ROWIN’ ON THE RIVER: Bluz Cruz a kick for oldest paddler
Published 10:55 am Wednesday, April 9, 2014
With the help of experienced river guides, an 85-year-old man will have the opportunity to race in the 10th annual Bluz Cruz Kayak and Canoe Race Saturday.
Bill Cousineau will be the oldest participant signed on to tackle the 22-mile trek from the Madison Parish Port near Tallulah to the Vicksburg city waterfront, said Wayne Pratt, one of 20 paddlers in canoes that will be steered by river guides including noted Mississippi River guide John Ruskey.
Pratt, a coordinator for the event, said the canoes are offered for those that are unsure of racing on their own.
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Cousineau admitted he didn’t want to tackle the mighty Mississippi alone, but was interested in participating in the race.
“I didn’t want to be by myself and this gives me the chance to do it,” he said.
Cousineau said he was looking forward to the trip and is confidant that his active lifestyle will aid in the stamina required for the race.
“I talked to Wayne, (Pratt) and asked questions about the trip,” he said, and he said he thought I would do fine.
“I was a professional forester in Oregon,” Cousineau said, “and there were always lots of hills to climb and that helped me stay in shape,” he said.
“Being outdoors is a big thing for me. I have never had an office job.”
Cousineau lives in Sun River and said he and his wife come to Vicksburg twice a year to visit their son, who owns the Baer House Bed and Breakfast.
“We come down here in the spring and each fall to help out at the B&B,” said Cousineau.
The canoe that Cousineau will be paddling will be one of Ruskey’s French Canadian Explorer Canoes, said Pratt.
He will be bringing two for the race and each one holds 10 paddlers and two guides, Pratt said, and added that all of the spaces in the canoes have been claimed for the race.
The cost to participate in the race is $55 and non-American Canoe Association members will also be assessed an additional $5 fee.
To register online, visit www.bluzcruz.com/registration.
Prospective paddlers may also register from 2 to 7 p.m. Friday at Martin’s at Midtown, 1101 Belmont St. along with race packet pick-up.
Race participants will meet at the former Grand Station Casino parking lot, near 1366 Mulberry St., from 6:45 to 7 a.m. Saturday, then be shuttled to the Madison Parish Port. Shuttle service for paddlers will be provided to put-in.
A mandatory safety meeting will be held at the Louisiana entry point at 8:30 a.m. and the race will begin at 9.
The Bluz Cruz Kayak and Canoe Race is a fundraiser for Service over Self (SOS), a non-denominational youth service project that provides necessary home repairs and materials to those in need in Vicksburg and Warren County.
For more information, visit www.bluzcruz.com.
If you go
The 10th annual Bluz Cruz Kayak and Canoe race is scheduled for Saturday. Paddlers will put their canoes in the Mississippi River at the Madison Parish Port near Tallulah. The race ends at the Vicksburg city waterfront. Participants will meet at the former Grand Station Casino parking lot, near 1366 Mulberry St. from 6:45 a.m. to 7 a.m., then be shuttled to the Madison Parish Port. The cost is $55 plus a $5 fee for non-American Canoe Association members. To register online, visit www.bluzcruz.com/registration. Registration will also be held from 2 to 7 p.m. Friday at Martin’s at Midtown, 1101 Belmont St. along with race packet pick-up. For more information, visit www.bluzcruz.com.