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Paddleboard event helps Lanier club raise funds for new boats
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Organizers Cory Johnson, left, and Brent Troncalli impart information and rules on the crowd of paddleboarders Saturday morning before the start of the Splash SUP Series race at Lake Lanier. - photo by NAT GURLEY

Competitors and novices alike took part in various boating disciplines Saturday when the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club held its second annual Paddlethon fundraiser at the Lake Lanier Olympic Center.

Those who participated in Paddlethon ranged from children to adults. Some had never competed in paddle sports before.

Paddle sports include canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding and stand-up paddleboarding. All of these were available Saturday, along with dragon boats.

The money raised by the club will go toward the club’s fund to purchase new boats.

LCKC president David Haack and fundraising organizer Kalen Lee Scholz said the boats the club uses were donated after the 1996 Olympics, and that wear-and-tear has started to occur.

“The whole point was to raise money for new boats,” Haack said. “I hope for $5,000 (to be raised).”

According to Haack, an entry-level boat, whether it be a paddleboard, canoe or kayak, can cost approximately $1,500 to $2,000.

Those who participated didn’t have to stay in the lake for any set period of time. They could get out and back into the lake when they wanted to, and try out the different boats available.

“I see a lot of children and families out here to see what it’s all about,” Haacke said.

Haack said he liked introducing people to the sport of stand-up paddleboarding with the Paddlethon alongside the Splash SUP Series.

He said stand-up paddleboarding is starting to catch on around the area, but is still small compared to other paddle sports.

“We have a lot more people here than we did last year,” Scholz said. “A lot of the athletes have family and friends coming out to try. We’ve got people coming and getting on stand-up paddleboards, canoes and kayaks.”

She said the club’s kids programs will benefit most from getting new boats.

“It’s been a great turnout so far,” said Ian Ross, a competitor in high-level canoe races. “We had a big show off for stand-up paddleboards (SUP Splash Series). All the little kids are trying it.”

He also said it was good to see the athletes come together amid fierce training and competition, as some, including Ross, will be headed to the canoeing and kayaking world championships.

“Today was really fun. It started off serious for some of us because we’re training with the world championships coming up,” he said. “The fundraiser has been good for the club. We have high-level athletes, but not high-level boats, and this today, for fundraising, this has been a great thing. Kalen (Scholz) has done a great job.”

Alex McLain, a competitor in high-level kayak races, said most people who join these sports have to spend a lot just to start, so a fundraiser becomes important for the club.

“Our sport is unlike many others, and it takes a lot get started,” she said. “We have to buy our own boats, and there’s not much money in it, and it comes down to fundraisers like this one.

“It’s so much to ask of the kids to get their own boat. But you want the sport to keep growing, because it is somewhat of an unusual sport, and it’s very fun.”

Stanton Collins, like McLain, races kayaks competitively. His experience dates back seven years, and he credits the LCKC for helping him see the world.

“I’ve paddled for seven years, and I got to travel the world because of paddling,” he explained. “Paddling is still small in the U.S., but it’s big in Canada, Mexico, Germany. We’re building a base here (in Gainesville) and trying to grow the sport here.”

For more information on Paddlethon, and the LCKC, visit www.lckc.org.

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