8th Annual Callaghan Race, Whistler BC
By David O’Sullivan
Callaghan creek, a Class IV-V river located in Whistler BC, is home to the annual LiquidLore Callaghan Creek race. Thanks to this winter’s heavy snowpack, high levels were in abundance for the weeks leading up to the race on 15th July. The level on the day ended up being at a respectable 2.7, being on the low side of medium.
One of the reasons the Callaghan Creek race was started back in 2010 was to promote the high recreational value of this much beloved Whistler gem. There have been threats of the potential construction of a hydro development on the Callaghan, which would be detrimental to this much run classic.
With features such as 15 foot waterfall followed on by the iconic 20 footer, and a rapid named “Old Dirty Bastard/ODB”, it’s the perfect place for a high octane whitewater kayak race. Spectators were welcomed to hike in and watch from the sidelines as teams of two raced their way down the approximate 15 minute course.
As with most BC rivers, dangerous log jams inevitably occur every year on this river. It is thanks to the hard work of a group of local paddlers that the river is kept in a runnable condition each year. Proceeds from this year’s race entry fee went towards the costs associated with the all the equipment used in these epic log removal missions. (It definitely counts as epic when a skidoo and a broken chainsaw are involved).
A warm-up race held on Friday 14th July on a nearby Whistler classic, the Upper Cheakamus river, was used to seed racers start times and get the competitive banter flowing.
A total of 36 boaters entered the 2017 edition of the Callaghan creek race, resulting in 18 partnered time trails. The combined time of the two racers determined the team’s final time. To say the final times were tight would be an understatement. Overall winners Maxi Kniewasser and Benny Marr pipped the second place team to the post by one second. There were only 27 seconds separating the top 5 teams, with racers taking between 15-19 minutes to complete the course.
1st Place – Maxi Kniewasser & Benny Marr. Time – 15 mins 27 secs
2nd Place – Richard Kemble & Jamie Wright. Time – 15 mins 28 secs
3rd Place – Kiah Schaepe & Jure Stan. Time – 15 mins 40 secs
Although one of last year’s winners, (Raphael Boudreault-Simard), could not race to defend his title, he was on hand with Flow Motion Aerials to record drone footage and look after the after-party at the near-by Cal-Cheak campsite. Tunes, lights and shenanigans followed into the early hours, despite a malfunction from the beer keg!
Big shout out to race organizer Steve Arns, (LiquidLore) Phil Middleton (local legend), Dave O’Sullivan (Predator), Ryan Bayes (Western), Raphael Boudreault-Simard (Flow Motion Aerial), Andrew Bowes (XL Audio Visual) and all the guys from Hard Core Paddles, for all their support and hard work involved in hosting this phenomenal race.