Attention, beach babes (and bums): If you’re already hip to the stand-up paddleboard craze, Saturday’s your chance to show us your skills.

For the first time ever, Sleeping Bear Surf & Kayak in the town of Empire (located in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore) will host a stand-up paddleboard race for stand-up paddleboarders of all ages and abilities. The event will feature a two-mile "fun paddle" along the Lake Michigan shoreline between Empire Beach and the Empire Bluff overlook, and a seven-mile open-class paddle race between Empire Beach and the Sleeping Bear Dunes overlook.

If you’re thinking, "stand-up paddle-whaa?," don’t worry: "In the grand scheme of things, stand-up paddleboarding is still pretty darn new," says Beryl Skrocki, who co-owns Sleeping Bear Surf & Kayak, with her husband, Frank. The emerging watersport’s roots go back to surfing’s earliest days, originally born when surf instructors would stand on their boards to have a better view from which to teach their students. Today’s paddleboarders use boards made specifically for stand-up paddleboarding—these boards are longer and wider than traditional surfboards—and the boarders propel themselves forward with a long paddle, catching waves and surfing along the way. In recent years, the sport has experienced a surge in popularity thanks to surf gods like Laird Hamilton hailing the past time as a killer workout in addition to being a sweet watersport.

If you’re ready for serious stand-up action, head down to Sleeping Bear Surf & Kayak between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. this Friday (August 28) to register for the race. Registration is $20 and includes a grab bag with a water bottle, sunscreen, energy bars and a voucher for a catered lunch at the Empire Beach pavilion. The races will take place on Saturday, starting at 8:30 a.m., with an after-party at Joe’s Friendly Tavern and a movie at dusk. For more information, contact Sleeping Bear Surf & Kayak at 231-326-9283 or

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