By Derek Doucet
It was another great year for the Polar Paddle in the village of Lakefield as five teams were vying for bragging rights and a spot on the Polar Paddle trophy!
The defending champs were not able to make it due to injury and the insurmountable fear of defending a championship but as they say... The show must go on!
“Beach ya to it,” “Hooked on a feeling,” “Hipstars,” “Party Animals” and “Despacito 2.0” faced off against one another in a heated face to face battles in a double elimination competition.
Despite an early exit, the Party Animals took home the Best Costume and showed great competition and spirit as they pushed the canoe down the main street in Lakefield.
The closest race was between Hooked on a Feeling and Despacito 2.0 - where D2.0 narrowly escaped with the victory by barely a bow length. Despacito 2.0 would go on the final against Beach ya to it with an undefeated record and a heavy favourite.
The final is just as the word implies... final. The double elimination rule is as the word implies... eliminated. Despacito with an undefeated record and a prior win over BYTI was looking to cruise to the championship. However, BYTI had a few secret weapons - a former Polar Paddle Champ, a professional soccer player, a university basketball player, a US college baseball player.
The final was everything a person could want. Millenials vs. younger Millenials. Both teams, lined up and as Jheeven Salvarajah was counting down, Despacito false started! Following the IOC for track & field, a second false-start would disqualify them and hand over the championship to Beach ya to it. The mental game was heavy and ultimately weighed on the minds of the team.
As the race starts, Despacito is late to start, the pressure of their reactions impacting them in a big way. Beach ya to it, was out like a shot. They pulled ahead by a boat length almost immediately and as they tore down the road Despacito 2.0 worked hard to close the lead but to no avail. Beach ya to it was able to avenge their earlier loss and in the final no less! Beach ya to it - the 2019 Polar Paddle Champs!
Congrats and thank you to all who participated. A special thanks goes to Jheeven Salvarajah, 4-time Polar Paddle participant, 2 time champion and Simon Dutil 1st time Polar Paddle participant for their role in marketing, organizing and welding the event.