SEADRIFT – Nick Walton climbed out of his canoe and waded through the San Antonio Bay on Sunday evening before climbing ashore with his Skid Row teammates.
Walton had done much the same after winning last year’s Texas Water Safari, but swore he would never do it again.
“My buddies were doing it again,” said the 46-year old Walton. “And the people I knew were here. So they kind of suckered me into it.”
Walton made the trip from Eaton Rapids, Mich., pay off by teaming with Andrew Condie, Wade Binion, William Russell, Bill Torongo and Ian Rolls on Boat 150 and winning the race in a time of 34 hours, 27 minutes.
Boat 150 Skid Row wins the Texas Water Safari. pic.twitter.com/Vp1D3DoRSn— Mike Forman (@mikeforman21) June 10, 2019
“It’s just a long, tough race,” Walton said of the race from San Marcos to Seadrift, which was first held in 1963. “I knew what I was getting into it. It might have added to the misery because I knew the misery was coming.”
The Guadalupe River was higher than last year and the bay was calmer, but higher temperatures made the race extremely challenging.
“This was a pretty hard one,” said the 34-year old Condie, who lives in Martindale. “We had a lot of ups and downs. We were back and forth with two teams for a lot of the race. We were actually behind for a while but just managed to kind of hang in there and pull it out.”
Condie credited Wade Binion, who rejoined the team this year, with helping the racers to maintain their focus.
“In a race this long, everybody gets tired, and nerves get frayed a little bit,” said the 40-year-old Binion, who lives in Cleburne. “You need all types. I feel like that’s an easy contribution to make and I’m happy to do it.”
Condie, who grew up in Cuero, was competing in his 11th race and has won six.
“I did it when I graduated college with a friend of mine,” he said. “His dad had done it and we thought it would be a cool adventure and we kind of got hooked. It’s a great way to stay in shape and over the years I’ve really enjoyed the people. I met my wife through the community. She’s racing right now. It’s just a great way to meet people.”
Brothers Tommy and Jonathan Yonley had a goal of setting a two-man record in the Texas Water Safari.
The brothers realized their goal was attainable when rheir boat True Blue (No. 2) reached Gonzales.
“That was in our mind when we got closer to the end,” Tommy Yonley said.
The brothers accomplished their goal by finishing second overall in a time of 34 hours, 56 minutes and breaking the two-man record by 20 minutes.
Boat 2 True Blue Tommy Yonley and Jonathan Yonley set a two-man record in the Texas Water Safari. pic.twitter.com/8D7BNIeuWe— Mike Forman (@mikeforman21) June 10, 2019
“We knew at Invista we were going too slow to make the record,” Tommy Yonley said. “We had to pick it up to make the record. We were going hard and watching all of our splits. But you never know what can happen in the bay.”
The Yonleys have raced in a traditional six-man crew, and were competing with each other for the third time.
“It’s a little more logistical for a six-man crew because you have to get everyone on the same page,” Tommy Yonley said. “My brother and I have disagreements, but we’re kind of on the same page. But it’s always hard.”