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Competitor number on a 50th anniversary race guideboat
Competitor number on a 50th anniversary race guideboat

50th Anniversary Willard Hanmer Guideboat Races

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The Willard Hanmer Guideboat Race in Saranac Lake celebrated it's 50th anniversary this past weekend. Following tradition it was held on the closest Sunday to 4th of July.

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Hanmer was a guideboat builder in Saranac Lake from 1930 until his death in 1962 at the age of 60. He learned the craft from his father. The race was created in Hanmer's memory in 1962 and has been held every year since, 2012 being the 50th. After Hanmer's death, his wife sold the boat shop on Lake Street to Carl Hathaway, who apprenticed under Hanmer, and built guideboats in it until 1991 when he sold it to its current boat builder Chris Woodward who apprenticed under Hathaway.

The "two Chris's", Chris Woodward of the Woodward Boatshop and Chris Covert of Guideboat Realty are the race organizers and sponsors. The race has seen dwindling participation in recent years, however this year's event, with support from the Saranac Lake Women's Civic Chamber, saw a resurgence to it's former glory with a significant turnout.

The biggest attraction was the parade of almost 60 guideboats that did a parade lap around Lake Flower commemorating the 50th Hanmer race. In one of the lead boats of the parade were octogenarians Natalie Leduc from Saranac Lake and Jim Frenette of Tupper Lake, both former competitors in the Hanmer Race.

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Mark Kurtz

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Mark Kurtz photographs of 50th Anniversary of Hanmer Guideboat Races.


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