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2019 Ledges Race

Saturday Apr 13, 2019
Organizer: Local Boaters
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: high
Author: McCall

April 13, 2019…. We set that date back in October of 2018 as when we wanted to hold the 11th annual New Haven Ledges Race on the New Haven River in Bristol, Vermont. We always set a date for around the beginning of April so we can catch the snow melt bubble coming out of the Green Mountains. Last year we got temps in the 20s and sleet. The year before it was in the 20s and snow. This year……Jackpot! We got a smidge of rain the night before and then it got sunny and temps drove toward 70. Some years you miss it and some you hit it on the head. This year we knocked it out of the park. Some of the best weather and water levels we have ever seen. I should have played the lottery.

The race has really grown into the season opener here in New England and this year we saw our highest number of early registrations. The day before the race there was a flurry of online sign-ups that put us at 47 racers pre-registered. That made for an interesting morning of the race. Since 2012 we have set the max race registration at 60 racers. We have never gotten to that number. Doing the math it works out pretty nicely for each racer to get two laps over the course of the day. It is also a good number to split the field to set half the racers in safety and the other half on deck for their race lap racing, doing this both in the morning and in the afternoon. For this year we were rapidly approaching our max number of 60 and “day of registrants” were still rolling in before our pre-race meeting. Things happen for a reason though…a number of racers weren’t comfortable with the meaty levels for race laps and decided to turn in their bibs. This opened up the opportunity for others waiting to sign up. In the end we handed out 49 bibs to racers.

Our morning started off wet and wild as we sent racers 26–49 down through the course to get to designated safety spots. One of the safety boaters on his way down to his designated safety location got munched in the second ledge about 25 yards below the start ramp. Our team went into action immediately to pull the paddler and his boat from the river. Not even racing yet this was a sign of things to come. Most folks had never raced the Ledges at this level and greatly underestimated what the river was doing.


Our field of racers is top notch. We are seeing top caliber boaters entering this event and it really shows on high water days… We had a shoot out for the top 3 spots this year again with the big hitters. In fact in the top 10 this year, 5 were past winners and two more were top three finishers. That is pretty amazing.


We had a tie for the second fastest time at 1:40 between Ryan Mooney and Jason Kahn. Mooney left after his first lap so did not compete for the tie breaker at second, leaving Kahn with the 1st runner up prize. With the 2nd runner up place, Mooney has placed more in the top three than anyone that hasn’t won over all. Way to go Jason and Mooney for laying down seriously fast laps. However this year we have a new LEDGEND OF THE LEDGES…Congratulations GREG LEE! Greg netted a time of 1:34, setting a new course record and taking advantage of the high water to run a unique line through the ledges to shorten the course to his advantage. Well done!


Our Women showed up to race as well. 3 women raced this year with Leanne Bernier taking the top spot with a time of 2:04. This was not her first rodeo on the New Haven Ledges. She knew the lines and what it would take to pull down a win, not her first for the Ledges Race.


Congratulations to our winners. They all put it on the line and raced in some pretty serious full on conditions.

Every year I thank our volunteers, both on the ground and safety. I once again am grateful to the assistance that the volunteers provide, from setting up the ramp the day before to assisting with the shuttle process, to break down after the race wraps up. Our volunteers are the best.


Our safety is the best as well, they kind of have to be though. They also race. This year they were put to the test with a lot of out of boat experiences in the high water. Our live-bait above toaster saw several rescues. Our safety director, Will Seegers, really does a fantastic job of having our racers in all the right places to make the saves!

Again the race sponsors came though with a good mix of gear for the winners and our raffle that raises funds for American Whitewater. Below is a shot of our door prize this year, a stainless steel pint glass with all of our sponsors on it. Thanks again to all of you and your generosity. Having you on board really does provide a level of legitimacy to this event that otherwise would not be part of the Race.

The day was about as perfect as it gets for holding the Ledges Race. The racers were stoked on the river levels. All the spectators were entertained on the action they were getting watching the racers run some serious water levels. Everyone was smiling about the sunshine and temperatures and yours truly was happy as a clam with how everyone was having a good time enjoying the event. Myself and Will had the pleasure of hearing how this was the “BEST LEDGES RACE YET”… I’d have to say I couldn’t find a reason to disagree. 11 years and running. This seems to be more and more the norm for opening up the boating season in VT and northern New England…you could say tradition? Hope to see you all next year for the 12th annual New Haven Ledges Race.




See you on the ramp next year….Ryan


2019 New Haven Ledges Race





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