The Callaghan Creek Race will have its traditional splash and dash of excitement.
The kayak race will also have its first new face atop the podium since 2012. Three-time defending champion Gerd Serrasolses of Spain is injured and will not be back to defend his title, leaving a wide-open field. Organizer Steve Arns of LiquidLore expects several strong paddlers to step into the void and challenge to cross the line first at the July 16 race.
"There'll be a new champion this season," Arns said. "There's lots of contenders, some local guys, and I'm sure there will be some fast paddlers from out of town that will be hoping to take the win."
Arns added conditions are encouraging, with just the right amount of water flow — not too much or too little.
"I think it'll be somewhere in the medium range this year, which brings out a higher number of participants than years where you have really high flows," Arns said. "The high water conditions are a little more challenging and it does get too low later in the summer. We've never had an instance where it's too low."You can usually predict reasonably accurately based on how much snow there is when the snow will hopefully be the best, which is why the date changes from year to year."
The date usually is set in March or early April when organizers have a better idea of the snowfall. With close to ideal conditions, Arns anticipates a strong contingent of kayakers coming to challenge the waters, as well as a fair number of fans to cheer them on beginning at 5:30 p.m. A course map is available at liquidlore.com.
"The usual turnout we have in the sort of conditions we have this year is between 40 and 50 racers and maybe an equivalent number of spectators," he said. "There are local guys and then there are a fair number we get up from Washington and the States. Some guys from the interior part of the province come in. They trickle in from all over, mostly from within a couple of hours (away) though."
While the Cheakamus River time trials had traditionally been a part of the weekend, they haven't been in the last two years because the Great Outdoors Festival in May scheduled a similar race in 2015. Though it didn't return this year, Arns noted there wasn't enough time to bring it back into the fold.
"There's no Cheakamus race this year. We haven't planned it the last couple years because of the Whistler GO Fest Cheakamus race but that race was actually cancelled this year and we didn't pick up the slack soon enough to include it in this weekend," he said. "(At the Callaghan), I think there will be the option to race as a team or individually this year."