Before the Susquehanna River meets the Chesapeake Bay, before it churns through Conowingo Dam, and before it winds through the farmlands of Pennsylvania, it begins its 464-mile journey with a calm exit from Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, New York. Every Memorial Day weekend, an assortment of canoe and kayak paddlers share the first 70 miles of that journey, taking in the green landscape of central New York during the General Clinton Canoe Regatta.
This year, over 200 vessels entered the full course from Cooperstown to Bainbridge, with most holding two or more paddlers. Entrants came from across the country, and Canada was also well represented — English and French could be heard throughout the race. Paddlers shouted as they portaged their vessels past spectators at three dams. Support crews cheered while making quick, timesaving handoffs of energy drinks and food. Shallow water following a dry spring season may have slowed things down this year, but the racers remained focused, and the leading professional team still finished in less than eight hours.
Dominic Thibault, left, of Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel, Québec, and Dominic Chamberland of Champlain, Québec, enter the water at Lake Front Park in Cooperstown, N.Y., before the start of the race.
Competitors round a buoy on Otsego Lake before paddling toward the mouth of the Susquehanna River.
Teammates Andy Triebold, bottom right, of Grayling, Mich., and Steve Lajoie of Mirabel, Québec, paddle hard at the mouth of the Susquehanna River in Cooperstown, N.Y. The duo had won the General Clinton race six times before the 2015 competition.
Competitors follow the Susquehanna River in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Support crews resupply paddlers with drinks and snacks on the Susquehanna River near Milford, N.Y., in Otsego County.
Prepared fluids with long drinking straws await a resupply effort at Milford Bridge in Otsego County, N.Y.
Paddlers approach Goodyear Lake Dam in Milford, N.Y. The dam marks the second of three portages during the race.
Teams and spectators line the shore below Southside Dam in Oneonta, N.Y.
Competitors rush to re-enter the water below Southside Dam in Oneonta, N.Y.
Competitors carry their canoe through the third and final portage during the 2015 General Clinton Canoe Regatta below Southside Dam in Oneonta, N.Y.
Spectators cheer for paddlers at the finish line in Bainbridge, N.Y.
Paddlers Andy Triebold, right, of Grayling, Mich., and Steve Lajoie of Mirabel, Québec, recover with chocolate milk after finishing in first place with a time of 7 hours, 42 minutes and 53 seconds for their seventh General Clinton Canoe Regatta victory as a professional duo.
To view more photos, visit the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Flickr page.