Whitehorse to Dawson City in 42 hours: Canoeists celebrate Yukon River Quest win

The 715-kilometre paddling race wrapped up over the weekend with the top teams arriving hours, or even seconds, apart.

Different strategies work as voyageur canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards all go the distance

Team 57, Yukon Wide Adventures, brought together six paddlers with experience as solo racers. The strategy paid off: here team members pose in Dawson City with some celebratory Champagne. (YRQ Media/Facebook )

A team of six canoeists won this year's Yukon River Quest by two hours — and the paddlers say they had time for margaritas along the way. 

"This is the best race I've ever eaten in," said Stephen Mooney, of the winning team 57 — Yukon Wide Adventures. 

The team arrived in Dawson City on Friday afternoon with an official race time of 42 hours, 47 minutes and eight seconds. 

Team 57's other members were Thomas de Jager, Gus Oliveira, Dave Hutchinson, Wayne Anderson and Pat McLellan. All had experience as solo paddlers rather than canoeists on a team. 

Mooney says the extra space in the larger voyageur canoe proved useful. He say the team packed more baggage than a kayak would typically carry. Extra calories and refreshments helped liven the mood.

"There's way more room in one of these things. Kayaks are hard to eat in," Mooney said.

"It was a great race. It was a slog, but we turned these kayakers into single-bladers and it was a great race."

5 seconds separate 2nd and 3rd-place teams

The second and third-place finishers, travelling in different types of watercraft, arrived in Dawson City within mere seconds of each other. 

Shawn Thrower and Steve King arrived in a kayak with an official time of 44 hours, 38 minutes and 51 seconds. 

The third-place team was in a smaller canoe. Carter Johnson and Dave Jensen's official time is listed as 44 hours, 38 minutes and 56 seconds — just five seconds behind the kayak team. 

No one type of watercraft seems to have an advantage in the 715-kilometre Yukon River Quest. In other years, winning teams have paddled canoes, kayaks and voyageurs alike. 

This year the race also welcomed stand-up paddle boarders for the second time. The fastest of eight stand-up paddlers was Bart de Zwart, who finished with a time of 52 hours, 16 minutes and six seconds.

69 teams finished the race this year, with the final stand-up paddle-boarder arriving in Dawson on Saturday evening. 19 teams withdrew along the way.

Paddlers set off from Whitehorse on Wednesday. 69 teams finished the race this year. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

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