Community Sports

Gig Harbor Canoe & Kayak Racing Team wins national championship

Posted on August 17th, 2022 By:

The Gig Harbor Canoe & Kayak Racing Team won another national championship this month.

The local club won the 2022 ACA Sprint National Championships, held Aug. 2-5 in Clermont County, Ohio. GHCKRT claimed the title for the ninth time in the past 11 competitions.

How it works

The team championship is determined based on how members perform in races of singles, doubles and fours. Teams earn points for finishing in the top seven in each race, with first place earning the most. Combined points for the entire team determines the national champion.

Gig Harbor easily outpaced the field, tallying 995.25 points. Second-place Lanier Canoe & Kayak Club of Georgia finished second, with 628.75 points.

The Canoe & Kayak Racing Team took first in the Bantam (under 14), Juvenile (U-16) and Junior (U-18) age groups. The local team also earned the most points in the four-person canoe and four-person kayak categories.

The Canoe & Kayak Racing Team bested 17 other teams from around the country. Fifty-five club members participated.

Challenges overcome

“To say that I am proud is an understatement,” head coach Alyson Morse said via email. “These athletes have been through so many challenges throughout the past year that for them to be able to not only win a national title but to also have personal records broken, individual medals won, and have fun at the same time, I have a sense of respect for them.”

Morse added that she and her fellow coaches “trained them to do their own training.” But team members themselves “took it and ran with it,” or perhaps paddled with it.

“I’ve never known a team with such work ethic and family fun feel at the same time,” Morse said. “This national title is just one of the fruits of their labor, I’m proud to have taken any part in that at all.”

It’s Morse’s first ACA (the abbreviation stands for American Canoe Association) title as head coach, but she won championships previously as a GHCKRT team member. She started paddling at age 12 and was part of a title-winning Gig Harbor team in 2012.

Morse left for college in Oklahoma in 2014, earned an exercise science degree and returned to the Harbor to join the club’s coaching staff in September 2018.

A big 2022 for the team

The ACA title is part of an active year for the local club. A new Paddlers Dock opened at Ancich Waterfront Park in April, the fulfillment of a decades-long dream of club founder Alan Anderson. The club now operates out of the new Paddlers Dock.

Later in April, the Gig Harbor Paddlers Cup returned to the Harbor. The Paddlers Cup was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.