Few things say “summer has arrived” quite like jumping onto a standup paddleboard on a sunny day and paddling the river or lake. This Father’s Day weekend, June 18-19, the annual Coeur d’Alene SUP Cup Challenge will celebrate everything we love about summer in the Lake City with two days of paddleboard activities, races, demos, food, and fun for the whole family.

Three years ago, paddleboarding buddies Brett Saguid and Joe Threadgill noticed that there weren’t any significant paddleboard races in the Inland Northwest – at least not like the lively challenges they were looking for. So they decided to create one. “It is definitely slower than the coastal races,” says Saguid, “but we are getting more people interested every year.”

Their 2015 event drew almost 80 racers, and this year they anticipate even more. “We are nowhere near the size of a triathlon yet,” says Saguid, “but our dream is to get to where it is an event that brings revenue, awareness and excitement to Coeur d’Alene.”

Saguid figures that their event is gaining momentum because it is just as much of a spectator sport as it is a race. Most paddleboard races track out into the water for miles and then return for the finish. That’s not what Saguid and Threadgill wanted. They keep all of the races close to shore, using buoy turns to create distance and make them more spectator-friendly. “We are definitely shooting for a more family-oriented event where people feel like they can still come out and enjoy the day, even if they’re not a racer,” he adds.

Saturday morning will kick off at North Idaho College’s Yap-Keehn-Um Beach with a free board and gear demo, courtesy of Hydrus Board Tech, followed by an adventure paddle, cliff jumping at Tubbs Hill, practice runs and a free ice cream hour, sponsored by Numerica Credit Union and featuring Sweet Peaks Ice Cream. SUP Xross preliminaries will also run that afternoon – this is a short, six-person board-cross race with lots of turns and plenty of bumping.

The day will wrap up with a Hawaiian BBQ on the beach, live music from local band Chisel Fish and a sunset SUP yoga paddle with Lindsay Lambert, the Paddling Yogini. North Idaho College has graciously agreed to allow people to camp on the beach overnight, if you don’t mind using a portable toilet and foregoing showering – 20 spots available for $25 per night.

Race day on Sunday will amp up the energy with yoga at 8:30 a.m. and the first race at 10 a.m. Races will include a 5-mile Long Course, 1-mile Short Course, a Youth Race FREE for kids 16 and under, a Team Relay with lei “batons,” and the SUP High Jump and Xross finals. Don’t have your own paddleboard and still want to race? No problem. Between Hydrus and NIC’s Outdoor Pursuits Beach Rentals, Saguid figures everyone will be covered.

Awards and prizes will be pretty spectacular, thanks to returning major sponsor Tri-State Outfitters, Heirlooms of Hawaii and other sponsors. “Everyone who attends the race will get some kind of door prize,” says Saquid, “and every entry fee will include a ticket to win an inflatable standup paddleboard package worth around $1800.”

Pre-registration ($65) is now open online at cdasupcup.com and paddleguru.com. Late registration will be available through Sunday morning for an additional fee. Each registration includes a BBQ ticket, but family and friends can buy a ticket that day. A portion of the event’s proceeds will be donated to the NIC Outdoor Pursuits Program’s scholarship fund. You just can’t afford to miss an event with such heart, passion and festivity! //