INDIAN LAKE — Behind a wall of white-speckled foam, a raft rounded a bend, and its blue-helmeted occupants came into view.
“Row faster,” said a paddler. “They’re gaining on us.”
Link, a river guide leading a team of reporters down the confluence of the Hudson and Indian Rivers, glanced upstream.
“Short forward strokes,” he said. “All together now.”
The raft glided over the Gooley Steps and picked up speed.
“Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!” said the team captain.
The press corp stroked, passing a team of rivals, another media contingent, drifting idly in a dead zone.
Team Cuomo, a raft carrying New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, Sandra Lee, his companion, and their two children had sent the media off earlier from the launch point with a gauntlet of good-natured splashing, including helmets full of water from a gleeful administration official.
They were gaining, creeping uncomfortably forward down the rapids.
Team Essex County — a raft containing Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas, County Attorney Dan Manning and Wilmington and Elizabethtown Supervisors Randy Preston and Noel Merrihew — remained comfortably at a distance.
“I think we’ll have the winning advantage,” observed Preston before the launch. “The light will bounce off Douglas’ head into the Governor’s eyes.”
Reporters powered ahead under Grade 3 conditions, part of a flotilla of rafts, one released every minute.
Team Cuomo never caught up.
“You guys were strong,” Cuomo said afterward. “You did it.”
Cuomo was in Indian Lake for the 2014 Adirondack Challenge, the second installment of the event series — part tourism promotion, part legislative field trip — designed to draw attention to the Adirondacks by shuttling delegations from the state legislature up to the North Country and pitting them against each other in a bout of good-natured athletic events.
Paired with a public invite to area amenities, the goal was to boost the region’s profile across the state.