The growing trend of stand-up-paddle boarding will be on grand display May 31 when Cadboro-Gyro Beach hosts the first of three races in the 2015 Vancouver Island SUP series.
But ongoing concerns about water quality in the Caddy Bay waters mean organizers will be donatingrace proceeds to an independent testing agency, Blue Water Task Force, which is already conducting testing in the area.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a child taking a dip on a hot day or if you’re paddle boarder, kayaker or a sailor, a lot of people use Caddy Bay and are affected by the health of the water and we want to support that,” said Gyro Beach Board Shop owner Sam Goski, the venue sponsor for the race.
A swim warning for Caddy Bay has been posted on Island Health’s website since Oct. 11, which is odd for the winter months. Island Health actively monitors the quality of the region’s most popular swimming destinations but only during the swimming season.
Erwin Dyck, supervisor of health protection for South Island with Island Health said it was the Capital Regional District who identified “high bacterial counts” draining into Caddy Bay in from Hobbs Creek, attributed to feces of ducks, seagulls and deer.
Blue Water Task Force performs water testing education and advocates for healthy coastal habitats on the Island, according to its website.
It is a volunteer arm of the Surfrider Foundation on Vancouver Island, which promotes environmental stewardship. Goski is hoping the proceeds can help them procure an autoclave – a strong, heated container used as a sterilizer – to assist with water testing.
Goski is hoping the race, which draws enthusiasts from across the Island (including Simon Whitfield), will bring all-around attention to Caddy Bay. She admits the water is cold, and that it dissuades swimmers, but she said beach users submerse in the waters of Caddy Bay for a lot of different reasons.
SUP users, especially newer ones, are almost guaranteed to take a splash in the flat but moderately choppy waters of the bay, she added.
Goski started the Gyro Beach Board Shop in 2013. She rents the SUP boards year-round and runs yoga classes out of a studio connected to the storefront. Offering yoga makes her business sustainable during the winter months, said Goski, who is certified both as a yoga instructor and paddle board instructor, as well as a registered physiotherapist.
Rentals of paddle boards come with a trolley, which makes the trek from Cadboro Bay Road down Penrhyn Street easier.
The VI SUP series race takes place on Sunday, May 31. The cost is $65 for adults and $45 for youth, and comes with goodies. The closed circuit race (around buoys in Caddy Bay) will take approximately 30 minutes for the more experienced athletes.
The circuit race starts at noon with relays at 2 p.m., followed by a dash for cash, barbecue and awards.