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Texas Water Safari

The Texas Water Safari is a boat race down waterways from San Marcos, Texas, to Seadrift, Texas. The total distance traveled is 262 miles. Racers must take all equipment needed with them, receiving only medical supplies, water and ice along the way. The primary requirement is a boat powered only by human muscle. The event was first held in 1963, and is run annually. The race begins on the second Saturday of June of each year, barring bad weather.

In 1962 Frank Brown and Bill "Big Willie" George navigated from San Marcos to Corpus Christi without a motor. In 1963 they created the Texas Water Safari which would become an annual race.


The course includes natural rivers like the San Marcos, with rapids and dams. Most boats destroyed on the course are lost in the upper river. The San Marcos River converges with the Guadalupe River and becomes wider and slower. The main dangers in the middle river are sweepers, downed trees, logjams and dams. Near the end of the course there are lakes and swamps, and it ends with a crossing of the San Antonio Bay. Other challenges on include alligator gar, alligators, sharks, water moccasin, fire ants, and mosquitos.

There are 12 checkpoints including the finish line. Their locations are published and they are staffed with officials. Each checkpoint has a cutoff time the racers must meet or be disqualified. The final cutoff time at the finish is 100 hours. The team captain of each team must be present at the checkpoint to sign off the team's time as the team leaves. Checkpoints:


Athletes compete in classes. The Unlimited class has no restriction, except that the watercraft is powered only by human muscle, and restricted since 2006 to crews no greater than six. Attempts have been made to race craft of unconventional form, but the best results have been achieved by well-trained teams in crewboats.

  • Overall Fastest Time / Unlimited: 29:46, 1997, Bryan & Fred Mynar, John Dunn, Jerry Cochran, Steve Landick, and Soloman Carriere
  • Tandem Unlimited: Fastest Time 35:17, 1987, John Bugge & Mike Shively
  • Men's Solo Unlimited: Fastest Time 36:03, 2007, Carter Johnson
  • Master's: Fastest Time 36:06, 2004, John Maika, Vance Sherrod, Pete Binnion, Jim Pye, and Pat Petrisky
  • USCA C-2: Fastest Time 36:27, 1997, Allen Spelce and West Hansen
  • Men's USCA C-1: Fastest Time 37:07, 2007, Jerry Rayburn
  • Mixed: Fastest Time 37:45, 2007, Deborah Lane and Fred Mynar
  • Standard: Fastest Time 38:18, 1992, Lynn Wilson and Ron Lightfoot of Canada
  • Aluminum: Fastest Time 38:55, 1997, Donald and Daniel Baumbach
  • Women's Unlimited: Fastest Time 41:39, 2015, Virginia Condie & Kaitlin Jiral
  • Novice: Fastest Time 44:03, 2004, Allen Chellette & George Melder
  • Adult-Child: Fastest Finish: 46:11, 1997, Kyle & Joe Mynar
  • Women's Solo Unlimited: Fastest Time 49:26, 2004, Holly Nelson (now Holly Orr)
  • Women's USCA C1: Fastest Time 57:49, 2014, Holly Orr
  • Youngest USCA C-1 Finisher & Winner, Female: Courtney Weber, 20Y 11M 28D, 2011
  • Youngest USCA C-1 Finisher & Winner, Male: Max Feaster, 17Y 9M 1D, 2010
  • Youngest Finisher: Jessica Bugge, 9Y 5M 12D, 2003
  • Youngest Woman Solo Finisher: Rebekah Zeek, 18Y 4M 28D, 2009

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