The Willard Hanmer Guideboat Race has been held annually since 1962; its name honors master guide boat builder Willard Hanmer. The Fiftieth annual race will be held on July 1, 2012 at Riverside Park, next to the New York State Boat Launch, with a boat parade at 10am. This year's event will end down river at the Fish and Game Club, where a community picnic will be held. The Ralph Morrow Canoe and Kayak Event, held in conjunction with the Hanmer races, includes solo and tandem canoe and kayak classes, as well as war canoes and a "rub-a-dub" category (four adults in one regular tandem canoe).
In 2003, the race was held at Lake Colby.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, July 6, 1979
Hanmer Boat Races indigenous event
Sunday will usher in Saranac Lake's most popular summer event: the annual Willard Hanmer Guideboat and Canoe Race classic.
This will mark the 17th year that local and area contestants have paddled down Lake Flower, carried at the Paul Smith's building, and continued by the Saranac River to the Fish and Game Club on Bloomingdale Road.
All along the route friend's will be cheering them on. Perhaps the event has become so popular because it makes use of nature's, gifts. The boats are quiet and pollution free. The sport is conducted in an atmosphere of good, clean fun. Watching it is free.
At the Fish and Game Club two service organizations provide a picnic with games, and all money raised goes to local charities.
The Hanmer Boat Races started as a purely local event to mark Independence Day and independence from Commercialism has increased its popularity from summer to summer. The weekend has become a homecoming weekend for many families. This year three Saranac Lake High School reunions have been scheduled to coincide.
It is especially fitting that such an indigenous event should be named after a man who brought fame to Saranac Lake with the quality and design of an item vitally necessary to so many of its campers, hunters and fishermen — the Adirondack Guideboat.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 22, 1972
Hanmer officials expect large field for the races
SARANAC LAKE — The 10th annual Willard Hanmer Memorial Regatta is expected to draw an exceptionally large field of contestants this year according to Sports Council spokesman Jake Schuler.
The July 2 races are under the sponsorship of the Council and several changes in race format have been included not only to increase the pace of the action but to stimulate increased entries.
"Right now," said Mr. Schuler, "things are going as well as can be expected. The trophies are all in and we are operating on a sound financial basis."
The guideboat race, the showcase event in the regatta since the death of Willard Hanmer, premier guideboat builder, will again be held as a double-header with a 2-man lake event followed by the singles across Lake Flower and down the Saranac River to the Fish and Game Club on Bloomingdale Road.
The mushrooming canoe race has grown to a point now where it is deemed advisable to start the boats in groups of five from an off shore position. This will spice up the action at the carry when the boats converge at the transfer spot.
The boats will leave Baldwin Park at 3 minute intervals. A trophy is being offered this year in memory of Lucien Miron, official cannoneer and starter for all previous Hanmer races. The Saranac Lake Police protective Assn. is offering this trophy. Mr. Miron died in 1971.
The race has been under various sponsorship over the years and last summer the J.C.s handled the reins. This year it is hoped that many of the founding group can be persuaded to lend their talents and knowledge to help the Council promote a smooth operation.
Angus Voudren who was helmsman for several successful seasons will be asked to help.
Tom Cantwell, who was instrumental in organizing the Hanmer program from its inception and helped insure its being an annual success if needed this year more than ever and hopefully will be on the scene in an active capacity.
Already signs of aquatic activity can be seen along the lake any evening as teams practice the tricky carry technique and many races are won or lost in this 200 yards of heartbreak. The spectators often gather at this point to cheer on their champion and it is at this point that women competitors are allowed to receive assistance in a prearranged system.
A June 29 deadline has been set for entries which doesn't give the competitors a great deal of time to get their blanks in and assigned a race position. The Enterprise will carry a blank till June 29.
The most difficult situation exists in the war canoe division. At one time there were six or seven such teams in the races here but a lack of the unusual craft has held the field down over the past three years.
Several girls teams would like to enter but have not been able to obtain boats. It is hoped that an "angel" might come forth with a War canoe or two from one of the girl's camps in this area.
Two very fine girl's teams raced last summer at Tupper Lake and it is hoped they might enter in the Hanmer Races this year giving it an added touch. There has never been a girls' war canoe team entered in the ten years of Hanmer so it would prove a historical highlight as well.
There are 7 divisions listed on the form sheets and they include the 2-man guideboat, one-man guideboat, racing canoes, ladies and junior canoe, family-canoe war canoe and combined Kayak-Folbot class.
Cash prizes and trophies will be given in the guideboat race and trophies and plaques in the canoe division.
The Saranac Lake Sports Council will operate a concession stand at the starting line and the Rotary club will host the spectators and contestants at the finish line at its annual picnic.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, July 1, 1981
SARANAC LAKE — More than 100 racers of all abilities are expected to compete Sunday in 22 classes of the 19th annual Willard Hanmer Guideboat and Canoe Race. The Hanmer race is more than a mad dash along four miles of water from Baldwin park to the Saranac Lake Fish and Game Club. Just about the entire town turns out for the community event, which culminates in a family picnic at the Game Club grounds.
Some racers are intense — such as Chuck Kitchen of Long Lake, last year's winner of the one man guideboat class at 30.27 minutes. He'll be back this year to continue the tradition of the guideboat, built best some say by the late local Willard Hanmer for whom the race is named.
Other competitors are laid back, such as the nurses in the war canoe last, year whose banner was a brassiere.
The Hanmer races have grown to include many more craft than guideboats, there are categories for men, women, mixed, youth and family entries in both pleasure and racing canoes. There is a division for kayaks and fol boats
Last year Alden racing shells made their debut, as did a women's guideboat class. The media class will be revived this year. Entry fees are $7 for canoes and $5 for kayaks.
They'll race alongside war canoes, the frivolous 'Rub-a-Dub-Dub' class and the guideboats, subdivided into six divisions. Entry fees range from no charge fo junior guideboats to $20 for the granddaddy two-man guideboats.
The poster advertising this year's Hanmer race was designed by 1981 Saranac Lake High School graduate Spencer Jenkins. His poster depicts his winning finish with partner Bruce Day in last year's two-man guideboat class. Their winning time was 23.85.
The race begins at 11 a.m. at Baldwin Park. Each category has a separate start. The four-mile route along the Saranac River involves a carry at the Main Street bridge.
Anyone interested in entering should contact the Chamber of Commerce office at 891-1990.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 21, 1967
New Design Oarlock Could Win the Hanmer
James Latour, uncontested winning candidate in the Republican primary for Franklin County treasurer, is sighting on the Willard Hanmer trophy on July 4th as a follow-up victory.
The regatta veteran has acquired the services of one of the keenest Adirondack trainers for his assault on the record book over the tricky race course on lake and river.
Jim said for publication today, "It will be an unknown factor that will, decide the race this year... something in the boat itself," he said cautiously. He apparently doesn't want to arouse suspicion and alert the other contestants.
He threw out another press bombshell when he announced that Harold McCasland, the Yukon Wraith, would train him for the gruelling three-mile feat of man and oars.
Mr. Latour will represent the Belvedere Restaurant this year and will carry the celebrated vermillion polka dots denoting spaghetti stains on the shirt.
The popular race will draw from a wide geographical area if preliminary indications are reliable. Two boats from Long Lake are expected to enter both the two-man lake race and the combined single-oarsman, lake and river event which follows.
The boat, which Mr. Latour will enter, is being groomed for the race at the Mills Avenue Pickle Factory and is considered "under wraps" at present.
The boat must pass the critical inspection or the judges to be declared legal and cannot contain hidden locomotion features which would give any advantage.
Harold MaCasland, the trainer, also heads the nautical pit crew which is bringing the sleek shell to perfection and has eliminated much weight from the 14-foot craft with a revolutionary oarlock which operates on a stabilizer pivot steering the boat automatically. This eliminates the constant turning in the boat by the oarsman to set a course.
Legal or not legal, the Belvedere entry will keep their fingers crossed and make their grand play at the starting line on July 4th.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, July 5, 1988
Duprey wins Hanmer Classic guideboat race
By BRIAN MCCARTHY
SARANAC LAKE - The Willard Hanmer Canoe and Boat Classic, a race steeped in tradition, saw two dramatic changes in its 26th edition Sunday, under hot and sunny conditions.
Tony Duprey of Saranac Lake dethroned six-time champion Tim Doyle, also of Saranac Lake, in the one-man guideboat race, highlighting the fun-filled day in which 140 boats raced
The second break in tradition involved the location of the race. For the first time, the race was held solely on Lake Flower, instead of running down part of the Saranac River.
Duprey Finally Triumphs
The most exciting battle of the day came in the one-man guideboat race, the premiere event in a race that celebrates the Adirondack guideboat.
Doyle had been in a class of his own in the 1980s. With five wins in a row and six in the past seven years, Doyle was the favorite to win again Sunday.
Duprey finished third last year, some two minutes behind Doyle and fourth two years ago, but came up big Sunday.
"Tony's been chasing him the past couple of years, and he finally beat him," said race organizer Bill White. Not only did Duprey beat Doyle, he topped him by just under a minute and a half.
"We had a real big break from the traditional race that stood for 25 years," White said of the new course.
The traditional course had to be scrapped when organizers felt that the water level of the Saranac river system was too low.
In years past, competitors paddled a short course in Lake Flower and then were required to carry their crafts 200 yards and deposit them in the Saranac River next to the Niagara Mohawk building and dam. Village officials regulated the dam and released enough water from Lake Flower to raise the water level of the river to allow for competitors to travel upon.
Shortly after the race Lake Flower would refill with water from the Saranac river system. This year, however, the water level of the system was too low, and village officials and race organizers feared that the already-low Lake Flower would not rise to a sufficient level.
The new course that was devised caused some expected problems, White said.
Confusion Taints Race
White said that there were an abnormal number of protests and disqualifications because of the new course.
"We had a lot of problems with people going the wrong way through the course," White said.
"With the quick change in the course and all that we were faced with, it was very successful," he added.
White said that he and other race organizers received many positive remarks about the new location. Many people commented that it was better to have the race in one central location instead of two different places. Usually the race finishes at the Saranac Lake Fish and Game Club.
Some Things Never Change
Despite the change in the course, several things that have marked the Hanmer Classic didn't change.
The weather conditions for race day were perfect and followed the tradition of sunny skies that have seemed to bless the Hanmer Classic.
The race has been cancelled just once in its 26 years. An electrical storm caused organizers to cancel the race. Last year the race started with gloomy clouds overhead, but finished with sunny skies.
Another factor that stuck to tradition was the fun element that always surrounds the race.
The Hanmer Classic is an event that persons of all ages have come to know and love. Competitors try their best and regardless of outcome, experience the thrill of racing and the joy that comes from it.
Boatload Of Winners
The brother team of Mike and Mark Winter of Paul Smith's cruised to a easy victory in the men's pleasure category in 40:59.
Jim and Jenny Sausville of Saranac Lake paddled to a first place finish in the mixed pleasure category. They defeated their nearest competitor, Jim and Kathy Allott of Potsdam by more than 3 1/2 minutes.
Bill and Heather Rich of Saranac Lake cruised to a second place finish in the family pleasure category.
In the youth pleasure category, Mike Miller of Lake Clear and Tom Ward of Saranac Lake captured first place.
In the racing categories, it was Pam Hoffer and Ginny Frenette of Tupper Lake winning the ladies race, Todd and Ann Eastman of Lake Placid first in the mixed class, Rob Blair and Tom Clark of Saranac Lake second in the family class, and Andrea Healey of Saranac Lake and Kieran Dollard of Albany second in the youth class.
The Rub-A-Dub-Dub race featured four competitors in one craft.
The Olney family, from Westernville, outside of Rome, won the class, followed by the team of Mark and Mike Winter, and Jim and Jenny Sausville of Saranac Lake.
The team of John, Robert and Brad Rafferty and Peter Hunkins of Lake Placid nipped Troy Farmer, Eric Wilson, Leslie and Erin Minehan, all of Saranac Lake by eight seconds to take third place.
Cash prizes of $100 were awarded to the top finisher in the one and two man guideboat. The top finishers in the Rub-A-Dub-Dub won $40.