Few people would jump at the opportunity to paddle 340 miles in a canoe with their boss, but Drew Lemberger, 37, cellar master at Les Bourgeois Winery, has few reservations about racing with Curtis Bourgeois, 42.
“Winemaking is a marathon-type business, and we get along pretty good,” Lemberger said. “So we should do just fine in the boat.”
Aside from making wine at Les Bourgeois, Lemberger owns his own Missouri River guide service, Drew’s Guide Service, and custom boat building business, Missouri Boatworks.
“He’s more familiar with the river and boats and the outdoors in general. He’s a river guide, so I’m going to have to defer to his expertise,” Bourgeois said.
Both Lemberger and Bourgeois hope the race will bring more recreational boat activity to the Missouri River, promote Les Bourgeois Winery and Missouri Boatworks and also improve teamwork at the winery.
“My biggest reservation is worrying about the physical challenge of it,” Bourgeois said. “Being out on the river for that many miles is going to be, without a doubt, a real challenge for us.”
Their strategy is to focus on their destination, keep hydrated and do as much paddling during cool hours as they can.
“We’re just going to keep a nice steady pace, and hopefully our equipment will hold up,“ Lemberger said.
They’re using a 21-foot sea kayak designed for long-distance racing. The design came from Chesapeake Light Craft, but Lemberger built the craft himself.
While some may have dreams of winning the race, Lemberger and Bourgeois are motivated differently.
“I think this year our main goal is to be competitive, but we’re not going to put a lot of undue pressure on ourselves to come in first or anything,” Lemberger said.