KENDUSKEAG, Maine — Greenville native Chip Cochrane had originally intended to attend the 48th annual Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race to support his wife, Lani Love-Cochrane, and her paddling partner Shelley Koenig.
But, three days before the race, when 17-year-old daugher Czari expressed interest in entering the race for the first time and teaming up with him, he signed on.
And the Cochranes won the C-2 Mixed Recreational Class with a time of 2:06:12, beating 17 other teams.
Chip Cochrane and his dad, Warren, won the C-2 Family Class at the Kenduskeag race in 1974.
“When I heard she wanted to do it, I was psyched,” said Cochrane, who co-owns Allagash Canoe Trips with his wife and is a ski coach at Carrabassett Valley Academy, where his list of former proteges includes Olympic gold medalist Bode Miller. “We pushed hard. My daughter is a real competitor. It’s in her blood. She is a high-class ski racer.”
“It was a lot of fun,” said Czari, a senior at Carrabassett Valley Academy who is leaning toward attending Plymouth State College (N.H.) next fall. “It was a good day to do it. The water was good. [When we got to Six Mile Falls] I just did what my dad told me to do.”
Chip Cochrane said the conditions were ideal.
“It was great. The water was high, there was a little tailwind and there was a lot of good competition,” said Cochrane.
His wife and Koenig also had an impressive showing, finishing second in the C-2 Women’s Recreation Class to Kailey Schmidtt and Sammi Nadeau of Orono.
Kayaker Trevor MacLean of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, continued his dominance of the race as he posted the best time for the sixth straight year and notched his 10th overall triumph. He completed the shortened course in 1:49:47 and has now finished first or second 13 straight years.
Impending high tides forced the 16.5-mile race to be shortened by one mile so the race finished at the mandatory portage at the Flour Mill Dam on Valley Avenue for just the second time.
Eight hundred paddlers in 407 craft negotiated the course on the cool, overcast day.
There were at least 75 spills at Six Mile Falls and two reported minor injuries, including a lacerated heel on one foot and a swollen ankle on the other suffered by Scarborough’s Bridget Sullivan. But she said she will try it again next year.
The second-fastest time of 1:51:47 was turned in by the open class canoe containing Old Town’s Rick O’Donald, Chip Loring, Bill Anderson, Bronwen Pierson and Paul Brown along with Justin Wardwell of Hampden and Rod McClain of Newburyport, Mass.
The fastest time by a two-person canoe belonged to Steve Woodard and Jeff Owen of Orono (1:53.57).
R.J. Walker of Parsonsfield and Shaila DeLea of Portland beat 12 other teams to win the C-2 Mixed Beginner class despite the fact DeLea was a first-time racer and a fill-in.
“His buddy had to go to a wedding. I was the next option,” said DeLea. “I was nervous knowing the water was as high as it was and it was freezing cold. [At Six Mile Falls], all these boats had tipped over. So I figured, ‘Oh, God,’ we were going over because everyone else did.
“We went straight over a big rock and got hung up on it. I pushed us off it and jumped in the canoe and, luckily, we didn’t go over,” said Walker, a Kenduskeag race veteran who notched his first top-three finish.
“It was super-fun,” said DeLea.
Among the other winners in the 24 different classes were Bob Martin of Dedham and Eric Taylor of Bangor, who captured the C-2S expert class with a time of 2:07:03.
Martin was in his 44th Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race, as was fellow competitor Irving Gilbert.
“I was very happy with our time. Everything went well,” said the 63-year-old Martin, who portaged Six Mile Falls with Taylor because “my canoe was old and brittle and I didn’t want to take a chance of breaking it.”
For a number of first-timers, it was memorable.
Ten students from the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor gave it a whirl, including Navi Whitten of Cape Elizabeth and Luke Greco of North Haven, Conn. The COA students capsized at Six Mile Falls, got help bailing out their canoe and then successfully negotiated the falls on their second try.
Waterlogged UMaine student Kristen Weil of New Mexico ran it with Minnesota native Charles Rodda and said “it was really tranquil and amazing. We saw a huge osprey. Then it was horrifying.”
Justin Bennett of Bethel invited his friend Juan Mateo of Brooklyn, N.Y., to paddle the race with him. Mateo, who is dating Bennett’s sister-in-law, took him up on the offer.
“He took me bike riding in Spanish Harlem. This is the Maine equivalence,” quipped Bennett.
Twins Holly and Nina Whitney of Bowdoinham paddled it for the first time; Bangor native Jlynn Frazier teamed with Jared Palmer of Thorndike, whom she met for the first time Saturday morning after her partner had canceled; Sandy MacNeill of Fredericton, New Brunswick, competed solo after partner Kip Fullarton returned home on a family emergency and Sidney’s Johanna Harvey, a two-time Kenduskeag racer, took fellow UMaine seniors and first-timers Reicelle Garcia of the Philippines and Meera McCanna of New Hampshire for a pregraduation adventure.