The 2013 King of New York series will come to a close this weekend when the 18th Annual Moose Festival hosts the final race, a mass start event down the Class V "bottom bottom" section of the Moose River. With competitors in top form after a phenomenal Northeast paddling season, the title really could go to anyone. Here are a few things to watch when the paddles hit the water on Saturday, Oct. 19.
Bringing it back to '12…1812
The friendly USA vs. Canada rivalry has always been part of the King of New York series, but the New York title has never actually been at risk of going north of the border. With popular American Demshitz Jared Seiler challenging French-Canadian frontrunner Billy "Big Deal" Thibault for the crown, expect to see charged patriotic outpourings from both sides of the border.
The mass start above Ager's Falls makes for a real spectacle in the first moments of the race. Racers who can avoid tie-ups at this clean 18-foot waterfall must save their energy during the ensuing flatwater grind. Missing the technical move at Shurform or hitting the notorious hydraulic in Power Line Rapid can result in unforgiving beatdowns. Crystal Rapid, a stunning Class V cascade, delivers the course's toughest challenge when racers are low on energy. Spectators making the short hike up to Crystal can expect to witness some of the day's best action.
Last year, the Dagger Green Boat was the boat of choice at the Moose Race. The standings this year are much less established, and racers are looking for their edge. The Bottom Moose Race has typically been won in wildwater racing boats or sea kayaks. There's enough flat water on the course to benefit from a faster boat, but it requires talent to keep a longer race boat under control in the technical Class V rapids. Justin Beckwith knows a thing or two about racing long boats down the Moose. He is the winningest racer in the history of the Moose Race and is no stranger to a Wavehopper. Don't be surprised to see a few long boats in the lineup in this "fastest boat wins" race series.
The out-of-boat mass start adds an extra element of adrenaline and strategy as racers take a running start toward their kayaks. There is always a nervous tension as racers wiggle in to their outfitting. Both a physical and psychological factor in the race, the Le Mans start is as much a part of the course as the rapids. Look for strategizing racers that risk a cockpit full of water by gaining ground before sealing their skirts.
The After Party
After the race, Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company will be hosting the King of New York awards ceremony in Old Forge. Since winning the King of New York is its own reward, the prizes are going to those who participated, volunteered or came out to watch the events. A random competitor from one of the four KONY races will walk away with a Dagger Green Boat. There will be plenty of other prizes from Werner Paddles, NRS, SicByrd, RVR Apparel, Mountain Khakis, Immersion Research, and more. In addition to free gear, there will be free food so grab a sixer and head to Mountainman where we'll get the party started before setting off to the bars of Old Forge for the famous Moose Fest debauchery.