams signed up. Eight teams raced. Three teams swam. Aaron Vidusek & Zachary Waters tipped before starting, and not having paddled together in a pro boat before, decided that discretion was the better part of valor and pulled out. Jon Webb & Casey Rickey won handily, with Ruth Sayger & Don Walls coming second in a performance that certainly surprised and impressed Tave Lamperez & Gareth Stevens who came third. Tave and Gareth had a close race with Dave Dahl & Doug Berg until the last bend, when Dave & Doug tipped, losing a position to Neal Sanders & Jim Normandin. I asked the racers what they had learned from their weekend experiences, and Doug Berg responded, “Don’t try to follow Gareth through narrow, swift, log-and-rock infested passageways.” There were some other interesting answers, too. Becky Burris said: “Keep looking at the big picture. In the pro race, I was so focused on the boat that just passed us, that I missed an opportunity to pass another boat that was recovering from turning over. (I didn’t see them until it was too late to react. They beat us by 5 seconds!)”

2007 Arkansas’ Big Dog C2 Canoe Race July 1, Black River, Pocahontas, AR Looped Course at Pocahontas – 6.5 miles USCA C2 Open

1 Casey Rickey (AR) / Jon Webb (MI) . . . . . . . . . . 56:45:00 2 Ruth Sayger (AR) / Don Walls (AR) (1st Mixed) . 1:01:05 3 Gareth Stevens (WI) / Tave Lamperez (IL) . . . . . . 1:01:54 4 Neal Sanders (TN) / Jim Normandin (SC) . . . . . . . 1:05:35 5 Doug Berg (MN) / Dave Dahl (MN) . . . . . . . . . . . 1:06:25 6 Becky Burris (AR) / Sam Perkins (AR) . . . . . . . . . 1:06:30 7 Pat Bayers (FL) / Jeannie Shaffer (FL) (1st Women)1:22:40 dnf Ashley Partridge (AR) / Cody Brown (AR) . . . . . . . dnf dns Aaron Vidusek (AR) / Zachary Waters (AR) . . . . . . . dns

River Level at Pocahontas 4.5ft Jon Webb (who kept an eye on his GPS) took this away: “Two things: 1) It’s not always the heat that gets you. You must hydrate really well, especially when you have both heat and high humidity. (I’m glad I drank a lot before the race.) 2) You can really make an aluminum canoe go! 7.5 mph average with several surges in the mid 9’s! during the Men’s Open race.” “Never underestimate Dale [Burris]’s river reading skills!” was Don Walls’ answer. And Pat Bayers: “Force your partner to eat breakfast before the race, even if she is not hungry!”

Women Masters, with Cindy Meurer & Teddy Gray taking an early lead, followed by Nadalyn Riggins (bow) & Becky Burris, and with Nancy Allen (bow) & Donna Short close behind.

Doug Pennington (bow) & Jim Short executing a tight buoy turn, and gaining on Tave Lamperez (bow) & Gareth Stevens, who took a longer way round . . .

Jim Webb (bow) in his second race of the day, with Rocky Caldwell, past champ, recovering from extensive rotator cuff damage and surgery (though we wouldn’t know it).

Dave Dahl & Doug Berg execute a tight turn with Nancy Allen (bow) & Donna Short on their outside, in the Master Men and Master Women races respectively.

Canoe News, August 2007

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Photos in left hand column copyright ©2007 by Susan Thielemier / Pocahontas Star Herald. Right hand column ©2007 by Joyce Radcliff


2007 Aluminum Nationals in Pocahontas, AR For many paddlers who made the investment of hundreds of miles traveling (over 1000 for some) the Sunday race was additional payback. Jon Webb drove 15 hours from Michigan and “wouldn’t have gone” without the second day of racing. Dave Dahl and Doug Berg drove about 800 miles from Minnesota, Gareth Stevens drove 12 hours from Wisconsin, Tave Lamperez 10 hours from Illinois, and Jim Normandin and Neal Sanders came from South Carolina and Tennessee respectively. All appreciated the extra day of racing. But the distance prize goes either to Mike Gunther who came 1000+ miles from Colorado Springs or to Jeannie Shaffer and Pat Bayers who drove and then flew 900+ miles from Tampa, FL to Little Rock, AR then drove some more to Pocahontas. While Sunday’s race “had no impact on my decision to attend the Aluminum Nationals,” said Jeannie Shaffer, “It impacted my decision to stay an extra day for the event!” “Icing on the cake,” added her partner, Pat Bayers.

team (Teddy & me), by throwing off waves in our path at least five times.” This writer was impressed with Clifton’s approach to promoting and publicizing the Aluminum Nationals. It was methodical and thorough. With the exception of the Minnesotans who reported that they had heard of the opportunity through Canoe News, every one of the rest, it appeared, had been contacted directly and invited by Clifton. It was rifle shot marketing at its best. I was also impressed with the level of support that Clifton had elicited from the community: witness all the volunteers, the signs welcoming USCA paddlers, and the local businesses whose sponsorships were heralded in ads in the race brochure and on the sides of all the participating Aluminum canoes. This was one of the more successful and impressive Aluminum Nationals of recent years. Thank you, Clifton and Pocahontas, for hosting us.

Accolades for host city Pocahontas and the race organizers Jon Webb: “Everything was set up so well. The town played it up almost like a mini Shawinigan, though it was a week getting all those Arkansas skeeters out of my car. Couldn’t they feed them a little more so they weren’t so hungry? In all honesty, I wouldn’t change a thing. This was as good as it gets.” Doug Berg thought “the meal was terrific and the award ceremony went smoothly and didn’t drag on too long.” Don Walls: “Great, though as usual there was too much time spent with local politicians patting themselves on the back. And it needs to start earlier, I was starving after a long race.”

Above, Tave Lamperez, Nationals Coordinator in a lively address to the dinner crowd (“New members out there, y’all joined USCA, whether you wanted to or not, so welcome”). Below, MC and race director Clifton Rickey thanking . . . everyone!

Nadalyn Riggins: “The spectator area was outstanding: shaded pavilion, trees, great viewpoints, including the bridge, and overall the location. The looped courses lent themselves well to general specatators. “The awards dinner was the nicest I have been to. They went all out and everyone stayed around. “I thought it was very special, touching, (I am searching for the right word) that Dale Burris made traveling trophies for the women.” Pat Bayers was effusive. She liked: “Race course, distance, festival at finish line, races for masters and open classes, awards banquet, Clif’s assistance in finding boats and paddles (this is VERY important for folks flying in), the Big Dog Race, everything being organized so well, plenty of parking at the start, car shuttle, race sponsors, nice race brochure that was sent out in advance of the event, having the scout group participate, the welcome from the folks in the town. The safety and support boats did an excellent job. The course was well-marked with no confusing navigation.” Appreciated by most of the racers, some of the safety crews were nonetheless not attuned to how their waves can cause steering and wake-riding difficulties for the competitors. Cindy Meurer: “Even after having a conversation with them after the first race, the safety boats still interfered with the lead Upper photo copyright ©2007 by Susan Thielemier / Pocahontas Star Herald. Lower photo ©2007 by Joyce Radcliff.

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Canoe News, August 2007


2007 Aluminum Nationals Results, from CN