Sad news from the world of Adventure Racing tonight as two racers on a training paddle have drowned.
Denis Fontaine, age 40, and Richard Juryn, age 50, set out with five others on a long paddle near Vancouver when a storm hit the open seas between Porteau Cove in Howe Sound, and Anvil Island’s near Vancouver, Canada. Their kayaks were stuck by two meter high waves, causing the racing kayak with Fontaine and his girlfriend Cheryl Beatty to capsize. Beatty was able to grab the back of another kayak, and the two men on board were able to row to shore with her in tow.
Meanwhile, Fontaine stayed with his own kayak and was in the cold water for more than 50 minutes, before Juryn and Graham Tutti returned to retrieve him. When they tried to pull Fontaine onto their boat and put him in the cargo hatch, the boat became swamped with water, and sunk rapidly, leaving the men in open water. With little other choice, the three men tried to swim for it.
Two other paddlers went back to shore and called for aid, with the Coast Guard quickly scrambling rescue vehicles. They later pulled Tutti from the water on the verge of death, and found Fontaine and Juryn floating face down, unconscious in the water. They were unable to revive the two men.
Coast Guard officials said that while the two men both wore PFD’s, they were not wearing appropriate clothing for the conditions they were paddling in. The cold water not doubt made them hypothermic, and was as much of a contributing factor to their death as the drowning.
Such a tragic event and one that will likely have a profound effect on the tightly knit adventure racing community.
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