Nick Murray owner of TC Surfski in Traverse City, has made his passion for Northern Michigan paddling into a business. This summer he paddled for a good cause. Read the Q&A with Nick below and find the original write up in the July 2015 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.

Nick Murray is embarking on an epic quest this summer: a 13-week paddle relay around the entire shoreline of the Lower Peninsula, from the state’s far southwest corner all the way to Detroit’s Belle Isle. The summer-long event is open to paddlers of all skill levels, and its aim is threefold: to raise money for charities that protect our Great Lakes, to inspire more people to be active on the water and to shine a light on surf skiing (an emerging paddle sport), We caught up with Murray, owner of TC Surfski, to get the details about this ambitious event.

Where did this Lower Peninsula paddle relay idea originate?

It was actually the idea of a customer of mine from the Detroit area. Initially, the impetus was that the brand of surf skis that I carry is introducing a new beginner boat, and we wanted to showcase that. But it’s not as much about the boat now. Where the event has the most potential is being an impetus to inspire people to get out on the water, so they appreciate it, and then they support the organizations that protect it.

Give us a little background on how it works

We took the coastline of lower Michigan—in total, we had 1,100 miles to work with—and divided that into week-long segments that are about 80 miles long. We ended up with 13 of those. Then we further divided each of those 13 into manageable paddle legs. The intent is for it to be accessible to everyone. You don’t have to be a hard-core paddler to do this. You can sign up for one two-mile leg and maybe that’s all you do this year, and maybe next year you set a bigger goal to do a whole day, or maybe a whole weekend.

Will there be people on the water for literally weeks at a time?

At one end of the model, you have somebody who’s committed the whole week. But then, at the other end, we still want to make it accessible to, for example, somebody who’s working 9 to 5. On a big day we’ll cover maybe 20 miles. Some people might get in or get out at different points throughout the day. Through the week, it’s more of a half-day or even an evening kind of thing.

How does the fundraising work?

The event has 170 paddle legs. For each of those sections we’re looking for a business to sponsor, sort of like the “adopt-a-highway” concept. Local businesses can then have some ownership and then rally their community around that piece. Sponsorship is just a direct donation to the charity that’s aligned on that segment.

You’ll be showcasing a surf ski boat at each of these legs. Tell us a little about it.

It’s a sit-on-top kayak, longer and a bit narrower [than typical sea kayaks], so it’s made to go very fast and is very safe. If you happen to tip over, it’s like a paddleboard: You just climb back on. Anybody can sign up to paddle this boat. You don’t even have to bring your own boat; just register, come, and we’ll outfit you.

The Paddle Relay Around Lower Michigan will move along the Lower Peninsula’s northwest corner in July 2015, including stops in Glen Arbor, Traverse City, Charlevoix and Mackinaw City. Proceeds will support the Alliance for the Great Lakes, FLOW (For Love of Water), and the Watershed Center of Grand Traverse Bay. For a full schedule or to sign up to participate, visit


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