BY MIKE LYNCH
New York politicos hit the water earlier this week, rafting in the Adirondack Challenge whitewater races on the Indian River in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains.
To nobody's surprise, Gov. Andrew Cuomo came out the victor, beating the likes of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York State Senator Betty Little and a long list of government officials. Journalists from all over the state also joined in the fray.
“You’re going down, Bloomberg! You’re going down!” Cuomo shouted repeatedly from his raft at the start of Monday's three-mile race, according to a local newspaper.
Those words turned out to be prophetic as Cuomo bested his opponent by 18 seconds, his team cruising through sets of Class III rapids. Cuomo's raft also won Sunday, when Bloomberg wasn't there, beating about 25 other seven-person teams.
Timers were likely under pressure to make sure the governor's times were a bit faster than his opponents.
The event came after months of lighthearted trash-talking by Cuomo, who announced the idea during his State of the State address in January.
"When we first started talking about it, they thought that we were kidding because it sounded too different, too extreme," Cuomo said Sunday to a crowd at the Gore Mountain ski center, where awards were handed out.
But this event was hardly extreme, and things went pretty smoothly for most participants. One of the few to get dunked was Cuomo's aide and teammate Lawrence Schwartz, who fell out of the boat Sunday after his raft nailed a boulder at the end of the race at the confluence of the Indian and Hudson rivers.
Schwartz was scooped up before getting sucked downstream into the roaring Hudson, which has some of the finest whitewater in the Adirondacks. It features Class III in the summer, but rises to Class IV and V in the spring months when the hard rains trigger snowmelt in mountains.
The race was conceived to draw attention to Adirondack recreational activities, especially the rafting industry in the sleepy towns of North Creek and Indian Lake, which have a combined population of about 2,000.
Cuomo has grown fond of rafting here after taking several trips with a local guide known only as "Bone," one of the owners of the Beaverbrook Outfitters.
Bone also guided Cuomo in these races, making up for any deficiencies of his crew.
"I saw a lot of ugly things out there on the river today," Cuomo joked. "Some of us have a lot of work to do when it comes to paddling coordination."
[A lot’s been happening up in the Adirondacks lately. Click HERE to read about Eric Adsit’s new whitewater find, and HERE to read coverage from the Black Race, the first of the four-event King of New York series.]