On the morning of his 38th birthday Friday, Aaron Nasipayko looked at the horizon in front of him.
He stood on the shore on the south end of Okanagan Lake in Penticton, grateful to be looking down the middle of what he called one of Canada’s most beautiful lakes.
The Vernon financial advisor then placed his standup paddleboard into the calm waters at 4:50 a.m. and started paddling home.
Nasipayko completed a standup paddleboard covering the entire distance of Okanagan Lake on the weekend and did it through sun, wind and rain in an amazing 17 hours, 43 minutes and 45 seconds.
His paddle raised $1,500 for the North Okanagan Hospice Society, whose main fundraiser each year is Dancing With the Vernon Stars. Nasipayko and partner Kristi Bieber will perform a salsa at the event on Sept. 28.
“Life truly is the greatest gift we have and I am so grateful and feel so blessed that I have the ability to embark on this voyage,” wrote Nasipayko on social media before he took off Friday.
“It was a personal goal of mine that I really wanted to find a way on how it could be used to give back. Let’s just say that the stars aligned better than I could have ever imagined when I found myself participating in DWTVS.”
Nasipayko made it as far as Fintry Friday. Saturday, he arrived at Head of the Lake.
“I took a rest in Kelowna for maybe an hour-and-a-half and then continued on. I made it to Fintry around 7:30 p.m. (84 km on the first day),” said Nasipayko. “This is the side of the lake that I wanted to be on so that I could make the corner into the west arm, however, I almost had to cross to the east side due to the winds forcing me across the lake but I was able to battle back when the winds changed a bit.
“I had a very wet night at Fintry and most of Saturday morning I paddled in the rain, bucking a heavy headwind for the final 18 km, finishing Saturday morning about 10 a.m.
“Average speed was 6.4 km per hour and I hit a top speed of 13 km. I will never forget catching that wave as it shot me skimming for at least 50 feet. I screamed with excitement. It was definitely a fight to get through the (William Bennett) bridge. The current in Kelowna is really quite strong. It felt like I was paddling in concrete.”
Nasipayko’s friend, former Morning Star publisher and circulation manager Ian Jensen, guided Nasipayko the final way in his boat, then gave him a ride and offered his Okanagan Landing home for recovery.
“Thankfully I had a relatively short boat ride (18km), to Ian’s, and straight to his hot tub, then laid on his couch all day,” laughed Nasipayko. “I couldn’t even imagine paddling anywhere after that. The lake was so shallow on the end I finished on that I had to paddle out to his boat to catch a lift. I actually had to use my wrist to paddle out to his boat because within minutes of stopping my body was done. I had to laugh at myself paddling back out to him because I must have looked so pathetic but it was sure nice to know that I was done.”
Nasipayko, a native of Humboldt, Sask., endured sun, rain and strong winds during the lake crossing. He held a contest for everyone who donated and guessed his crossing time.
“I’m just getting started with Dancing With The Vernon Stars 2018,” said Nasipayko. “I hope everyone continues to support North Okanagan Hospice Society. I dedicate this paddle to the North Okanagan Hospice Society so those that are nearing the end of their journey here on earth can live their final days in the most dignified way possible.”