Water wacky: Zaniness part of 34th annual Great Dock Canoe Race

Feet dangle over the Naples City Dock as a canoe titled 'Crown Versus Clown' comes back to shore in the Theme Canoe Parade portion of the 34th Annual Great Dock Canoe Race at Crayton Cove in Naples on May 8, 2010. This year's theme for the parade was 'Let the Games Begin.' Greg Kahn/Staff

Photo by GREG KAHN // Buy this photo

Feet dangle over the Naples City Dock as a canoe titled "Crown Versus Clown" comes back to shore in the Theme Canoe Parade portion of the 34th Annual Great Dock Canoe Race at Crayton Cove in Naples on May 8, 2010. This year's theme for the parade was "Let the Games Begin." Greg Kahn/Staff

34th annual Great Dock Canoe Races

It didn't take long for the first ...

— It’s a series of races that indeed produces winners, but whose execution definitely flies in the face of coach Vince Lombardi’s famous quote about winning being the only thing.

That’s the attraction of the annual Great Dock Canoe Race, the 34th of which ran off Saturday in hot, near windless conditions in Naples Bay.

Ice breakers were the parade of theme category boats, which were eclipsed in zaniness this time around by the “Motherhood Olympics” boat.

It was festooned with lots-of-laughs artifacts, including some hair-curling tongs to represent the sport of curling; a Frisbee to represent a discus; and a set of weights with a PVC shaft, foam plates for weights and dish sponges to hold them in place.

The moms took an unceremonious dunking at the start of the race, but a team of helpers from the Dock Restaurant quickly restored their balance ... and dignity.

Spectator Savannah Hoolihan, 8, eyeballed the capsizing, and said it was funny, but that she was glad no harm was done.

Publicist Dolly Roberts said the event has always been about “plain fun,” and that it’s a change from the regular Naples circuit that she said can be a bit formal and stuffy.

“No formal dresses or tuxedos here,” she said. “Even the corporate people (who paddle in a special event) let their hair down.”

Sporting Pittsburgh Pirates livery as they do every year, brothers Mike and Henry Watkins of the Naples Beach Hotel did just that.

“The Pirates haven’t been the most productive of teams in the past 17 years,” Henry said, “but when we were young, they used to train in Fort Myers, so we still support them. Why give up now?”

The Watkins brothers said their training regimen was simple: No training at all.

Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce representatives Michele Klinowski and Marci Seamples were unfazed by all the muscular males around them, but jokingly said they posed no threat.

“We’re fit and ready,” Klinowski said. “We’ve had lots of sleep, and we’ve practiced at least once.”

Official race starter and Olympic bobsledder Brian Shimer said he’d entered the race before, and secured a third place.

“I did the main race and got a third,” Shimer said. “I guess I was destined for bronze throughout my athletic career,” he said jokingly with reference to his bronze Olympic medal he won in Salt Lake City in 2002.

One of half a dozen representatives from the Immokalee Casino, Chivonne Duston, by own admission paid less attention to the racing and outcome than to the well-developed male paddlers.

“A lot of them were very, very easy on the eye,” she said.

Without too much fuss or fanfare, Canadians Monty Alvert and his partner Dr. Ed Wachta brought up the rear of their particular race category, but were destined to be awarded the special “Broken Paddle Award,” not least because both of them are in their mid-70s.

“I ski all winter to stay fit and I do 100 push-ups every morning,” Alvert said. “I had a medical setback (a seizure) about a week ago, so I wasn’t too strong today.”

For those indeed interested in the winners, see Sports in Sunday’s edition.

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