Coldstream’s Laura Pollock paddles her way to victory in the women’s surfboard class during the recent sixth annual Kalamalka Classic SUP Festival on Kal Lake.

Coldstream’s Laura Pollock paddles her way to victory in the women’s surfboard class during the recent sixth annual Kalamalka Classic SUP Festival on Kal Lake.

Standup paddle festival a classic

The Kalamalka Classic SUP Festival on Labour Day weekend is Canada’s largest gathering of paddle boarders

The venue draws them, and they in turn help the keep the venue looking spectacular.

The sixth annual Kalamalka Classic SUP Festival on Labour Day weekend, Canada’s largest gathering of paddleboarders, raised $2,119 for the Society for the Protection of Kalamalka Lake.

More than 230 paddlers took part in this year’s festival, which featured events for all ages and skill levels.

Kicking off the festival on Saturday was the Eagle Dash Recreational Race that served as a great way to try SUP racing for the first time or as a warm-up for the rest of the day’s events.

Next up was the short-course race, dubbed keiki holo, for the kids. Divided into age categories, the kids took off from the beach and paddled around a short course for awards and prizes.

The featured event was the spectator-friendly wikiholo short-course, a format that started with a sprint from the beach around a buoy-riddled course and back to the beach.

Peter Allen, of Vancouver, and Carmen Merkel, of North Vancouver, won the open divisions.

“This is the best event of the year,” said Allen, who races all over the province.

“I’ve raced at all kinds of events around B.C. and this one is our favourite.”

His thoughts were echoed by new and returning participants.

“This is our first year at the festival and we love it,” said Merkel.

“We didn’t know what to expect but we are so stoked to be here.”

On Sunday, it was the marquee event, the Kalamalka Crossing, a 10-mile journey across the full length of Kalamalka Lake.

More than 165 paddlers between the ages of 11 and 69 departed from Oyama and finished their journey on the shores of Kal Beach in Coldstream.

The youngest paddlers were Robin Craig, of Vancouver, and Finn Spencer, of Hawaii, while John Brisco, of Quesnel, and David Ethier, of Kamloops, made the trek at the age of 69.

In the competitive division, Shannon Bell, of Vancouver, won her second Queen of Kalamalka title, finishing in a time of 1:58:09 while Jason Bennett, of North Vancouver, earned his first King of Kalamalka crown with a time of 1:43:56.

In the open divisions, three Vernon residents topped their divisions: Kim Dolezsar (open men masters), Maureen Clement (open women masters), Laura Pollock (surfboard women).

Classic organizers would like to thank Starboard, Rogue, Original Joes Restaurant, Vernon Toyota and Kalavida Surf Shop for sponsoring the event along with Tourism Vernon, which helped raise the profile of the event through several marketing campaigns.

Thanks also goes to Caulfields Engraving, Triumph Coffee, Reef, FCS, Quickblade, Dakine and Werner Paddles, which provided awards and prizing for the various categories.

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