What’s ‘HUP’ in Grayling? Annual race features costumes and homemade canoes
Carlie Wilson | Staff Writer
The most fun is watching them race. I enjoy judging them and looking at the canoes, but watching them trying to actually paddle the canoes is a riot. Some people make it halfway, some people sink immediately." – George Mertz, Circuit Court Judge, H.U.P. Race Judge
Admit it. With all of the festivities in town for the AuSable River Festival, it’s hard not to get caught “HUP” in the fun. One popular event? The H.U.P. Race on Wednesday, which featured homemade canoes and paddlers wearing costumes.
The goal of the event was “for teams to build a boat that is able to stay afloat for the entire race course on the AuSable River,” according to the Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce. Some succeeded. Some did not.
Teams were limited to building materials included in the kits for the event: a piece of plywood, a couple of two-by-fours, nails, and a roll of duct tape. Latex paint and decorations were separate and optional.
Several extra additions were banned from canoes participating in the H.U.P. Race, including stickers, adhesives, and epoxy paint. Judges were instructed to penalize any canoe and paddler if found.
The event began at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday with the judging of the canoes. As part of the festivities, the Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce – coordinator of the event – hired official Circuit Court judges for the H.U.P. Race.
When asked about specific judging criteria, judge Colin Hunter said: “I really want to see how fast they can go, and how much water gets into their canoe; that’s what I’m looking at.”
“No. No. All in good fun here, no punishments from me,” said Hunter.
One of the other judges did not feel the same way.
“We’re very careful, we examine these canoes very closely, to make sure they comply with the rules, and if they don’t, we will drill holes in them or assess time penalties. We could also make them do crazy stuff or make them dance for the crowd as a punishment,” said George Mertz, one of the other H.U.P. Race judges.
“The most fun is watching them race. I enjoy judging them and looking at the canoes, but watching them trying to actually paddle the canoes is a riot. Some people make it halfway, some people sink immediately,” said Mertz.
After the competition wrapped this year, and several canoes spilled in the water, the winners were finally decided.
This year, the first place winner was team Grayling Promotional Association (paddler: Brad Duncan) with a time of 1:46.88; the team received the “Fastest Hupper Award.”
The second place group, the Grayling Firefighters Association “Guns ‘N’ Hoses” (paddler: Cameron Wakeley) with a time of 1:47.77, received the “Almost, But Not Quite First Place Award.”
Also given out this year, Dead Bear Brewing Company and paddler Mike Gardiner took home the “Sinker Award” for the best sinkable boat.
A+ Lawncare and paddler Jason Bogdan took home the “Haven’t Got a Clue” award.
Of the teams who dressed up, the one that came and conquered was the group representing the Kalkaska Eagles and paddler Travis Lamonte, dressed from head to toe in Star Wars costumes.
The canoe with the “Most Creative” award was the Class of 1982 and paddler James Radebaugh with a speedboat design.
Traci Cook, the head of the Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce, felt that the event was a success.
“The H.U.P. Race was successful this year, even with the threat of rain. We had 15 teams race this year. We do not have our final count for money brought in yet, but from my general calculations, I believe it was around $1,300, $1,400,” said Cook.
The H.U.P race will take place again next year as part of the AuSable River Festival activities. For more information on the H.U.P. Race, contact Cook at the Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce at 348-2921.