great lakes surfski racing

2014 Great Lakes Surfski Racing Calendar

The grueling winter of 2013/14 must have many of you dreaming of the dog days of summer.  I’ve already received several inquiries regarding the 2014 race schedule.  It is not all 100% final, but in this blog I wanted to at least outline what is currently on my radar, so everyone can start their planning.  I’m really excited and confident we’ll see more great growth in the Surfski paddling in 2014, and rest assured, TC Surfski will be doing everything in our power to make it happen!


  • I don’t have anything on the calendar until the end of April.  Hopefully many of you will be fortunate enough to squeeze in a trip to some warm water paddling.  The Great Lakes are still dangerously cold in April but with the right gear and safety planning, it is feasible to start getting out there or doing technique work on small safe inland lakes and rivers.
  • I will be heading to Charleston just after Easter for the week of April 28th – May 2nd.    I plan to spend five days paddling in the ocean there before returning to Michigan with a trailer full of boats.    If anyone wants to join me in Charleston I expect great paddling conditions and am excited to get in some long easy paddles.  Also, if you live somewhere between Charleston and Traverse City and want to claim one of the Epic’s on my spring order, please let me know and we can work to arrange a direct delivery on my return trip.


  • The TC Surfski Fastest Mile Challenge will kick-off once again in May.   The water is usually still cold, so requires a lot of caution and the right gear, but typically the winds are starting to pick up and this can be a great time for some early season downwind runs.
  • The official  Shorts to Shorts  26 mile paddle from Bellaire to Elk Rapids has been canceled for this year.    They do intend to bring it back for 2015.  The good news is that the route that is used has been designated an official water trail which means over time there will be launch points and amenities established for use all summer long.
  • Starting Tuesday, May 27th  TC Surfski will be hosting a 3 mile weeknight time trial race at Bryant Park.   The course will be an out and back which will allow us to get in some great surfing on the return leg when we have North/Northwest winds.   The time trial will be open to all paddlers  (kayaks, SUPs, surfskis) and will run every Tuesday night starting at 6:30 through Labor Day weekend.


  • June kicks off with the TC Surfski Immersion Vacation scheduled for the 5th – 8th.   If you want to truly prepare for the race season and take your paddling to the next level, don’t miss this opportunity.  It will be a long weekend of flat water technique lessons and downwind runs followed each day by relaxing with beers and gourmet food at the Hilltop Log Lodge.  Stay tuned for more details to be posted soon on pricing options and activities for non-paddlers.
  • Following the Surfski Immersion camp the next weekend on Saturday, June 14th we have two big but very different races on opposite sides of the lake.   Here in Michigan we have the M22 Challenge (Run/Bike/Paddle) in Glen Arbor.   Across the lake in Wisconsin is the legendary Washington Island Circumnavigation (24 miles with short course option as well)
  • On June 21st we have a new Surfski Race that will be hosted in Sheboygan, WI.   This will be a 12 mile downwind race.  It has been an existing venue for stand up paddle board racing and Steve Bannow is currently working with race organizers to add a surfski division.
  • Weekend of June 28/29th is currently Open


  • July 4th Holiday weekend is currently open
  • On July 12th in Cheboygan, Michigan we have the 18 mile flat water Back On Black Race.  Alternatively there may be a 17-18 mile open water downwind option that will cross underneath the Mackinaw Bridge and and attempt to finish in conjunction with the flat water racers.   Denny Paull is currently exploring options for this.  Nothing is final yet, but I will be sure to post it as and when I get more information.
  • I don’t have final confirmation yet, but I suspect that on July 26th the 3rd annual Kensington Metro Park race will be held.


  • August 2nd is the legendary Two Harbors KayakMarathon on the mighty Lake Superior.   I plan to make it up for that this year if at all possible.
  • Tuesday Aug 12th the BIG O (Oscar Chalupsky) will be in Traverse City hosting his infamous three hour paddle clinic.  I realize it is not an ideal for many of you who are out of town,  I lobbied hard, but unfortunately had no say in the date.  Oscar is squeezing us in on his way out to the US Championships in San Fran.  For those who can swing it, this might be an optimal time to plan a late summer paddle vacation to the Traverse City area.  You can catch the clinic on Tuesday then the TC Waterman events through the weekend.
  • The TC Waterman Weekend will be held Aug 15-17th.    We had 23 surfskis race this past year and I’m hoping to double that number for 2014.   This is a great race that offers a distance and conditions that are challenging for experts yet still manageable for beginners.   I will continue to work with event organizers to make sure the Surfski event is better recognized and supported.  Additionally I will plan some informal paddles on Friday and Sunday so the out of town racers can make the most of the weekend.


  • Following Labor Day weekend,  the Ride the Wave Regatta will be held in Michigan City, IN on Sept 6th.    This race offers both a long and short course option, with the long course around 19 miles and the short course around 5 miles.     The long course is setup as a point to point downwind and last year we had some small conditions to play in, which made it a lot of fun.    This is also the final race of the series and TC Surfski will be handing out the series awards following the race.


There are no races scheduled in October but as many of you know, it is arguably the best paddling month in the Great Lakes as a result of relatively warm water and consistent winds.   The Minnesota surfski contingent is working to organize a downwind weekend on Lake Mille Lacs.   The idea would be to rent some cabins and pack the mountain bikes and surfskis for a long adrenaline filled weekend to wrap up the season.   I’ll post more details as they come together.

Still a Few Open Weekends – Lets Get More Local Races

There are still several open weekends on the calendar and I’m happy to entertain adding a few more races to the series.  My general thoughts right now are that I’d like to focus the series more on open water and downwind races on the Great Lakes.   I know there is a growing group of Surfski paddlers in the Lake Eerie region, and I see that as an area where it would be fun to start a race.   I am also very aware that the Great Lakes is an enormous region and  many paddlers are making extremely long drives to attend races,  so I’d like to find a way to get more local races established that will somehow count toward the overall series.

Multi-Sport Racing

There has also been an explosion of multi-sport races where surfskis are the optimal weapon of choice.   I’ll plan to do a separate blog highlighting all these options across Michigan.   The M22 Challenge is likely the only one I’ll be racing, but if you check out the web site for 3 Disciplines you’ll see several options throughout the summer.  Additionally in September there is a great race in the Lansing area called the Grand Adventure Race

Below is a Calendar graphic to show at a high level how the weekends are shaping up.  Clear your calendars and get ready to make 2014 the best Surfski Racing Season the Great Lakes has ever seen.

great lakes surfski racing