COLUMBIA — The 9th annual Missouri River 340 boat race, which was set to begin Tuesday morning, has been postponed to Aug. 12 because of high water levels on the river.
The race spans a 340 mile stretch of the Missouri River between Kansas City and St. Charles. It was originally postponed for 24 hours, according to a forum post by race director Scott Mansker on the race's website, but revised weather forecasts forced the postponement to continue until August.
"After the original delay of the race, the revised forecast became much worse," Mansker said. "Reports are for 75 mile per hour winds from Kansas City to St. Louis with heavy rain downpour."
Water levels in the Glasgow, Boonville and Jefferson City areas are expected to rise 7 to 8.5 feet by Wednesday, which is when racers would have been arriving on that part of the river, Mansker said.
The revised date is for the safety of the boaters, Mansker said. Debris, driftwood and fallen trees caused by the storm could be dangerous to racers.
"During the race, people paddle all night and day, and they'll stop at the sandbars to rest," Mansker said. "They may also need an exit place during a storm. The paddlers would have no place to go because the water is up to the trees and all the sandbars are under water."
All marine events held on navigable waters, which involve more than 50 vessels must receive a permit from the U.S. Coast Guard, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's website. Once a permit is issued, sponsors must devise a safety plan. Mansker said the safety plan for the Missouri River 340 requires events to be postponed if the water is at a flood stage anywhere along the river.
"Right now, the river is projected to be over flood stage," Mansker said. "The alternate date is a better, safer plan. Safety is our primary goal."
The date change has caused a few prospective paddlers to drop out of the race, but those spots will likely be filled, Mansker said. "There's now room on the roster for more people that couldn't sign up before because the race was sold out."
The race will now begin at Kaw Point in Kansas City, Kansas,, on Aug. 12 and will end in St. Charles on Aug. 15.
Supervising editor is Seth Klamann.