CANOECourse Length: Approximately 18.5 miles



Course Length: Approximately 18.5 miles

New and Former Racers: Please Read

Canoe Leg Portage Update – May 27, 2016

The Portage:

There will be a mandatory portage approximately 1.5 miles down the river from the start at an area nicknamed “Maddog Corner”. If you do not complete the portage you will be disqualified. This portage is a result of a consensus of a variety of experienced canoers and intended to avoid the left river channel which has been determined to be beyond the skill level of the majority of the racers. The portage Entry Channel is the easier and safer route through this section of river and has been assessed to be within the average skill level of the majority of the racers but it still contains typical river risks and challenges that require skills to avoid. The process outlined here has been developed to help minimize – but not eliminate – the risks of the Portage and help all racers get through the area successfully and have fun!

Warning Marker:

  1. 1. A MARKER will be on the river right bank approximately 100-200 yards from the entrance of the channel that leads to the portage landing.
  2. 2. Canoers are recommended to be on the right side of center of river by the time they reach the marker or they could be at risk for entering the DANGER ZONE that the portage will avoid.

Portage Entrance Channel:

  1. 1. The ENTRANCE CHANNEL will be marked.
  2. 2. Canoers must enter this channel in order to reach the PORTAGE LANDING ZONE.

Portage Landing Zone:

  1. 1. The PORTAGE LANDING ZONE will be marked.
  2. 2. You must land between the arrows in the Landing Zone.
  3. 3. If you miss the Landing Zone, you must either carry or paddle to designated Landing Zone and reenter at the designated reentry location.

Portage Across Island:

  1. 1. Racers are to portage through the designated portage area. Any passes on the portage must be conducted with sportsman like conduct or subject to disqualification.
  2. 2. Recreation category boats or others needing assistance may accept assistance from other racers or designated ski to sea staff (if available) to get heavier boats across the portage IF your progress is causing an impediment to other racers. All other boats must be portaged by the canoe team only.
  3. 3. Teams must portage through the designated PORTAGE AREA to the LAUNCH ZONE and line up in the order you reach the Pre-Launch area.


  1. 1. There will be three phases of launching:
    a. Pre-Launch: Racers are to line up in the order they reach the Pre-Launch area. (Get organized, find your spot, get in launch order.)
    b. On Deck: In order move until you are the On-Deck boat, which means you are second out from launching. On Deck Boats should be ready to move into the next position to launch into the channel.
    c. Launch Boat: The Launch Boat is the boat that will be entering the EXIT CHANNEL next. Be ready to go when race official give you clearance.
  2. 2. The race official will authorize boats to launch into the EXIT CHANNEL as conditions allow.
  3. 3. Racers may choose to delay their launch in order to take extra time to study the channel or become more familiar with the currents and launch process. You will be reinserted into the launch order at the next appropriate break in groupings.

All details are subject to change. Race officials may use discretion to adapt to evolving circumstances. Racers are expected to abide by instructions of race officials and to maintain good sportsman like conduct.
It is important that canoe teams attend the pre-race meeting as final details related to the race known that morning will be presented at that meeting.
If you require special assistance with the portage please notify the race officials at the landing zone.
If you reach the portage and decide that you do not want to continue down river let the race officials know and they can help facilitate your exit.

Canoe Leg:

River Flow Data from USGS at Ferndale Monitoring Station


The course is approximately 18.5 miles long. The actual passing of the timing chip from the biker to the canoe will take place on the pavement immediately in front of Riverside Park on Park Drive. The timing chip should be worn on the wrist so that if your canoe capsizes, you will not lose it. The canoeist is responsible for the road biker’s finish time. Please be ready and in position when your teammate is approaching. When you receive the chip from the road biker, you must swipe the chip to create a finish/start time, canoe to Ferndale, and then pass the chip to the Cyclocross Biker. The course is considered class 1 (on a 1-6 scale) but represents deceptive hazards due to log jams, submerged logs, undercut trees and other obstructions. At the completion of the canoe leg, the canoeists will beach their canoe between the two buoys. One buoy will be stationed 1/4 of the way across the river, the other on the sand bar. Both paddlers will carry the canoe, paddles, and life jackets up the sandbar to the finish line (about 30-40 yards; the mountain biker may help). After crossing the finish line, the canoe will be put in the storage area temporarily (usually by volunteers) and the Cyclocross Rider can go get on their bike. You should retrieve your canoe immediately from the storage area.

Pre-Race Meeting:

There will be a pre-race meeting at 9:30 AM on race day at Riverside Park in Everson. IT IS MANDATORY THAT ALL RACERS ATTEND THIS MEETING TO GET THE LATEST SAFETY INFORMATION ABOUT THE COURSE.

Timing Chips:

Race Timing Chips will consist of the chip on a wristband, and must be passed onto the next racer at each leg exchange area according to the rules. Canoeists: Swipe chip in front of the bulls-eye to create a finish/start time in Everson, at Riverside Park as you are responsible for the Road Bikers finish time. Please be in position when your team mate is approaching. Canoe to Ferndale, pass chip to Cyclocross Biker.


A designated team representative must pick up the team’s race packet prior to the race.  The packet includes the team timing chip, racing bibs & T-shirts. The designated team representative must distribute items to team members. There will be no extra racing bibs at the exchange areas.


MANDATORY CANOE INSPECTION: All canoes must be inspected before being allowed to race. Canoes dropped off at Riverside Park on Saturday will be inspected that same day from 10am-5:30pm. Canoes arriving Sunday, Race Day MUST pass thru an inspection gate between 7:00-8:45am before being dropped off in the staging areas on the grass. We strongly advise you take advantage of the Saturday inspection and drop off as it will make Race Day much easier for your team. Canoes dropped off Saturday will be watched by the local Boy Scout troop overnight — there is a small donation but it is well worth it, as you won’t have to deal with your vessels on Race Day. There will be NO EXCEPTIONS to the mandatory canoe inspections and please note that this process must be started by 8:45am on race day in order to have the inspections completed prior to the mandatory pre-race meeting. It is strongly recommended that racers get their inspection out of the way on Saturday so they have one less thing to worry about on race day.

PLEASE NOTE: Your canoe must have your team number taped onto your boat in the proper location (front left of vessel) BEFORE you arrive, be that Saturday or Sunday. This number is included in your Ski to Sea packet, please make sure you get it from your team captain and affix it to your canoe prior to inspection. If your team number is not on your vessel, you will be asked to move aside until you acquire your number and this will slow down the check-in process.

Coast Guard approved life jackets must be worn by all participants at all times in an approved manner and both paddlers MUST have a whistle. We will not allow inflatable life jackets of any kind in the canoe leg of the race. Additional inflatable flotation designed to help keep your canoe afloat during a flip is not only allowed, it’s recommended! I-Pods, MP3, Walkman or similar music/audio systems are not allowed to be used by the racers while competing. We recommend that all racers carry a cell phone in an attached waterproof bag so that you can call for help if rescue boats do not find you.
Anybody removing or even unzipping their life jacket is subject to immediate disqualification. Safety boats on the river are watching for this very thing. No water ski belts or electric bilge pumps are allowed; all participants are required to have a whistle. Canoes conforming to the American Canoe Association 3/27 rule will be eligible for the race. Canoeists must use a single-bladed canoe paddle. Steering rudders, rowing frames and oars are not permitted. Canoes may be decked in the middle of the canoe. The following boats are not eligible for the race: canoes over 18’6” in length, any and all kayaks, Olympic Flatwater Canoes (C-1s, C-2s), Olympic Flatwater Kayaks (K-1,-2,-4s), rowing shells and motor driven boats. Skirts will be allowed on canoes. If you flip in the river your timing chip should be ATTACHED to you so it doesn’t sink to the bottom of the river because it was loose in the canoe.
NOTE: The minimum length of canoe allowed for all divisions in the race is 15’2”. Recreational divisions still have a maximum length of 18’ and Competitive divisions have a maximum length of 18’6″. All canoes must be at least .1475 times as wide as long so you should confirm this before you bring your canoe to the course.

Canoe Length Minimum Width
15'2" 26 7/8"
15'6" 27 3/8"
16' 28 1/4"
16'6" 29 1/4"
17' 30"
17'6" 31"
18' 31 3/4"

(18′ maximum length allowed in Recreational Divisions, all other Divisions 18’6″) This should only exclude racing hulls. For example: 18’ Jensens, Sundowners and Trippers would qualify. “Pro-boats” (327s) and “cruisers” (432s) would not qualify.

On-site race officials will determine the time for an early release if your teammate is late in coming into the Race Exchange area. Be sure to attend the Pre-Race meeting on Race Day for details.

Canoe Launch:

History of Flow Rates of Nooksack River
Here’s a PDF that shows the last 10 years of the flow rates of the Nooksack River.

The canoe launch will be at Riverside Park (left turn onto Park Drive after crossing bridge over Nooksack River when entering Everson from the west). Vehicles are to head directly to parking area as directed by volunteers who will be wearing orange OR green jackets BEFORE unloading canoes.


Parking for participants will be at the intersection of Stickney Island Road and Trapline Road, right across the street from Riverside Park. On Saturday, vehicles will be allowed to unload their canoes for inspection at the main park entrance and lot, however on Sunday, vehicles are not allowed in the park and they must unload and carry their canoes from the Stickney Island lot ¼ of a mile away. Again, this is why we strongly encourage you to drop your canoe off on Saturday and leave it in the care of the Boy Scouts overnight.

Road Closure:

Park Drive directly in front of the park will be closed from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM to all vehicles to facilitate the exchange. Traffic between Lynden and Everson will be rerouted to Van Buren Road and Hampton Road during the exchange time.

Infraction of Rules:

Infraction of the rules by one team member may disqualify the entire team.


It is important for all racers to show their bib numbers when crossing the exchange area. Timing of individual legs may vary based upon exchange area layout. Therefore, personal time kept by racers may not correspond to official results.

Volunteering for Canoe Leg:

If you want to volunteer for the Canoe Leg of the race, please email us at


  • logo_icon-5
  • Peace Health
  • Fred Meyer

Copyright (c) 2017 Whatcom Events. All rights reserved.