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A highlight of the New England paddling season, the Maine Whitewater Championship is a series of races that happen every summer on two of Maine’s most popular rivers. This year we gathered on the Kennebec River on June 20th for a time trial and mass start through the beautiful big waves of the Kennebec Gorge, and on the Penobscot River July 31st for a time trial, duo kayak race and slalom race through an iconic rapid known as the Cribworks

For the second year in a row, we had a great turn out for the Kennebec race and tight competition for the top spots. This year Jackson team paddler Beckham Bayreuther took the overall first spot in the time trial in his Antix 2.0 with a time of 11:37 for the four -mile paddle through the gorge. He narrowly beat out the other top paddlers to secure the victory for the second year in a row. Following behind him was Raef Gormley in a Jackson Nirvana with a time of 11:41 for second place and Alex Blackie in a Jackson Nirvana with a time of 11:43 for third place.

In the women’s time trial, Jackson team paddler Alex Horne took the first seat with a time of 12:05 in her Jackson Nirvana (seventh overall). Pyrahna paddler Jessie Sterling took second in the women’s division with a time of 12:17 in her scorch and third place went to Madeline Lee with a time of 12:43 in her Pyrahna 9R. The mass start that followed was fun and exciting as usual, with many lead changes and a few racers getting held up in Magic Hole. Top finishers were Ben Schott in first, Beckham Bayreuther in second and Nathan Wertheimer in third. Top female finishers in the mass start were Alex Horne in first, Madeline Lee in second and Katie Brady in third. We finished the day off gathered at our favorite local bar, the Marshall.

About a month later we gathered in the North Maine Woods for a second day of racing. This year’s participation for the Penobscot race doubled over last year’s, and we had a great day racing beneath the shadow of Katahdin. The course is fast and exciting, beginning with a narrow gorge filled with holes, followed by the technical rapid know as the Crib Works, where finesse keeps racers on line and fast. Our top male finishers in the time trial were, in first, Mike Flynn (Waka Steeze) with a time of 8:28:30, second Mike Smith (Waka Steeze) 8:36:15 and third Alex Blackie (JK Nirvana) 8:39:75. Top female finishers were: Jessie Sterling (Pyrahna Scorch) 9:17:30, Alex Horne (JK Nirvana): 9:27:38 and Madeline Lee (Pyrahna 9R) 9:51:39.

New this year was a duo race. We had six tandem kayaks racing the course for the first time! Top finishers were Jessie Sterling and Matt Melcher in their Pyrahna fusion duo with a time of 12:06. Coming in second was Matt Amidio and Alex Blackie in their JK dynamic duo and in third was the father/son combo of Eli and Kirk Ross in their JK dynamic duo.

The day closed out with 25 racers taking on the slalom course the Cribworks rapid. This course involves catching five eddies while paddling through this technical rapid. There was a lot of excitement this year, with a couple of DNFs and fast times for top finishers. Taking first this year was Beckham Bayreuther with a time of 1:29. Second place went to Pyrahna paddler Matt Melcher with a time of 1:33 and in third was Joey Seerfield, closely behind with a time of 1:34. In the women’s division Madeline Lee took the top slot with a time of 2:35 and Jessie Sterling came in second with a time of 3:03. It turned out to be a beautiful day with great competition throughout the day. We ended the evening with an awards ceremony and raffle. The top prize of an Antix 2.0 went to Madeline Lee. We’re so excited for her!

We closed out the weekend, and Maine racing season, with a play trip the day after the Penobscot race. A group of fifteen paddlers gathered to enjoy higher flows and a beautiful morning on the river. The community is small in this area of Maine, but they’re passionate about whitewater and stewards of this beautiful river. Come check it out, you’ll be glad you made the trip!

Maine Whitewater Championship 2022 dates:
Kennebec race: June 18th, 2022
Penobscot race: July 30th, 2022

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