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20th annual Kenduskeag Stream Slalom Race paddled Sunday

The race is part of the New England Slalom Series, which holds races all throughout New England, and in New York.
Published: May. 2, 2021 at 6:38 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Whitewater paddlers from as far as Pennsylvania came to Bangor this weekend to show off their skills.

Maxfield Dam was the site for the 20th annual Kenduskeag Slalom Canoe and Kayak Race.

Clayton Cole has been organizing the Kenduskeag Stream Slalom race for the past two decades.

The race is part of the New England Slalom Series, which holds races all throughout New England, and in New York.

”Last week was our first event in 2021 and the first since 2019,” said Clayton Cole.

Roughly 20 paddlers showed up from all over to show off their whitewater paddling skills.

A victory over last’s year’s edition that was canceled due to the pandemic.

”Down River races in Maine here have been very well attended so far, so there is definitely a big appetite to be outside and enjoy the River, and paddle. It’s great,” said Cole.

The 300-meter highly technical course calls on paddlers to pass through gates while trying to make it downstream as quickly as they can.

”Each gate is either green, that’s a downstream gate, or red, meaning the paddler has to pass through the gate upstream direction. If you touch a gate, you get a penalty of 10 seconds, if you don’t pass through a gate, you get a 50-second penalty, so the penalties are significant in a race that’s only 3 minutes long. One 50 second penalty and you’re out of it,” Cole said.

Heavy rain much of the state saw Friday before the race was a tremendous help in creating the ideal course conditions.

”We got almost two inches of rain and it really made a difference on how we could have a course that’s not dry and scratchy, but rather high and wet and wild,“ said Cole.

”More gates, more options on where to place those gates, paddlers don’t have to worry about hitting rocks, scrapping their boat, or maybe even crunching it,” added Cole.

Cole says the volunteers, from those that set up the course, to the folks working the radios, and keeping times, make the event successful every year.

”I have a philosophy that if you like canoe racing or some other outdoor activity, you should get involved and volunteer. You don’t have to be the organizer, but volunteer and help out. This is how we can assure that these events are here, year after year,” Cole said.

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