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HomeNL-2017-09 TX Water Safari

Watch the beginning of Texas Water Safari, Paddle, and then Campout
June 9, 10, 11, 2017
by Christy Long

San Marcos River Scout Camp to Sculls
3 miles
The trip route is outlined in "Rivers and Rapids" book.

260 CFS
USGS San Marcos River near Martindale 08171400

The Texas Water Safari is a tough race. The race starts at the headwaters of the San Marcos River, runs the entire length of the San Marcos where the river converges with the Guadalupe River; then heads down to San Antonio Bay, where the boaters paddle four miles in open water to Seadrift, Texas. The route is 264 miles and the paddlers have 100 hours to complete the race. For safety reasons there are ten checkpoints that must be reached before the timed cutoff.

The racers have to be prepared for heat, rain, log jams, gear malfunction, animals, bugs, and alligators. They cannot accept help from anyone but the team captain. The team captain provides only food, water, medicine and advice. If the team completes the race in 100 hours they get a patch. If the team places in one of the fourteen classifications they win a trophy and or a plaque.

Over the years, I have watched the beginning of the race several times and once followed the race to Seadrift. Some of the checkpoint locations are open to the public only during the race and just until the cutoff. It is all very exciting.

This year my plan was to go to Rio Vista, watch the carnage for thirty minutes or so, and then head to Cottonseed rapid and watch for another thirty minutes. Afterward we would meet at San Marcos Retreat Scout Camp and paddle to Sculls.

The race started at 9 am at the headwaters of San Marcos, the first team, of 150, arrived seven minutes later at Rio Vista Park, which is two miles from the race start. The first boat was a tandem and the second was a six-man boat.

After the race I reviewed the check points and the six-man boat, #150, was the first at all the checkpoints while the tandem boat, #2, was second. The results can be scrutinized at One hundred and seven boats completed the race, the first (#150) finished in 36 hours and 49 minutes the last team finished in 97 hours and 55 minutes. Outstanding!

  First Drop at
Rio Vista Rapid

I was surprised to see the tandem boat arrive at Rio Vista then more surprised when they ran the first drop. I wish I could have seen them run each drop at Rio Vista, but they were too fast. After watching about 60 boats maneuver in and around Rio Vista, I met up with Joe Rivers and his dad, Paul, and we drove to Cottonseed Rapid.

Cottonseed Rapid   

The generous landowners at Cottonseed allow viewers to come onto their property to watch the race from the rocks and small beach. Here Debbie Snow meet up with our small group of day paddlers.

  Jim and Billie
downstream of
Cottonseed Rapid

The first boaters to come through the rapid were club friends Jim Barton and Billie Corbin. The crowd started clapping and hollering when we saw the boats then laughing when we saw that it was two recreation boaters.

We watched the racers come through Cottonseed Rapid until 11:00. During the forty minutes we were there, only one or two boats flipped.

We headed to San Marcos River Scout Camp, where we meet John Ohrt. Our small group had a great time on the river.

John Ohrt at
Tom’s Rapid
  Debbie Snow and
tubers in the back-
ground, at Tom’s
  Joe Rivers, left
and Paul Rivers

  Joe Rivers, left,
Paul Rivers,
and Christy Long

After floating and playing down to Sculls, we went to Herbert’s Taco Hut for dinner. Which was very good and it is a long-time favorite of the paddling crowd.

I camped at Tom’s while the rest of the group went home. On Sunday I arrived home around 2 pm as the first team was leaving the Victoria checkpoint (200 miles).

Wow, what a race.
SYOTR, Christy Long

The author, Christy Long