It’s been over a month since the 2012 Short’s to Short’s Paddle and we have been oddly silent about the event. Why haven’t we said more? Unfortunately, there is a pretty serious reason. We were not sure whether this year’s event was going to be the last. As the event has grown, and more people have participated, it has become increasingly difficult for us to make sure that everyone treats the event with sufficient respect to ensure their safety. This year, we had an incident where someone became intoxicated very early in the event, flipped their kayak in Lake Bellaire, and then refused assistance from the County Sheriff. That incident resulted in a meeting between Short’s and the County Sheriff’s Office to talk about the feasibility and overall practicality of continuing this event. While the vast majority of participants followed the event rules, it is always a minority of individuals who manage to ruin such events for everyone else.
Due to windy weather during this year’s event, it was tough going for the 263 participants. Over half dropped out at the Dockside and, for those who continued, the Torch Lake stretch between the Dockside and Torch River became increasingly rough as the wind reached a steady 9 mph out of the north/northwest. Therefore, we made the decision to call the event early. We had everyone off the water by around 3:00 p.m. Only 2 participants “officially” made it to Elk Rapids, passing through the Elk Lake checkpoint and completing the event before the cancellation. Unfortunately, we had 3 individuals press on, despite our pleas for them to stop. One of them had to later be rescued by a Short’s safety boat. Again, a few individuals make managing an event like this daunting.
The Good Stuff
Almost everything about this year’s event, aside from the fact that the weather forced an early conclusion, was positive. The morning dawned sunny and calm. During the event, over 90% of the participants followed the event rules and checked in at the check points. Almost all of the paddlers attended our after-party in Elk Rapids. With 29 safety boats on the water, we were largely prepared to keep people safe despite the challenging weather conditions. New handheld radios allowed all of the safety boats to communicate with each other.
The post-event party in Elk Rapids was also a big success. Moosejaw gave away tons of great stuff, like hats, water bottles, and awesome event t-shirts. This year’s event pint glasses from Land and Sea Container were especially nice! Green Planet Extreme Adventure Tours did an excellent job shuttling participants back to their cars, sometimes from some pretty remote locations. We thank all of the event sponsors and volunteers for their exceptionally hard work!
Event Photos and Videos
This year, we employed Michael Murphy IV photography, resulting in incredible event photos that you can view here. 9&10 news also covered the event with a comprehensive news story. Finally, Short’s production brewer, Aaron Smith produced a video showing the event from various perspectives, including Rich Hannan’s kayak.
Changes for Next Year
Because we love this event and don’t want to see it end, we have decided to make some significant changes for 2013. For instance, registration will close one month before the event. No more last minute or event day registration. This will speed up the launch site check-in process and get everyone on the water more quickly. In addition, we are going to carpet the launch site so that people will be able to sit in their kayaks and be pushed into the water. Finally, we will not launch anyone who is not wearing an appropriate PFD and/or is not suitably dressed for the event. We also intend to launch paddlers based on their intended take out point. Those going to Elk Rapids will be sent out first, followed by those who plan to take out in Lake Skegemog, Torch River, Alden, and so on, concluding with those who want to take out at the Dockside. We will also add more safety boats, a better communication system for the safety boats, and other improvements. We hope to make the 2013 Short’s to Short’s Paddle an unqualified success so that we can continue this event into the future.
– Short’s to Short’s Paddle Coordinators