In this March 2022 file photo, Bryan Albee and Justin Lawson negotiate the rapids during the 41st St. George River Race in Searsmont. The 2023 race is scheduled for Saturday. Credit: Courtesy of Lindsey Cross

Have you noticed how you can actually feel the warmth of the sun recently, and how quickly the snow is melting away?

That’s a surefire sign that Maine’s competitive river racing season is close at hand. In fact, it begins this week.

Canoe and kayak paddlers who have been itching to get back on the water and renew some friendships with like-minded racers will be headed to Searsmont on Saturday for the 42nd St. George River Race.

The event, sponsored by the Waldo County YMCA, marks the traditional start to the paddling season, which features a busy schedule of events that will continue through the end of July.

Conditions appear to be good for the St. George River Race, according to Waldo County YMCA Member Services Director Jan McIntyre.

“It’s totally free of ice and debris,” McIntyre said.

“We have a crew that helps us, goes down the river. They have gone down several times and they haven’t had to take out any trees or anything,” she said.

The water is a bit low, but the rain forecast for Thursday could help improve conditions.

The St. George River Race, which features six miles of whitewater from Searsmont to Appleton, is scheduled to get underway at 11 a.m. Paddlers may pick up their race packets from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

McIntyre said there have already been more than 50 paddlers sign up for the race. The entry fee is $30 for a single paddler and $50 per team and can be completed by visiting the race website at

Competitors may also register on race day, but the registration increases to $35 and $60, respectively. The weather for Saturday is expected to be cloudy conditions with temperatures in the low 40s and light winds.

The St. George River Race was run last year for the first time since 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 150 paddlers in 90 boats turned out for the 2022 event, with the overall title going to kayaker Ben Randall of Sabattus in a time of 40 minutes, 47 seconds.

The Waldo County YMCA is also organizing the 48th Passagassawakeag River Race on Saturday, April 1. That event, also scheduled for an 11 a.m. start, features a seven-mile whitewater course.

The race begins at Littlefield farm on Savage Road in Waldo. Entry is $30 per paddler or $50 for a team. Online registration is required and may be done by visiting

For more information on the St. George or Passagassawakeag races, contact or call 207-338-4598.

The full schedule for the Maine Canoe & Kayak Racing Organization’s whitewater and flatwater racing season is available on the group’s website.

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...