Paddle Racing Options
If you’re at all interested in surfski, kayak, SUP, or Outrigger Canoe racing, please don’t be shy or intimidated. There are some excellent races across Michigan in the summer and they are all extremely welcoming of beginners. .Several years ago we founded the Great Lakes Surfski Race Series and worked hard to grow the race circuit. Unfortunately a couple of our anchor races dissolved and it has been hard to rebuild the momentum to manage a series.
That said, Michigan has some of the best open water racing conditions in the world and we’re optimistic that as the sport grows we’ll build the necessary momentum to have an active race community.
If you are at all interested in racing, please support the races below and if their numbers grow, race directors will be more motivated to add more.
June 13: Whalon Lake Dash for Cash Naperville, IL
This is a first annual 5k race put on by the Saint Charles Canoe Club of Naperville. They have put in a tremendous building a long term plan to create a paddling community. This race is intended to be a kick-off to those efforts. Come out and support them and see if you can’t take home $100 cash!
June 18-20: Paddle45 Paddle Festival, Suttons Bay, MI
This is an awesome race festival, now going into its 6th year. This has developed into a three day paddle fest weekend with a non-competitive group paddle Friday night, racing on Saturday, and a downwind / adventure paddle on Sunday
Most likely canceled: Cheboygan Open Water Challenge, Cheboygan, MI
The absolute best downwind paddle race in the Midwest. Consistent and manageable conditions and at 14 miles it is a real challenge, yet very doable. If you want to find out what surfski racing is about, you must do this race. Check out my 2018 race recap
The races listed below aren’t in Michigan, but they are all bucket list worthy races that are attracting paddlers from all over the country
July 12-17th: Gorge Downwind Champs, Hood River OR
Much more than a race, this is a week long festival of downwind fun! More than any other event in the country, the Gorge Downwind Champs has put surfski on the map in the US. There is a reason it sells out quickly. To learn more check out our coverage via several podcasts and blogs
Oct 23rd: Chattajack 31, Chattanooga TN
An excellent end of season bucket list race to keep you motivated to train through the summer. The Chattajack 31 has grown considerably over the years.
Nov 6th: Carolina Cup, Wrightsville Beach NC
A full week of spring fun with clinics, a large expo, and plenty of race options. The Carolina Cup boasts the largest SUP race in the world and hosted 900+ paddlers last year