Paddleboarding fests floated in Wisconsin
A brisk wind presented a challenge for dozens of first-time paddleboarders at the Midwest Standup Paddle Festival in Madison, Wisconsin, on July 9.
"I fell about four times when I turned the board and the waves hit," said Cathy Voss, of Middleton, back on Maple Bluff Beach. "I'll definitely try again when it's calmer."
Yet she and dozens of people who tried the fast-growing watersport were able to get their footing on the long surfboards made available by event organizer Paddleboard Specialists of Westport. They required only a few minutes of instruction on land before taking to the waters of Lake Mendota at Maple Bluff Beach.
"Paddleboarding is universally appealing, super easy to learn and a great core workout," event organizer and Paddleboard Specialists owner Gary Stone said. As he has taught more than 700 people over the last couple years, Stone led clinics at the festival by demonstrating how to position one's knees and feet on the board, and how to paddle without turning the body. Stone's daughter Allie, 19, and son Evan, 15, and his their friends then took the willing out into Lake Mendota's Dengel Bay.
Veteran paddleboarders, including 10 pros, raced six miles across the lake and back. Including those who opted for a three-mile tour within the bay, about 100 people took part in the endurance aspects of the festival. The races were included in a series of eight Great Lakes paddleboard events scored by the World Paddle Association. Net proceeds from the festival were pledged to the American Family Children's Hospital.
The same weekend, the first annual Lake Superior Standup Paddleboard and Kayak Festival was held in northern Cornucopia, Wisconsin. That event featured two- and four-mile paddleboard and kayak races, clinics, demos and guided sea cave tours. Coordinating the Lake Superior festival was Rik Pauli, owner of Fluid Adventures in Paddlesports Center in Cable.
While Lake Superior offers calm water and rougher surf, paddleboarding can be enjoyed on both, as well as year round. Last March, Stone said he donned a wetsuit and raced his paddleboard on the Yahara River in Madison while a friend tried to keep up on skate skis along the riverbank.
Cross training for skiers
Ken Lambrecht was not that skier, but he said he has skied and paddleboarded on subsequent days when the water is cold and there's still snow on the ground. "Dressing for it was tricky, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat," he said.
A Birkie skier and competitive rower, Lambrecht said paddleboarding is a great cross-training activity. He said the forward stroke with the elongated paddles mimic the V-1 in skate skiing. "And the paddle flexes like a ski pole," he said.
Lambrecht, who lives on the shore of Lake Mendota, paddleboards using two windsurfing boards he owns. He tried several paddleboards at the festival, looking for one with the right length and stability to propel him quickly. He was in the right place as paddleboards made by Starboard, Surftech, Hobie, Tahoe SUP, Bark, Amundson, Naish, NSP, Bic, Werner, Quickblade and Kialoa were on hand to demo.
"On a bigger stable board you get a better workout," Lambrecht said. "But the bottomline is you can jump on these and have fun."
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