20th Annual Scantic Spring Splash

By Tom Phelan - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Thu., Mar. 31, 2011
Charley Brackett, of Fitzwilliam, N. H., comes out of the white water of the Scantic to finish 1st in his class. Photos by Tom Phelan.
Charley Brackett, of Fitzwilliam, N. H., comes out of the white water of the Scantic to finish 1st in his class. Photos by Tom Phelan.

The 20th Annual Scantic Spring Splash canoe and kayak race enjoyed bright sun and fast running water on Saturday, March 26. The Scantic River water temperature at race time was 38 degrees, almost 10 degrees colder than last year. Conditions were just about ideal. The river’s level was high, and flowing rapidly, making navigation across the rapids possible, but challenging.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the race, as well as the 150th anniversary (April 12) of the start of the Civil War, the Splash ceremonies began with an appearance by Colonel Augustus Hazard. Hazardville, where the race finishes every year, gets its name from the owner of the Hazard Powder Company, a thriving business during the war between the states. More than 50 percent of the black powder used by the Union and Confederate troops was manufactured in Powder Hollow. Colonel Hazard explained to the crowd that, at its peak, his company produced 12,500 pounds of powder a week.

A crew of Civil War re-enactors from the Mass. 9th Light Artillery was on hand to open the race with several blasts from a Civil War era 12-lb. Mountain Howitzer.

The racecourse for the expert level paddlers covered 5 miles, with 1 mandatory portage. It started just west of the Keeney Mill in Somersville, with the finish line at the Powder Hollow Bridge in Hazardville. Racers navigated 3 Class II rapids. The novice level was half as long, 2-1/2 miles of downriver racing from Somersville to the bridge at Route 191(Broadbrook Road), with Class I rapids.

There were some new rules for racing in the Splash in 2011. All boaters entering the entire 5-mile race were required to wear helmets, including all kayakers. All racers 16 and under, regardless of their race class, had to wear helmets.

The Scantic Spring Splash is a part of New England Canoe Association (NECRA) Point Series, and canoeists and kayakers from the New England states come to participate in it every year.

As has been the custom of the Scantic Spring Splash, the event also had a goal to fill up a canoe with non-perishable food items for the Enfield Food Shelf. Any competitor who contributed food to fill the canoe, or made a cash donation, received a discount of $2 off the registration fees on the day of the race. After the race, the food donations weighed in at 550 pounds (which the Food Shelf values at $1 per pound), to which cash donations of another $75 was added. Chairman Mike Dynia said the race committee would make an extra cash donation from the proceeds, once the race has paid all its bills.

The novice class kicked off at 11:30 a.m., and finished their course 2-½ miles down river. There were 31 paddlers in 27 novice boats. At noon, expert class paddlers began their segment of the race, with 134 paddlers racing 96 boats down the five-mile course.

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