The second annual SLO-CAL Winter/Spring Paddleboard Racing Series is underway. People of all ages and levels of experience can participate March 10 at 9 a.m. at the Morro Bay Harbor.
The Paddleboard Company in Morro Bay invites everyone in the community to participate in the informal race.
“We sell boards, but once people buy a board from us, we want to keep in touch,” owner and founder of The Paddleboard Company Sandi Twist said. “So we came up with events like this to try and get people out paddling.”
While the company holds other competitive races throughout the year, the SLO-CAL series provides beginners with the opportunity to practice their skills out on the bay.
“The race is meant to get the community together,” race coordinator Ken Twist said. “There are a lot of people just dipping their toes into the water, trying to understand different ways to engage with the water. This is a good way to learn about paddleboarding and ask questions if you’re just getting started.”
The series includes three races: one race per day, every other Saturday, from February 24 to March 24. This Saturday’s race will be the second race of the series, but anyone is welcome, even if they missed the first race.
The winner of each individual race is announced and awarded with prizes at the end of the day. For those who want to participate in the whole series, a point score is added together at the end of all three races. An overall winner is announced on the last race day, March 24.
Sandi said as the series progresses, she has noticed a growth in competitors.
“The momentum keeps building,” Sandi said. “As we saw last year, each race got bigger as more people heard about it and wanted to come.”
On the morning of the race, Ken reveals the course based on factors like wind, tides and conditions. The course typically lasts for two to three miles.
“A big part of adventure races is paying attention to the course and knowing where to go so you don’t get disqualified,” Ken said. “So we like to mix it up, so it’s not the same thing every time.”
Local paddler Derek LaVoie discovered the SLO-CAL Racing Series by accident, but it kept him coming back.
“I actually showed up accidentally just to paddle when they had their very first race last year,” LaVoie said. “[Sandi and Ken] talked me into it. I was surprised I liked it so much, to be honest. I’m not much of a racer, but it was really fun.”
LaVoie will join The Paddleboard Company once again on Saturday for the race.
“It was inclusive for everybody,” LaVoie said. “You don’t have to be a racer to race.”
LaVoie’s experience reflects the event’s main goal: to provide the community with an opportunity to practice paddleboarding in the company of others.
“What draws me to paddleboarding is being out on the ocean and the simplicity of it, and the adventure of being out offshore with the whales,” LaVoie said. “And the comraderie after the race was awesome.”
The Paddleboard Company has a limited number of paddleboards available for rent. In order to participate, racers must show up at 8:15 a.m. to register. Learn more here.