Scores of kayakers took to the water yesterday for the ninth annual Kayak Regatta organized by Save the River-Save the Hills. This year's event began with a vertiable fountain of water as the Goshen Fire boat blasted its hoses to signal the start of the regatta.
Participants paddled the northern areas of the Niantic River and enjoyed close-up views of the Oswegatchie Hills on the East Lyme shore. The parade ended near Route 1, where the Denise and Tony Band entertained everyone from a balcony overlooking the Niantic River.
Hungry participants chowed down on hot dogs donated by Flanders Fish Market and Restaurant and watched as the Goshen Fire Boat demonstrated a water rescue. (No actual rescue was required!) The Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla - Mystic performed kayak safety checks and the Waterford Police boat was on hand to keep the waters safe around the kayakers.
Many participants were veteran kayakers. Joanne Hodge of Waterford, for instance, has been kayaking for years with a group of friends that call themselves the "Tuesday Night Paddlers Club."
But others were newcomers to the sport. Jim Clark of Essex, who attended the regatta with his two sons, had never been in a kayak before yesterday.
"It's my first time," he said. "I came down to support the cause. It's a blast!"
East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica spoke to the kayakers about the status of a proposed development for the Oswegatchie Hills. There will be a public hearing on that proposal at East Lyme Town Hall on August 28. The hearing will review Landmarks’ request for the Sewer Commission to identify capacity for development within the Hills. The town has hired an independent consultant to review sewer capacity.
Save the River-Save the Hills (STR-STH) Vice President Deb Moshier-Dunn urged people concerned about preservation of Oswegatchie Hills to attend the meeting and voice their opinion. State Representative Ed Jutila spoke of the beauty and importance of preserving the Hills. State Representative Betsy Ritter could not attend, but sent a letter in support of preservation that was read to the participants Moshier-Dunn.
The free event included short kayak races, a free drawing for a kayak and paddles, and other donated items.
Free Drawing winners were: Kayak – Richard Ford, East Lyme; Personal Flotation device – Anabel Frish, Waterford; STR-STH Beach Bag – Craig Woody, East Lyme; STR-STH Lunch Bag – Norman & Corinne LaFleur, Waterford; STR-STH T-shirt – Kristy Wasniewski, Oakdale; Niantic River Hat – Paul & Barbara Whitehouse, East Lyme, STR-STH Hat – Jim Paganetti, Middletown.
The "bragging rights" race results were as follows:
The long boat kayak winners: Jay Sullivan (defending his title once again!) and Joanne Hodge; Ken Sylvetri and Debbie Odun took second. The short boat kayak race winners: Dave LaFleur and Rose LaFleur; John Starrett and Sue Powers came second; Eli Clark and Rosie Kelly took third. Each winner received a STR-STH’s T-shirt.
Save the River-Save the Hills is a non-profit 501(c)(3) grassroots environmental organization in Waterford and East Lyme dedicated to preserving the health of the Niantic River Estuary and the natural beauty of the Oswegatchie Hills.
For more information, please call (860) 442-8349 or go to www.savetheriver-savethehills.org.