BELFAST, Maine — The water level may not be ideal for the first event of the region’s competitive canoe and kayak season, but organizers of the 33rd St. George River Race are ready to go as scheduled Saturday morning.

More than 60 watercraft already were pre-registered for the 6-mile trek from Searsmont Village to the Route 105 bridge in Appleton as of early Thursday, and race director Dale Cross of the Waldo County YMCA is hopeful that the total should rival last year’s field of approximately 100 entries by race time.

“The river is doable,” said Cross, “but you’ll have to be able to navigate, to turn the boat a little and find water.”

Cross said there is plenty of water in the dead-water sections of the race course, with ample opportunities to pass other boats.

The 1½ miles of rapids won’t likely be as rapid as in a typical year, however, making that stretch of the route much more technical in nature.

“It will be a different kind of challenge,” said Cross.

The low water conditions, caused by an early snowmelt as well as the lack of significant recent precipitation, could offer less-grizzled paddlers a chance to experience the competitive side of the sport.

“This may be one of the best years ever to take a grandson or granddaughter out because the water is not quite as dangerous, it’s a little slower than it usually is at this time of year,” said Cross, who added that among the pre-registrants are a record number of high school paddlers and entries in the junior/senior classifications.

The St. George River Race will start at 11 a.m., with race-day registration scheduled from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Searsmont Methodist Church on Route 131. Cost is $20 per paddler.

Proceeds from the race will benefit children’s programs at the Waldo County YMCA, and more information is available by calling 338-4598 or accessing

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...