Kayak Camping on Grand Island

January 24th, 2015 Comments off


Are you ready to turn you day trips into overnights but you’re feeling a little intimidated?  Want to be prepared for a few days on Lake Superior or a few weeks on the Sea of Cortez?  Our Grand Island Skill Builder course can help you reach those goals.

This year we are offering a class to teach the skills you need to have a fun and successful kayak camping trip.  This special class will spend two days (Thursday and Friday) and one night paddling and camping on Grand Island, just off shore from Munising.  On top of seeing the amazing cliffs and beautiful beaches of Grand Island, you’ll practice loading your boat, learn tips and tricks for handling a fully loaded boat, and get the opportunity to navigate with a map and compass.  In the evening you’ll get to enjoy camping on the island and learn some new camping skills as well. By the end of the two days you’ll be prepared to take on whatever trip you can dream up.

This trip is recommended for Red and Gold level paddlers.

For  more info check out: http://downwindsports.com/lol/classes/special-learning-opportunities/

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Register for LOL 2015!

January 9th, 2015 Comments off

Registration is LIVE!

LOL DAY Party 2011 056

The moment you’ve been waiting for since last August has finally arrived.  You can now sign up for Ladies of the Lake 2015! We are doing all of our registration and scheduling online this year to make things easier for you.  Just click the “Register” tab in the navigation bar, the “Click Here to Register” button on the side bar or JUST CLICK HERE.  You can fill fill out our simple registration form to get yourself signed up, as well as select your classes and tours, reserve any rental gear you may need, and sign our online waiver form.

We would highly recommend signing up as early as possible for two reasons. First, it will save you money.  Registration for this year’s event costs $350, but if you sign up before March 10th and use the coupon code EarlyBirdSpecial you can save yourself $100. That’s a savings of nearly 30%.   Second, if you wait some of our classes and tours will fill up.  We have lots of great options when it comes to classes and tours and we’re confident that you will always find something you are interested in, but space is limited in some classes and all of the tours.  Last year we filled every available tour space and we are expecting to have even more ladies this year. So sign up early to ensure you get exactly what you want.

If you have any question feel free to email Heidi at heidi@downwindsports.com or give us a call at 906-482-2500.

We look forward to seeing all of you in August!

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Important News for LOL 2015

January 7th, 2015 Comments off

9558304892_e5fa8aefa6_zRegistration for LOL 2015 officially starts tomorrow and we have some important news and updates about this year’s symposium.  We’re not shy to say, last year’s event was one of our best.  We had more women paddlers than ever before and that means more fun than ever before!  With more attendees came more challenges and we saw a few areas where we can make LOL 2015 even better.  We took your comments to heart and have made some adjustments.  Here are some of the most important things to know for this year:


Last year we announced that we would need 100 women to register in order to hold the event.  The outpouring of support was incredible and before long we had over 120 paddlers signed up.   It was great.  The need to keep attendance up hasn’t gone away. So once again we are going to need 100 registrants to hold LOL 2015. We’ve set a deadline of June 1st, same as last year, to reach this goal.  The good news is we are already 20% of the way there with ladies who signed up at the event last year.  We are confident that once again this won’t be a problem. So if you came last year and had fun, sign up again and we’ll be at 100 in no time, especially if you bring a friend!


Just like last year all registration will be done online.  We’ve changed our registration a little in order to make it easier.  You will no longer have to sign up on one page and then pay at another. It’s all done in one place this year.  In past years you’ve had to fill out a waiver when you arrived at the event. This year we’ve wrapped that into your registration.


Last year was the first year we offered online scheduling and it was a huge success.  We will be doing the same thing this year.  You’ll be able to select all of your classes and tours while you’re signing up.  New for this year is a color coding system to help you build the perfect schedule and make sure you get into classes that are best suited for you and your paddling goals.  To learn more about this year’s scheduling check out this post: LOL 2015 Schedule! Some classes and all tours have a limited number of available spots.  We’d recommend signing up early to ensure that you get what you want.  We will not maintain waiting lists for any of the tours or classes.  If spots open up they will be given out on a first come first served basis at the event.


In the past we have carried all canceled registrations forward to next event, sometimes for multiple years.  This became more complicated with higher attendance. From this year forward, we are no longer carrying registrations forward.  We will offer partial refunds to all cancellations.  If you sign up and are unable to attend please let us know as soon as possible.  If you let us know you can’t make it before April 15th we will refund 75% of your registration fee.  If you cancel between April 15th and July 15th we will refund half of your registration.  No refunds will be given for cancellations after July 15th.

If you have a registration that is being carried over from a previous symposium, this will be your last year to use it. This means that if you can’t make it to this year’s event we will not carry it over to 2016.  We are unable to offer refunds on registrations carried over from previous years.

Wet Exits

In past years we have required participants to demonstrate a wet exit prior to taking any classes or tours.  This helps our instructors know that every person on the water is capable of getting out of their boat if they tip. We are updating that requirement this year with the help of our new color coding system. This year participants categorized as Green or Blue level must complete a wet exit Wednesday, Thursday or Friday in order to attend classes or tours. This can be accomplished by enrolling in the following courses, which will have instructor-assisted wet exits incorporated into the course work: Au Train River Tour or In, Out, Up and Down. The wet-exit requirement can also be satisfied by completing an instructor-assisted wet exit from 4-5 PM Wednesday or Thursday, and on Friday morning from 8:00 – 9:00 AM before classes begin. Participants categorized as Red and Gold will be evaluated by instructors, who may deem that an individual should perform a wet exit based upon instructor assessment. It is assumed that those signing up for Red and Gold classes are comfortable and practiced with wet exits as well as self and partner rescue.


We announced last year that LOL has found a permanent home in Munising, and we meant it!  Munising is a paddler’s paradise with great access to Lake Superior and some of the most beautiful shoreline you’ll find anywhere on the planet.  LOL headquarters will be located upstairs at Sydney’s Restaurant where the always friendly staff do their best to cater to our every need.


One great thing about registering early is that the sooner you register, the less you pay. If you sign up any time between this Friday and March 10th, your registration will only cost you $250!  If you sign up between March 10th and June 1st, registration will cost $300.  After June 1st, the price will rise to $350.  This fee gets you world class instruction and all of the breathtaking tours that are offered at the event.

If you choose to take the optional BCU 3-Star Assessment class it will cost an additional $150.  Learn more about this class HERE.


If you have any questions or if there is anything we can help you out with please email Heidi at heidi@downwindsports.com or call us at 906.482.2500


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LOL 2015 Schedule!

January 7th, 2015 Comments off

schedule imageAfter a winter of hard work, we are super excited to announce that we have finished the schedule for LOL 2015!  We poured through all of the feedback from last year’s event and decided to take a new approach to symposium scheduling.  We found that one of the participants’ biggest issues was getting into the right classes and tours.  Classes are meant to challenge you and help you progress as a kayaker. This can’t be achieved if the class is too easy or requires skills you haven’t yet learned.

So, with that in mind, we would like to introduce our brand new color coding system.  We were hoping to come up with a cool name for it – but you can’t win them all. This new color coding system will help steer participants into a schedule that pushes them to become better paddlers but does not leave them overwhelmed.  It should also help group similarly skilled paddlers together so instructors can focus on the skills the group needs to work on.

6057627002_fdc117f6e1During your registration you will be asked to complete a skill assessment quiz.  You will answer a handful of questions about your paddling experience, skills, and goals.  The answers you provide will determine your paddling color: Green, Blue, Red or Gold.  Throughout the registration process, as well as throughout the website, you will see these colors repeated over and over.  Any time you see your color you can be confident that the class or tour is designed for a paddler with your level of skill and experience.

This isn’t to say you are limited to only taking classes and tours in your color group.  This is only a suggestion.  We want you to be challenged and push yourself to grow on the water and off.  If you see something on the schedule that you really want to do but it doesn’t match your color, go for it, but be aware that it may require skills that you don’t have yet or may be teaching skills you’ve already mastered.

We have lots of new classes this year that are sure be both fun and educational. These new classes will shake things up a bit and give a few fun surprises to the paddler who think they’ve seen and done everything that LOL has to offer. We are also offering some off the water classes this year.  This will give you a chance to rest tired muscle or get out and see some of the other beautiful things that the Munising area has to offer.

You can see the full schedule of classes and tours as well descriptions of each by clicking on the classes or tours buttons on the navigation bar. Take a look, get some ideas of what you would like to take at this year’s event and start planning your schedule.  Registration will open this Friday.


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BCU 3 Star Course Available This Year

November 19th, 2014 Comments off

15323903782_cc093cd92c_zThis year we are happy to announce that we will be offering a BCU 3 Star course.  The course will held over two full days on Thursday and Friday.  It will be taught by featured coach Bonnie Perry and  will cost $150 in addition to the symposium registration. Space will be limited.

In Bonnie’s words:

“BCU 3 Star Award is an internationally recognized step in a paddler’s development. Achieving this award signifies that you have transitioned from a novice to an intermediate paddler. The BCU 3-Star training is designed to assist you in achieving that transition. As such it is an intermediate sea kayak course. This course does not start with the basics, but rather seeks to improve existing skills for experienced kayakers who are ready to move up to the next level. If you have been paddling for a while, or are planning a sea kayaking adventure, 3-Star training is an excellent way to refine skills and build confidence. At the 3-Star level, paddlers will show skill with a variety of strokes, maneuvers and rescues. Participants will train on efficient forward paddling, maneuvering on the move, and linking strokes into maneuvers. Basic understanding of tides and navigation are also covered in this course. I think the best trainings are fun. So I include games and scenarios as an essential part of the learning process. The training will take place over two days. We’ll be on the move as on a journey and will be off site for most of each day. Bring a packed lunch, a helmet, a tow belt and a smile! At the end the training Bonnie and Lyn will sit down with you and work out a plan as to what steps you may take to be at a point of passing the 3 star assessment.”

For more information, here is the BCU 3 Star syllabus http://paddlesportsnorthamerica.s3.amazonaws.com/downloads/bcu-3-star-sea-kayak-syllabi-v3-0-oct13.pdf

You will be able to sign up for this course during your registration.  If you have any questions please feel free to call us at (906) 482-2500. Stay tuned as registration will be opening soon!

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2015 Featured Coach Bonnie Perry

November 13th, 2014 Comments off

IMG_3547This year’s Featured Coach will be Bonnie Perry. Bonnie has been coming to LOL for many years and is always one of the highlights of our stellar coaching team. On top of teaching all weekend she gets up early on Sunday Morning to put on the always popular Blessing of the Boats.

Nothing makes Bonnie happier than coaching and paddling with people in ALL sorts of conditions. She has had the opportunity to paddle and teach in the Midwest, Maine, Canada, Baja, Scotland, England and Wales. Last year she took students to paddle in Scotland, next year it will be Wales.

In the BCU, Bonnie is the fourth woman in North America to be awarded the 5 Star Leader on the Sea. She’s also a Level 3 Sea Coach, a 3 star assessor, and 3 star open boater. In the UKCC she is one of three people in the US with the Level 3 Discipline Specific Sea Kayak Training. In the ACA, Bonnie is a Level 4 Open Water Instructor Trainer and in Paddle Canada she’s a Level 2 Instructor. Bonnie would also like you to know that when she was a Girl Scout she earned the Housekeeping, Sewing and Camping merit badges ! :) When Bonnie is not on the water she is the Rector/Senior Pastor of All Saints’ Episcopal Church www.allsaintschicago.org

At this year’s symposium Bonnie will be offering a special 2 day BCU Three Star course on Thursday and Friday.  Stay tuned over the next week for more information on this as well as other announcements and the opening of the registration for the 2015 Ladies of the Lake!

Bonnie Perry


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Wine and Cheese Welcome!

November 12th, 2014 Comments off

Every year at Ladies of the Lake we kick off the symposium with welcome event on Thursday night.  Typically this has just been a low key chance for us to give out the latest information and you to catch up with friends you may not have seen since last summer. In 2015 we would like expand on this by throwing a little food and drink into the mix.  We’ll provide the snacks and libations and you bring that winning LOL charm that we’ve come to love so much.  Of course we will still be doing all of our announcements  and we’ll have the store set up so you can check out the latest and greatest in paddling gear and get all of the things you may need for a weekend full of classes and fun. This will be a great chance to meet the instructors and share some fun paddling stories as well as go over your schedule for the weekend and maybe make a few friends.

Stay tuned for more announcements about the 2015 Ladies of the Lake.  Class Schedule will be posted soon and registration will open shortly after!


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Calling All Coaches!

November 11th, 2014 Comments off

instruction2Last year we saw a huge surge in support for Ladies of the Lake.  Our attendance jumped from around 70 to near 120!  It was amazing to see so many female paddlers in one place; all learning together and having a great time.  To see our community come together to save a symposium that was on the verge of collapse was definitely inspiring.

But with huge growth came some challenges.  We rely heavily on the best group of female instructors in the midwest and they always do a fantastic job.  It’s the coaches that make LOL such a great event. Last year we stretched them pretty thin.  There were more students and the about the same number of coaches so they had to work considerably harder.  They did all we asked them to and more and we couldn’t be more grateful.

Registration for the 2015 Ladies of the Lake symposium is looming and we are expecting to have a similar turn out to last year.  We’re hoping to expand our coaching staff in order to offer more and better educational opportunities to our participants. This means one thing: WE NEED MORE COACHES!  And for that we could use your help.  If you know a female kayak instructor who might be interested in joining our impressive cast please pass this along.

We’ve started a coaches registry to make it easier to express your interest in coaching.  If you would like to join us in teaching the most enthusiastic and fun group of female paddlers around please take a moment to fill out the form below.  When we receive the your form, we will review it and get in touch with you with more information about the event.  Again, please pass this along to anyone you know who may be interested.

You can also find the Coach’s Registration Form under the Coaches button above or at http://downwindsports.com/lol/coaches/become-a-coach/. If you have any questions about the event please give us a call at 906.482.2500.

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Big News! LOL 2015 presents GREASE!

November 6th, 2014 Comments off


Dust off your poodle skirts and get ready for some summer love because this year’s LOL theme will be taking us back to the 1950′s. Grease is the word! Start getting your costume ready now for our annual Werner Paddles theme party. It may be hard to top last year’s Wild West party but we’re certain that you’ll put on your leather jacket, slick back your hair and show us why LOL is the most fun we have all summer!

Stay tuned over the next week as we’ll have lots of info about next summer’s symposium!

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LOL 2014 Recap!

September 22nd, 2014 Comments off

8-24 Hannah Paddling toward Grand Portal

This past August Down Wind Sports hosted the 11th annual Ladies Of The Lake Sea Kayak Symposium on the southern shores of Lake Superior in beautiful Munising Michigan.  Munising is the gateway city to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore…..unquestionably one of the finest destinations for sea kayakers in the country.

This annual gathering of female paddlers has always been organized to paddle, learn, socialize and celebrate another year of paddling.  Our idea is to provide a quality paddling experience promoting “women kayaking with women for women.”


Our headquarters for the long weekend was Sydney’s Restaurant.  Sydney’s, located in downtown Munising, has been the host for two of the previous LOL including the inaugural event!  The Grand Island Room is where our retail location was set up and all off water activities took place.


On Thursday The Grand Island Room of Sydney’s was transformed into a paddle sports market place with Down Wind Sports displaying the latest boats, kayaking gear, and clothing.  As the day wore on, participants weary from the road, stopped in to register themselves and gear up for what would prove to be a great, fun filled  weekend.  Once again the symposium drew participants from as far away as Virgina,  Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Washington State, North Carolina, Indiana, and Michigan. Some even traveled internationally from Canada!  We are very proud to say that we have some of the most talented coaches in the country joining us, many of whom reside right here in the Midwest. Our featured coach Cindy Scherrer returned to this event through our Gold Level sponsor Wilderness Systems- without our sponsors and these talented ladies our event would not have been the same!


The trips that were scheduled for Thursday were re configured due to weather so participants were treated to an Autrain River Float as well as two trips that explored the shoreline of Grand Island.


During the evening’s official symposium welcome- a weekend game plan was discussed and we included over 35 1st time participants to our LOL symposium family - a new record!


On Friday from forward strokes to rescues participants learned new and exciting techniques to help improve their paddling.  New this year LOL offered a One Coach class as well as an advanced Rough and Ready Class….both well attended and participant favorites.  The afternoon classes went off in their different pods which made for an amazing view, over 100 kayaks on the water, with lots of laughter echoing off the water and back to the shore.




After cleaning up and finishing dinner, participants headed on over to the headquarters  and enjoyed an interesting and informative presentation from our coach Andrea Knepper, on Chicago Adventure Therapy. Using outdoor adventure sports like kayaking, orienteering, cycling, and rock climbing, Chicago Adventure Therapy (CAT) helps under-served youth in Chicago have a lasting positive impact on their communities and become healthy adults by teaching effective social skills, increasing participants’ sense of possibility, and fostering a sense of empowerment and personal responsibility.  It was a great way to finish off  a day on the water.


On Saturday the weather was again stellar and participants started their morning off with a yoga session thanks to our favorite early morning riser, Patty Boucher!  After stretching out, the ladies hit the water for more in depth instruction and fun.  Bracing, rolling, towing, rescues and even stand up paddling were all fun!




After another long day of paddling the ladies got gussied up in their best costume for The Werner Paddles Western Party! This year we had the most people dressing up and putting a lot of effort into their outfits.  From outlaws to Annie Oakley- as usual this was the party to be at!



Sunday after a long night on the dance floor, we were surprised as at how many  ladies showed up for the pastries and paddle tour!    Sunday was also a great opportunity for participants to hop into one last class and get a little more practice in before packing up for the long drive home.


We have been involved with many sea kayak symposiums around the great lakes and with all honesty this is by far the one that we look forward to every year.  How great is it to see participants so eager to learn, coaches so willing to give so much, and to be surrounded by laughter and smiles all weekend long……can’t wait until next year!  A great big thank you to all of those who promoted this event to ensure that 2014 LOL happened.  Please keep spreading the word as we will have our new updated 2015 class and tour schedule announced soon!


A big thank you goes out our Gold Level Sponsors who work so hard in helping to make our event successful!  Please consider your next purchase from one of these outstanding paddle sports leaders!











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