By GARETH STEVENS
A spectacular debut in 2010, major growth in its second year, good prize money and a Bourré Pot paid out only if a racing class record in the three-day event is broken: These are just some of the ingredients that have attracted an even bigger participation in 2012 for this weekend’s Tour Du Teche III. And more of the country’s top ultramarathon paddlers are taking notice, too.
Here are some of the key paddlers and teams to watch in the forthcoming Tour Du Teche, Oct. 5-7, from Port Barre to Berwick.
Fourre Tout: Racing Division
The unlimited spec multi-paddler boats, with the racers using single-bladed (canoe) paddles or double-bladed (kayak) paddles) or even both, switching from one type to the other to give specific sets of muscles a rest from time to time! Often, but not always, these teams produce the fastest overall times. There’s a $1,000 Bourré Pot if the winning team beats the record time of 22:07:59 set by Tave Lamperez of St. Charles, Ill. (see this year’s Tandem Double Blade Division) and Wally Werderich (Yorkville, Ill.) in 2011.
The teams to watch:
Boat 2 – The four-man team of TDT newcomer Kent Harlan (Dripping Springs, Texas), joining TDT veterans Mike Gordon, Joe Geisinger, and Jason Locke, all three of Austin, Texas.
Boat 4 – The three-man team of TDT newcomer Jeremiah Jackson (Webster, Texas) joining TDT veterans Brad Rex (Lafayette) and Robin Lashway (Galveston, Texas), who together placed second overall in the 2011 TDT.
Solo Double Blade Paddle Racing Division
Boat 16 – Scott Weinert (Dallas), 2011 division winner, holder of the current record: 24:51:07, this year’s target for the $1,000 Bourré Pot.
Boat 5 – Mark Addison (Houston). Addison is a very strong contender, first solo in the 2011 Colorado River 100, Competition Class. He’ll probably be the solo paddler to beat this year. Scott Weinert’s comment on learning that Addison was in the mix was “Ouch!”
Weinert regards the results of the Colorado River 100, a prestigious 100-mile race from Bastrop, Texas, to Columbus, Texas, as providing the closest skill set comparison to the TDT for judging the competition but, he adds, “There are too many variables like wind/water conditions, luck, injuries, state of training, conditions a particular hull is suited for, skills relevant to the particular venue, etc.” to draw firm conclusions.
Boat 12 – Morris Paillet (Houston) will also be an interesting paddler to follow. He beat TDT veteran Robin Lashway into second place in the Adventure Class of the 2011 Colorado River 100.
Boat 9 – Tomas Golan (New Iberia) An interesting, and potentially a very fast paddler in the future. Golan is new to paddling, and has done little racing. Yet in 2011 he not only came in eighth overall in TDT II (in 25:08:24) in a leaky kayak (he had to stop and empty it numerous times), but he won the sheriff-timed “Speed Trap” in St. Martinville in the final “sting-in-the-tail” sprint to the finish line on Day One.
Says Golan: “During the race I realized that a new boat with a lesser leak may be a good idea. I bought Huki S1-Z. I went to pick it up in Texas and got it just 30 minutes before my second race. I finished dead last but I did greatly improve my swimming abilities. Since that time the ratio of kayaking to swimming has improved but I am trying to keep my ambitions in check and approach it in a Zen way: just go there, breath calmly and paddle vigorously.”
Tandem Double Blade Paddle – Racing Division
Boat 23 – Clay Wyatt and Logan Mynar, both of Martindale, Texas. Tandem Unlimited winners of the 260-mile, 50th anniversary Texas Water Safari this year.
Boat 21 – Texan Brad Pennington (Houston) and ... who? Not Ken Startz (Victoria, Texas)! Startz was signed up but has had to drop out because of a recent shoulder injury. However, word on the stream is that Pennington has picked up a pretty fast replacement: Joost Zeegers. Zeegers, a fast paddler from Bellingham, Wash. who has qualified for the World Championships at the U.S. marathon trials four times. He is a good pick for Pennington. Pennington himself has excelled in marathon and ultramarathon races, for example taking first place in solo kayak in the Yukon River Quest (460 miles in 44:14 hours) in 2008. But Pennington and Zeegers will likely have a race on their hands with Wyatt and Mynar.
Boat 22 – The only mixed team, veteran (and good) canoe paddlers who have gone to the dark side (double-bladed paddles): Jim and Donna Short (Springfield, Mo.) are no match for the foregoing teams, but game paddlers and fun to watch, and to shoot the breeze with later, on the bank.
These teams are all out to beat the record time of 21:11:15 held by Alan Lamb (Cornell, N.Y.) and Richard Steppe (Dallas), who are not at this year’s TDT.
Solo Single Blade Paddle – Racing Division
Boat 24 – Wade Binion (College Station, Texas) will probably be fighting it out with Boat 27 Jonathan Yonley (Fort Polk) and Boat 26 Chris White (Austin, Texas). All three of these paddlers should handily beat the record (25:30 hours) established last year by the writer of this piece, Gareth Stevens, Hubertus, Wis.
Tandem Single Blade Paddle – Racing Division
Boat 29 – Tave Lamperez (St. Charles, Ill.) and Aaron Vidusek (Hampshire, Ill.). Lamperez, who is a veteran of two TDTs, and is paddling with his nephew.
Boat 28– Steve Conlon (Batavia, Ill.) and Pat Faul (Lake Zurich, Ill.) This is the team that in 2011 established Tandem Single Blade Division’s record and $1,000 Bourré Pot target of 24:59:58.
Both of these teams will have their hands full with:
Boat 31 – Tommy and Sandy Yonley of Houston, coming to the bayou “fresh” from a very impressive fourth place overall in the 2012 Texas Water Safari.
USCA C2 – Racing Division
Boat 32 – Rocky Caldwell (West Plains, Mo.) and Gareth Stevens (Hubertus, Wis.). Caldwell is new to the Teche. Not so Stevens. He covered the inaugural TDT in 2010 for USCA’s “Canoe News” magazine and established the solo canoe record a year later. Caldwell is a veteran long distance canoe racer. “Rocky’s a stronger paddler than I am,” says Stevens. “I’m counting on Rocky to pull me down the bayou a lot faster than I paddled last year.”
Boat 33 – Dave Dahl and Rick Lorenzen (both of Maple Grove, Minn.) A strong team from way up north, this is their inaugural Teche. However, they are no strangers to ultramarathon paddling. They each have many years of marathon canoe racing under their belts, and placed second in the Yukon 1,000 (yes, that’s a thousand miles!) in 2010. Their combined ages at this time total 119 years, incidentally.
Boat 34 – Teddy Gray (Houston) and Ginsie Stauss (Austin, Texas): Last year’s record setters, this year’s USCA National Aluminum Canoe Marathon champions, these great women paddlers are out to beat their record setting time of 27:14:37 from 2011, when they finished in 10th position overall. Stauss also came in fifth overall in the inaugural Tour Du Teche in 2010, paddling with Grady Reed (Texas) in a mixed unlimited boat in a time of 26:30 hours – that was the non-stop, straight-through, 128-mile year, before the evolution to the current three day stage race format.
Now, who have I missed? You’ll find out this coming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Tour Du Teche III. Don’t miss it!
Gareth Stevens was editor of “Canoe News,” 2002-2010.