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Gary B.: Boy Scouts White River Canoe Race provides wonderful experience

Above: Participants of the 2019 Boy Scouts White River Canoe & Kayak Races on Saturday / Image by Robert Latus

The Boy Scouts White River Canoe & Kayak Races culminated Saturday with an 8.2-mile sprint from Lock & Dam 2, near Bethesda, to Lock & Dam 1 at Batesville.

The sprint featured 50 paddlers in 16 canoes from three states vying to be the best in their division.

Event organizer George Latus said the team from Bogalusa, La., took the overall title this year. That team has finished in first the last six years, according to Latus. He noted the team is managed by Col. Bob Miller, who is close to 90 years old and still relates to the younger generation.

The Colonel has been bringing teams from Bogalusa for 38 of the 53 years the race has been in existence, Latus said, noting Col. Bob started managing Boy Scouts canoe racing teams when he was 50 years old.

Three teams representing Batesville took three first-place trophies in the kayak division: the mixed kayak team (boy and girl), the boys kayak team, and the girls kayak team, which took the overall kayak racing trophy. The kayaks used in racing are different from the usual kayak you will see, according to Latus. They are longer, ranging 13.5 to 14 feet. He noted the longer the kayak, the faster it will go.

The racing teams enjoyed wonderful hospitality and entertainment at their stops on the 120-mile journey down the White River from Bull Shoals to Batesville, Latus said. The races stopped at Calico Rock, Cotter/Gassville, Sylamore/Mountain View, and Batesville.

He said there was one, what he called, “fueling” stop for the racers. That was at Lock and Dam 2 near Bethesda, where the racers were provided a smorgasbord and a variety of liquids to “fuel” the final 8.2 miles which has only one stop: the finish line at Batesville.

The kids call the last leg of the race the “glory leg,”

Latus said the event provides a wonderful experience for youngsters from all over the country.

“The event, in general, provides a very positive experience for anybody that paddles it, and some of these kids, of course, will return next year, but for years and years — I’m talking 53 years — we have offered these kids a wonderful opportunity to experience something that is unique and unlike any other event that they’ll probably encounter throughout their lifetime, so it’s really a challenge and a wonderful, wonderful experience for young paddlers from all over the country that want to come in and paddle in the White River Canoe Race with us,” said Latus.

The planning for next year’s races will include working to build up the number of kayaks that participate.

Robert Latus 2Crew 510 out of Russellville (right) following Crew 313 from Bogalusa, La. during Saturday’s leg of the 2019 Boy Scouts White River Canoe & Kayak Races / Image by Robert Latus
Daniel Latus .jpgRussellville’s Crew 510 flips below Bull Shoals Dam during a portion of the 120-mile journey / Image by Daniel Latus

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