Fun for all at the Soo Ultimate Paddle Day in Sault Michigan
Thank you local paddling enthusiast Tom Pink for bringing us up to speed on the SUP Day event!
The Chippewa County Community Foundation (CCCF) invites paddlers from throughout the Midwest to float into Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. on Saturday, August 18 for its second annual Soo Ultimate Paddle Day (SUP Day).
SUP Day features activities for the entire family, from new sanctioned paddle races to less serious events, a fishing derby, lazy river float, and much more. Most of the events will be centered at Sault Ste. Marie’s Rotary Park, but racers will be spread out from Brimley, MI to the lower St. Marys River.
“We learned a lot during our inaugural event in July 2017,” said Debbie Jones, CCCF Executive Director. “Mother Nature didn’t cooperate, but we’ve asked her for a sunny, 78-degree day this year. The competitors in the races don’t seem to mind the inclement weather, but many people who attend are more interested in the shoreline activities, so they appreciate the warmth.”
With the 2018 event taking place more than a month later than it did in 2017, chances for better weather are greatly improved. Organizers are anticipating that popular activities from 2017, such as the Lazy River, Kids Paddle-Powered Fishing Derby, and Bird’s Eye Outfitter tours will all see greater attendance, and food and craft vendors will be busy. Landlubbers will enjoy music and plenty of fun with demonstrations and squirt-gun races, as well as disc golf.
Competitive paddlers enjoyed races for kayaks and stand-up paddleboards in 2017. This year, the Michigan Canoe Racing Association (MCRA) will bring two sanctioned races — a 13-mile, two-person race starting with a portage down Portage Avenue to the lower St. Marys River, and a 13-mile race downstream from Rotary Park.
“We are expecting about 40 MCRA-sanctioned canoes or about 80 competitors for the 18-mile course,” Jones said. “These are serious racers; some are trying to qualify for the Olympics.”
Spectators will be able to catch the action of the 18-mile race at several points along the river, and they can watch most of the competition during the shorter races, which begin and end at Rotary Park.
Canoeists in the 18-mile event will start in Brimley Bay, paddle 11.5 miles to Sault Ste. Marie’s Ashmun Bay, where they will portage their craft for two miles along Portage Ave., then launch at Kemp Marina and finish the last leg, which is a five-mile course in the lower river.
“A new, non-sanctioned kayak and stand-up paddleboard race – Portaging Portage — is being added this year, too,” Jones said. “This six-mile, two-person race will start with one person leaving Sherman Park in the upper St. Marys and paddling two miles to Ashmun Bay. There, both racers will portage their kayaks or stand-up boards two miles down Portage, along the Soo Locks, to Kemp Marina. The second racer will then finish the race by paddling to Rotary Island.”
So, in addition to watching competitors at various points along the river, spectators can also watch racers on Portage Ave. from the comfort of their favorite restaurant or bar.
An awards ceremony will wrap up the competitions in the evening, with more food and beverages on site.
“There will be plenty of fun for all ages,” Jones said, “and you certainly don’t have to be on the water to participate and enjoy the day.”
“Our goal is to make SUP Day a premier paddling event in Michigan, while also raising funds for a great cause,” Jones said.
Established in 1994, and governed by a local volunteer board, CCCF offers residents a variety of ways to enrich their community through philanthropic giving. Its staff has an in-depth understanding of the issues, opportunities, and resources that shape the community, and they monitor all areas of community need, including human services, education, the environment, healthcare, the arts, and economic development.
The foundation’s student-led Youth Advisory Council commits resources for youth projects and programs by involving youth in community volunteerism and philanthropy.
“Our business is building community,” Jones said. “Everyone who participates in SUP Day will be helping to make us further our mission and will be helping to make our community a better place.”