As kayakers passed under a low bridge leading from Route 67 to a pair of businesses on the western edge of Mechanicville, they shouted a similar message to the fans who cheered them past Sunday.
“Can you turn up the water a little?” one kayaker said with a smile.
“I found the ground,” said another, who was gliding a few inches above the bottom of the creek and banging his paddle against rocks with each stroke.
Blame the light snowpack this winter and limited water runoff this spring … the kayakers did.
“I can’t believe how low the water was,” Andy Jones of Duanesburg said as he pulled his kayak out of the water after crossing the last stretch of a course that took kayakers about four miles down the Anthony Kill to the mouth of the Hudson River in Mechanicville.
“I think I was walking more than I was paddling,” he said.
But the water levels weren’t so low as to keep away 27 entrants — 17 kayakers and 10 canoeists — from competing in the 43rd annual Tenandeho White Water Derby.
Family and friends, most bundled against the blustery conditions, fanned out up and down the length of the course and cheered the men and woman who braved the creek, which rippled calmly in some places and dipped and rolled across stronger rapids in other places.
At one place a mother and a small brood of children waited for their dad and brother to appear. They weren’t disappointed, as their kin floated past in the first canoe to come down the creek.
Even if it was cold for spectators, the rigor of paddling kept many of the paddlers warm — especially if they were able to keep the water out of their small vessels.
“It’s cold for the first minute; after that you are sweating,” said Bill Paley of Ballston Spa. “You warm right up.”
Event organizer John Erano said he was pleased with the day’s turnout, recognizing the low water levels may have been a deterrent to some.
“It’s a weather-dependent thing,” he said, counting down as the final participants made their way across the finish line, including a woman who wasn’t ready to drop her focused and determined paddling face until she crossed the finish line.
When she did make it down the final stretch, she let out a scream of relief as a smile stretched across her face.
Reach Gazette reporter Zachary Matson at 395-3120, [email protected] or @zacharydmatson on Twitter.
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