Determined Field Takes on Inaugural Lake Ontario Crossing Paddleboard Race
Sunday, September 11, 2016—The inaugural Lake Ontario Crossing Paddleboard Race hosted a gritty field of paddlers, who toughed it out through a weekend of unstable weather and challenging paddling conditions.
With a full 32-mile crossing deemed unsafe, paddlers took on a modified course around Toronto that proved to be tough and exciting in its own right. The 32 km course started at the Toronto Windsurfing Club, ran 5 km out to the tip of Gibraltar Point, then 5 km downwind to the tip of the Leslie Street Spit. Paddlers then navigated past The Beach and returned home into a grueling mix of conditions.
The initial field was capped at 40 paddlers, but after training demands and a tough logistical undertaking, 18 paddlers made it to the start line—races of this magnitude are for the most ambitious, and getting to the start line is often half the adventure.
The challenge continued on the water, with paddlers facing a changing variety of open-water conditions, including stiff headwinds, fun downwind sections, cross chop and stretches of flat-water paddling. The race course delivered it all.
Representation on the start line was diverse: Men and women; ages ranging from 16 to 62; SUP, prone and surfski; and geographic representation from Ontario, Quebec, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
Lake Ontario crossings of any variety are steeped in history after Marilyn Bell’s historic 1954 swim. While the September 10-11 holding period was stymied by thunderstorms and hazardous wind conditions, forcing a change from the planned crossing, the 32 km modified course was on par with some of the tougher and most prestigious distance races on the East Coast.
Dan Hamzic (Oakville, ON) and Tracey Finaly (Toronto, ON) were first across the line in the Male and Female standup paddleboard divisions, with times of 3 hours 47 minutes and 4 hours 17 minutes, respectively. First runners up were Jared Munch (Duluth, MN) and Ariel Amaral (Barrie, ON).
In the traditional paddleboard division, Dan Michaluk (Toronto, ON) was first in with a time of 3 hours 56 minutes, followed by Rob Kavcic (Mississauga, ON) at 4 hours 10 minutes. Traditional paddleboards have a long history in California and Australia, and are finding their way into Great Lakes waters.
Surfski paddler John Kinney (Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON) earned line honours in 3 hours 19 minutes.
Lac Beauport, QC
Thank you to all paddlers, sponsors and volunteers for coming together to pull off a terrific race. Ausmosis Boardcraft provided valuable swag and logistical support. The Toronto Windsurfing Club offered its incredible venue. Quickblade Paddles, 2XU Canada, Blu Wave SUP and Polar Bottle donated generously to the prize table. Jim Sandusky and Hugh Wilson crafted beautiful finisher awards and a what should become a highly-coveted trophy. Finally, all the volunteers from the paddling community that showed up on race day to ensure a safe and rewarding environment for paddlers. Images courtesy of Warren Won.
The Lake Ontario Crossing Paddleboard Race is sanctioned by the OMCKRA.