OSCODA – When the calendar hits July, it can only mean one thing in Oscoda and the surrounding area; it’s officially canoe racing season. Action on the AuSable River officially gets heated up with the Curley Memorial Canoe Race, held Saturday and Sunday. 

“July comes around and we are quite busy this time of the year, it’s canoe racing season,” event organizer Ryan Matthews said. “This past weekend there was a race near Grayling and then this weekend is the Curley, the first warm-up for the (AuSable River Canoe) Marathon. As long as the weather cooperates we are anticipating a decent field because there is almost a record number of teams for the marathon.” 

Saturday is the C2 race, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Cooke Dam embankment, with the race ending at Finish Line Park, near the AuSable Inn. Winning time is expected to be about two-and-a-half hours. Mike Davis and Weston Willoughby of Homer won last year’s race with a time of 2:28.45. 

The C1 race will be held on Sunday at 10 a.m. It begins and ends at the AuSable Childrens Park. The winning time for this race is usually around an hour. Davis won this race last year as well, with a time of 1:04.57. 

“The river level is still really high, so that should make for a pretty fast race,” Matthews said. “This race is probably the best just of how teams are going to do in the marathon and for a lot of teams, it is a crucial chance to scout Foote Pond and the final stretch of the river in a race setting. It is one of the premier races in the Michigan Canoe Racing Circuit so it always gets a decent field and a lot of paddlers enjoy the race and its’ competitive aspects. Last year we had a record number of C1 racers too and I expect close to the same amount this year as well.”

Matthews also added a special thanks to the race sponsors, Gary Oil and Propane, Oscoda Canoe Rental, A. Curley Contractor, B.C. Woodworks and Sunnybunns Watercraft Rentals. 

For more information on the Curley, the Marathon or other races in the circuit visit ausablecanoemarathon.org.