Floating Otters battle to out-paddle each other in annual homecoming raft race


Team Vermont Boys took home the victory for the second year in a row in a time of 32 minutes, from left: Ben Eugair (8th), Quinn Quinneville (8th), Peyton Quinneville (6th), and Caleb Woodward (6th). Photo by Rachel Valcour

BRANDON — For the better part of 40 years, OVUHS has hosted a raft race during homecoming weekend. Each year, the race features a flotilla of homemade rafts crafted by middle and high school students with an eye on battling to out-paddle each other down Otter Creek.

Though it was canceled in 2020 due to COVID and featured just two rafts in last year’s edition, there is still a strong contingent that would like to see the race return to its former glory. “It used to be one of the highlights of homecoming weekend,” said OV teacher and race organizer Rachel Valcour. “After the race last year, I heard many voices wanting to rebuild the event to what it once was.”

Valcour says she worked hard to spread the word and raise awareness for the race—even going so far as getting Mitchell T’s in Pittsford and OMYA on board as sponsors.

This year’s race—which began along Route 73 between Sudbury and Brandon and ended with a free BBQ at the access area off of Willowbrook Road—featured five total rafts, four from student teams across all grades and one alumni team (alumni were allowed to participate for the first time this year as part of the effort to return the pontoon contest to prominence).

Team “Unsinkable”: from left, Sophie Moore, Brendan McLoughlin, Calvin Ladd, Oliver Lavelle, and Emiliano Dardozzi. Photo by Rachel Valcour

Valcour said that nearly 50 people showed up to cheer on the junior (and some less junior) mariners as they roared and oared their way to the finish. 

Though many tried to scull, pole, and propel their slap-dash river crafts across the line first, in the end, team Vermont Boys slapped and dashed the fastest for the second year in a row, taking home a bit of Otter immortality along the way.

The lone alumni team in this year’s field, team “Barrel Chicks,” consisted of sisters Lisa Kenyon, left, and Emma Page. Photo by Rachel Valcour
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