NYMCRA Open Water Challenge

NYMCRA Open Water Challenge

August 11th, 2018 Late Registration/Check-in: 2:00 PM to 4:30 PM at the designated start area.

Race Starts at 5 PM Entry Fee: $15

Registration Form


At the request of the open water paddling community, the CNY Nationals organizing team has created an open water race on Onondaga Lake separate from the USCA races. It will be conducted as a fundraiser for the New York Marathon Canoe Racing Association (NYMCRA). The distance is approximately six miles and will run in one direction down the axis of the lake to take advantage of the prevailing wind at the time of the race.

The race will start and finish at locations determined by the race director based on the wind direction and posted at the CNY Nationals Headquarters and on the CNY Nationals Facebook page. Start and finish areas will either be Syracuse Inner Harbor to Onondaga Lake Park Canal Area or the Onondaga Lake Park Canal Area to the Syracuse Inner Harbor. There is ample parking and grassy areas for boat preparation at both locations.

The Open Water Challenge is not a USCA National Championship event. It is a NYMCRA Fundraiser conducted during the USCA CNY Nationals to showcase Onondaga Lake. Onondaga Lake once was one of the most polluted lakes in North America (see www.lakecleanup.com for more information on the lake). Over the last 12 years, it has been the site of one of the largest ever underwater environmental clean-up projects. Life has returned to the lake and the concurrent recreation use of the resource.

This challenge is intended to be a fun open water race. Since it is being run simultaneously with the USCA Nationals, there will be no swag or t-shirts. There will be no age categories. There will be first through third place awards in all competition classes and a championship trophy to the overall winner or winning team.


  1. NYMCRA Touring Kayak/Surfski 20+ (surfskis 20 inches or more at the beam and less than 20 feet in length).
  2. High Performance or Unlimited Class Kayak or surfski (kayaks and surfskis 20 feet and longer with less than 20 inches at the beam or 18 inches at the 4 inch water line.
  3. One person canoe – C1 (all styles including outrigger C1)
  4. Two person canoe – C2 (all styles including outrigger C2)
  5. Multi-person boats (C4, C4 outrigger, K4, etc.)
  6. Open Touring non-competition (all other paddle craft and all paddlers not wanting to compete in the other classes.
  7. K2 Kayak/Surfski – All makes and models


This race is separate from the USCA Nationals with a separate registration procedure. Advance Registration is encouraged. Print and complete the registration form and mail it with your check to the address on the form. Race day registration is available but time must be allowed to complete the forms and pay the fees. Race day registration will close abruptly at 4:30 PM for the safety briefing. All paddlers on a crew must complete the form. All must complete and sign a USCA Waiver on race day.

Boat and Competitor Shuttle:

The race is one way event on Onondaga Lake. There will be no official race shuttle. Volunteers will try to help with shuttling competitors wherever possible but cannot be counted upon to shuttle everyone. Camaraderie is a core value of the USCA so we encourage all competitors to work together and share vehicles and shuttle friends to and from the start/finish areas. Sharing rides is an opportunity to make new friends at the USCA CNY Nationals.

Course Description:

The race will start on a canal or creek then enter the larger water of Onondaga Lake. The entire length of the course is maintained as a canal so there is adequate depth (no shallow or suck water) and few obstacles along its length.

The openings of Onondaga Creek or the Canal (depending on race direction) will be marked by two large bright yellow race marks visible from well over a mile away. Start and finish lines will be marked by smaller s/f markers.

Weather in CNY can be best described as fickle. Wind on the lake can be flat or strong and from any direction. Competitors need to remain flexible as the course will not be set until just before mid-day on August 11th.

GPS Coordinates

CNY Nationals Race Headquarters: 43.119286, -76.245182

Syracuse Inner Harbor: 43.061459, -76.163042


All boats must comply with all USCA, US Coast Guard, and NYS boating regulations. All boats must contain a PFD and a pea-less 90+ db whistle for each paddler. The race director may require all participants to wear PFDs on the course as conditions merit.

There will be safety boats on the course. They may be able to assist you in a recovery if you spill out of your boat but their main purpose is for emergencies. If you do spill, they will mandate that you put on your PFD before you can continue. Non-compliance will lead to immediate disqualification. You must signal a safety boat or have a fellow participant signal if you have an emergency and need urgent assistance. They will immediately come to your aid. If you need to dropout or leave the course for any reason, you must notify a safety boat. Safety boats will be in communication with the race headquarters.

Drafting safety boats or any other powerboats on the course is NOT ALLOWED. You will be assessed a 30 minute safety penalty for violation.

All participants are required to watch out for each other. Stop and give assistance if you see fellow paddler in need. No competition is more important than preventing serious injury or the death of a fellow paddler.

Open water racing is inherently dangerous. Do not participate in this event if you lack the adequate skill required to safely manage your boat in all conditions that may occur on Onondaga Lake.

The organizers of the USCA CNY Nationals hope you are as impressed with efforts to clean-up Onondaga Lake as we are. We desire this race to be a safe and fun event and wish you a good time in Central New York.

Course Map

Syracuse Inner Harbor

Onondaga Lake Park Canal Area: