A Great Year Behind Us – An Even Greater Year Ahead
As I sit down to write this blog, it once again looks like full fledged winter outside and it may finally be time to transition to cross country skiing, snowboarding, and ERG workouts for the next couple of months. I was extremely fortunate to cap off the 2014 paddle season with four nice warm ocean water sessions in Florida. After being pampered with those, frigid Lake Michigan doesn’t look so appealing at the moment. I do however remain very optimistic that the open water paddling hiatus will be short lived, the Great Lakes won’t freeze up, and we’ll see an overall mild winter with an early and warm spring to kick off the 2015 paddle season.
2014 In Review
Despite Mother Nature not being overly cooperative, 2014 was a great year for surfski paddling in the Great Lakes. The community of surfski paddlers and racers is steadily growing as is the number of races and fun water events that are available. Locally Dan Novak of Race TC did an amazing job of spurring the growth of a fun “paddle anything” culture in the Traverse City area with several unique, low key, and fun races. Additionally the number of multi-sport races with a surfski paddling option continued to explode, led in large part by the now iconic M22 Challenge. On my long list of “To Dos” is to compile a list of all the multi-sport options in Michigan, there are some great options that I don’t think most people are aware of. Last but not least, the Great Lakes Surfski Race Series had some great races, a steady increase in race participation, and an amazing free surfski give-away at the end.
In addition to building community, education has always been a top priority for TC Surfski, and in 2014 we had two spectacular education events. The 2014 Immersion Camp was sold out and provided paddlers with four days of in-depth instructions and true surfski immersion. In late July we were fortunate to host the legendary Oscar Chalupsky, to a sell out group that got to spend six hours learning and being entertained by the Big O. On top of these specific events, I did several private lessons throughout the summer which consistently proved to be an excellent introduction to surfski paddling. Additionally there were several great blogs on both forward stroke and downwind paddling technique that proved valuable to many.
2015 will be our 4th season in business, and I’m looking forward to a truly break-out year. My gut sense is that we have exposed surf skis to a lot of paddlers over the past three years and many were on the fence this year, but we just didn’t get the cooperation from Mother Nature to get them over the fence. With the introduction of the Epic V7, surfskis will be more accessible than ever. Add to this, a $70 dollar drop in the price of the Epic Club Carbon Wing Paddle and a new paddler can get a complete package for under $2000
I am once again planning to conduct the TC SURFSKI Immersion Vacation. This year it will be held June 4th – 7th. More details will be coming out soon and sign-up should be available by the end of January. I will be offering a new option specifically for M22 Racers. If you want to rent a V7 for the M22 race, I will offer a packaged price that includes the Immersion Camp plus the race day rental of boat and paddle. The combination of both will most definitely shave minutes off your time.
I am lobbying to bring back Oscar Chalupsky for another clinic this summer. His schedule has not been published yet, but assuming he does do clinics in the US again in summer 2015, I’m pretty confident we can secure him to come to Traverse City again.
Great Lakes Race Series
All of the races that were on the series this year, will be on the series again in 2015, and I am open to adding more, especially in areas of the Great Lakes that aren’t as well covered. I want this series to ultimately offer multiple “local” options with the hope that we will develop local racing scenes with a few key races bringing all the local communities together. If you have a race that you want to get added to the series, please let me know.
As many of you are hopefully aware by now, I am working in conjunction with James Dagg and the assistance of many of my great customers and Michigan paddlers to pull together an Epic Paddle Relay Around Lower Michigan that will feature the new Epic V7. We are designing this to cover the entire Lower Michigan shoreline which has been broken down into 13 roughly 80 mile segments, and each segment will have a week to be completed. Each segment will have a captain/s to lead the organization of the sub-segments and paddlers. The idea is for the flagship V7 to cover the entire 1100 miles of coast line over the course of the summer. It is our hope that there is always a group of local paddlers accompanying the V7 and it will be available for all to try out at the finish of each paddle. Each segment captain has the option to designate a charity of their choice. We will be seeking both corporate sponsors as well as individual donations and we’ll run a friendly competition to see which segment raises the most money for their selected charity. Check out my blog for more details and stay tuned as we look to get the dedicated website and Facebook page up by the end of January.
Web Site Additions
In 2015 I will be posting some guest blogs written by Erik Borgnes of Team Epic USA. Many of you may recognize Erik’s name, he has been instrumental in creating the surfski scene in the Midwest, has written some great boat reviews for Surfski.info, is a coach at the TC Surfski Immersion Camp, and widely regarded as one of the most technically brilliant minds in the surfski community (he’s going to hate me for writing that part 🙂
I am equally as passionate about health and wellness as I am about Surfski paddling, so you can expect that I’ll continue to write blogs in this space as well, and in fact the first couple of blogs Erik will be writing fall into this category.
I have also added a Where to Paddle section to the website. The intent of this section is not necessarily to identify launch points where you can put your boat in the water, but to describe the water and wave conditions, and specifically as they relate to surfski paddling. There are some great resources for launch points in Michigan including the Michigan Water Trails Project, which I’m not attempting to copy, rather I want to capture the key knowledge of local surfski paddlers that is directly relevant to other surfski paddlers having a safe and enjoyable experience. I am running a contest to win $250 in free Epic Thermal Gear to anyone who submits three quality reviews before the end of March 2015
Partnership with Suttons Bay Bikes
In 2015 I plan to join forces with Suttons Bay Bikes. Suttons Bay Bikes will be offering hourly/daily/weekly rentals of the all new Epic V7 Surfski directly out of their shop in down town Suttons Bay where they will have 2 on hand. The new shop is probably less than 100 yards from the beautiful protected waters of Suttons Bay. This will be a perfect option for those looking to try out a surfski. Additionally we are joining forces to organize a fun Friday night family friendly paddle event at Marina Park. Details are still being worked out, but it will most likely take the form of a handicap start, 3 mile time trial loop, open to all types of paddlers with a barbecue to follow.
Cheers to 2015
There is no doubt in my mind that 2015 will be an exciting year for Surfski paddling in Northern Michigan and across the Great Lakes. If you have been on the fence, this will be the time to join the surfski community and be present, be challenged, and be unique!