A 43-foot, six-man Texas Unlimited canoe named “314” walked away with top honors in the inaugural Tour du Teche this month, completing the 130-mile journey from Port Barre to Patterson in just 18 hours and 29 minutes.
Andrew Stephens, 30, New York City; William Russell, 27, San Antonio, Texas; Andrew Soles, 37, Arlington, Va.; Sam Ritchie, Philadelphia, Pa.; Dan Hammer, 26, Philadelphia, Pa.; and Amado Cruz, 22, Esperanza, Cayo, Belize, will share in at least $3,225 in winnings.
They won base prizes of $500 for being first over-all, and $100 for being first Texas Unlimited from Tour du Teche, plus $100 each prizes for firsts in class not claimed: first male tandem unlimited, first female tandem unlimited, first female solo unlimited, first solo composite kayak, first male and female recreational, first solo canoe recreational, and first solo and tandem pirogues.
Added to that is another $3,500 from the Town of Berwick, which has pledged to match all of the Tour du Teche base prize money provided by a grant from Teche Federal Bank.
Prizes could rise as expenses are sorted out.
On top of Tour du Teche prizes, the Texas Unlimited team won the “Prix du Gabriel Award” for the first male to reach St. Martinville, $100; another $100 for the first boat to reach New Iberia; and the $25 “Eugene Arnaud Award” for being the first boat to reach Arnaudville.
A unique feature of Tour du Teche is that communities along the way set up their own unofficial finish lines and awarded their own prizes.
“Steppe Missile,” Alan Lamb, 24, of Lansing, N.Y., and Richard Steppe, 52, Dallas, Texas, were second overall and first in tandem kayak composite at 21 hours, 17 minutes.
Their first-in-class finish earned them a base of $100 from Tour du Teche plus a matching $100 from the Town of Berwick.
Hot on their heels was “Illinois Brigade,” paddled by Wally Werderich, 37, Yorkville, Ill., and Gustave “Tave” Lamperez, 50, St. Charles, Ill. Their finish in 21 hours and 24 minutes was a first-in-class for tandem canoe composite, winning $100 from the Teche Federal Bank funding and a matching $100 from the Town of Berwick.
Adventure racers Laurence Cohen, 54, New Orleans, and Rusty Bernard, 52, Mandeville, paddling “La Madeleine” in tandem kayak recreational, shaved miles off the course by innovative portages across the necks of loops above New Iberia and Franklin to finish in 23 hours, 14 minutes, again winning of $100 from Tour du Teche $100 from the Town of Berwick.
Grady Reed, 33, Lockhart, Texas; Ginsie Stauss, 51, Austin, Texas, a.k.a. “Gatorhead and Da Shrimp,” were in the money as first mixed tandem unlimited at 26 hours, 30 minutes, winning the $200 in official prizes. Stauss will also receive $100 for being the first female paddler to reach Breaux Bridge – the “Scholastique Picou Breaux Award” – and $100 for being the first woman to reach New Iberia. She and Reed share another $100 for being the first mixed tandem unlimited to reach Patterson, a special award of the Pellerin Companies.
At 35 hours and 20 minutes, “XMA” paddled by David Dupuis, 47, was sixth overall and first in solo kayak recreational. Prizes total $200.
Ted Edinger, 61, Pineville, paddling “332,” a Texas Unlimited Solo, finished in 35 hours, 44 minutes, winning in addition to the $200 in official prizes $100 from the City of St. Martinville as the first male solo unlimited to reach that check point.
“Pogy,” Dennis Wise, 52, of Cecilia, and Tami St. Germain, 48, Arnaudville; paddling in mixed canoe recreational, finished in 39 hours and 8 minutes, earning $200 in first-in-class money plus $100 from Buck & Johnny’s Pizzeria of Breaux Bridge for being the first mixed canoe recreational to reach the Breaux Bridge check point. On top of that, Wise will get the “Golden Bed Pan Award” from the St. Mary Council on Aging for being the first senior to reach Franklin. With the award comes one night at the Fairfax Bed and Breakfast in Franklin and dinner for two at Main Street Cafe in Franklin.
Others who didn’t place officially but won unofficial awards include:
•Kenneth “Trey” Snyder, 38, St. Martinville, whose “Pont Breaux Pirogue” was the first solo pirogue to reach the Breaux Bridge check point, earning him $100 from the Kiwanis Club de Pont Breaux.
•Taylor Trahan, 16, of Breaux Bridge, paddling with Bo Lester, 19, also of Breaux Bridge, in “Budmaster,” a tandem canoe composite, wins $100 as the first junior paddler to reach St. Martinville, courtesy of the Kiwanis Club of St. Martinville, and $100 from the New Iberia Kiwanis Club as the first junior to reach that check point. The pair made it to Patterson in just 33 hours and 4 minutes but finished second in class behind Werderich and Lamperez.
•Bruce Bodson, 56, of Missouri City, Texas, paddling a solo kayak recreational named “Dagger Seeker,” was first solo senior to reach St. Martinville, earning $100 from the Rotary Club of St. Martinville.
Special prizes going unclaimed are $100 for the first tandem pirogue to reach Breaux Bridge (Kiwanis Club de Pont Breaux) and $100 for the first all-female tandem unlimited to reach St. Martinville (Pat Theriot, State Farm Insurance).