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The TDT V check-in location has moved!

Attention Tour du Teche V racers!  Please note that check-in has moved from Veterans Memorial Park in Port Barre to the Port Barre Boat Launch.

Kayaks taking over the Teche

Single-blade class out of annual race for youths


Ken Grissom
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Breaux Bridge – According to the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association, there were 79,450 canoes sold in the United States during 2011, the most recent period for which complete sales figures are available.


During the same time frame, 234,800 kayaks were sold.


Even in Canada, where the traditional open canoe is a national icon, La Classique Internationale de Canots [canoes!] de La Mauricie, for the first time in its 80-year history, has a K2 division. Kayaks.


The popularity of fishing from kayaks plus the availability of inexpensive molded sit-on kayaks has undoubtedly skewed the sales figures, but there’s no question that the Inuit open-sea boat is ascendant on waters once plied by dugout and birch-bark canoes.


Last year in the Tour du Teche, the big race from Port Barre to Berwick plus all its side races, we had 18 canoes, including pirogues and big boats with crews of three or four. There were 53 kayaks, solo and tandem, entered.


Our thoughts are to eventually – not this year but maybe next – eliminate single-blade classes from the Racing Division. Reducing the number of boat classes will put more cash in the winning pots.


There will always be a place for canoes in TDT’s Voyageur Division, the races for recreational boats.


Meanwhile, the concept will be introduced at this year’s Petite Tour du Teche, a series of short races for paddlers ages 5 to 17, to be held at Breaux Bridge’s Parc des Ponts Saturday, Aug. 2.


Boat classes have been reduced to K1 Racing (rudders OK), K1 Recreational (no rudders) and K2. K1 designates solo boats and K2 tandem.


The age groups remain the same as in previous years: 


•Fledgling I – 5 to 7, course 250 yards.
•Fledgling II – 8 to 10, course 250 yards.
•Bantam – 11 and 12, course 500 yards.
•Juvenile – 13 and 14, course one mile.
•Junior – 15 to 17, course one mile.


The entry fee is $20 per paddler. The races are held around buoys, within view of spectators on the bank at all times.


Petite Tour du Teche is conducted under the rules of the United States Canoe Association (USCA).


Tour du Teche V will be Oct. 3-5. For more information on either set of races, go to www.tourduteche.com, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or call me at (337) 394-6232.


Ken Grissom is one of the founders and a director of Tour du Teche Inc.


Bring back the paddle for the kids’ own good

Breaux Bridge – Adults of a certain age, not just here but all up and down Bayou Teche, remember summers when the bayou was their playground. In it they fished, they puttered around in small boats, and they even swam.
Rather than be cheated of that legacy, as a couple of generations have, this crop of kids is determined to reclaim the bayou. They are learning to paddle on it, and even to race one another. And they are helping to clean the bayou up, increasing the ranks of the TECHE Project and its brown-water navy, Cajuns for Bayou Teche.
Exemplary of this movement is the St. Bernard (Elementary School) Paddle Club, a couple dozen kids who have come together under the supervision of Brent Miller, a parent of two of the students, and several of the teachers, and the tutelage of Cory Werk, owner of kayak livery conveniently located right next to the school.
A big attraction for the kids and their parents is the chance to compete with each other and others in organized meets, and not just on Bayou Teche.
The first annual Gator Bait Hatchling kids' kayak race was held last weekend at Lakeshore Park in Brandon, Miss. Gator Bait Hatchling is a kayak race for paddlers ages 5-17. The course length is tailored to each age group and ranges from 250 yards to one mile.
Right here in Breaux Bridge, the Petite Tour du Teche – at just three years old the granddaddy of them all – will be held on Bayou Teche at Parc des Ponts on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 2 and 3, this year. Distances range from 250 yards to 1 mile. Prizes are trophies and certificates.
And for the first time the Kiwanis of Pointe Coupee are presenting the False River Open Paddle Challenge featuring three-mile and 10-mile events for kids and adults. Start is on False River at the public landing next to Satterfield's Landing, New Roads.
You don't have to be a member of a paddle club to participate in these events, but Miller, who is active in the TECHE Project, is hoping school-based clubs will catch on.
"We purposely call them 'clubs' and not 'teams' because we want the parents to know this is a more relaxed sport, not like you have to be a practice or you lose out," Miller said.
"We're teaching water safety, paddling technique and environmentalism, but we're all having fun doing it."
Miller said anyone interested in forming a youth paddle club – whether it be school- or neighborhood-based or sponsored by an organization – is welcome to contact him for help in getting started. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (225) 772-5015.
For more about Petite Tour du Teche, go to www.tourduteche.com.
You can learn more about and sign up for the False River Open Paddle Challenge at www.webscorer.com/STER?RACEID=21375.
For info on next year's Gator Bait in Mississippi, go to www.gatorbaitrace.com/#!services/component_71401.


KIDS FOR A CLEANER BAYOU – Members of the St. Bernard (Elementary School)Paddle Club get behind the effort to clean up their natural playground, Bayou Teche. The kids have taken on the project of tagging Breaux Bridge storm drains with warning signs furnished by the TECHE Project. Helping are Dane Thibodeaux of TECHE Project (left), club advisor Brent Miller (right), and trainer/coach Cory Werk (back row right).



IN BREAUX BRIDGE – St. Bernard 5th grader Kaydence LeBlanc explores a swollen Bayou Teche during her regular practice with the school's paddle club.


New Iberia start added to Tour du Teche V

With the Crawfish, the Acadian, the Hot Sauce, Sugar and Oil & Gas now comes the Black Bear.

A new “short” race has been added to Tour du Teche for its fifth running this October.
The Black Bear leg begins at New Iberia’s City Park at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 4, and ends at Franklin, 35 miles down Bayou Teche.
The Crawfish is from Port Barre to Breaux Bridge, 34 miles, and the Acadian is from Port Barre to St. Martinville, 49 miles. Both are on Friday, Oct. 3. The Hot Sauce, St. Martinville to New Iberia, is 24 miles, and the Sugar is from St. Martinville to Franklin, 59 miles. Both are on Saturday, same day as the new Black Bear race. Finally, the Oil & Gas on Sunday, Oct. 5, goes from Franklin to Berwick in just 27 miles – still a marathon in its own rights by canoe/kayak racing standards.
The main event, Tour du Teche, is an ultra-marathon from Port Barre to Berwick, 135 miles in stages over three days.
The one-day races are strictly for Voyageurs, adventurers racing for trophies and bragging rights. The fee is $60 per paddler.
Voyageurs may also enter the three-day Tour du Teche. The fee is $80 per paddler.
The Voyageur Division includes classes for stand-up paddle boards and traditional Cajun pirogues as well as kayaks and canoes.
Paddlers after cash prizes in the Racing Division of Tour du Teche pay $125 per paddler.
Registration closes at 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 12.
Registration fees include one coureur des bois per boat. Meals are not included in the registration fee.

For more information, visit www.tourduteche.com, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (337) 394-6232 and ask for Ken.


VOYAGEUR Eric Wyble of Gulfport, Miss., gets an assist from Madison St. Blanc at New Iberia City Park during the 2013 Tour du Teche. It was just a pit stop for Wyble, who was bound for Berwick in the three-day, staged race. New Iberia is a finish for Voyageurs in the Hot Sauce race, and for the first time this year will be the start of the new Black Bear race to Franklin. (Ron J. Berard/Tour du Teche)