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Dec. 9, 2018
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By Jane Harrison

High water, top awards for local Paddlers at national collegiate regatta

Lanier Canoe & Kayak Club paddlers competing on the University of North Georgia team helped their squad achieve top awards May 11 in the USA Canoe/Kayak Collegiate National Regatta at the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue. Canoeist Ben Hefner was honored as the Best Male Athlete. UNG achieved three awards: best novice men’s and women’s teams and top collegiate team. Hefner, Ian Ross, Chris Miller, Lydia Skolrood, and Kasi Paul were among LCKC paddlers who competed on the UNG team.

Regatta volunteers and officials encountered an unusual difficulty on the lake where low water has previously been a concern. With the lake level two feet above full pool, water covered part of the ramp to the finish tower. The morning of the regatta, LCKC volunteers had to clear the Olympic course of logs and debris that had washed into the channel. “Having to wade through water to get to the tower is a really great problem to have given the issues with the lake over the past few years,” said Pete Smith, regatta director and LCKC member. “ While we get our shoes wet, we’re thrilled to have water in the lake.”

Smith added that having the lake level up was an advantage for the regatta because it made course installation easier. “The only drawback over the weekend was the amount of debris in the lake. This is some of the largest debris I have seen in the area in many years and it did cause some damage to the course. We had that damage repaired before the racing began,” he said.

The canoe/kayak collegiate regatta is smaller than college rowing championships held on Lake Lanier. The teams are formed by clubs around the country and do not receive a lot of funding, Smith said. Clubs from UNG, Brenau University, Georgia Tech and Oklahoma competed. USACK plans to bring its collegiate championship back to the Olympic Venue next year.

Rowers shine at ACRA Regatta on Lanier

About 1,500 rowers from 27 states culminated their 2013 season on a prime spring weekend on Lake Lanier in the American Collegiate Rowing Association National Championship. The weekend of May 25-26 presented rowers with sunny skies, warm temperatures and smooth waters at the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue. Lake Lanier Rowing Club President John Ferriss boasted that Lanier had “the best weather for a major regatta anywhere in the country” that weekend. Members of the local rowing organization assisted the regatta host, ACRA, in its third consecutive national championship on Lanier.

The University of Michigan men’s crew continued their domination of the club sport, edging out the University of Virginia in the medal count. Grand Valley State, based in Michigan, out-rowed women’s crews from the University of California at Santa Barbara and Perdue to claim the most medals for the women.

The annual championship is for top honors among ACRA clubs, which are university and college rowing programs not sponsored by an institution’s athletic department as defined by the NCAA. Crews from Emory University, University of Georgia and Georgia Tech were among those competing.

Emory fared best of Georgia teams on the water. The Eagles’ Gabrielle Arondel won silver in the women’s single shell and the women’s varsity four claimed fourth, just missing a medal. On the men’s side, Adam Hanif advanced to the grand final, where he finished sixth for the Eagles. The Bulldogs’ Melanie Walters and Whitney McDaniel claimed silver in women’s double.

Ferriss reported that the regatta ran on schedule, utilizing eight lanes on the brimming Olympic channel. Past years’ worries about insufficient water level to race eight lanes were vanquished by heavy winter and spring rain that put Lanier’s level above full pool. Although the lake had seeped over the bottom level of the grandstands and lapped at the finish tower steps a few days prior to the regatta, it had receded from spectator areas by race day. County work crews scoured the area to remove debris that had washed in. A few stray logs that had drifted into the channel were removed by officials and boat drivers monitoring the course. Ferriss reported that one competitor in a singles shell hit a log, slightly damaging the boat.

ACRA officials reportedly said they would like to return to Lanier next year. “We need to make sure the venue is suitable,” Ferriss said. One concern he mentioned is Georgia Department of Transportation plans to replace Clarks Bridge later this year. The plan calls for a pedestrian tunnel from the boathouse side of the road to the grandstand side. The under-bridge walkway would cut down on road congestion caused by pedestrians crossing the two-lane rural road during regattas and popular events at the venue.

More than 2,000 rowers and spectators were on hand for the ACRA championship. An additional 100 or so people, including LLRC members, helped run the regatta.

LCKC athletes chosen to Team USA

Six Lanier Canoe & Kayak Club athletes were chosen to represent Team USA at international sprint competitions this season. Tim Hornsby, Chris Miller, Stanton Collins, Cannie Ash, Ben Hefner, and Ian Ross are among those selected based on their performances at the U.S. Sprint Team Trials in Oklahoma City April 26-27.

LCKC Coach Claudiu Ciur said he felt “pretty good” about his team’s placement in World Cup Senior and Under 23 squads, but was disappointed that there are no LCKC members on the junior world teams. “We have a strong senior team that can perform at a high level,” he said. “This is the first time since I have been coaching that we have had no juniors in Worlds.” Ciur has coached with LCKC since 2009. He said he hopes the strong development program will help fill a “little gap” in the junior group.

Kayaker Tim Hornsby, who competed in the 2012 London Olympics, was back in world competition May 10-12, placing 6th in the Men’s K1 200 meter B Final at World Cup 1 in Hungary and 6th in the C Final of the same event at World Cup 2 May 17-10 in the Czech Republic. LCKC Canoeist Robert Finlayson is also on the national team but did not compete in World Cups. Ciur said Hornsby has been training in Florida with the Canadian team.

LCKC kayakers Miller, Collins, and Ash were nominated to the 2013 U23 World Team to compete in the U23 and Junior World Championships Aug. 1-4 in Welland, Canada. Canoeists Hefner and Ross were also named to the U23 World Championship team to compete in Canada.

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