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Rendezvous with a Reason

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UMD's Randy Carlson Paddle Boarding
UMD's Randy Carlson is organizing the first Duluth Paddlesport and Surfing Rendezvous

Blending stewardship, science, and recreation, UMD's Rec Sports Outdoor Program is hosting the first ever Duluth Paddlesport and Surfing Rendezvous on Saturday, September 27. A 20-mile marathon, buoy course challenge, a three-beach cleanup, and equipment demo are planned in effort to showcase Lake Superior.

“We want all who participate to learn about Lake Superior research, water sport safety, and skill development,” explains event coordinator Randy Carlson. “The Rendezvous is designed to highlight the many ways we can give back to our most precious fresh water resource.”

The public is invited to participate or spectate. The action takes place off the shores of UMD’s Lester River Surf Shack, 60th Avenue East and London Road.

UMD's Blue Herron
UMD's Blue Heron will serve as halfway marker for paddlers

Randy anticipates the 20-mile marathon is especially likely to attract awe. Braced by a two-page safety waiver, athletes will plunge their paddles into Lake Superior’s icy water from Minnesota to Wisconsin, with the final route being determined based on wind and wave conditions. Participation in the demanding, open water challenge is limited to 20 advanced level paddlers who will actually pass through shipping lanes en route.

The UMD Large Lakes Observatory will put the Research Vessel Blue Heron and crew into service for the day to provide a half-way marker, aid station and monitor real time lake conditions. The data collected by the vessel and the LLO managed off-shore buoy system can be used for scientific and recreational purposes. (See it in action, here.) "It's always a good time to pay more attention to Lake Superior and around here the scientists wearing lab coats are working with paddlers and surfers in neoprene wetsuits," says Randy.

The buoy course challenge is "a blend of sprinting speed and maneuvering ability." Participants will zigzag around buoys, taking left and right turns throughout the 400-foot course.

For those seeking less adrenalin and more endorphins, the Surf Rider Foundation, Alliance for the Great Lakes, and the American Canoe Association will lead teams cleaning the Lester River Mouth, Brighton Beach, and Stoney Point from 2 - 5 p.m. on Saturday. Beach cleaners can register in advance here.

Whether on the water or on the shoreline, Randy says everyone at the event is on the same team. "Participating in the Duluth Paddlesport and Surfing Rendezvous is a direct expression of your willingness to explore, understand, and help protect Lake Superior.

More information at

Paddle Sport Schedule














Story by Lori C. Melton | September 2014

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