Second Annual Chaotic Kayak Race Set for August 26 at Oppenheimer

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Get ready for the second annual Chaotic Kayak Race to support Team River Runner.

Get ready to have a great time on the waves while supporting a truly important cause.
The second annual Chaotic Kayak Race is set for Sunday, August 26, at Oppenheimer Beach and last year’s winner is already talking smack.

Funds from the anything goes kayak race support Team River Runner’s annual St. John trip which brings wounded veterans to the island for a week, or more, of health and healing through watersports.

TRR has been bringing groups of wounded veterans and loved ones to St. John for more than four years now and hopes to raise enough funds to bring down two groups, each of which will stay at Cinnamon Bay Campground for a week, this fall, explained TRR co-founder and executive director Joe Mornini.

“We’ll be back with a group of veterans that first week in November,” said Mornini. “If we raise enough funds we’ll have two groups come down who will each stay one week. Last year we had one big group and that proved difficult with logistics.”

“So this year we’d like to have smaller groups and do two weeks instead of one,” said Mornini.

The only obstacle in Mornini’s way is funding. Each trip to St. John costs TRR about $25,000 to bring between 8 and 12 veterans down to enjoy adaptive kayaking, snorkeling, boating and more.

TRR depends on monetary and in-kind donations in order to offer the wounded men and women who served their country the week of healing and camaraderie on Love City.

Last year’s kayak race raised $25,000 for TRR and funded a large group’s visit in November 2011. Organizers, including Tom and Amy Larsen of Sadie Sea and John and Brandi Schuld, are hoping to match and even top last year’s total.

While raising much-needed funds for TRR’s St. John trip, the kayak race is also a great time. Teams of three are encouraged to use water guns, super soakers and other tools of water propulsion to throw off their competitors.

Kayak teams face off in heats of three, with eliminated teams offered the chance to buy back into the race later in the day. After a very close, and very wet, competition, the team of Arawak Adventures, helmed by Arthur Jones, took top honors in last year’s race.

While no one was really surprised that a kayak rental company won the race, Jones had a ringer on board which had some competitors crying foul, explained Mornini.

“Last year’s winner was Arthur of Arawak Adventures, but he had a ringer in the boat,” said Mornini. “They had a little kid in the middle and they just flew around the race course.”

It remains to be seen if Jones will return with his ringer in tow this year, or if other teams are packing their boats with elementary school students in hopes of grabbing the title this year. But Jones is already predicting another victory.

“Arthur is already throwing the smack down and guaranteeing a win,” said Mornini. “We’ll have to see about that. I think a lot of people have Arthur in their water gun sights.”

Mornini, who also has a full time job as a special education instructor in the Washington, D.C. area, was on St. John early this month spreading the word about this year’s kayak race. He’ll return in August for the race itself and will be back in November with the group, or hopefully two groups, of veterans.

A Washington area kayak enthusiast, Mornini and a friend launched TRR at Walter Reed Army Medical Center eight years ago. Since then, TRR chapters have sprung up at veterans hospitals across the country, mostly started by veterans who have been through the program themselves.

TRR hosts white water and ocean kayak trips and has impacted the lives of countless wounded veterans. Anyone who missed last year’s kayak race, should get a team together and be sure to be there. Kayaks will be provided by Crabby Water Sports and the Sadie Sea folks will be on hand once again to help with logistics.

For more information or to register a team for the second annual Chaotic Kayak Race on Sunday, August 26, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. call the Larsens on Sadie Sea at 514-0778.