Two Comox Valley stand-up paddle boarders earned Canadian championships at Lake Kalamalka in Vernon on the Labour Day long weekend.
Mia Wheatley-Maltais earned national female Junior champion honours Sunday, Sept. 1 after her 16 km crossing of Lake Kalamalka.
At only 12 years old, she was the youngest ever to cross this lake on a paddle board. She thanks her coach, Stuart Robinson, for being “an awesome coach and teaching all the kids.”
At the same event, her coach became the Elite champion of Canada. Robinson,
co-owner of SurfSUP & Compass Adventure, made a clean sweep at the national championships, winning the Elite short distance race (3 km) and the coveted 10-mile Elite race.
Competitors from around the country battled for the top honours but Robinson monopolized the medals and prizes, and in doing so smashed the long distance record by more than two minutes.
“This has been an amazing year for me,” says Robinson. “Starting with the first non-assisted crossing of the Georgia Straight from Nanaimo to Jericho Beach in seven hours, then winning every race in the Vancouver Island SUP Race Series, every race at the Provincial championships in Vancouver and now I have the top honours in Canada.”
What’s next for Robinson? “Round the Rock race at Whidby Island in Northern Washington and then it is San Diego for Battle of the Paddle, now possibly the largest stand up paddle board race in the world.”
What draws him to the sport? “It is an incredible workout, there is lots of potential and it is a sport that you can get into at any level. There are very few sports that are so versatile.
“You can stand up paddle on flat water, in the surf, down rivers, in the ocean, you can go touring – the list is almost endless. It is also really fun and relatively inexpensive to get into.”
Robinson also coaches local athletes and this is another reason for being involved. “I can give back to the sport at the same time as competing.”