By Kenny Unser
Whitewater racing is strong in New England this year, and it may owe some of its growth to the Lozer Cup. In the weeks since the highly attended festival race, Lozer Cup athletes attended independent races at New York's Black River, Connecticut's Tariffville Gorge, and Maine's Penobscot River. A couple Lozer Cup inspired pick-up races even emerged in July including a weekly series on New Hampshire's Otter Brook.
"The Lozer crew was prominent at the [Penobscot] race," said Justin Crannell, a Lozer Cup athlete from Glens Falls, N.Y., "About half the field was composed of Lozer Cup racers." Entrenched in the New England paddling culture, the Lozer Cup stands as a rite of passage for any skilled paddlers wanting to test their stamina against the growing Northeast racing community.
The third race of the 2013 Lozer Cup season turned out to be more of a family affair compared to the Deerfield festival event. Most of the racers were local mainstays set on locking in solid finishes to boost their standings in the overall point series. Because outsiders unlikely to complete the three events needed to win the point series won the previous two races, the 2013 Lozer Cup title was up for grabs. For racers, the opportunity to establish a point series lead was palpable. Veteran racer Joey Tammaro, a dominant force in the esteemed "retro" boat class, obtained a brand new Pyranha Speeder and moved up to the faster "long boat" class.
The field included two women that have been making their way up the New England racing ranks. Ellen Ludlow, an alumna of Dartmouth's esteemed Ledyard Canoe Club, paddled a Dagger Green Boat while Boston AMC's Barrett Phillips chose a playboat for her first Lozer Cup racing experience. Another Lozer Cup first timer, 14-year-old Virginian Robert Waldron, raced a boat older than himself in his first ever run down the Dryway section.
A diverse group of competitors gathered for the upstream-facing noon start below Monroe Bridge before guest race official Ellie Becker sounded the horn to start the fracas. As racers jockeyed for position, teenage phenom Ryan Mooney had ground to gain against the long boat leaders. As he attempted to overtake racer Jeff Belanger, Mooney found himself upside down struggling to right himself in a tight pack of aggressive racers. In the end, Mooney won the race despite the fray and established a lead in the point series. With two races to go, Mooney will have his work cut out defending his tenuous front-runner status.
The series continues on August 25th when guest race official Joey Tammaro takes the reins. With 1,100 cfs in the river, the fourth event of the 2013 Lozer Cup season should provide for some fast race times. All capable paddlers in all capable craft are encouraged to join.