The Powell River will once again play host to an event that, during its inaugural setting last year, attracted 49 boats to its near-pristine waters. The second annual Powell River Regatta is expected to draw a hundred or more kayaks and canoes from across the country, filled with eager participants like Olympic paddling coach Chris Hipgrave, who predicted last year an “explosion” of participation for future events.
“This year, all net proceeds will be used to improve public access for paddling and fishing on the 114 miles of the Powell River in Tennessee,” said Don Oakley, chairman of the Claiborne Chamber of Commerce Powell River Tourism Committee.
Last year, the race raised some $1,000 for the Pat Summitt Foundation for Alzheimer’s research.
The Powell River Regatta, slated for April 23, will begin at the Well Being Conference Center, located on Narrows Road in the Cedar Fork area. The 12-mile race will end at Riverside Rentals in Harrogate.
The Regatta has been divided into eight race categories. There is a $30 single kayak entry fee. Those participating with double kayaks or canoes will pay $50 per entry.
First place winners within each category will receive a $150 cash prize while second place finishers will grab $50 in cash for their efforts.
Oakley comes to the sport honestly. He spent his high school and college years rowing, competing in 1964 for a slot in the Olympics.
A lifelong rowing enthusiast, Oakley later undertook a 600 mile canoe trip through the northwest Canadian territories.
Prior to last year’s event, the avid rower confessed that, since opening the Well Being Conference Center, he rarely witnessed boaters on the Powell River.
“I’ve talked to so many people who say, when they were younger, they’d be on the river all the time. I feel like it’s a beautiful, incredible resource for Claiborne County and this is a way to encourage people to see it,” said Oakley, at that time.
The Powell is one of a handful of free-flowing rivers left in the state.
“We’ve done quite a bit of work with Lincoln Memorial University to determine the health of the river. Through their research, it’s been discovered that it’s quite a healthy river – healthy enough that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife recently reintroduced two species of federally endangered freshwater mussels back into the river,” said Oakley.
To register for the second annual Powell River Regatta, log on to: webscorer.com/register?raceid-60919.
For more information, you may access the website at: www.PowellRiverBlueway.org or contact Oakley at 423-626-9000.
Reach Jan Runions at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @scribeCP.