The annual Choo-Kwa Challenge canoe races were held on Saturday, August 27th and ended with the Ucluelet Canoe taking top spot.
Although warm and sunny, a strong wind whipped up the Alberni Canal and provided a few whitecaps along the Somass River where five canoes and a dragon boat had come to race.
The Ucluelet crew was quick to figure out the path of least resistance, and consistently paddled close to the far shore of the river where trees sheltered the canoe from strong winds. The strategy worked as Ucluelet beat out the Hupacasath, Tla-o-qui-aht, Batstar Adventures, and NTC canoe teams, as well as the dragon boat, which held more than double the number of pullers than any of the canoes.
Almost 100 people lined the shoreline and walkway between Clutesi Haven Marina and the Tsu-maas Park at Victoria Quay. Hupacasath’s Buddy Hamilton fanned the fires of the cheering crowd with his pre-race color commentary and play-by-play during the race.
Between races, most people took time to visit the new whaler’s monument and welcoming poles, or visit the Choo-Kwa gift shop and artisan stands selling everything from earrings to upsquee.
By David Wiwchar