Dave Allen

KPC athlete Dave Allen takes part in a training paddle on Lake Okanagan on June 3, 2019.

Kelowna Paddle Centre is ready to host its fifth annual Waterman Paddle Festival this weekend. More than 200 athletes are expected to attend the event, which will feature five different events, today and Sunday.

“We’re very excited to host athletes from across the Pacific Northwest,” said race co-ordinator Natasha Elliott. “Waterman Paddle Festival continues to grow each year and we’re looking forward to offering a fantastic event this weekend.”

The event remains a favourite with Kelowna Paddle Centre athletes.

“It’s always great to paddle at home,” said Dave Allen, who will be attending his second Waterman Paddle Festival.

Allen, who will be competing in today’s small boat race, is also organizing the stand-up paddleboard sprint race later in the day.

The event, he said, is a great spectator sport and will be viewable from the beach at the Kelowna Paddle Centre.

For West Kelowna’s Leanne Stanley, being able to race on Lake Okanagan is a treat.

“The Waterman is always on my schedule,” said the outrigger canoe specialist. “The lake, you can’t beat it.”

Stanley, who coaches and competes in outrigger canoeing internationally, said she’s yet to see another club set up like the Kelowna Paddle Centre.

“It’s a beautiful spot,” she said.

Competition for the Waterman Paddle Festival begins with the kids race at 10 a.m. today, followed by the small boat race at 1 p.m. During that race, athletes will be competing in either solo or double boats and will travel either the short course (8-10 kilometres) or the long course (16-20 km). Saturday’s racing will wrap up with the SUP sprint at 4 p.m.

Sunday’s racing is dedicated to the outrigger canoe six-person (OC6) teams. Heats begin at 8:30 a.m. The B final goes at 10:30 a.m. and the A final starts at 11:30 a.m.

The event is free for spectators. To learn more about the festival, visit kelownapaddlecentre.ca/waterman.