NH UNION LEADER | JOHN KOZIOL
The race course needed snow trucked in, but paddlers still made a go of the Boat Bash Snow Crash.
Already known as a destination for whitewater kayaking on the Winnipesaukee River, Franklin is making a name for itself by hosting this unique downhill kayak race at Veterans Memorial Ski Area.
In what is believed to be the only event of its kind in New England, some two dozen competitors went head-to-head Saturday in the second annual Boat Bash.
The event was co-sponsored by the Franklin Outing Club and Mill City Park, the former having promoted community skiing in Franklin since 1961; the latter created in 2017 to promote the construction of a whitewater park on the Winnipesaukee in the downtown.
Tim Morrill, who is co-president of the Franklin Outing Club and also a member of the nonprofit that is promoting Mill City Park, said he and Marty Parichand saw snow kayak racing on the internet, thought it would be cool to have in Franklin "and last year we did it."
The 2018 races, like the inaugural ones, were held despite a paucity of snow and were a fundraiser for both the outing club and Mill City Park.
Temperatures were in the mid-40s on Saturday and there were noticeable bald spots at the ski area, whereas last year, the weather was cold and the hill was icy.
The side-by-side race course was given a couple long, swooping curves, said Morrill, while the original course was straighter, and bent only at the bottom so that several racers went off course and right into the ski lodge.
The 2018 course was built at the last minute, said Morrill, with snow trucked in from parking lots all over Franklin. The ski area's groomer pushed the snow up and down the 550-foot-plus course and an excavator was brought in on Friday to shape the track; volunteers used shovels and rakes to fine-tune it.
"It's beautiful," said Morrill, noting that the track was working well and giving racers an exciting ride. He added that the track is also unique: "It's the only one on the East Coast that we know of."
Sam Durfee of Concord was named the overall winner of the Boat Bash and will receive outdoor equipment as his prize.
Parichand, who is the executive director of Mill City Park and also a downhill kayak racer, said Franklin is increasingly on the radar of many whitewater enthusiasts because it offers the closest reliable rapids to Boston.
Mill City Park, he said, is "re-envisioning the Winnipesaukee River as a whitewater mecca" and events like the Boat Bash Snow Crash help do that.
There are 300 whitewater parks throughout the United States, Parichand said, 30 of them in Colorado alone, but there are none in New England, "and we're hoping to be the first one."
Photo Courtesy of NH Union Leader