Event preview The third annual Gig Harbor Paddlers Cup and Expo will return to the bay this weekend. The two-day event will feature competitive events in canoe, kayak, stand-up paddle boarding and outrigger canoes.
Most of the members of the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Club will participate and compete against others from places such as Oregon and Canada. The event will be based at Skansie Brothers Park and Jerisich Dock in downtown Gig Harbor on Saturday and Sunday.
Jonathan Grady, 13, will be on the weekend’s many canoe participants. The home-schooled student is a distance specialist and second-year canoeist, and he likes the hometown competition.
“(I like) being here to do a race, not going somewhere else,” Grady said. “When you go other places, you have to learn how to use the course, but here, you know the course already.”
Grady will participate in the 100-meter sprint Knock Offs, as well as the 10-kilometer, four-lap race.
“In the 10K for my age group, I think I’m gonna get first,” Grady said. “I’m better at distance.”
Louise Tieman, the primary event organizer, admired Grady’s progress in just one year.
“He has beautiful technique,” Tieman said. “His technique takes him much further than his size. He knows how to move a boat over the water. He’s really good at that. It’s fun to watch.”
The event also will feature several vendors and booths, which will be set up in the park. Dolan’s Board Sports will rent and sell stand-up paddle boards.
Another company will sell a light that can be placed under watercrafts. During the late afternoon or evening hours, the light can attract wildlife.
Tieman said the company has considered pairing up with Harbor WildWatch to make it an educational opportunity.
The Gig Harbor Kayak and Canoe Racing Team was won two consecutive national championships, and the Paddlers’ Cup provides an opportunity for the community to watch them in action.
“Come see what this set of paddle sports looks like at your home venue,” Tieman said. “It’s really a way for the community to see what this looks like.”
Tieman said the sport also is part of the community heritage.
“This is part of the historical legacy that grows in Gig Harbor, from fishing and recreational boating, and now this level of competitive boating as well,” she said. “It’s just part of the harbor history.”