More than 500 spectators lined the banks of Smokehouse Bay for the First Annual Paddle Challenge. The paddle boarders, looking like Venetian gondoliers – but poling boards, not gondolas – raced for hours on November 20th. They were joined by kayakers who raced separately throughout the day. Even Santa Claus joined in with a kayak sporting a Christmas tree, and gift boxes sized just right for sliding down chimneys. Katie O’Hara, Sales and Marketing Director of the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce coordinated event functions, and Chamber volunteers handled allthe administrative details. A number of sponsors – Endless Summer Adventures Paddleboarding, Wildman Paddle Sports, Naples Daily News, Esplanade Marina, Rose Marina, Advanced Insurance Underwriters, Rick’s Island Salon And Day Spa, CJ’s On The Bay, Tara Steak & Lobster and Mango’s Dockside Bistro – made the event possible. Gear promotions were furnished by the Coastal Breeze News, Sun Times and Winn Dixie.
The event was co-chaired by Vip Grover and Rick Popoff, members of the Chamber’s Board of Directors. For a modest entrance fee of $1.00 (kids free) spectators enjoyed coming and going, and enjoying food provided by CJ’s On The Bay, Tara’s Steakhouse, andMango’s Dockside Bistro.
Funds from the event are donated to the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Marco Alumni Scholarship Fund. This fund, initiated by the Chamber, provides college scholarship assistance to high school students entering college in these days of high college tuitions. Donations may be made through the Chamber of Commerce (394-7549 for additional information).
Paddleboarding is a fairly new sport in which riders stand on platforms resembling surfboards, and use long paddles to coast through the water. There are several paddleboard services around Marco Island including Wildman Paddle Sports and Endless Summer Adventures Paddleboarding, wherenewcomers can sample the wares and get a few tips on how to handle the boards. According to the participants, the Island’s bays appear to be ideal for tooling around. The boards are made of composite materials and are easily portable. They have foot positions, unlike most, or all, surfboards.
The Marco venue was ideal for the contestants. A few of the paddleboarders were heard remarking that the Smokehouse course was ideal because of the calm waters. Kayakers also appreciated the chance to race around a closed course. They were enthusiastic about their Marco Island reception and looking forward to the next contest.
[/caption] wp-image-16426″ title=”CBN_B1D” src=”http://coastalbreezenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/CBN_B1D-150×100.jpg” alt=”” width=”150″ height=”100″ />Over 25 entrants, some from distant shores, took advantage of the good weather and great hospitality. Co-chairs, Grover and Popoff, were delighted by the turnout for this first event of its kind.
Race winners were:
Paddleboard Sprint Men:
1st. David Jalving, Ft. Myers; 2nd. Donald Payne, N. Ft. Myers.
Paddleboard Sprint Women:
1st. Ilga-Lill Tuffner, Naples; 2nd. BreAnne Barrett, Naples.
Paddleboard Endurance Men:
1st Donald Payne, N. Ft. Myers; 2nd Bill Blaine, Ft. Myers.
Paddleboard Endurance Women:
1st. BreAnne Barrett, Naples; 2nd. Inga-Lill Tuffner, Naples.
Kayak Sprint Combined:
1st. Doug Lindsay, Naples; 2nd. Darlene Meadows, Marco Island.
Kayak Endurance Combined:
1st. Darlene Meadows, Marco Island; 2nd. Doug Lindsay, Naples.