SportsEvents Magazine

JAN 2018

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Page 44 of 75 January 2018 45 ince the day pro surfer Laird Hamil- ton stood on a long board and picked up a paddle, the sport of standup paddleboard- ing (SUP) has ridden a wave of growth. From 2010 to 2016, SUP participation expanded from about 1 million to 3.2 million, a growth of 220 percent. Though still adding new participants, growth has slowed recently. Meanwhile, other paddle sports are following in its wake. Mark Saunders and Mark Bandy, co-owners of the East of Maui Boardshop in Annapolis, Md., have watched changes in paddle sports over the 30 years since the shop opened, particularly in SUP. They are seeing growth in all disci- plines of the sport, from race to recre- ational paddling, yoga, touring, surfing and fitness, according to industry reports. Brian Meyer of Capital SUP, which rents watersport equipment from loca- tions in Annapolis and Washington, D.C., said that while growth percentages in SUP over the last two years have slowed, people are now trying other paddlecraft, such as outriggers and surf skis. "Participation numbers in local paddle races have increased in those two pad- dlecraft disciplines at a higher rate then SUP," he said. The shop's Capital SUP Race Series welcomes all levels of paddlers in pad- dleboards, surf skis, outrigger canoes and kayaks for monthly races held October through March. Meyer said the series was created to keep the Maryland and Washington, D.C., paddling communities engaged during fall and winter months with a fun, social and competitive atmo- sphere of paddle racing. East of Maui hosts a low-key, all-level social paddle on Tuesday nights, equip- ment demos with board manufacturers and in-store events such as repair clinics and other SUP-related activities. In addition, the East of Maui/Eastport Yacht Club Chesapeake Stand Up Challenge had more than 150 racers in 2017. The 2018 race is scheduled for July 14. Both shops strive to get more people on the water. Along with ABC Events and several other organizations, both sponsor the Bay Bridge Paddle on Chesapeake Bay, which had about 350 paddlers in 2017. That race, with a nine-mile cross- ing, and 5K and 1.5K courses, is also open to SUP, kayaks and other paddle-craft. This year's event is set for June 2. Paddle races attract newcomers as well as pros and enthusiasts across the country. More than 500 paddlers turned out in October for the Chattajack 31, a grueling 31-mile race down the Tennessee River in Chattanooga. The Motor City might not be known for paddling sports but perhaps it should be. OABI (Once Around Belle Isle) De- troit, a seven-mile race, draws hundreds of SUPers, kayakers and surf skiers each August. The Tahoe Cup Paddle Racing Series features three races: Donner Lake, the Waterman's Paddle and the Fall Classic, a 22-mile paddle on Lake Tahoe. Then there's the West Marine Carolina Cup, which attracts more than 1,000 amateur and pro racers each April at Wrightsville Beach, N.C. Organized by the Wrightsville Beach Paddle Club and sanctioned by the World Paddle Association, the Carolina Cup incorporates several races of various lengths: a kids' race, a 3.5-mile recreational race, a 6.5-mile open race, a six-person outrigger flatwater race and the 13.2-mile world SUP race. In Columbus, Ga., Whitewater Park opens a floodgate of possibilities. The park, built in 2012 in downtown Co- lumbus, is a kayak surf wave that can be adjusted to meet the needs of paddlers, surfers or rafters. The venue recently hosted the World Paddle Association (WPA) Paddle Championships, a stop on the World SUP Tour, as well as the USA Freestyle Kayak National Championship. In August 2017, more than 1,500 ► t SPORT Report S More than 350 paddlers took part in the Bay Bridge Paddle in 2017 on the Chesapeake Bay; the Capital SUP Race Series hosts monthly events October through March. SUP & Paddling Events Continue To Grow BY TAMMY LEYTHAM Photos courtesy of Capital SUP

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