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New and old meet at Paddlers Cup

At the very least, it’s one way to avoid the Narrows Bridge toll.

This year, intrepid adventurers in human-powered crafts will trek from Gig Harbor to Tacoma and back for the Gig Harbor Heritage Classic, part of this weekend’s 2015 Paddlers Cup.

On Sunday (April 12), stand-up paddle boarders will take off from Jerisich Dock, paddle to Owen Beach and return to the harbor. It’s a six-mile round trip across the Narrows. The trek is open to other boats, as long as there is no motor.

The stand-up paddleboard event will be part of the brand-new NW Paddleboard Series. The top three male and female boarders will qualify for a spot at Seafair in August.

The route is a throwback to a time before the bridge. If Gig Harbor’s pioneers needed to get to Tacoma, they needed to row. The classic was a feature of the cup until about 2007.

“We’re bringing it back as an ode to the past,” said Karen Scott, tourism director for the city.

Alan Anderson, coach of the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Team, said that older members of the team will be able to compete in the row — something that is out of the ordinary for the team.

“I never let them go outside the harbor,” he said. “The Narrows is always a tricky situation.”

The classic row is different because there will be chase boats nearby, to ensure the safety of participants.

The row’s inclusion in the NW Paddling Series makes it one of only five qualifying events for the for the championship at Seafair.

“It’s a really cool mix of the old and new together,” Scott said.

As the series gains exposure, Scott is hoping it draws more people to Gig Harbor.

Also new this year at the Paddler’s Cup is the Dragon Boat race. Dragon Boats originated in ancient China. Today, the style of boating has become an international competition.

Registration for teams is closed, but coordinator Missy Hill encourages people to come out and watch. Teams from the city, Joint Base Lewis-McCord and more will compete against each other in the human-powered longboat race.

The Paddler’s Cup is this weekend (April 11 and 12) at Skansie Brothers Park in downtown Gig Harbor. More information is available at gigharborpaddlerscup.com.

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