Great Lakes Surfski Race Series Update and Remaining Races
The start of this summer has been hectic and I haven’t been able to cover the Great Lakes Race Series as much as I would like to, but I do believe that better late than never, so the following is an update on the action as well as a look at what is remaining this summer.
First and foremost, don’t forget we are raffling a brand new Epic V12 this year to anyone who has participated in at least three of the series races. It isn’t too late, you still have time to get out and qualify for this amazing opportunity.
The series kicked off with the Washington Island races in Door County. This race has become legendary and a must attend event for the paddlers on the west side of Lake Michigan. It is a unique experience to go and camp on the island and hang out with fellow surf ski paddlers through the weekend. This year they had somewhat mild conditions and Erik Borgnes once again took home the victory with Mark Anich and Jon Sanborn following not too far behind. The racers were blessed with some really nice downwind conditions Sunday and reported having some great fun on the water before boarding the ferry for the ride home
Ohio River Festival
They had another great turnout in Cincinnati for the 10 mile race down the Ohio River through the middle of Cincinnati. This is definitely a unique event and a fun filled weekend. The weekend starts Friday with a very large expo and beer, bands, etc.. While the population of racers isn’t too big yet, they usually have well over 1000 that do the tour. At 10 miles with some current assist, the distance is definitely very manageable.
The Sheboygan 11 Mile Downwind was a first annual this year. Many thanks to Steve Bannow who worked very hard to add a surf ski event to the existing SUP race. In the end it turned out to be more upwind than downwind, but still a tough and challenging race and a great learning experience for the surf ski community as we try to pull off the complexity of point to point events that are dependent on the ever changing and unpredictable Great Lakes winds. Zach Handler proved his upwind paddling prowess and strength to take home the victory with training partner Jon Sanborn following close behind.
Grand River Kayak Race
The Grand River Kayak Race is probably the most spectator friendly event of the series and this year Rob Hartman and Denny Paull put on quite a show. So while it may not have downwind and big lake conditions, this race has the potential to generate a ton of excitement as racers battle it out in front of the crowds doing laps underneath the spectator bridge. In the end Rob was able to just barely hold off Denny and retain his title for the race.
Cheboygan Open Water Challenge
We had an awesome turnout for the First Annual Cheboygan Open Water Challenge. The Mill Creek Campground where the starting location was setup worked out perfectly. The campground owner was super excited to host the surfskis and did a bunch of media work to try and help us promote the sport and promote the race in future years. The racers who came over early and spent a few days in the area were treated to some spectacular downwind conditions. Unfortunately on race day the usually predictable winds were struggling to materialize. We did have some small waves that certainly boosted the speeds of the group, at least for the first half of the race. Rob Hartman took off hot from the start and quickly disappeared into the horizon with a commanding lead all the way to the finish. Jon Sanborn strayed from the pack and went out further offshore in hopes of finding a bit more swell to work with. Mark Anich held second place behind Rob for the first six miles until Denny Paull came cranking up steadily gaining strength as the distance wore on and eventually finishing in a very strong second place. Jon Sanborn came it from the outside to finish 3rd, with Mark coming in 4th. Greg Greene and I battled it out with a sprint finish for 5/6th. The timer must have known it was my birthday the next day, since he gave me the victory, but I know it was a matter of inches
More pictures of the Open Water Challenge can be found on my facebook page
Kensington Metro Park
This is a great race down in the Detroit Metro area. In past years they have had great sponsorship and and amazing selection of prizes. This is a great opportunity for those in the Detroit Metro area to do a GL Series race without a long drive. It is also very beginner friendly but still a good solid distance to really challenge your endurance.
Two Harbors Kayak Festival
Two Harbors is a long standing race up on Lake Superior just north of Duluth. This is a really fun festival with two different race options including an 18 mile marathon and much more beginner friendly 5 miler
The 3rd annual TC Waterman promises to be bigger and better than ever. In our third year, I think we’re due for some wind, so I’m hopeful we’ll get some great conditions. Regardless of wind , I anticipate an amazing turnout as this race establishes itself as the premier surf ski race of the midwest. The venue and atmosphere is amazing and the beer is always flowing at the post race party on the bay. I’m really counting on all the local surf ski paddlers to come out for this one!
Ride the Wave Regatta (Michigan City)
Michigan City is the grand finale of the season and someone will be going home with an extra boat on there roof. There are two options including the 19 mile downwind and the more beginner friendly 7 mile out and back race. Last year we had some decent downwind conditions and this race was a lot of fun. The logistics are very well organized and the weather has been perfect the last few years and I expect that to continue as September is truly the best paddle month of the year.
Get Out and Race
Summer is here, the water is warm, Oscar is coming to do a phenomenal clinic, it is time to get out and paddle. Even if you haven’t done any races yet, there is still time left to do 3 races and qualify for the V12 raffle. Lets make the best of the next couple of months of great paddling conditions!