Competitors take off from Kal Beach during the recent Kalamalka Classic SUP Festival.

Competitors take off from Kal Beach during the recent Kalamalka Classic SUP Festival.

Kalamalka Classic SUP Fest makes national waves

This year’s Kalamalka Classic SUP Festival has grown to be the largest of its kind in Canada.

With the addition of an exciting kids race and more family-friendly events, this year’s Kalamalka Classic SUP Festival has grown to be the largest of its kind in Canada.

One of the Labour Day long weekend events, the race across the lake, The Kalamalka Crossing, was recognized as the first-ever Canadian Championship and officially placed Vernon high on the destination map for the fast-growing sport.

The event doubled in attendance from the previous year and featured events for both recreational and competitive paddlers from across Canada and the Pacific Northwest.

As a fundraiser for SPrKL – The Society for the Protection of Kalamalka Lake – the Kal Classic attracted over 180 paddlers and has further boosted its ranking as the largest paddleboard event in the country.

Kalavida Surf Shop and Naish presented the annual event which started four years ago with just 26 paddlers.

Along with the Kalamalka Crossing, the festival featured short courses, recreational fun and a chance to get the kids engaged.  One event, the WikiHolo, took centre stage as participants raced the beach between each lap. Stuart Robinson of Comox and Lina Augaitis of Vancouver took top honours. The kids then took over the course for the KeikiHolo race where they raced their way into the history books as part of the largest kids race in Canada.

A Sprint and Relay event produced some very close and exciting entertainment.

“This is way too much fun,” said Kevin O’Brien, Race Director, who designed the courses and formats. “To watch everyone having a blast, including myself, is what today is all about.”

His thoughts were echoed by paddlers and spectators alike

“I haven’t had this much fun at a paddleboard race ever!” said Ben Wright of Vancouver. “My whole family got to participate and we can’t wait until next year already – thanks to Naish”.

During the marquee event Sunday – The Kalamalka Crossing – more than 100 paddlers between the ages of 12 and 67 took on the scenic 10 mile journey from Oyama to Kal Beach in Coldstream. Stuart Robinson broke the men’s course record in a time of 1:42:06 to capture the King of Kalamalka title while Lina Augaitis of Vancouver did the same in the women’s class with a time of 1:44:39 to capture the title of Queen of Kalamalka (her third in four years).

Vernon’s Howard Kruschke won the Men’s Recreational division with a finishing time of 1:55:20.

“I just wasn’t expecting to hear my name, this is pretty awesome and I’m still in shock.”

Perhaps one of the most compelling feats was Mia Wheatley-Maltais of Comox, who became the youngest paddler to complete the crossing at age 12. She completed the trek in 2:32:01.

One of the primary goals of the Kal Classic is to create awareness for Kalamalka Lake.  Proceeds are donated to support SPrKL.