Local canoers sweep major racing divisions

Published 6:47 am Saturday, August 13, 2016

By Col. Bobby Miller

Special to the Daily News

A spring and summer of intensive canoe practice in local lakes and rivers again paid dividends for venturer scouts of Bogalusa Crew 313 and Bush Crew 213.

The crews returned from the 50th annual National Explorer/Venturer Scout White River 120-mile Canoe Marathon Race with a sweep of the major racing divisions, taking four championships.

A grueling 120-mile event, the race is considered the foremost water event for scouts in one of the most unique, challenging and fun scouting events in the nation.

The race takes participants down some of the most scenic country in America in the heart of the Ozark Mountains of North Arkansas. It begins at Bull Shoals, Ark., located just south of the Missouri state line, and ends at Batesville, Ark. in a three-day, eight-leg canoe race.

The race includes two portages around dams with the water temperature averaging a very cool 43-45 degrees.

Participation in the race is unrivaled as one of the most memorable experiences of a scout’s life, necessitating each participant’s utmost in canoemanship, conditioning, stamina and attitude.

The challenge is formidable, but the rewards are genuine and lasting.

The local canoers are members of the Bogue Tuchenna District, Boy Scouts of America, which encompasses all of Washington Parish and western St. Tammany Parish.

Bogalusa Venturer Crew 313 led the contingent of local paddlers with three championships in the Open Cruising, Boys’ Advanced Aluminum and Boys’ Novice Aluminum racing divisions with Bush Crew 213 winning the national championship in the Coed Cruising Racing Division for the area’s fourth national title in the race.

Bogalusa Venturer Crew 313 won their 16th national championship and the coveted Doug Sumner Rotating Trophy for having the shortest accumulative elapsed time in the 120-mile marathon race in the Open Cruising Racing Division.

Paddling for Crew 313 were Rupert “Roo” Breland, Colby Spears, Brannan Crosby Rory Breland and John Hartzog with a winning time of 14 hours, 45 minutes, 13 seconds, which was 8 minutes, 23 seconds faster than second place Russellville, Ark. Crew 300 with a time of 14:53.36 and 1:41.21 seconds over third place Venturer Crew 204 of the Woodlands, Texas with a time of 16:26.34.

Crew 313 won its second national title of the race in the Boys’ Advanced Aluminum Racing Division and the Ron Eddings Memorial Trophy by having the shortest time in the boys’ aluminum racing division with a time of 17:03.59.

It was the crew’s 25th such title in this division.

Paddling for Crew 313 were Dylan Seals, Chris Weintritt, Patrin “Rage” Rivers, James Stevenson III and Matthew Russell.

Crew 313’s third national title in the race was won in the Boys’ Novice Aluminum Racing Division with a time of 19:06.25.

It was the crew’s 24th such national title in this racing division.

Canoeing for the team were Chase Kelehan, Josh Gulczynski, Matthew Dennis, Elijah Moss and Alijah Fortenberry.

Bush Venturer 213 won the Coed Cruising national championship for the area venturer scouts’ fourth national title in the 120-mile race with a time of 16:21.53. They finished 2:28.43 ahead of second place Batesville Crew 320 with a time of 18:50.36.

Paddling for Crew 213, which also broke the existing record for the coed cruiser by one hour, were Kirsten Barber, Lauren Haik, Tyler Seals and Eric Richard.

In observance of the 50th anniversary of the race, a very large contingent of former paddlers throughout the nation attended with three racing teams formed to compete the first two days of the race, a total of five legs. Russellville, Ark. Crew 300 won the event, followed by the Woodlands, Texas Crew 204 and Bogalusa Crew 313.

The representative crews were a friendly mix of canoers, representing their past teams New Iberia, Bogalusa, Pine, Russellville, Ark. and Faribault, Minn.

As could be expected, the reunion of former paddlers produced their own version and tales of their past participation in a “Do you remember when?” of the good old days.

In a more serious ceremony, Col. Bobby Miller, USMC retired, Advisor for Bogalusa Post 313, later redesignated Bogalusa Venturer Crew 313, was presented with a replica of a wooden canoe signed by current and past paddlers of the race. The plate on the canoe read “Given in Grateful Recognition of a Lifelong Commitment to Our Nation, the Young Men of Venturer Crew 313, Bogalusa, La., and the Explorer White River Race on this day, July 28, 2016.”

In addition to competing, venturer scouts from the Bogalusa area, a very large group of parents, relatives, former paddlers and friends of the scouts were on hand to witness the race and prove logistical and moral support for the paddlers.

The overall performance is the national canoe marathon race by the local youth again brought national attention to Bogalusa and surrounding communities and reflected positively on the area’s explorer and venturer scouting programs.

Bogalusa Crew 313 is sponsored by The Daily News and Bush Crew 213 is sponsored by Bateman Diesel of Franklinton.