The sixth annual Gig Harbor Paddlers Cup will take place in the harbor April 8 and 9. This year’s event will feature a change of venue, to Eddon Boat Park in downtown Gig Harbor instead of Skansie Park.
The annual event is put on by the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Club in cooperation with the Tacoma South Sound Sports Commission and the city of Gig Harbor. The event features paddle racing for kayaks, canoes, SUPs, outriggers and para-canoes, as well as dragon boat races.
Some of the highlights of the event include the “Cross-town challenge,” a 6.5-mile event in which paddlers and paddle-boarders travel from the harbor to Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, and back again.
“The paddler boarders really love that thing,” said GHCKRT board secretary Kirsten Gregory.
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The two-day event will also feature 5K and 10K races in the harbor and on Sunday, several dragon boat races. The defending dragon boat race winner is the team from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, made up of active military members, which edged the Gig Harbor Rotary team last year.
“It was a great move involving the dragon boat races,” said GHCKRT head coach Alan Anderson.
The club is also working on getting a dragon boat race between Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools, but it hasn’t yet been confirmed.
“We’re hopeful for that,” Gregory said. “That would be a great matchup.”
While the club trains year-round, the Paddlers Cup has become a sort-of unofficial kickoff to the busy spring and summer paddling season.
It’s exciting for all of us. It can be monotonous, as well as cold and wet in the winter. All the training we do in the winter is to prepare for the racing season. It’s no fun for the coaches, either.
Alan Anderson, GHCKRT coach
“It’s exciting for all of us,” Anderson said. “It can be monotonous, as well as cold and wet in the winter. All the training we do in the winter is to prepare for the racing season. It’s no fun for the coaches, either. We don’t get to yell or anything. We sit in the boat and get cold. Now we get ready to race.”
The Paddlers Cup is the club’s biggest fundraiser for the year. This year’s event will feature some food and drinks, too. Millville Pizza will be bringing its portable wood-fire pizza oven and Trop’s Chocolates will be selling coffee, scones and homemade hot chocolate.
People interested in joining the festivities can register at gigharborpaddlerscup.com. Day-of registration will also be accepted.
“This is really exciting for our team,” Gregory said. “This is the big one for us.”