In addition to Pelican Paddle Canoe and Kayak Race being a family friendly paddling competition, the Aug. 5 event now includes a raffle for a custom-built standup paddle board, designed and built by Dirk McCall, and a Yeti Tundra 65 cooler, made possible by Red Beard’s Outfitter.
Only 100 raffle tickets will be sold for the 9’2” surf model SUP. Fifty $20 tickets have been released prior to race day while the remaining 50 will be available the day of the race. The YETI Tundra, valued at $400, has its own drawing, with tickets priced at $10 each. Tickets for both drawings and event registration are available at http://bit.ly/PelicanPaddleRaceReg.
Racers in the 3.5-mile race compete in age groups and divisions: Men’s Kayak, Women’s Kayak, Junior Kayak, Tandem Craft, Non-Traditional (single canoes, pedal kayaks, etc.), and Stand Up Paddle Board. There is also a seven-mile pro option for the more serious paddlers. The Pro Race is for single kayaks only, co-ed and all ages. There’s also a non-competitive Eco-Tour around the marsh edge of the Bay, guided by Weeks Bay Foundation Executive Director Yael Girard.
McCall, a Fairhope resident and avid paddle boarder and surfer, said he built the board to help the Weeks Bay Foundation raise local awareness of the sport, and hopefully raise some money. Proceeds from the race and the raffles, will benefit Weeks Bay Foundation and its efforts to preserve lands, waterways and habitat along coastal Alabama and educate the public about the importance of these habitats.
“It is one of the best grass-roots causes we have that’s working to protect and restore the beautiful waters here,” MCall said. “The current (presidential) administration is planning on cutting NOAA’s Reserve system funding next year, completely, which will hurt Weeks Bay. I think it is terrible.”
McCall said the Gulf Coast is perfect for wave surfing. “You CAN surf the Gulf! It takes a two-foot wave and turns you into the Big Kahuna … kind of. At least it offers the kind of surfing experience that people thought they would have to go to Hawaii to find. Paddle boarding can be whatever you want it to be … float, cruise, epic cardio workout or a surfing adventure.”
McCall, who generously donated this custom SUP, valued at $1,000, seems to enjoy the surfing adventure option, at least at the time of Pelican Paddle. He is currently in Denmark with his daughter, Elisabeth, who is competing in a beach run paddle board race in Denmark. They will also “surf Norway” before returning to Fairhope.
“But my daily paddle on Mobile Bay, along the boathouses of the Eastern Shore, is mostly a meditative morning routine” McCall said. “I build the boards. I want to share the experience to complete the circle.”
Garrett Smith, owner of Red Beard’s Outfitter, provided the Yeti and is also a member of the Weeks Bay Foundation Associate Board.
“Red Beard’s Outfitter and our customers support the Foundation because it is a local land trust that is community led and supported to protect what we value most,” he said.
In addition to the race and raffles, Pelican Paddle will include live music, local beer, and local food trucks, vendors and a glass blowing demonstration by glass artist Freddie Blache.
Advance registration for Pelican Paddle is $30 per paddler or $70 per family. Day-of-race registration is $35 per paddler and $85 per family. A family can include up to two adults and up to four minors under age 18.
Loaner gear is also available but MUST be reserved in advance. Fairhope Boat Company and 17 Turtles Outfitters are donating canoes and kayaks for either the race or the Eco-Tour, free of charge and available on a first-come, first-served basis. To borrow gear, call the Foundation at 251-990-5004 before registering for the race to ensure the boats are available.
For more information and to register for the Pelican Paddle races or the Eco-Tour, call 251-990-5004, or to register online, visit http://bit.ly/PelicanPaddleRaceReg. Advance registration closes at 4 p.m. on August 4. Race-day registration and check-in begins at 7:30 a.m.