Governor’s Adirondack boat race may be detailed soon

An announcement about the Adirondack Challenge, a state-sponsored whitewater rafting and flatwater paddling competition, could be made as early as next week.

News that an announcement may be made in the near future, along with details of the event, was broken Wednesday by Andy Flynn of Denton Publications. Flynn said he had obtained a tentative schedule for the Adirondack Challenge but didn’t say where he got it from. He wrote that the governor is considering Indian Lake as the headquarters for the event and that a tentative date of Sunday, July 21, has been set.

This year’s Adirondack Challenge would feature a whitewater race for elected officials and invited guests, along with a flatwater paddling race. In the past, Cuomo has indicated the whitewater race would be on the Hudson River, but no information has been made public about what body of water would host the flatwater race.

“The whitewater race would have 25 teams with six people in each raft, guided by a New York state licensed guide,” Flynn wrote. “The flatwater race would have 125 international competitors. And there would be at least 10 cultural and social events prior to race day.”

The Adirondack Watershed Alliance and Hudson River Professional Outfitters Association would work in conjunction with the Adirondack Challenge Steering Committee on the event, while marketing and promotion would be handled by I Love New York, according to Flynn’s article.

The Adirondack Watershed Alliance is a paddlesports club headed by Paul Smiths resident Brian McDonnell and his wife Grace, who own Mac’s Canoe Livery in Lake Clear. The McDonnells run and organize a series of the canoe and kayak races in the Adirondacks, including the 90-mile Adirondack Canoe Classic race from Old Forge to Saranac Lake. Brian McDonnell also runs the Paul Smith’s College VIC.

Brian McDonnell declined comment when asked about the Adirondack Challenge.

The Hudson River Professional Outfitters Association consists of rafting businesses in the central Adirondacks. It is headed by Bob Rafferty who owns Adirondac Rafting Company, which is based in Indian Lake and runs trips on the Indian and Hudson rivers. Rafferty deferred questions to the governor’s office and said he expects an announcement soon.

The governor’s press office did not return a phone call from the Enterprise for this article.

Several other people interviewed by the Enterprise anticipated that the announcement could come soon, perhaps on Monday during Adirondack Day, a promotional event being held in “The Well” in the Legislative Office Building in Albany.

“We have some indications of (the race being headquartered in Indian Lake), but we’re waiting for an announcement from the governor’s office,” said Gore Mountain Region Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lisa Salamon. “I think it’s going to be early next week.”

Adirondack Day is a public event geared toward legislators and staffers and state employees working nearby or visiting, according to Sen. Betty Little’s spokesman Dan Mac Entee.

“It’s going to be a showcase featuring the Park’s ecological importance as well as economic significance as a tourist destination,” MacEntee wrote in an email. “There will be wild animals, foods, products, sounds and sights of the forest. A reception will follow featuring Adirondack wineries, brewers, distillers and Adirondack Harvest cuisine samples.”

The Association of Towns and Villages, Adirondack Partnership and around 30 other sponsors have planned the event.

“They are basically having a theme day dedicated to the Adirondack Park, and there’ll be various entities, both public and private, that are part of the Park (that) will have display booths,” state Assemblyman Dan Stec said. “Really, the idea behind it is to generate more knowledge and attention to the Adirondacks issues for staff in Albany and legislators in Albany. It’s an awareness kind of thing. They have those things in The Well all the time.”

Stec said he wasn’t aware of any Adirondack Challenge press conference being held Monday.

“I don’t know that they are going to make an announcement on Monday or not, but I know that some people are hoping there will be announcement,” he said.

Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce Board President Christine Pouch said at least one rafting business represents her community on the Adirondack Challenge Steering Committee. She couldn’t confirm Flynn’s report or that the announcement would be made Monday at Adirondack Day.

“There might be a chance that perhaps the governor will make announcement then,” Pouch said. “Who knows? Everything has been super-quiet.”