A regatta for every kind of paddler

Sep 19, 2015

The serene sounds of nature that typically surround the Lloyd Center for the Environment were replaced with hoots and hollers as racers paddled their way to victory – no matter what kind of seafaring vessel they were in – during the 10th annual Slocum Challenge Regatta.

“This event is to get people out on the water and enjoying the water,” the Lloyd Center’s Director of Communications JoAnn Cornell said. “This is a great way to gain awareness of the Slocum River.”

The regatta is unique in that it’s open to racing shells, open-water shells, kayaks, canoes, surf-skis, traditional rowing boats, whaleboats, pilot gigs and stand-up paddleboards. All proceeds of the Slocum Challenge Regatta will go to benefit the Lloyd Center’s Estuary Education Programs that promote stewardship of the river.

Participating in this year’s regatta were last year’s reigning champs of the Women’s Elite Whaleboat event, the “Dirty Oars” from the Whaling City Rowing organization.

“It’s fun and always a nice day,” Elizabeth Labelle of the Dirty Oars said. “It’s a good distance.”

The two-mile loop course included a scenic view of the Slocum River estuary, as well as an end goal of various prizes sponsored by businesses in the area.

Labelle said last year was the first year the course was exactly two miles because it was mapped out with a GPS.

The Whaling City Rowing organization entered four teams into the various events.

“We row year-round and it’s really affordable for all ages,” Dirty Oars member Melissa O’Dowd said. “No experience is needed.”

Labelle said the club has members of all ages, even those in their eighties. To join, members must be older than 13.

“It’s good exercise,” said Labelle. “You leave everything at the dock and everyone is so helpful.”

Sailor Helena McClafferty said because the Whaling City teams get to keep their boats at the Lloyd Center, they sometimes get to take trips without the pressure of competing.

“It’s a great course. It’s smooth, the weather is perfect, and families are out cheering for you on the docks,” Lisa Belanger of the Rowmones said. “There are a lot of families rowing together.”

Barbara Belanger added that there was great food and the event was really just one big community gathering.

“Everyone wants to do well. We help one another and we cheer them on,” said Rowmones member Debbie Gabriel. “It’s a fabulous race and we keep coming back.”