Winter - At times it seemed as if the Winter of 2014 would never come to an end. The Great Lakes had record levels of ice coverage and it took well into the Spring before it was gone. The harsh condition didn't leave much room for getting on the water.
- Shiver on the River! Organized by The Outpost of Holland, a group of almost 20 people found some open water on the Kalamazoo River on New Years day. While the temps were cold (hovering around 10*), the two fires and great company made for an awesome way to kick off the year!
|2014 Shiver on the River|
Spring - The ice and cold continued into the Spring for many locations as we kept waiting for things to warm up. Much of my time was spent researching some new gear purchases.
- New Gear!!! I got a new SIC Bullet 12'6" and a Quickblade Trifecta paddle and tried to get out as much as possible...they are both amazing btw.
- Had a few good group paddles
Summer - Summer in the Great Lakes...nothing like it!
- Vacation! I'm lucky enough to be able to take a lot of vacation during the summer...4 weeks to be exact. It seems that over the past several years, this time has always included tons of paddling...as it should.
- Lake House - our family rents a house on a great inland lake (actually 4 interconnected lakes) and I was able to paddle for hours each day.
- Waves - I took half of July off and the conditions couldn't have been better. Warm water, sunshine, hot weather, and waves made for a perfect combination. Great seeing my wife catch some waves!
|Catching Some Waves on Lake MI|
- My wife joined me and some friends on her first downwinder on Lake Michigan...great time and she did awesome!
- Race Season - I was able to participate in several races over the summer and I'll probably talk a bit more about my thoughts on racing in a future post. With that being said, one of the highlights of the year for me was watching my daughters race for the first time. The races I did in 2014:
- BIC SUP One Design Challenge on Green Lake - the kids first race and they did great. I was lucky enough to win the men's race...but to keep it in perspective, this race was small and none of the top racers were there.
|The Girl's First Race|
- DetroitSUP Festival - first time for me at this event and I was impressed. Pretty well organized and the best race shirt yet. Kids raced this one too and had a blast.
- TCWaterman Challenge - great venue, but the weather wasn't great and the event organization leaves a lot to be desired. I managed to place 2nd (age group)...an improvement over my 3rd last year. The highlight for me was watching two of my daughters battle it out in the challenging kids race!
|Battling at the TC Waterman|
- UP North SUP Classic - I saved the best for last. For the second year in a row, this event was by far the best event that I attended. A few highlights that make this a must attend for next year:
- race options - 3 mile, 6 mile, kids race, 5 mile downwind race
- location - probably one of the most beautiful areas/lakes in the Midwest
- swag - the best swag bag at any event...hands down
- focus on the kids - they treat the kids great...everything is free for them, including a swag bag that was even better than mine
- food - awesome lunch on the beach and then dinner event in downtown Frankfort
- drawings - tons of SUP gear was given away...one of my kids even won a prize for being the youngest competitor
- camping - very cool, family owned, campground allowed us to make a great weekend out of the event
|Matching shirts at the UP North SUP Challenge|
- Found a couple new SUP spots only minutes from my house...no crowds and easy access on the busiest of weekends! Check out verticaloar.com for an awesome interactive SUP map.
- Had a few group paddles, but not as many as I would have liked...this will be a focus for next year for sure!
|Great night in Holland|
- Great Lakes Challenge - I was looking for something fun to do for a couple of days, so I decided to SUP on (and swim in) all 5 of the great lakes in a single day. More of a driving adventure more than anything, but I was able to see a lot of great places that I haven't been before and it's something that I don't think anyone else has done. Read more about my adventure here.
|I earned the shirt|
Fall - We had some great weather this fall and made it possible to have some awesome warm weather paddles well into October!
- Downwinders on an inland lake? For sure! Had the best downwinder of the year on Lake Macatowa in Holland, MI with my good friend Ben. Winds from the WSW in the 20-30 mph range produces some awesome 2'-4' waves that you can glide on forever! A couple things to note:
- when winds are blowing, no matter how light, strap down your board ASAP
- seeing a new 14' board lift off of the truck, start spinning in the air, and heading right for you is an experience you should try to avoid
- Had a couple of surprisingly warm paddle days well into November...t-shirts and boardshorts!
So what's on tap for 2015? My focus is going to be on having as much fun as possible. I don't see myself doing many races (see future post), but plan on paddling more than ever. Look for more shout-outs for group paddles (maybe even a regular weeknight thing), more cool locations, and the possibility for an epic adventure is always a possibly. I hope all of you had a great 2014 and I'm looking forward to seeing you on the water in 2015!