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‘The spirit of community.’ Paddlers Cup draws throngs to Gig Harbor waterfront

Lining up for the starting gun of the first race of the Paddlers Cup Saturday are competitors in canoes and kayaks from throughout the South Sound.
Lining up for the starting gun of the first race of the Paddlers Cup Saturday are competitors in canoes and kayaks from throughout the South Sound. Contributing writer

The 8th annual Gig Harbor Paddlers Cup competitions this weekend at Skansie Brothers Park featured racing for kayaks, canoes and paddle-boards on Saturday.

On Sunday, there were dragon boat races.

Paddlers, spectators, and vendors packed the park throughout the weekend enjoying the races, music, food, vendors and good weather.

According to event organizer Kirsten Gregory, over 120 paddlers from across the region participated in Saturday’s 10k, 5k and sprint races.

“The spirit of community and dedication was on full display by Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team athletes as they commiserated with other teams when a light hailstorm passed through Saturday afternoon at the end of the 10k race,” Gregory said. “It did not stop athletes or community members from getting back out on the water for the one-hundred meter sprint races.”

The event is organized by the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team, a nonprofit community organization, in partnership with the city of Gig Harbor and the Gig Harbor Dragons.

The Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team has brought home the national championship six out of the past seven years. Funds raised from Paddlers Cup will be used to purchase four-person sprint canoes and kayaks sized specifically for its female and younger athletes. Proceeds from the dragon boat races are split between the Canoe and Kayak Team and the Gig Harbor Dragon Boat Team.

Participating was Nevin Harrison, who won gold at the Olympic Hopes regatta the last two years and will be competing this August to win the U.S. spot at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020, the first-ever women’s Olympic canoe event.

“We are so excited for Nevin and for the opportunity for her to represent our community and our country in the first-ever women’s Olympic canoe event,” Gregory said. “Nevin is an inspiration to her teammates and her coach and founding father of Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team, Alan Anderson.”

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