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The sun has set on another Hell or High Water Race up in Petawawa, Ontario Canada. To my knowledge, it may well be the largest whitewater race in North America, with over 400 registered racers

HOHW continues to grow, with participants coming in from across the country, and even international competitors now. We had over 400 registered racers this year, and the guided portion of the raft race sold out in less than two weeks. Beginners to experts, HOHW provides a chance for any interested person to experience whitewater by getting in a raft – or making their own team. The event is partnered with Esprit Rafting again this year to supply all the equipment and a guide for the teams that need it.

The event also raised close to $8000 for three local causes close to the hearts of those in the Ottawa Valley: Soldier On, a charity that works to help injured CF members get back on their feet; the Petawawa Military Family Resource Centre; and, Whitewater Ontario, an organization working to help keep Ontario’s rivers clean, safe and accessible. A portion of the funds will go directly to the fight to try and keep the Petawawa River free of an impending hydro dam, and ensure that it remains a recreational resource for whitewater paddlers well into the future.

This annual event is so important, for so many reasons, as the whitewater community – and the community at large – is getting deep into the battle over the river. The event began as a means of increasing river usage, and documenting the record of safe navigation at variable flows. With record high flows this year (2011, approx 200 cms) and at near record low flows (2010, approx 45 cms) the event accomplished this. Not to mention the 1200+ person trips that made it safely down the river over the weekend.
All of the participants were great ambassadors of the river community. The place was clean, tidy and there were nothing but positive comments from residents, officials or police.

We had a high water course this year that tested the rafters, canoes and kayaks to the limits. Big waves, big holes, big flips, long swims and for those that were clean, some record fast times. A description of the Petawawa Town Run can be found on

Top Male: Blake Mahoney (Remix)
Top Female: Leah Kindree (Jackson Punk Rocker)
Top Raft: Small Innocent Creatures with Clubs (captained by Jon Booren)

I know the times are pretty messy, but things got really hectic this year with 400+ racers, and although the timing team did their best, we may have a few mistakes in there.

Full Results can be found here: HOHW 2011 Final Results in the following order: All Times / Rafts / Men Long / Women Long / Men Short / Women Short.

By the Numbers:

1000+ spectators
40+ volunteers
400+ racers

200 cms
50 raft teams
125+ kayaks
3 canoes
2 injuries
and…thousands of happy people that were introduced, or reintroduced to the Petawawa River and the joy of whitewater. We are blessed in this community to have access to a river like this, and we need to remind the public of this every chance we get.

Thank again for the support , and we hope to see everyone out next year!

As told by event organizer Philip Kompass