Hosted by Wanda Canoe Club and Hackensack Riverkeeper, sixty boats expected to competeFirst run in 2016, the event has quickly grown into one of the largest competitive small boat paddlesports racing events in the Northeast.
Featuring athletes from New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Canada plying the waters of the Hackensack River, approximately 60 boats and many of North America’s top paddlers in North America will be competing. The sport requires strength, endurance, drafting and river knowledge to cover the distances as quickly as possible.
The elite nine-mile race starts at Wanda Canoe Club headquarters, located at Waterfront Park in Ridgefield Park, NJ and leads upriver to the turnaround at Historic New Bridge Landing in River Edge - a perfect location for photography and videography. Boats will pass under the historic pedestrian swing bridge and turn around under New Bridge Road before heading back to the finish line at Waterfront Park.
A 5-mile race was added this year to entice new and more recreational paddlers to experience the HACK Race. That course will take paddlers from Wanda down to the turnaround at the Route 46 bridge, then up to the turn-around at Court Street bridge, located adjacent to the World War II-era USS Ling submarine in Hackensack, before paddling back to the finish line at Waterfront Park.
This event features single and tandem racing kayaks (K1, K2), surf skis, sea kayaks, recreational kayaks, one and two person outriggers (OC1/2), single and tandem marathon racing canoes (C1/2), and 4-person racing canoes (C4s).
The HACK Race is an official East Coast Outrigger Racing Association (ECORA) OC1/2 point series event. Many outrigger paddlers competing this weekend are former ECORA champions or are in the running for a title this year. Wanda CC has two female OC2 teams who are in contention for gold.
Paddlers include Team USA sprint canoeist and Olympic hopeful Ann Armstrong of the US Navy and the Washington Canoe Club. Her partner in OC2 will be Dan Havens, the son of Olympic gold medalist Frank Havens.
Bob Vincent, 75, of Toronto, Canada will be teamed up with Carol Rabuck of Philadelphia in marathon C2. Coach Bob is known as 'the godfather of marathon canoeing' in Canada, has competed in most of the world's major races, from Australia to Belize, and has coached many new and experienced paddlers.
Toms River's Craig Impens will return on his Epic surf ski to defend his 2017 HACK Race overall 1st place finish in 1:13:50, when he edged out South African Rowan Sampson (now of PA) by 5 seconds.
Several members representing Team USA Dragon Boat, including coaches Bob McNamara and Emilia Rastick, will be racing, mostly in the outrigger division.
Englishman Ted Taylor, OC1, and a young female OC2 team are coming down from Milford, CT. The powerful Washington DC "Owls" will be here in force. A host of K1 and surf ski paddlers will set the pace for the other boats.
Two C4 teams from PA include the all-female crew of the Philadelphia Flying Phoenix organization, and a mixed boat comprised of recent USCA National C2 champ Theresa Stout, and General Clinton 70-mile marathon winners Erik Werner and Sajan Lama. Filling out the boat is pro Dylan Kirk of Jack's Reef, NY, who completed the 120-mile Ausable Canoe Marathon in Michigan this summer.
Wanda will be represented in marathon C2 by young ECORA Open OC2 leaders Betsy Ray (Commodore) and Katie Peck, both of NYC, who recently placed 3rd at their USCA Nationals debut in the very tough Open class. Ray is a former Team USA Junior Olympic kayaker and Peck paddled for Team USA Dragon Boat U24s. Greg Lowry (Denville, NJ) will pair up with pro Joe Schlimmer (Ithaca, NY) in Marathon C2. These four should be among the fastest on the river. Longtime Wanda members John Ponticorvo, OC1 (Ridgefield) and Gil Ross, C1 (Staten Island), and the Women's Masters OC2 duo of Chondrea Richard (Egg Harbor Twp) and Linda Lensch (Tinton Falls), plus rising star Wardell Lee, OC1 (NYC), 3rd at mens open OC1 nationals, round out the Wanda "Loons" lineup. Lensch is the 2018 USCA Outrigger champion, and also took 1st with John Finnen of Pleasant Mount, PA in Standard C2. Finnen has won multiple national titles, and will be racing marathon C1 in his first HACK Race appearance. Peck, Lowry, Lee, Lensch and Ponticorvo are Team USA Dragon Boat veterans.
Besides Wanda (established 1910), historic canoe clubs being represented include Washington (est. 1904) and Philadelphia (est. 1905). Other clubs represented will be Ke'Aloha Outrigger of Hoboken, Manu'iwa Outrigger of Connecticut, Philadelphia Flying Phoenix, Philadelphia Dragon Boat Association, DCH Dragonboat and Puff Dragons of NYC , Pennsylvania Association of Canoe and Kayak Racing, Keystone Kayaks, Jersey Shore Sea Kayak Association, and the New York Marathon Canoe Racing Association. Several competitors are current or former United States Canoe Association national champions.
Wanda Canoe Cub's paddlers train year-round. The organization encourages paddler participation and safety on the Hackensack River and on all waterways. Wanda has supported the mission of Hackensack Riverkeeper and been a partner organization since Captain Bill Sheehan founded Riverkeeper in 1997.
Prior to the race, participants will be asked to gather together for a land photograph to protest the proposed Meadowlands power plant. Once racers are in their boats and on the water prior to the race, another group photograph will be taken.
HACK Race 2018 is hosted by Wanda Canoe Club and Hackensack Riverkeeper.
Event Sponsors include Hackensack Riverkeeper, Inserra ShopRite Supermarkets, Goodboy Paddlesports, and Netta Radice Designs.
All proceeds raised at the event will benefit the ongoing paddling programs of Hackensack Riverkeeper and Wanda Canoe Club.
7:30 registration opens
8:45 opening remarks, Wanda staff and Commodore, Mayor Fosdick, Bill Sheehan
9:00 Mandatory safety meeting & photos
9:20 paddlers move onto the river, protest photo, setting race waves
9-mile elite race
10:00 first wave start
10:10 second wave start
10:20 third wave if needed
5-mile rec race
10:20 or 10:30 start