Matthew Shannon and Junebug take off Saturday from the starting line of the annual Washington Paddle Craft Race on Washington Pond in Washington. They were the first paddlers to complete the adult race. “She has very good balance,” Shannon of Washington, said of Junebug after she scampered onto the deck of his kayak in victory. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

WASHINGTON — Junebug was only supposed to be a spectator, but seeing Matthew Shannon heading out in his kayak by himself while she stood, leashed and held by Shannon’s girlfriend, Tracy Beck, on the shore was too much to bear. So the tan and white pup joined him in the annual Washington Paddle Craft Race, jumping into Washington Pond and then onto the narrow deck of Shannon’s kayak before settling into his lap just before the race began.

Junebug didn’t contribute any dog-paddling to the effort Saturday but she and Shannon still came in first in the adult division, a casual affair where the competitors were clearly more interested in socializing with their fellow boaters than beating them to the finish line buoy.

“She has very good balance,” Shannon, of Washington, said of Junebug after the race as the dog again scampered up onto the deck of his kayak in victory. “It was fun.”

Kathleen Gross had, at some point prior to the race, also had some four-legged visitors in her watercraft, an open canoe-kayak hybrid. Some mice that had made a mess in her boat, prompting her to overturn the craft in the pond to wash it off, inside and out.

“Some mice moved in, they’re going to get a bath,” said Gross, who paddled alongside the kids entered in the race. She was overseeing them as they made a loop from Washington Pond’s only boat launch around a small island and back to the finish buoy.

Sisters Maddison, 12, left, and Liberty Leavitt, 9, of Washington were the only entrants in the children’s race Saturday during annual Washington Paddle Craft Race on Washington Pond in Washington. The pair had a close race of it, bumping into each other after the start as they jockeyed for position, with older sister Maddison pulling ahead in the final stretch. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Sisters Maddison, 12, and Liberty Leavitt, 9, of Washington were the only entrants in the children’s race. But the pair had a close race of it, bumping into each other after the start as they jockeyed for position.

“Give them a few minutes and they’ll be smacking each other with their paddles,” their dad, Jacolby Leavitt Sr., joked as their mom, Alison Leavitt, paddled behind the girls. Their brother, Jacolby Leavitt Jr., watched from shore.

Eventually Maddison passed the finish buoy first, narrowly edging out her sister. She said the race was fun, and the water was cold.

The event was sponsored by the Washington Recreation Committee and the Washington Lakes & Watershed Association.

Peg Hobbs, a committee and association board member, said the event started three years ago as the groups looked for ways to offer local citizens something new to do at no cost to them. The event also works to highlight local natural features, such as the 505 acre Washington Pond which she said has abundant wildlife including loons, eagles and kingfishers.

“We have a lovely town, all kinds of people are proud of it and excited to live here and be a part of it,” Hobbs said.

Peg Hobbs, bottom left, talks to paddlers Saturday as they prepare to start the annual Washington Paddle Craft Race on Washington Pond in Washington. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The race had no entry fee, and no prizes other than bragging rights, according to organizers.

Roxanne Eggen of Liberty, whose family has had a camp on the pond since 1965, was one of only two racers that first year. The other, her friend Sarah, was unable to make it to this year’s race, which drew about a dozen paddlers and half that many spectators. Hobbs said about 15 paddlers took part last year.

This year Eggen’s son, Joseph Moody, joined her in the race, each in their own kayak.

“He was nice enough to step in when Sarah couldn’t make it,” Eggen said of her son. She said she liked that the carry-in-only access to Washington Pond limits boating on it to small craft.

Joseph Moody, red kayak, left, and his mother Roxanne Eggen cross the finish line together Saturday during the annual Washington Paddle Craft Race on Washington Pond in Washington. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Moody, who now lives in Hope, grew up in Washington and has spent plenty of time on the water there.

“It’s a nice small lake and, historically, a lot of the camps have been owned by the same families, so you know your neighbors,” he said. “If a tree falls down on your camp, someone will let you know.”

Hobbs encouraged everyone at Saturday’s race to, later that morning, go to the Ladies Guild’s annual Strawberry Festival at the Washington Fire Department.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.