Kayak slalom for food tests skills

Posted: Friday, November 26, 2010

On Monday, Alaska Kayak School and Homer Community Recreation hosted the third annual Thanksgiving kayak slalom for food. This benefit for the Homer Community Food Pantry gives people of all ages and skill levels the opportunity to test their speed and maneuverability in a kayak and help feed hungry people for the holiday. If you missed this one, you can still participate in the Christmas slalom, coming up at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 18 at the pool.

Photo By Lindsay Johnson, Homer News
Photo By Lindsay Johnson, Homer News
Andrew Peter races through the first gate at the third annual Kayak Slalom for Food at the Kate Kuhns Aquatic Center on Monday. It was Peter's first time kayaking in the Homer pool; he was the first-place finisher.

Alaska Kayak School has been doing kayak slalom races for 10 years, and in 2007, the event went from being purely recreational to a fun fundraiser.

Approximately 20 people raced in the first kayak benefit for Max Haggerty, who was battling cystic fibrosis.

"It brought a lot of people together," said organizer Tom Pogson.

The huge success of the first fundraiser inspired Pogson to continue doing it as a benefit for other causes.

The winter fundraisers for the food pantry began in 2008. Last year there also was a Christmas slalom.

More than 20 people participated last year, and not just the hard-core boaters. Pogson said it was a combination of people who want to try and people who have done it before.

"It's a grab bag."

This year's field was slightly smaller, but the mix was just as pronounced, with ages ranging from 10 to 55.

Pogson, with Alaska Kayak School, provided the boats, paddles and safety equipment.

The course was a simple U-shape, starting and ending at the shallow end of the pool and going through two gates in the deep end.

Participants did two heats. The lowest time was used to determine the standings, which no one seemed to care about.

Gates are made of PVC poles attached to a board that is suspended from a cable above the pool.

Kayakers paddle as fast as possible through the gates without touching with body, paddle or boat, a task that's harder than it looks.

"It's not very different than down hill slalom," Pogson said.

A 50-second penalty was applied for missing a gate and a five-second penalty for hitting one.

"In the end it's about speed and accuracy."

The other end results were people having a fun time in the pool by donating food for the pantry.

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