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Back on the paddle again as the river race resumes

CORNWALL — There were no New England Slalom Series river races in 2020 because of the COVID-19 quarantine. A happy sign that life is returning to normal: The Housatonic Area Canoe and Kayak Squad (known as the HACKS) held their Covered Bridge Slalom on Sunday, May 16.

Race registrar Jenifer Clarke (of sponsor Clarke Outdoors) said, “It was a great day for the HACKS Covered Bridge Slalom and everyone was so happy to be back at again after canceling last year due to COVID.” 

About 50 paddlers competed this year, including 10 from Proctor Academy in New Hampshire. 

About five paddlers from the area competed, including Devin McEwan and Mark Clarke, who both placed in their respective classes (McEwan was first in Mens Closed Canoe, Clarke was second in Mens Open Canoe).

In years past, the paddlers met up at the Great Falls in Falls Village, then battled their way through the slalom gates set up in the river below the parking area and then headed downstream to the historic Covered Bridge in West Cornwall. 

The race now takes place exclusively in West Cornwall, “in the rapid under the Covered Bridge,” Clarke said. 

“The gates are hung over the river by volunteers from HACKS; it takes about three days to get the course up, lots of hard work!”

It was worth the effort. All in all, Clarke said, “It was great weather and great water! What a day!”

A video of the race course can be seen at www.nessrace.com/covered-bridge-slalom. 

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