Racing down the lake
Standup paddlers head out from Nickel Beach in Port Colborne for the second Lake Erie North Shore Standup Saturday.
Standup paddlers faced a steady headwind during the second Lake Erie North Shore Standup Saturday, said event founder and coordinator Katherine Balpataky.
“It was consistent … the waves weren’t overly technical, but they kept you on the ball, said Balpataky, who finished third in the 20-kilometre race.
It was the second year for the event, held to support Carolinian Canada’s Lake Erie Coastal Stewardship EcoTrail. The ecotrail highlights natural and cultural treasures of the lake’s 600-kilometre coastline from Essex to Niagara.
The race, which kicked off at Nickel Beach in Port Colborne, also saw five- and 10-kilometre races, said Balpataky.
The stop for the five-kilometre race was at Centennial Beach, and the 10-kilometre race ended at Pleasant Beach. The 20-kilometre race ended on the public beach at Crystal Beach.
“Most people were doing the five-kilometre race,” said Balpataky, adding there were just under 40 racers who signed up and took to the waters, including sponsors Larry and Cathy Boggio.
She said the headwinds, coming east down Lake Erie, would have made things challenging for beginners in the race.
“I just hope no one walked away feeling overly discouraged, given the number of people who didn’t finish the distance they intended to travel. I hope everyone walked away feeling good for just entering a paddle race and having fun on the water,” said Balpataky, who was happy with the day.
Ivan Dimic, who finished the 20-kilometre race first with a time of two hours and forty minutes, said the headwind and a wind from one side caused him to paddle on one side of his board.
“I didn’t alternate strokes, so it was a little tough,” the 53-year-old Toronto resident said.
It was his first time racing in the event; last year he helped Balpataky organize it.
Dimic has been standup paddling for nearly four years and races almost every weekend if he can.
Though most races are less than 10-kilometres in length, with some between 10 and 15-kilometres, Dimic doesn’t mind long ones.
Balpataky said most standup paddle races in Ontario tend to be six to eight-kilometres in length.
But even though the event was a race, she said it was also about getting people on the water to go past a beautiful shoreline view.
“We’ll have people go at a fast pace though.”
Balpataky, Dimic, and 20-kilometre second place finisher Mike Austin, all paddled on racing hulls.
Darryl Austin, owner of Ausmosis Style on Board and race sponsor, said Dimic is a very good racer and the board he used one was a 14-foot racing hull.
“They don’t get any lighter or faster. Ivan was probably going 8.5 km/h out there.”
Austin said Balpataky and Mike Autsin were on 12.6-foot Ausmosis racing hulls, and added racers in the 10-kilometre part of the event, would also have used racing hulls.
Balpataky said a unique guided hike of Marcy’s Woods in Holloway Bay, by the Bert Miller Nature Club, would take place Sunday.
20-kilometre open race
1st – Ivan Dimic 2:40:14
2nd – Mike Austin 3:21:14
3rd – Katherine Balpataky 3:28:00
10-kilometre open race
1st – Rob Vrbanac 1:46:39
2nd – Julie Hall 1:57:38
3rd – Gail Marinaccio 1:57:43
5-kilometre novice race
1st – Blake Langbroek 1:03:20
2nd – Wade Blanchette 1:03:31
3rd – Amanda Newhouse 1:13:36