As the snow slowly melts and warmer temperatures move into the Midcoast, that means one important outdoor rite of spring is about to begin, namely the annual, fun-filled whitewater racing season.

There will be plenty of paddling excitement in the next two weeks, thanks to the Waldo County YMCA, which hosts the first two races of the year.

The 34th annul St. George River Race will be Saturday, March 30 at 11 a.m. at the Searsmont Methodist Church, Route 131 in Searsmont. Registration is 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. and the cost is $20 per paddler.

The course starts at the St. George Bridge in Searsmont Village. There are three miles of dead water, one mile of rapids, two miles of dead water and curves with one Class III drop. The race has Class II–III rapids (plus or minus depending on the water level).

The 40th annual Passagassawakeag River Race will be Saturday, April 6 at 11 a.m. at Littlefield Farm on Savage Road in Waldo. Registration is 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. and the cost is $20 per paddler.

The course starts at the Littlefield Farm. The first mile is flat water with many curves. The course passes under a cement bridge to another mile of flat water followed by a short stretch of Class II rapids. Then a two-mile stretch of flat water to the Rolerson’s bridge, then Class I, II and III whitewater for a mile and a half, leading to a flat water stretch to the finish.

Medals will be awarded for first, second and third places in each class in each race.

"Things look good for the [St. George] race," said Dale Cross, Waldo County YMCA director and longtime racer/organizer of the early-season paddle events. "Not real high water but high enough for a good race. It sounds like it's going to be a great weekend for the race weather-wise. Sign-ups are ahead of last year at this time. We are looking for a record turnout."

For information or to register for either race, call 338-4598.

There will be a special combined race award for those who realize success in both the St. George and Passy races in the following categories: OC1/OC2 (must be the same team in both races) and kayak.

The racing classifications for the races include:

Kayak Short (KS) — Kayaks up to and including 13 feet 4 inches.

Kayak (KW) — Kayaks any length.

Kayak (K) — Kayaks 13 feet 5 inches or longer.

Kayak weekend warrior (KWW) — For beginner and intermediate kayakers.

Open Canoe Racing (OC1) — Canoes with one person.

Open Canoe Recreation (OC1R) — One person in a recreational canoe.

Open Canoe Racing or Recreation (OC1) — One woman in a racing or recreational canoe.

Open Canoe Racing (OC2M) — Two people in a racing canoe 16 feet 6 inches to 18 feet 6 inches.

Open Canoe Mixed (OC2Mix) — One male, one female in race length canoe.

Open Canoe Recreation (OC2MixRec) — One male, one female in a recreational canoe.

Open Canoe Recreation Short (OC2RS) — Two people in a recreational canoe less than 16 feet 6 inches.

Open Canoe Recreational Medium (OC2RM) — Two people in a recreational canoe 16 feet 6 inches to 18 feet 6 inches.

Open Canoe Weekend Warrior (OC2WW) — Two people, including a beginner and intermediate paddler.

Open Canoe Two Women (OC2W) — Two women in any length canoe.

Open Canoe Recreation (OC2Jr/Sr Rec) — One adult, one child (ages 12 or younger) in a recreational canoe.

Open Canoe Recreation (OC2Jr/Sr Rec) — One adult, one junior ages 13-16 in a recreational canoe.

Century Recreation — Two people with combined ages of more than 100 in a recreational boat.

High School — Two high school students in a recreational boat.

College (KW, KM, OC2, OC1W, OC1M) — Recreational crafts only.

Clydesdale — Two people with a combined weight of more than 425 pounds.

Courier Publications sports staff can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401 or by email at sports@courierpublicationsllc.com.