It would take a lot more than a few spots of rain and a little bit of thunder to keep 40 riverboat racers off the North Saskatchewan River on Saturday, July 21st. It wasn't just all about having fun, although that certainly was one of the main components of the day, but it was also to help raise money for a very worthy cause.
The Capital Riverboat Club, based out of Edmonton, is a very new club at only two years old, but they have already managed to attract almost 30 members,with 15 joining just this spring.
This race marked their second annual race and poker run, with Garrett Schmidt, the organizer of the race, stating that they would like to see this turn into a yearly event. "Last year, at our first race we had 44 boats show up." said Garret. "This year the weather kept a couple of people away but we are still really happy with the turn out and expect to have a great day."
The race drew competitors from as far away as Red Deer, Whitecourt, Grande Prairie and even Chauvin, Saskatchewan.
Racers launched from Devon's Voyageur Park and streaked 38 miles upriver, with designated stops along the way to play their poker hand, and then made the foam fly on their return run back to the finish line. Seventy six miles on the water, including stops, is accomplished in under six hours, so you know those boats are just about flying!
With an emphasis on just getting out on the river to have some fun, there was still some fierce competition to take one of the top spots in the race. The winning racer would be receiving $480.00, second place would take home $240.00 and third would score $120.00, so there was definitely incentive to make good time on the water and to pray to the pokers gods for a good hand!
The racers weren't the only people that came away winners from this event either. When they began these events, the Capital Riverboat Club decided to donate a portion of the proceeds to a different charity each year, and this year the lucky charity of choice was the Leduc Community Living Association (LCLA).
This year the winning racer was Neil Friesen from Stony Plain, second place was taken by Jackie Cox from Devon, and Bernie Biever from Airdrie captured third. Then, as is so typical of generous Albertans, Jackie and Bernie donated back their hard won winnings to the charity. So at the end of the day, this enabled the club to donate a total of $600.00 to LCLA.
Fun and frolic on the water weren't the only things that the Capital Riverboat Club had planned for the day. Once the race was completed, there was a steak BBQ dinner and a scavenger hunt for the kids, with each child taking home a prize. "This is very much a family event." said Garrett. "We're really happy to see these racers bringing out their whole family and making a day of it, or even camping out and making it a weekend getaway. Ideally, that is what we want to see this event turn into. We also couldn't have pulled this off without our sponsors either. Flaman's, Allen's Transport, Black Ink Oilfield Mechanical Service and the Town of Devon, just to name a few."
For those who love to go fast on the water and are interested in checking out the club, you can go onto their site at www.capitalriverboatclub.com, or you can call Garrett directly at 780-966-7921.