Water Safari winners named

The overall first place team talks strategy and how they won the race.
  • TEXAS WATER SAFARI WINNERS

  • OVERALL

    FIRST: Boat 314

    Time: 39 hrs., 51 min.

    Team: Dan Hammer; Sam Ritchie; William Russell; Andrew Stephens; Daniel and Amado Cruz

    SECOND: Boat 154

    Time: 40 hrs., 51 min.

    Team: Gaston Jones; Fred Mynar; Logan Mynar; Jeff Glock; Max ...

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  • TEXAS WATER SAFARI WINNERS

    OVERALL

    FIRST: Boat 314

    Time: 39 hrs., 51 min.

    Team: Dan Hammer; Sam Ritchie; William Russell; Andrew Stephens; Daniel and Amado Cruz

    SECOND: Boat 154

    Time: 40 hrs., 51 min.

    Team: Gaston Jones; Fred Mynar; Logan Mynar; Jeff Glock; Max Feaster; Kyle Mynar

    THIRD: Boat 3

    Time: 48 hrs., 52 min.

    Team: Tommy Yonley; Jonathan Yonley

    UNLIMITED

    FIRST: Boat 314

    Time: 39 hrs., 51 min.

    Team: Dan Hammer; Sam Ritchie; William Russell; Andrew Stephens; Daniel and Amado Cruz

    SECOND: Boat 154

    Time: 40 hrs., 51 min.

    Team: Gaston Jones; Fred Mynar; Logan Mynar; Jeff Glock; Max Feaster; Kyle Mynar

    THIRD: Boat 260

    Time: 50 hours 13 min.

    Team: Clay Wyatt; Sammy Prochaska; Phil Bowden; Bobby Smart; Jill Wyatt

    TANDEM UNLIMITED

    FIRST: Boat 3

    Time: 48 hrs., 52 min.

    Team: Tommy Yonley; Jonathan Yonley

    SECOND: Boat 32

    Time: 57 hours 47 min.

    Team: Ryan Roye, Shawn Boyett

    THIRD: Boat 2534

    Time: 60 hours 57 min.

    Team: Wes Wyatt, Grady Reed

    WOMEN'S

    FIRST: Boat 6

    Time: 55 hours 42 min.

    Team: Jamie Norman, Samantha Binion, Holly Orr, Sandy Yonley, Natalie Taylor, Virginia Parker, Mollie Binion

    WOMEN'S SOLO

    FIRST: Boat 497

    Time: 71 hours 51 min.

    Team: Erin Magee

    MEN'S SOLO

    FIRST: Boat 1901

    Time: 51.45

    Team: West Hansen

    SECOND: Boat 19

    Time: 61 hours and 50 min

    Team: Geoff Waters

    THIRD: Boat 19

    Time: 62 hours 57 min.

    Team: Tim Curry

    USCA C1

    FIRST: Boat 1111

    Time: 68 hours 19 min.

    Team: Curtis Slaten

    SECOND: Boat 53

    Time: 72 hours 15 min.

    Team: Edoh Amiran

    USCA C2

    FIRST: Boat 1

    Time: 52 hours 26 min.

    Team: Wade Binion, Vance Sherrod

    Boat 1845

    Time: 54 hours 15 min.

    Team: Andrew Condie, Brandon Stafford

    ALUMINUM

    FIRST: Boat 787

    Time: 58 hours 37 min.

    Team: Nathan Tart, Garrett Jones

    SECOND: Boat 252

    Time: 71 hours 37 min.

    Team: Paul Black, Mark Hellinger

    STANDARD

    FIRST: Boat 971

    Time: 61 hours 34 min.

    Team: Ken Startz, Henry Dornak

    NOVICE

    FIRST: Boat 1300

    Time: 61 hours 44 min.

    Team: Joe Mann, Wally Werderich

    SECOND: Boat 2268

    Time: 68 hours 55 min

    Team: Ian Rolls, Randy McReynolds

    THIRD: Boat 210

    Time: 68 hours 56 min.

    Team: Colin McDonald, David Lozano

    MIXED

    FIRST: Boat 221

    Time: 67 hours 42 min.

    Team: Rachel Thompson, Stephen Rask

    SECOND: Boat 417

    Time: 69 hours 18 min.

    Team: Melanie Hof, Paul Cox

After a grueling 39 hours and 51 minutes of sleepless paddling down the Guadalupe River, boat 314 team members crossed the Texas Water Safari finish line in Seadrift.

The bay waters were dark and calm when the Las Animas team paddled to first place at 12:51 a.m. Monday, completing the 260-mile race nearly an hour before another boat would arrive at the finish line. When the race kicked off Saturday morning, 103 boats entered the water. Late Tuesday, only 79 remained.

The Las Animas six-man team won first place overall, and first place in the Unlimited category.

"It felt awesome," 28-year-old San Antonio resident William Russell said.

"But we're pretty humble about it," echoed fellow team member Sam Ritchie, 23, of Philadelphia.

Both Russell and Ritchie completed the "toughest canoe race in the world" in previous years, and many of the crew members are former overall champions of the race.

"We've won the race three times," said 31-year-old team member Andrew Stephens, of Austin, gesturing to his cousin, Russell.

"When you finish, you're body is beat up afterwards, Russell said.

With multiple Safaris under their belts, including team captain Jeff Wueste who has completed the race more than a dozen times, boat 314 was determined to finish with the fastest time.

"So one of the super unique things about the race this year is the two top teams raced together almost the entire way," Russell said, referring to second place boat 154, which included team members Gaston Jones, Fred Mynar, Logan Mynar, Jeff Glock, Max Feaster and Kyle Mynar. "That never happens."

Russell and Stephens said the two boats were neck-and-neck until mile 200, then slowly began to separate.

Boat 154 finished the race in second place at 1:54 a.m. Monday, in 40 hours and 51 minutes.

Reflecting on the race, Ritchie said the team worked well together in a continuous paddle. Laughing, he recalled team member Daniel Cruz falling asleep and waking up believing he died, possibly because of heat exhaustion and general fatigue.

"He woke up asking if he was dreaming ... then he said 'I feel amazing' and starts paddling," Ritchie said.

"He was a born-again athlete," team captain Wueste said. "He was witnessing to me after that."

During Tuesday's Safari awards ceremony, the team accepted individual plaques and the 4-feet-tall champion trophy, displaying the engraved names of past winners.

When asked if the team has plans to compete in the 2012 Safari, Russell responded, "Yes. We just want to keep our names on the trophy."