Katie Centofanti doesn’t quite remember how old she was when she first learned to paddle a kayak.
“I don’t know, maybe 6, maybe 5, maybe younger,” she said Saturday morning as she readied her kayak for a trip down the Etowah River.
At just 9 years old, Centofanti was the youngest solo competitor in the Dawson County Jaycee’s Inaugural Canoe and Kayak Race on the Etowah River over the weekend, competing against men with decades of experience in the water.
While her tiny arms weren’t as fast as the others in her class, her competitors know she’ll be one to watch out for in next year’s race.
Organizer David McKee said the Jaycees hope to make the 9.1 mile race an annual event.
“We learned our ropes this year and had a pretty good turn out without much advertising,” he said. “And we met three professional kayakers who have agreed to help us out next year and can get 30 to 40 participants each for us.”
Proceeds from the race, which brought out about 30 participants of all ages, benefit the Dawson County Senior Center’s elevator fund.
“We’re going to call it a success. I think everyone had a good time,” McKee said.
Commissioner Gary Pichon, who was just moments away from winning his class, agreed the event was a success.
“They had good food; the people were nice. Registration was easy, we got good T-shirts and a great river to paddle on,” he said. “I had a great time. I’m glad I came.”