This summer Down Wind Sports hosted the 8th annual Ladies Of The Lake Sea Kayak Symposium. This five day event was organized for female sea kayakers to gather, 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.” This is also a unique symposium in that it is a “traveling” symposium. We pick a new location in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula each year that offers diverse paddling opportunities and somewhere new to explore. This year the event retraced it’s roots and revisited the site of the 1st LOL in Munising Michigan, and enjoyed the hospitality and beautiful paddling at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Our headquarters for the long weekend were at Sydney’s in downtown Munising, where our retail location was set up and all off water activities took place.
On Thursday August 18th the symposium kicked off with Bonnie Perry’s BCU 3 Star training program where 5 eager participants hit the cool waters of Lake Superior to gain the necessary skills to assess for the BCU 3-star award. Participants were treated to sunny skies, bumpy water and the opportunity to learn from one of the Midwest’s top coaches!
Other participants were treated to a day of adventure, paddling various trips along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Grand Island National Recreation Area. These beautiful destinations are recognized as world class and “must see” trips for kayakers featuring majestic arches, caves and waterfalls to experience. During the day conditions were varied from well protected waters to more challenging conditions located along the National Lakeshore.
The upstairs 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 weekend. The symposium drew participants from as far away as Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Washington State, 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 coaches/presenter; Ginni Callahan and Cindy Scherrer brought their talents from the West coast!
On Friday threatening weather was a backdrop for the instructional courses with high winds and severe thunderstorms heading towards Munising. As a precaution the Pictured Rocks Trip was cancelled (good call) but the morning classes were held. From forward strokes to rescues, participants learned new and exciting techniques to help improve their paddling. For the most part the weather held off so ladies could get into the water and practice these skills before thunder and lightening chased us off the water just before lunch. The benefit lunch was held back at Sydney’s for the Alger Parks & Recreation Department (APRD), with the proceeds going to benefit their Youth Scholarship Fund. Thanks Ladies!
Thankfully the skies cleared and the afternoon classes went off without a hitch and many ladies commented they loved playing in the waves!
After cleaning up and finishing dinner, participants headed on over to the headquarters and enjoyed participating in The Price Is Right Game Show! Over $1500.00 of swag was given out to our lucky contestants and many hilarious moments were provided by “Bob Barker” and “Johnny Olson”.
After settling down from the game show participants were treated to a presentation by Ginni Callahan. Set to beautiful music Ginni took us on a paddlers adventure from the west coast of the United States, down to the Baja of Mexico and over to the land down under- Australia. Her soothing style, combined with the most amazing photos, and set to John Denver’s Calypso was the perfect way to conclude the day! Yeah Ginni!
On Saturday the weather was stellar and participants hit the water for more in depth instruction and fun. Bracing, rolling, towing and rescues were all fun…..but the one with the most laughs was Becoming One With Your Boat Through Play! Saturday also saw another session of boat demos. Many participants used this great opportunity provided by the symposium to test paddle the latest boats from all of the leading manufacturers. We are proud to say that this allowed some people to find the perfect boat for them, finishing up their time with a shiny new kayak and a smile from ear to ear.
After another long day of paddling the ladies got all fixed up in their finest for The Werner Paddles Academy Award, also known as the Oscar, which is an accolade bestowed by Werner Paddles and Down Wind Sports (WPDWS) to recognize excellence of female kayakers in the paddle sports industry. The formal ceremony at which the awards were presented is one of the most prominent award ceremonies in the world and this year the ladies didn’t disappoint! The Red Carpet saw many interesting outfits including a rare Hannah BP Design!
The evenings hosts were “Tom Cruise” and of all people “Meatloaf'” who is now apparently now getting back into the movie business after a appearing in the Rocky Horror Movie Show in 1975. This year tearful acceptance speeches were the norm with the evenings surprising winners being Anne Jackson, Lori Stegmier, Kay Simandl, Elizabeth Jensen, Susan Stroebe and others.
An interesting note was that the beautiful and talented Edith Nelson didn’t get a single award despite ten (10!) nominations! This was surely a year to remember as the evening was filled with laughter, pageantry and fun! After the awards the paddling celebrities danced the night away at the Vanity Affair after party- too much fun!
On Sunday participants gathered at the demo beach for our annual Blessing Of The Boats- which provided a wonderful moment on a spectacular Sunday morning and a perfect closure to such a great weekend. Thank you so much Bonnie!
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.
I have been involved with many sea kayak symposiums around the great lakes and with all honesty this is by far the one that I 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……how long do we have to wait until next year?