Dispatch from Vermont's New Haven Ledges Race
Text and Photos by Scott Martin
Spring in the Northeast has arrived, and with it, the start of creek racing season. The smell of maple syrup and sight of red flannel overwhelmed the senses at the New Haven Ledges Race this past weekend. With a late spring melt, the conditions could not have been better. Boaters from all over New England headed to the New Haven River, a few miles outside of Bristol, Vt., to take part in the annual event.
The race has seen many faces over the years, from head-to-head racing, to big prize money, to low flows, and now to high flows. This year, the race was run as a time trial. Saturday morning arrived after a night of heavy rain and, as expected, the river was full. The parking area was full of drysuits, plastic and cold hands. Organizers wanted to hold the race, but in a safe capacity. The opening heat started off the ramp and through the first rapid. The full river level made for an exciting short course. After the creekboat, long-boat and even one playboat heats, the event stopped for lunch, allowing the river to drop.
With more favorable afternoon river levels, racers waited eagerly for their turn down the half-mile course. Race organizers stated that, “the level for the final heat was about perfect for the very skilled group of boaters that came out yesterday and may have been the best representation of what the Ledges Race is about, to date.”
The winning times were fast and stacked close together. Local knowledge of the river favored the top three places, which were all regional boaters—Justin Beckwith taking first, followed by Ben Schott in second and Rogan Savage Brown in third.