Saturday, February 4, turned out to be a beautiful day for paddling, proving weather forecasting is very unpredictable, for the second of its kind Haulover Bridge to Burrell Boom upstream race. The first was held in 2010 where Chris Guydis and the Sanchez brothers were the first victors and set a record of 1:59:55. At just before 9:30 a.m., eighteen canoes set out to try to beat this record, but the river conditions proved somewhat challenging, with a strong current going against them.

A little after 2hrs 15mins, the first canoes were in sight. You could hear the crowd cheering on the three teams coming in neck to neck to neck in what appeared to be shaping up for a very close finish. The current on the last turn of the river before the finish line was a bit tricky, and thatís where experience and skill came into play for Ziprider, paddled by Jerry Rhaburn, Felix Cruz and Efrain Cruz coming it at 2:16:37 to take the win and first male. They out-sprinted the Belize Bank Bulldogs, paddled by Erwin, Amado and Daniel Cruz, who had to settle for second place, coming just three seconds after at 2:16:40. The NICH canoe, paddled by Oscar Corden, Jimmy Valdez and Armin Lopez, followed closely behind by five seconds to take third position at 2:16:45. Taking fourth male was Westrac, whose canoe had in the youngest paddler at thirteen, Carlos Linarez, assisted by Jerry Cante and Hener Cruz; their time 2:24:31.

The fifth overall and first mixed team at a time of 2:27:14 was Oceana, paddled by Chris Guydis, his daughter Jayda and Jamel Seguro, which finished 19 seconds before the Coast Guardís Redemption, paddled by G. Alford, K. Borland and A. Garbutt, who had to take 6th overall and 5th male at 2:27:33. A few minutes after were the high schoolers, Alfred Lopez, Bayron Cruz and Armando Lopez in the Natius Canoe, taking first Intramural/Juniors and seventh overall, clocking in at 2:31:58. They were followed by Missile, the second Mixed team, comprised of Samuel Nicholas, Shermain Faber and Nalbert Seguro at a time of 2:35:39; they took eight position overall. Taking the ninth spot was Watt A Ting, sponsored by Sea Sports Belize, paddled by Euken Arnold, Paul Hyde and John Searle, clocking 2:37:07. Johnny, after being pressured to keep up the pace by Euken, expressed overwhelming joy for coming in the top ten for a second time.

Filling the tenth position was the 1st pleasure canoe, Print Belize, paddled by Jesus Hozes, Rudolph Gentle and Jabier Guardado at time 2:37:46. It was a fight for the finish with D & D Wata Top, sponsored by D & D Company Ltd., and Sacred Heart, second Intramural/Juniors, paddled by Garret Bermudez, Adrian and Darren Williams. Whilst sprinting for the finish, they had a spill just before the finish line, and they received 11th overall at 2:38:14. Team Police Male, paddlers: Trevor Lennon, Roy Cano and Nery Waight, took second Pleasure and 12th overall with time 2:40:32.

At this time, the Sacred Heart Boys were in distress because of the strong current; they were drifting down river. Team Police Male, seeing this, decided to lend a helping hand, paddled back down river to assist. Chris Guydis was preparing to launch his canoe to also render aid; however, at the same time, the NICH canoe with Armin sailed down off to the rescue. D&D Wata Top were rescued and brought to the river bank. Special thanks to the Team Police Male and NICH for the showing of good sportsmanship.

At the same time of the rescue mission, Francis Codd, Rupert Smith and Jerry Wilken, paddling the Grumpy Old Men canoe, and Team Police Female, with Audrey Moody, Jane Usher and Ruth Cruz on board, were coming around the curve heading directly into the area where the rescue was happening. Somehow, both teams managed to maneuver their canoes in the strong current that was against them to avoid any further mishaps. Grumpy Old Men finished at 13th position overall and 7th male at 2:46:17, just edging Team Police Female, which took 14th overall placement and first female at 2:46:40. They were followed by the second place female team, You Know Us, sponsored by Jeff Pfpender. That team comprised of Maricella Guardado, Delilah Cruz and Francisca Pfpender, reaching the finish line at 2:55:56, taking the 15th position over all.

The last three canoes were pretty much spaced out; taking the 16th overall and 8th male position was Sit Down & Bounce with Simon August, Leon Guild and Steven Castillo finishing at 3:17:06. The 17th position goes to the Cutter, third female, sponsored by the Belize Coast Guard; in that canoe we had K. Martinez, S. Sambula and T. Welch, their time 3:25:18. Bringing in the end was the canoe Tripple S, mixed team, with the youngest female competitor at 15 yrs, Claire Gentle; assisting her were her father, Mr. Gentle, and Michael Sanchez, who also sponsored the team.

They were clocked in at 4:05:56. The race was no easy task, as some paddlers commented about the difficulty of it, and showed their blistered hands. Special thanks to Andy Vernon and Jerry Rhaburn (of Ziprider) for organizing the race and footing the majority of the expense. Thanks to Michael Waight for time keeping, Robert Escobar on the air horn, Ms. Kerr for the food preparation, the crew that did the food distribution, Joe Fusy on the megaphone, Rhonisha Waight for the pictures, the media for coming out, and most of all the teams and their fans.

A total of $900 was received from the registration; this was shared equally across the five categories. First place finishers all received $140 and a trophy; second place finishers also received a trophy and $40. Unfortunately, we couldnít do more as the race didnít have any sponsorship.

Amandala