Five years ago, 26 standup paddlers gathered for the first Kalamalka Classic and planted the seeds for what has grown to become Canada’s largest SUP (Standup Paddleboard) Festival.
And from that day, the lake has since become recognized as one of the best places for paddleboarding in the country.
“This is our first year at the festival and we can’t wait for next year,” said Graham Gee of Vancouver. “We used to live in Vernon and I just can’t believe how big this event has become.”
The Kal Classic was held over the Labour Day weekend and featured events for all skill levels and ages.
Saturday morning featured a recreational race for new paddlers followed by the spectator-friendly Wikiholo sprint races – an exciting format that starts from the beach, goes around a buoy-riddled course and back to the beach for a run through a short course in the sand.
Vernon’s Kevin O’Brien earned sixth place in the Competitive Men’s bracket while Avery Bridge and Laura Metcalf placed third and fifth in the Women’s Open class.
The afternoon on Saturday was all about kids and teams.
The second annual Keiki Holo race served up fun for the kids and featured a pre-race clinic with world champion Lina Augaitis. A strong afternoon wind made it tough for the younger ones but in the end, all of the keikis had a great time.
The Naish Team relay rounded out the day’s festivities and gave everyone a chance to get in on the action. The event was staged using Naish’s One design inflatable race board which made for a wild and wet affair.
“I haven’t seen so many people laughing at a race event before,” said O’Brien, the event’s race director, who designed the courses. “Four people on one board was pretty hilarious to watch.”
On Sunday it was the marquee event, The Kalamalka Crossing, a scenic 10-mile journey across the full length of Kalamalka Lake.
More than 125 paddlers between the ages of 10 and 68 departed from Oyama and finished their journey on the shores of Kalamalka Lake Beach in Coldstream.
The youngest, Robin Craig of Vancouver, was welcomed by cheering fans while John Brisco of Quesnel and David Ethier of Kamloops, who made the trek at the young age of 68.
To kick off festivities for this year’s event, organizers paid tribute to those alumni from the first year.
Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick accepted a presentation of recognition on behalf of the district for supporting the event through the years and was on hand for Kalavida Surf Shop’s presentation to the Society for the Protection of Kalamalka Lake (SPKL). The event’s primary function, beyond all of the fun, is to serve as a fundraiser to support SPKL and helped raise $1,786 to keep Kal Lake blue.
One of the primary goals of the Kal Classic is to create awareness for Kalamalka Lake. Proceeds from the Festival are donated yearly to support SPrKL.
“Their efforts in conservation and education have helped identify and correct a number of environmental threats to the scenic lake,” said O’Brien. “Mahalo to everyone who helped make the event a huge success.”
Augaitis, of Vancouver, won her fourth Queen of Kalamalka Title while Ken Larsen of Chilliwack earned the King of Kalamalka crown.
Bridge, of Vernon, captured the first-ever Junior Queen of Kalamalka and was thrilled about her victory.
In her first year of paddling and working at Kalavida, Bridge won Sunday’s Kal Crossing to capture the overall win. Evan Gerbrecht of Vancouver was the crowned the Junior King of Kalamalka. Coldstream’s Dan Anderson won the Open Men Masters class finishing in a time of 2 hours and five minutes.
The 5th Annual Kal Classic was a huge success and organizers would like to thank Naish and Kalavida Surf Shop for presenting the event along with Tourism Vernon who helped raise the profile of the event through several marketing campaigns.
Special thanks go out to Original Joes Restaurant who helped support the volunteers and supplied the water for athletes, and also to co-sponsors Caulfields Engraving, Sanuk, FCS, Rip Curl, Quickblade and Werner Paddles who provided awards and prizing for the various events.
Check out full results at www.kalamalkaclassic.com. The 2015 festival is set for Sept. 5 and 6.