A relatively new sport could ultimately provide a boost to the North Okanagan’s economy.
The second annual Kalamalka Classic standup paddleboard event could attract between 300 and 400 people to Greater Vernon June 18 and 19.
“This is the largest standup paddle event in the country,” said organizer Kevin O’Brien, with Kalavida Surf Shop.
“People are really drawn to the festival aspect of it.”
There were 60 competitors last year, and that is expected to climb to 80 to 100 athletes this year at Kal Beach.
“Vernon is a prime location for standup paddling because of Okanagan and Kalamalka lakes, and a cluster of small lakes around here,” said O’Brien.
“We want to help establish the region as a destination for the sport.”
The event will include short courses, relays, a recreational race, a competitive race, a sprint course and a 10-mile-long race from the north to south end of Kalamalka Lake.
A reporter from Standup Paddle magazine will be in attendance.
“This will be the first Canadian location they will focus on,” said O’Brien.
Between athletes, family members and spectators, O’Brien is convinced the Kal Classic will become a draw.
“Vancouver, Alberta and Washington State are the primary locations people are coming from,” he said.
“We want to develop it as the key event everyone goes to.”
Leading up to June, O’Brien is working with local hotels and motels, and he has developed a co-operative relationship with Tourism Vernon.
“They have been really great with ideas and help,” he said.
Registration for the Kal Classic will begin April 1.
“We are waiting on a couple of key sponsors to say they are in,” said O’Brien.
For more information about the Kalamalka Classic, e-mail email@example.com