The North and South Rivers Watershed Association (NSRWA) is gearing up for its 17th annual Great River Race, which will take place on Saturday (July 28).

The North and South Rivers Watershed Association (NSRWA) is gearing up for its 17th annual Great River Race, which will take place on Saturday (July 28).

The race, which starts in Norwell at the Union Street Bridge and finishes at the Old Washington Street Bridge on the Hanover/Pembroke line, is a 6.5-mile course for kayaks, canoes, rowboats or anything that is not motorized.

“All different ages are represented in the race,” said Paula Christie, assistant director of the NSWRA.

The race is broken down into 12 different categories by the number of people and the type of boat.

“For a lot of people, it’s a family tradition. They do it every year,” Christie said, who expects a big turn out this year. “Last year there were 60-90 boats which equals about 100 people in the water.”

“I’ve been around the race from the beginning,” said Dan Jones, a Hanover resident who is racing in the men’s single kayak category this year. “A few years ago my daughter, Samantha and I won the double kayak division.”

All skill levels, from novice to racer, take part in the race. Some of the categories included are best-decorated boat or boater, family canoe, men’s and woman’s double and single canoe, senior citizens divisions, single men’s and women’s kayak and dories of all kinds.

“This summer I’ve been paddling a couple times a week and working pretty hard to get ready,” Jones said of his pre-race preparation.

The race, with the help of corporate sponsors and volunteers, has been a successful event over the years.

“We get a lot of compliments,” Christie said about the race.

“The bedlam at the start is very exciting,” said Jones. “Everyone seems to think the race is a sprint, so they go all out to get through the bridge first and there’s usually someone turned over. The finish, which is practically my backyard, is also a great part of the race.

“The spectators are all yelling from the beautiful stone arch bridge on Washington Street and it’s very encouraging, whether you’re the first or last finisher,” added Jones.

“But I think my favorite part is about a mile from the finish when you finally emerge from the 12 hairpin turns you hit after passing under Route 3. They really wear you down because you just keep going back and forth but never feel any closer.”

Registration for this year’s Great River Race will begin at 8 a.m., and the race will start at 9 a.m. Spectators are encouraged to cheer the racers on at the starting line at the Union Street Bridge and at the finish line at the Old Washington Street Bridge.

After the races, an awards celebration will start at 11:30 a.m. at McGreal’s Tavern on West Street in Norwell Center. Trophies and ribbons will be awarded to the top three winners of the many categories.

A donation is per craft and includes one T-shirt; additional T-shirts are available at $10 each. Donation is $25 per craft for NSRWA members and $30 per craft for non-members.

Pre-registration is encouraged. Registration on the race day will be $30, regardless of membership status. Non-registered boaters must arrive by 8:15 a.m. to ensure participation in the race.

To download the registration form online, go to www.nsrwa.org, call North & South Rivers Watershed Association at 781-659-8168 or email paula@nsrwa.org.