Registrations for the ninth annual Yukon River Quest, the longest annual canoe and kayak race in the world, reached the 75-team mark at the end of March, ensuring another record field.
This year's race will be run on June 27 to July 1, 2007. The 740-kilometer (460-mile) wilderness adventure paddling marathon is held on the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City in Canada’s Yukon Territory. The YRQ will again have an international flavor this year, with teams coming from Great Britain, Australia, Israel, Austria, and South Africa, as well as from all across Canada and the United States.
The total 2007 race purse has been set at $26,500 (CAD).
Also new for this year's race is an expanded canoe class that allows faster standard canoes up to 18' 6" in length, but with waterline width restrictions to ensure safe passage on Lake Laberge and through Five Finger Rapids. The YRQ has its own measuring system for canoes and kayaks which can be found in the FAQs on the website.
Additional safety measures have been put in place as well for the 2007 race.
"We have ramped up our mandatory gear list," said Jeff Brady, president of YRMPA. "With the wet, chilly weather last year, we found that quite a few teams did not have additional changes of clothing, so we've moved that from a suggested item to a mandatory item. Teams also must carry a backpack-type stove and pot for heating water. We hope this will cut down on the number of teams that scratch early, like we had last year. Still, we'll have the usual complement of safety boats out there to help those who need it."
The Yukon River Quest is one of the premier events in the north and the paddling world. It has been featured on the BBC, CBC and in numerous paddling and adventure magazines. Last year, the National Film Board followed the Yukon Paddlers Abreast team, which will be featured in an upcoming film called "River of Life" which is expected to be released this summer.
After a LeMans-style start in downtown Whitehorse, teams paddle round-the-clock under the midnight sun, stopping for just two mandatory rests at Carmacks (7 hours) and Kirkman Creek (3 hours). It is a grueling wilderness adventure race that tests the stamina of both professional and recreational paddlers from around the globe. The prize, for many, is just finishing the event in world-famous Dawson City, site of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-1898.
Final deadline for entries is May 26, 2007, but the new limit of 85 canoe and kayak teams will likely be reached by the end of April. The YRQ allows voyageur teams above the 85-team limit, and thus far three are registered. Most categories have a full complement of teams, but there is a need for more women's tandem kayak and canoe teams, as well as more teams in a new five-team experimental solo canoe class. A 25-team solo kayak limit was reached just two months after the registration period opened in October.
In 2006 the race limit was met and 74 teams started the event, while 57 finished. It was the second straight high-water year, and six category records were broken, including the new course record of 40:37:05 set by the tandem kayak team of David Kelly and Brandon Nelson.
Entry fees are $700 (CAD) for tandem canoes and kayaks, $400 for solo canoes and kayaks, and $200 per person for voyageur canoe teams of six or more paddlers. Each team also must post a refundable $200 rescue deposit in the event that they, along with their gear, have to be evacuated by safety boat.
Volunteers are the cornerstone of the event, Brady added, but more are needed to help as the race grows. "We have great safety boats and great checkpoint crews, but we will need more bodies to help make the event run smoothly," he said.
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If anyone is interested in helping with the event, please contact the race organization at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 867-33FLOAT.