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CANOE NEWS Early Spring 2009 Vol 42/1

In January, 2009 USCA lost two great, longtime friends and supporters, Thor Ronemus (far left) and Chuck Weis (near left). We will miss them both, very much.

Early Spring

Vol 42 Issue 1

CANOE NEWS Photos Š - see notices page 9

The leading magazine for marathon competition paddlers throughout North America

The International Issue: From Australia and the Czech Republic to . . . the USCA Aluminum Nationals in the Republic of Texas!

& Entry Forms for the 2009 Aluminum and Canoe & Kayak Nationals

Plus: Annual Meeting Highlights and The Kayak Committee Question

Plus: The CN Race Calendar 350+ Canoe & Kayak Races in North America for 2009

US $5.95 CAN $6.95

Main photo caption and credit: see Contents page (page 3).

USCA Aluminum Nationals 2008, Bastrop, TX

September 2008: USCA Aluminum Nationals – Bastrop, TX

Coloradans Mike & Paul Guenther sign in.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . Peter Binion, President, Texas Canoe Racing Association

The 2008 Aluminum Nationals have come and gone. The race TCRA Newsletter editor Ken Kieffer course and weather cohelps his nephew, Aidan Branch, carry operated and combined his canoe to the river. with a tough group of competitors to make the race a real success. The official results are posted on the TCRA Teams from the Open and Master (and unofficial Junior) Men divisions assemble in and USCA web sites. We would like to the start area. congratulate our own TCRA members who won National Championships. Teddy Gray and Cindy Meurer defended last year’s National Championship by winning the women’s master division. Wade Binion and Jerry Rahburn captured the National Championship in the men’s open division. Daniel Zeek and Dodd Yeager won the unofficial Junior Division Championship and had a super race. Congratulations also go to the teams who traveled to Texas, to win in the men’s master division (Don Walls and Dale Burris from Arkansas) and in the women’s open division (Ruth Sayger and Becky Burris, also from Arkansas). Bob Spain did a tremendous job coordinating this event. Please give him a special thanks next time you see him. Teddy Gray worked long hours throughout the spring and fall to create and manage the website she built for the Nationals. We owe her a tremendous thank you. Thanks also go to Ginsie Stauss, Becky Burris, Erin McGee, Ken Kiefer, Joy Emshoff, Linda Cochran, Frank Gray, Ken Kieffer, Grady Hicks, Tave Lamperez, Ginger Turner, John Baltzell, Debbie Richardson, Mike Drost, Mike Rendon, the people from LCRA and Nature Fest, and the many others who pitched in to make the event a success. Photos copyright © 2008 by Billy Moore

The men are off. The start line was just barely upstream of the bridge.


Canoe News 42/1—Early Spring

2008 USCA Aluminum Nationals & 1st Southern Pro Championships — Bastrop, Texas

Miss the Steer, and You’re in the Clear USCA Aluminum Nationals in Bastrop, TX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Peter Heed ’m not sure when it sunk in that canoe racing in Texas is a little different. Perhaps it was when I paddled around a tight bend in the river, and came face to face with a huge longhorn steer – standing right in the race course! (This big fellow had giant “long” horns, an angry expression, and he did not appear to be inclined whatsoever to move!). Perhaps the name of the race start area should have been a tip off: “McKinney Roughs.” Perhaps it was the admonitions to watch out for the cottonmouth snakes in the water. What clinched it was when I was presenting at the race clinic and trying to explain how racing canoes can be turned efficiently by “leaning them on edge like a ski” Blank stares! Nobody knew what the heck I was talking about. This was indeed Texas, after all, not exactly ski country. Time to switch the analogy. How about visualizing a rodeo barrel race? Lean like you would on your quarter horse as you turn tightly on the barrels! Smiles. Now we’re gettin’ somewhere! It is definitely a different world in Texas,


Jerry Cochran (bow) and Peter Heed head toward the downstream buoys near Fisherman’s Park, Bastrop. but I found the paddle competition to be intense and the competitors as tough and talented as any in the rest of the country. This is a world where the unique Texas Water Safari, with “unlimited class” boat specs, is king. Where the rivers are lined with beautiful cottonwoods but contain not-so-nice cottonmouths. Where thirsty, hot steers can be a greater river hazard than rocks or downed trees. Now I know what they mean by “hook ‘em horns”!! The occasion was the Southern Pro Championships and the USCA Aluminum Nationals, both graciously hosted by the Texas Canoe Racing Association. When my old racing buddy Bob Spain called and asked me to come down to conduct a racing clinic and speak at their banquet – as well as race – I jumped at the chance for a new

canoe experience. And what a great, dedicated bunch of paddlers! We in the north don’t often get to meet the Texas paddlers, but I found that they have a vibrant, active, and ever-growing organization. They sure know how to run a race and host a major event. And they sure know what high quality canoe racing is all about. The weekend events took place on the attractive Colorado River, just southeast of Austin, TX. This is on the edge of Texas “hill country” – with plenty of water, trees, and rolling hills. Lance Armstrong grew up nearby, and now I can see why he became such a good climber on the bike. The race course covered about 14 miles of twisting, fun river – with pulsing current, some easy rapids, and long sections of shallow and suck water to test endurance. The

Start of the Women Open and Women Master divisions.

Canoe News 42/1—Early Spring


Author portrait copyright © 2007 by David & Lynda Williams (Will Arts) Race photos copyright © 2008 by Billy Moore

2008 USCA Aluminum Nationals & 1st Southern Pro Championships — Bastrop, Texas

2008 USCA National Stock Aluminum Canoe Marathon Championships Sept 27, 2008 – Bastrop, TX

Junior (not a USCA Championship class)....................................................... 1 dnf

1st Junior dnf

Daniel Zeek (TX) / Dodd Yeager (TX)............. 02:14:01 Danny Roblyer (TX) / Randy Roblyer.......................dnf

Women and Women Master 1 1st Women Master 2 1st Women 3 2nd Women 4 3rd Women 5 2nd Women Master 6 3rd Women Master

Cindy Meurer (TX) / Teddy Gray (TX)............ 02:22:58 Becky Burris (AR) / Ruth Sayger (AR).............. 02:26:04 Debbie Richardson (TX) / Laura Thornton (TX)............ .......................................................................... 02:27:31 Kim Sorensen (TX) / Joy Emshoff (TX)........... 02:31:11 Ginsie Stauss (TX) / Sheila Reiter (TX)............. 02:32:02 Pat Bayers (FL) / Jeannie Shaffer (FL)................ 02:43:04

Men and Men Master 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

1st Men 2nd Men 1st Men Master 2nd Men Master 3rd Men Master 4th Men Master 3rd Men 5th Men Master 6th Men Master 7th Men Master 4th Men 8th Men Master 9th Men Master 5th Men 6th Men

Jerry Rahburn (Belize) / Wade Binion (TX)...... 02:09:06 Doug Pennington (MO) / Jim Short (MO)....... 02:10:41 Dale Burris (AR) / Don Walls (AR)................... 02:11:29 Jerry Cochran (TX) / Peter Heed (NH)............. 02:12:42 Gareth Stevens (WI) / Tave Lamperez (IL)........ 02:13:35 Bob Vincent (ON) / Roy Tyrone (TX).............. 02:13:50 Tommy Yonley (TX) / Mike Rendon (TX)........ 02:14:31 R D Kissling (TX) / Richard Steppe (TX)......... 02:15:22 Doug Berg (MN) / Dave Dahl (MN)................ 02:17:04 Paul Guenther (CO) / Mike Guenther (CO)..... 02:21:16 Cody Ackerman (TX) / Matt Persyn (TX)....... 02:21:38 Mike Simmons (TX) / Mark Simmons (TX)..... 02:21:49 Frank Gray (TX) / John Dupont (TX).............. 02:26:02 Gib Hafernick (TX) / Tim Curry (TX)............. 02:27:23 Aidan Branch (TX) / Ken Kieffer (TX)............ 02:39:26


7th Men

Mike Miller (TX) / Justin Friend (TX).............. 02:57:41

Jerry Rahburn (bow) and Wade Binion turning the upstream buoy before the final sprint to the finish. Photo copyright © 2008 by Debbie Richardson


character of the river often reminded me of the Susquehanna below Wells Bridge, NY, with the current running off to either side after crossing a shoal. Lots of opportunity to jump and go! The race finished at the friendly, small town of Bastrop, TX, which was right in the midst of a celebration focused on the river called Nature Fest. This made for good crowds cheering on racers at the finish. I also discovered that Davy Crockett stopped at Bastrop and crossed the river here on his way to his fateful appointment with history at the Alamo! The aluminum race took place on Saturday, with a surprisingly good turn-out of 26 canoes. Teams from Missouri, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Alabama, Canada, even Belize, as well as Texas, showed up to race. I was fortunate to paddle with an experienced long-time racer, Jerry Cochran, and we got to run with the front group most of the way. I also gained new respect for the people who race these aluminum canoes – oooch! These “paddling tanks” throw huge wakes, which are fun to ride but darn hard to get over! I can’t count the number of times I banged my hands on the wide gunnels, and a significant increase in paddling effort was not rewarded with much change in boat speed. Still, we were all in the same boat (no pun intended), and a race is a race. What a contrast the next day, to run the exact same course – but this time in 3X27 pro boats! That’s what I’m talking about! Now the shallow water was fun. This time I partnered with up-and-coming Wade Binion. He was a terrific bow man! It was plain to see why Wade has done well in many of our northern races such as New York’s 70 and Michigan’s AuSable River Marathon. So Texas is a little different – but the canoe racing there is competitive, and it’s a blast! Texas is developing some good young paddlers and they are keeping the veterans in the sport. Marathon canoe racing is alive and well in Texas – so go on down and paddle if you get the chance. And remember: in Texas it’s not “right of the rock and left of the log,” it’s “miss the steer and you’re in the clear!”

Canoe News 42/1—Early Spring

2008 USCA Aluminum Nationals & 1st Southern Pro Championships — Bastrop, Texas

The race was held on the Colorado River. It started at the 969 bridge and finished in Bastrop. The river is wide, about 50 yards in most places. There were many shallow spots, some in the middle and some at one side or the other. The weather was cool by Texas standards, 91 degrees both days, but that is hot for the northern paddlers. There were not many clouds and the wind was slight. Bob Vincent and Roy Tyrone. The water was warm to the touch, being about 20 degrees warmer than our Ontario rivers. Peter Binion was in charge and did a great job of keeping things on time. We all paid our entry, picked up our tee shirts and our canoe numbers, and were on the starting line for the 10am start. 28 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bob Vincent canoes pulled off the line, and for those oy Tyrone had sent me an email of you who have not raced an aluminum early in the year and asked me to canoe, the waves are bigger than with the be his partner. I was not sure at the pro canoes, so it was a tough ride. Maybe time if I wanted to travel so far for an that was just because we were not the first aluminum race but when he said there canoe to the 100-yard mark! would be a pro race the next day I was A lead pack of four canoes developed all for it. In Texas many of the races are and we were in the second pack of five with several different types of canoes canoes. Our race went back and forth but these two races would be fair with several times as one team’s canoe, then just two people in the boats and all the another’s would find better water or pick canoes would be the same spec.

Coach Bob at the 2008 Aluminum Nationals in Texas


a better path. There were several small sets of rapids that made it interesting and fun to paddle. The river had deep channels on the sides, so many times we were there and – of course there were trees. You just paddle through them (it is a Texas thang, y’all understand that eh?) There were only a few paddlers who tested their swimming ability. After paddling 13 miles you come to some power lines and you know you are ½ mile from the finish. We were in 5th place at this time and looking good. The river split around an island, we went right and Gareth Stevens and Tave Lamperez went left. They came out two lengths ahead of us (@#%$&!!). In aluminum canoes it is very hard to pass as the wave off the back is very high. The finish line was down stream to a buoy, then back upstream to another buoy, and then back down stream to a double set of markers. We were just over two minutes behind the Master winners, Dale Burris and Don Walls, and three lengths behind Gareth and Tave. Our time was 2:13:50. This “tour de buoys” is a great way to finish a race course. Most people get to see the

What a difference a choice of course can make. Tave Lamperez & Gareth Stevens, and Dodd Yeager & Daniel Zeek (below right) went left of the island (upper right). Both teams gained significantly on Bob Vincent & Roy Tyrone, and Mike Rendon & Tommy Yonley, who came through the opening on the right (visible in the upper left of this photo).

Canoe News 42/1—Early Spring


Photos copyright © 2008 by Billy Moore

2008 USCA Aluminum Nationals & 1st Southern Pro Championships — Bastrop, Texas

people they have followed finish and it gives them a better idea how far a few seconds is on the water. The race finished at Fisherman’s park and there was a lot of action that day. There was country music, crafts, a nature fest, and a Wilbarger Paddling Trail launch — with many canoes and kayaks taking enjoyment in this section of river. It was a great day for paddling and my hat goes off to the organizers.

then we’d paddled a 20-year old stantwice, each time when within close dard weight Alumacraft Quetico model proximity to Gareth and Tave. To our chagrin, we were not able to curtail the which the Canoe News editor dubbed “an artfully dented hulk.” Big difference. curse. It happened again during the pro So when we learned that TG Canoe & race on Sunday as we pulled up alongside of them. We’re getting suspicious. Kayak of San Marcos and Austin had talked Alumacraft into manufacturing 35 Needless to say, our pro-boat race left of their long-discontinued lightweight something to be desired. Our aluminum Voyager models, we bit the bullet and race was better, and when we learned the put in our order for one. We didn’t tell quality of the competition we were up our Minnesota canoe racing friends! against, we were satisfied with our results. Dave and I decided, since we were going In August, at the USCA Nationals in Indiana, Pete Binion expressed concern all the way to Texas, to register for the to me about numbers of competitors whole enchilada – the aluminum race, the southern pro championship race, the for the Aluminum Nationals. Well Pete, you may not have had an overwhelmbanquet, Peter Heed’s paddling clinic, Texas’ 2009 USCA and lodging in the dormitory at McKin- ing number of competitors, but you Aluminum Nationals: certainly had quality. Wade Binion and ney Roughs Nature Park. Peter Heed are among the best in the The View from Minnesota We found the accommodations at . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Doug Berg McKinney Roughs to be first-rate – clean, country. Jim Short, Doug Pennington, Dale Burris and Don Walls are top shelf comfortable bunks, showers and bathy regular canoe racas well. Canadian Bob Vincent, a superb rooms and a staff which was eager and ing partner these Master paddler with a paddling resume’ available to meet our every need. Our days, Dave Dahl, and I longer than most arms, lent credibility, only room mates in the dorm were our had paddled the Colorado long-time competitors from the midwest, tradition and an international flavor to River 100 from Bastrop to the event as did Belizean Jerry Rahburn. Tave Lamperez and Canoe News editor, Columbus, Texas, in ’04, Cindy Meuer and Teddy Gray brought Gareth Stevens. Dave and I were espe‘06 and ‘07. We consequently knew a a lot of quality to the womens’ race as cially nice to them in an effort to bit about the river and the area. What did up-and-comer Ruth Sayger and her we’d found most attractive about the area exorcise the Tave/Gareth curse. partner, Becky Burris. Topping it all off was the welcoming, gracious, hospitable A word of explanation here – whenever was Peter Heed’s infectious enthusiasm we are near Tave and Gareth in a race, folks we’d met when we were down for canoe racing, expressed eloquently in there – Mike Drost (race director of the something happens and we go swimhis banquet speech and paddling clinic. ming. In several thousand miles of CR100), Cindy Meurer, Pete Binion, All in all, the Bastrop Nationals were a Mike Simmons, Erin Magee, Bob Spain. training and racing (General Clinton, first-rate experience. Kudos to the Texans. Dave and I knew that with these people Au Sable, Colorado River 100, Missouri involved in hosting the 2008 Aluminum River 340, USCA Nationals, Yukon Quest, Oh, yes. For Sale: One artfully dented et al), Dave and I had only tipped over hulk. Nationals, it would be a super event. We were not disappointed. Now Dave and I knew that when our September 28, 2008 – Bastrop, TX Minnesota canoe racing comrades, who Peter Heed (NH) / Wade Binion (TX)............................... 2:01:46 are pretty strictly pro-boat racers, learned 1 that we were going to race aluminum ca- 2 Dale Burris (AR) / Don Walls (AR).................................... 2:02:03 noes, and were going to drive all the way 3 Fred Mynar (TX) / Kyle Mynar (TX)................................. 2:02:35 to Texas to do so, we’d get some pretty 4 Jerry Cochran (TX) / Jeff Glock (TX)................................ 2:02:49 strange looks if not outright, unadulter5 Bob Vincent (ON) / Roy Tyrone (TX)............................... 2:05:20 ated scorn. But, as superb Missouri pad6 Gareth Stevens (WI) / Tave Lamperez (IL)......................... 2:07:07 dler Jim “Shorty” Short says, “Whether you’re in a tin can or a $3000 pro-boat, a 7 1st Mixed Donna Short (MO) / Jim Short (MO)............................... 2:07:50 race is a race is a race.” 8 Grady Hicks (TX)/ Pete Binion (TX)................................. 2:12:19 We also learned in the Pocahontas, 9 Dave Dahl (MN) / Doug Berg (MN)................................. 2:13:26 Arkansas 2007 Aluminum Nationals, 10 1st Women Ruth Sayger (AR) / Becky Burris (AR)................................ 2:16:11 when host Clifton Rickey loaned us a 11 2nd Women Teddy Gray (TX) / Cindy Meurer (TX)............................. 2:17:30 lightweight Alumacraft Voyager, that all 12 3rd Women Erin Magee (TX) / Debbie Richardson (TX)...................... 2:18:37 tin cans are not created equal. Before

For Sale: One Artfully Dented Hulk


1st Southern Pro Marathon Championships

Photo copyright © 2008 by David & Lynda Williams (Will Arts)


Canoe News 42/1—Early Spring

2008 USCA Aluminum Nationals: The Unofficial Junior Division Winners

Fast Young (Unofficial) Men at Texas Aluminum Nationals

Dodd Yeager (bow) & Daniel Zeek prepare to pass Tommy Yonley (bow) & Mike Rendon on the way to the downstream buoy turn at the end of the Aluminum Nationals course.

. . . . Gareth Stevens, Editor, Canoe News talked with 15 year-old-paddler Daniel Zeek, from Dickinson, TX. Daniel and his partner, Dodd Yeager (14 years) were the faster of two Junior teams that raced in an unofficial(!), nonchampionship Junior category. very terrible, low water year, but Dad If that doesn’t sound especially impresand I finished in 72 hours; 28th overall sive, read on a little. out of 101 starters and 51 finishers, and “I really enjoyed the Aluminum Nation- we were the first and only Parent-Child boat to finish. als race,” Daniel told me. “It went quick, too!” “That year, I remember the nighttime reflection from our headlamps shining Indeed it did! on the terrible red eyes of the alligators Daniel and Dodd moved their alumiwhich populate the lower Guadalupe num boat very impressively. In fact they River close to San Antonio Bay. It was beat the fastest women and ten of the pretty freakin’ scary! men’s teams. But it wasn’t “official”. In “Then in 2007, the water was average, a 22-boat field, they came 7th overall but about seven hours into the race, we – two places behind Tave and me by wrapped the boat in a rapid. My Dad time. As I talked more with Daniel, I began to understand “how come” so fast. is a Mechanical Engineer and is pretty Daniel has been paddling since he was 7 good at temporary fixes.


years old. “We paddle 5-10 miles every Tuesday,” he said, “and we do quite a few races. My partner, Dodd, has been paddling for quite a few years, too. Sometimes I’ve paddled with him and sometimes against him.” “I’ve done the Dickinson Bayou Brawl and the Young & Earnest race. And I’ve done the Texas Water Safari three times – and finished twice.” The 260-mile Texas Water Safari? I thought. That Texas Water Safari? “In the big boats?” I asked him (thinking he may have been in one of those 7- or 9-member boats). “No, tandem unlimited . . . Dad has raced the Safari every year but one since 2000. I am the fourth Zeek child to race with him. My Dad (Don) and I raced in our mixed C2 (because I was so much lighter than my Dad) in 2006, 2007, and 2008. The 2006 race was a

Canoe News 42/1—Early Spring

and we finished 8th overall, 5th Male Tandem Unlimited.” “Oh,” I said. Then: “How did you learn your paddling technique?” ( – apart from in hundreds and hundreds of miles racing on long Texan rivers, I thought). “Mostly from the Derricks* [see note on next page] down on Dickinson Bayou. They and other Safari paddlers sometimes come out with us – sometimes we train, and sometimes we just clean up the Bayou. And from my Dad. “My partner, Dodd Yeager, is a really good paddler. I believe he has trained some with Jerry Rahburn who hails

The fixed-on-the-fly Zeek boat from the 2007 “Because the structural integrity of the center of the boat was compromised, we Texas Water Safari. found a 6 foot pine log, maybe 3 or 4 inches diameter, and Dad wedged it under the back of the bow seat and back to the stern foot rest. The jug holders were moved to the very center of the boat to add weight there, and that helped to bring the ends of the boat back up. We also tie-wrapped the gunwales with smaller tree branches for stability. We continued to race for another 15 or so hours, but had to pull out, unfortunately. “Then in 2008, another mostly average water year, we had an uneventful race and finished in 62 hours; twelfth place overall out of 95 starters/53 finishers, second place Tandem, and first in the Parent-Child class. I have also raced the Colorado 100 twice, in 2007 and 2008. In the 2007 race, Dad and I finished 11th overall, 4th Men’s C2. Then in 2008, I raced with my brother Jonathan,


Upper photo copyright © 2008 by Billy Moore Lower photo copyright © 2007 by Don Zeek

Junior Aluminum

Peter Heed’s Master Class

Peter Heed’s Master Canoe Racing Clinic

a discussion of race strategy, wake riding practice and tactics, stroke technique, training tips – you name it.


I’m not surprised. After all, he wrote the book: A Competitor’s Guide to Marathon and Downriver Canoe Racing - now in its 2nd edition.

from Belize. Some of the other adult racers we have raced with include Randy Kissling, Richard Steppe, Grady Hicks, Tommy Yonley, Jay Daniel, Frank and Teddy Gray (Women’s Aluminum National Champion), Ginsie Stauss, . . . . Gareth Stevens, Editor, Canoe News and Colin Grimshaw. I know there are n his inimitable style, with a depth of probably more great racers, I just can’t experience, and a real knack for comthink of them.” municating knowledge with enthusiasm, I wonder if Daniel and Dodd would Peter Heed took his “students” through come to the 2009 Aluminum Nationals in Illinois, this year. They’d be racing, officially, in the Men Open championship division (and, incidentally, compete in the race within the race we have there – the Junior Challenge, too). If they did come, they’d give our top local Junior teams quite a run for their money – and a good many of the adult teams, too. They’d be a team worth just coming to the river to watch! * I emailed Cindy Meurer to ask about the Derricks, and told her about my conversation with Daniel. She emailed back: “Kathy Derrick was one of the first women to complete the Texas Water Safari (TWS) solo. Kathy & her husband Peter teach canoeing for home-schooled kids. The Zeeks are part of that group. Kathy was inducted into the TCRA Paddler’s Hall of Fame a few years ago. “Dodd Yeager has been coached the last few years by John Bugge, a very notable TWS paddler with about 30 finishes under his belt and numerous TWS class wins. In addition, Dodd was able to train with a few Belizeans that come up to race in the summertime. Dodd is a nice kid and has gotten even faster since last year. Dodd & his mom, Meagan, are in my Sunday paddlers’ boot camp.”

“Yes,” he said, when I asked him to give a clinic again at the 2009 Aluminum Nationals, “I still have more to share!”

Peter Heed conducting his master class. Above, playing with toy canoes and towels with waves pinched in them, to discuss wake riding; below left, expounding on stroke technique; below right, an in-water paddle stroke discussion (with relative newcomer Texan Phil Meyer standing next to Peter). More photos: inside back cover.

2009 USCA Aluminum Nationals May 16, Vernon Hills to Wheeling IL

Also featuring: • The new Junior Challenge – a race within the Aluminum Nationals • Peter Heed’s next Master Canoe Racing Clinic • The Des Plaines River Canoe Marathon the very next day

Photos copyright © 2008 by Gareth Stevens


Canoe News 42/1—Early Spring

Peter Heed’s Master Canoe Racing Clinic, Fisherman’s Park, Bastrop, TX, September 27, 2008

2008 Aluminum Nationals Results, from CN  
2008 Aluminum Nationals Results, from CN  

Results and report on the 2008 USCA Nationals Stock Aluminum Canoe Marathon Championships on the Colorado River, Bastrop, TX