A record-holder, a club founder and one of the best paddling partners the area has ever seen highlight the General Clinton Canoe Regatta’s newest Hall of Fame class.
Canadian Blaise St. Pierre, local resident David Price and 19-time finisher Jeff Kolka will join Gary Aprea, Ed Ray and the late Willis Hackett in the Class of 2014, which will be honored during the third annual Hall of Fame dinner and induction ceremony May 24 at General Clinton Park in Bainbridge.
St. Pierre’s 36 pro finishes in the 70-mile Memorial Day race stands as a Clinton record and ties him with Aprea for fifth in overall runs from Cooperstown to Bainbridge. The resident of Quebec City, Quebec, is Canada’s all-time leader in Clinton appearances and has recruited numerous countrymen since his initial race in 1970.
Bainbridge resident Price and his wife, Evey, created the Regatta’s 700-Mile Club to recognize paddlers who have completed at least 10 70-milers. The club has grown from 13 members in 1980 to more than 450 in 2013. A 10-time finisher himself, committee member Price served as chairman in 1980 and 1989 and has been a race starter in Cooperstown for several years.
Kolka boasts 19 finishes in the 70-miler, including his last six as a C-2 Pro champion with first class Hall of Famer Serge Corbin (2000-05). Kolka, who lives in Grayling, Mich., and Corbin set the second-fastest time in Clinton history when the duo won the 2000 C-2 Pro event in 6 hours, 34 minutes, 48 seconds.
In addition sharing the No. 5 spot with St. Pierre for all-time finishes, Austerlitz resident Aprea has 10 victories, including nine in various C-1 categories. Aprea’s highlights include the 1980 Men’s C-2 Aluminum championship with Dick LaMonte and back-to-back titles in the Men’s Senior C-1 70 (1998-99).
Ray, also of Bainbridge, severd as chairman in 1972 and was a committee member from 1968-2000. He chaired food concessions for 26 years and was an integral part of land acquisition for early construction of General Clinton Park.
Hackett had three 70-mile finishes, including a victory in the 1979 C-1 18 race. The one-person, 18-mile event was named in his honor in 1989. Hackett contributed to the success of the United States Canoe and New York Marathon Canoe Racing associations.
The 2014 ceremony will be part of the 52nd annual Regatta weekend, which runs May 23-26 in Bainbridge.