Sheepscot River Race draws crowds on water, shore

Posted:  Tuesday, July 4, 2017 - 6:15pm

In its 28th year, the Sheepscot River Race had over 50 paddlers on the water July 4, and an equal number or more cheering them on at the Recreational Pier in Wiscasset.

A lot of the boaters were young, organizer Scott Shea said.”We had eight teenagers or even younger people paddling on their own on the course. And seven or eight who were with adults.” One of the young people who turned in an excellent time was Shea’s own son, Keigan Shea, 11, of Freeport, who had a time of one hour and 32 minutes.

Not all the paddlers were young, however. Coming in first in the recreational kayak race for men was Jock Dyer, who finished the 6.2-mile race in one hour and nine minutes. Dyer, who lives in Freeport, is 73. “I’m glad I finished the race,” he said. “I never expected to do this sort of time.”

The recreational boater’s time was only about 10 minutes off the experienced racers’ times, according to the final leader board.

Among the competitive racers, Jason Boltes came in first in the men’s kayak division at 59:59, and Ali Harka came in first in the women’s kayak division at 1:10:40. Rod McLain came in first in stand up paddleboard at 58:41, and Monk Thorbund came in first in surf ski at 48:48.

Chip Loring and Terri Wescott won the competitive adult two-person canoe race, with a time of 55:41, and William Anderson won the one-person canoe race with a time of 56:22.

In the recreational kayak race, Dyer came in first in the men’s division, Victoria Sokolowski came in first in the women’s division with a time of 1:11:14, and 16-year-old Sophie Stephens came in first in the youth division, in 1:17:40.

Susan Bickford turned in a time of 1:39:42 in a Hobie pedalboat.

Lance and Elias Baldwin were the only recreational canoeists to record a time. They came in at 1:17:29. Three canoes from Camp Chewonki were honored for their effort, since they had started later due to traffic.

Shea said the course is typically gentle except for the last half-mile or so, when headwinds off the ocean often cause paddlers to struggle. Today, however, the winds did not arise, and the journey across the open Sheepscot River was much easier than in previous years.

Waiting for the paddlers at the Wiscasset waterfront were crowds of well-wishers and the Marshall Nelson Trio, who played rock favorites from the 70s and 80s. There were also plenty of snacks and refreshments, including watermelons, fruit snacks and drinks.

Even with this year’s crowd, Shea said he’ll have to consider moving the race to a different date in years to come, because there are too many competing events on the Fourth of July.

“Local businesses and the Chamber of Commerce were outstanding,” he said. “Our goal is to make this a bigger event that attracts a lot of people from all over the country.”

Businesses that provided door prizes included Central Maine Pyrotechnics, Sarah’s Cafe, Sprague’s Lobster, Forgotten Recipes, Big Al’s, and QT’s Ice Cream.