Dale Cross has been keeping a close eye on the St. George River lately, hoping for some warm spring weather that will help a winter’s worth of ice, allowing him to stage the season’s first canoe race.
On Tuesday, Cross — who serves as race director for both the St. George and Passagassawakeag river races — reluctantly admitted that Mother Nature has again forced the postponement of both events.
“I went out last night and looked the rivers over,” Cross explained. “We’re not doing a skating party. It’s going to be a canoe race.”
Cross said the races will be held next weekend, with the St. George River Race set for a 10 a.m. start in Searsmont on Saturday, April 11, and the Passagassawakeag race beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday, April 12.
Cross said he has seen some signs of spring on the St. George, but he doubts the race course would be ready in time for this Saturday. On Tuesday morning, the race committee met and decided to delay the races a week.
“The St. George is starting to go out. It’s starting to move,” Cross said. “And in three or four days, we could have some open water and some ice in places. But we haven’t had a boat go down the river yet. We can’t [get down the river] yet. And we’ve got to make sure that all the trees out of there and it’s safe [before we hold a race].”
As a result of the postponements, paddlers may end up with a very busy weekend: The St. George race has been bumped to an earlier time so that competitors who want to do so can drive to Hampden for the Souadabscook Stream Canoe Race on the afternoon of April 11. And on Sunday, the Marsh Stream Race will be held in the afternoon, after the Passy is completed.
“It’ll be four races in two days, if we can make this happen,” Cross said.
The short-range weather forecast isn’t too encouraging, but Cross said he’s hoping for warmer temperatures to prevail later in the week.
“It’s going to be 10 to 20 degrees tonight. It’s winter,” Cross said. “We’ve got some rain coming in later this week, which would be welcomed. It would help a lot. But I don’t think it’s quite enough, early enough [to clear the rivers of ice in time for this weekend].”