The Programme for Belize crew, comprised of Bob Vincent, Ray Healy and Dave Johnson, wins the La Ruta Maya 2009 River Challenge ‘Masters Category’ once again which was held from March 6 – 9, 2009.
Viewers can read a first hand recap of the race as provided by Bob Vincent, team leader, for the crew that participated in the race this year. PfB congratulates the team for a well earned victory in the 2009 race and for defending the title they won last year in the Master’s Category in 2008. See photos of the team as they paddled into Belize City on the final day of this challenging and grueling race. The team traveled all the way from Canada to take part in the race once again this year! WAY TO GO TEAM PFB!
It started well. We made it to the bridge upright and paddled to our first pit stop. Ray got out as he had a sore back and Dave and I finished the first day. As we paddled, I noticed Dave would dip the canoe as he pulled his paddle too far behind his back at the end of his stroke. That would throw Ray’s back out. We talked about it and Dave fixed his stroke. Everyone in the canoe makes a difference in horse power. We dropped from the 11th to 15th spot without Ray in the canoe. We finished the day first in the Masters Category.
The longest day. Again, the start was reasonable as we stayed upright and were able to draft a few teams. The pit drops went very well as we did notlose any positions. Again we drafted a few teams but after 3 hours we went flat. Four canoes passed us and I said to the guys, “This is not good! Are we going to race or just paddle?” I had just said that when a mixed team from Cayo 3 positions ahead of us tipped over. The boy in the stern was pinned with the canoe so we stopped to help. His leg was trapped between the canoe and a log. We were able to lift the canoe off and set him free. He did not finish that day but his team mates did and he was able to paddle the rest of the race. After that we were a few minutes behind in about 15th spot. I told Ray to call the huts and said Dave we are going to catch those canoes. Dave said that would be a dream Bob. After another pit and some hard work we passed all the canoes that had passed us. At Big Falls, we went to the right and when we came out, two teams we were close to had tipped over. They said we went the wrong way and I replied “We are old not dumb!” That made all of us laugh. We finished that day in eleventh place overall and first in Masters.
The race to Boom was very exciting. We had a slow start with many canoes around us as the waves were high and we rolled around a lot. The sun was warm for us today so we slowed our speed down. The girl’s team from Cayo caught us so we rode wash for the next 2 hours. We talked to the girl’s team and laughed a lot. We agreed to race and keep it close at the finish. They were very happy with the finish as it was a tie. Our day finished with Programme for Belize in 16th spot overall and first in Masters.
The sprint to the finish! This was the best start we had for the race. We were able to get out on the left side where there were no waves and paddle hard to the double bridges. We were twelfth to the bridge. From there on we were able to hold our position. There were four different teams that challenged our position in the next 2 hours. They would pull up beside us and we would ride their wash and paddle hard to stay on their wave. In the end they fell back just before the cut. We had to work hard to keep the boy’s team from Cayo behind us. This is a section of river where it is best to be in front as the waves get high behind the first canoe. When we came out of the cut and headed for the finish line the Cayo boys challenged us again but they were not able to overtake us. The Programme for Belize team finished 14th that day and first in the Masters Category. It was a good race for us with a lot of fun with the other teams.
RACE CREW PROFILES:
Ray Healy is 71 and has paddled for 40 years. This is the longest race he has done. He likes the river and the people and that is why he has come back 3 times.
Dave Johnson is 48 and has paddled for 20 years. He enjoys the river and a trip to different places to race. This was he second time to race in Belize.
Bob Vincent is 66 years old and has raced for 40 years. I think this is one of the best rivers I have ever raced on! I have made many friends here and taught many young people how to improve their techniques. It is quite rewarding to see so many young teams ahead of us that we have helped. I have been in this race 4 times.
Our pit crew did an excellent job. Our thanks go to Molly and Avelene. We thank Programme for Belize for their continued support and help. BOB!