Keep Calm, it’s almost Tubie time!

The team rhetoric is building as Tubie Race weekend approaches.

All the festivities including the Friday night’s teen dance, Saturday’s parade and dance and Sunday’s races are set for this weekend.

Organizers, the Morrisburg and District Lions Club, who are presenting the 43rd edition of the festivities, made a rule change to allow some younger paddlers to establish a new generation to ensure that the long-running tradition continues. 

They are thrilled to see that some new, and some younger teams are planning to ‘paddle on’ this weekend, pitting their skills against some wily veterans.

“I’m hoping to defend my title as King of the River,” said Gary McGee, who captained last year’s winning team. “But, I won’t be too upset if someone new is crowned, as this tiara I’ve been wearing all year is getting quite heavy.”

“As always, I have some new ideas for improving my craft this year, but to be honest, I have no idea if they will work,” said McGee. “That’s the beauty of the Tubie race, right? You just never know what’s going to happen.”

Childhood friends, turned Tubie rivals, Gary McGee and Jon Domanko, battled it out last year for the title which came down to a photo finish.

Despite the strong finish of Domanko last year, McGee, says they will be in the mix, but sees the team of Katherine Lee as a favourite, “If the team can stay upright.”

Lee captained a race winning tubie craft last year, but it capsized taking the team out of contention. 

Robert Farlinger, who designed, built and raced to victory that craft, disagreed that the team’s inexperience was its downfall. 

“I think its more a case that the fury of the St. Lawrence river can sometimes undermine even the best engineered craft,” said Farlinger.

McGee never counts out the Barclay/Laurin craft. “They had a good craft last year, but Jeff (Barclay) is getting a bit old, so I’m not too worried,” said McGee. “Same for Greg Millard. He’s probably not a factor because he’s preoccupied with his upcoming wedding.”

McGee might be right about Barclay, as it was recently announced that they will not be entering the Tubies this year, but they do plan to exert some influence on a new and up and coming team.

“Sage (Barclay) will be putting a team in,” said Laura Barclay, team spokesperson. “We will take pride in prepping our future River Queens and Kings,” she added.

The Barclay/Veinotte team which will include Sage Barclay, Christyn Veinotte, Cole Veinotte, Marc Beckstead, Lindsay Boland, Morgan Schaillee, Danielle Quenneville, Wesley Farmer, Joey Lamarche and Jon Gilmer. “Keep calm, they were born to paddle on,” said Barclay.

While the Barclays will be watching Tubies from a different vantage point this year, they did hint at a return next year.

“We’ll help Sage get a taste for Tubies this year, before next year, when her parents come in and sweep it from underneath her,” challenged Barclay.

“Although we take a different seat this year, please not that our hearts and souls remain at the core of Tubie Weekend,” said Barclay.

“We will miss their creativity and enthusiasm, but are pleased to learn that Laura and Jeff (Barclay) are grooming the next generation of paddlers,” said Michael Domanko, one of the key organizers from the Morrisburg and District Lions Club.

“That, and the addition of the Junior B Lions team should provide some new, young blood for this weekend’s events.

Other teams expected to participate in this year’s event include Canadian Tire, Jen Wilson and the Morrell girls.

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