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A stand-up act

This weekend, the Jordanelle Reservoir is taking a stand.

Jordanelle State Park will witness the first H20 Overdrive SUP CUP series on Saturday, with an amateur event beginning at 9 a.m. and a professional race starting at 11:30 a.m. All proceeds from the event will benefit the National Ability Center, said Randy Olshen, the co-founder/CEO of H2O Overdrive.

"We wanted to donate to two charities for local and national organizations," Olshen said. "The NAC met both criteria. They’re a group that does so much, not just for the community, but on national and global levels."

Stand-up paddle surfing (SUP), an up-and-coming sport for outdoor enthusiasts, involves a specialized surfboard and a long paddle to propel the water through the board and maintain balance.

"Surfing’s pretty hard," Olshen said. "You have to have a great deal of balance to stand up on a board. The sex appeal to (stand-up paddling) is that anybody can do it." Olshen said he recently took his wife and daughter out on the Jordanelle for their first foray into the sport, and nobody fell into the lake.

The Ghost Town Paddle is an amateur, time-based event for a field of more than 50 in all types of skill level and craft – 12 feet, 6 inches, 14 feet and unlimited lengths. Starting at 9 a.m., participants will travel a four-mile loop above the submerged ghost town of Keetley.

A purse of $5,000 is up for grabs in the professional race, which begins at 11:30 a.m. with men’s and women’s open divisions. The pro race, sanctioned by the World Paddling Association, is a five-mile course designed to test the endurance and technical skills of some of the world’s best racers.

Among the 40-50 racers expected are stars Chuck Patterson and Candice Applebee. Standup Paddle Magazine, the sport’s most popular publication, will be on hand to cover the event.

"We’ve got a lot of pro racers coming in from all over," Olshen said, noting that competitors will come from Hawaii and Florida. "It will give a lot of Utah paddlers the chance to see how fast they can go."

Olshen said his young sports hydration company has had numerous requests to sponsor events, but he had set the goal of creating his own. Halfway through 2009, some friends suggested he consider supporting stand-up paddling.

"We said ‘What is it?’ and we kind of got a quick rundown," he said. They went to the Battle of the Paddle in Southern California and got hooked. "We fell in love with the sport," he said. "It’s incredible."

The expected turnout of 100 paddlers is "pretty exciting" for an inland event, Olshen said, and has drawn notice within the industry. comparison, the Battle of the Paddle had 150 in its first year and was up to 1,500 by year No. 3.

"It became apparent that the stand-up paddle industry is quickly expanding," said the Kamas resident. "It seems like every time I drive home, I see more and more people paddling in the Jordanelle."

The company recruited experienced organizer Barrett Tester to organize the event because he "has it down to a science," Olshen said. They held an amateur event on June 19 as a "dress rehearsal," and many of the people watching from the shores signed up for their own spot in Saturday’s Ghost Town Paddle.

Each of Saturday’s participants will receive an event T-shirt. Racers will get lunch at the event and are also invited to dinner and a concert at the NAC on Saturday evening.

On-site registration begins at 7 a.m. at the Hailstone day use area. Cost for the Ghost Town Paddle is $45. Cost to enter the pro race is $75 (a 14-foot craft is required).


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