A small group of brave souls gathered at Coeur d’Alene City Beach on Saturday morning, ignoring choppy waters and a cold wind to paddleboard one more time before summer’s end.
The Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce hosted its first Coeur d’SUP (stand-up paddleboard) races. Bad conditions and late planning made for a small turnout, event coordinator Diane Higdem said.
As organizers realized few people were signing up, they stripped the festival down, she said. To create a race that was “free, fun and wide open,” all registration fees were removed.
About a dozen people stood by the rocky lake between races. A few tested the waters, struggling at first then paddling smoothly across the waves.
Keith and Cara Quien brought their three daughters to the lake. Their youngest, 2-year-old Nora, didn’t seem to mind the cold; she crawled across the sand, singing to herself in bright pink flip-flops and a matching winter coat.
“These are some serious beach kids,” Keith Quien said.
Nora’s sisters, Nina and Kyla, weren’t as carefree as their sister. Both curled up on the steps near the water, wrapped in towels and frowning.
The Quiens own Fun Unlimited!, a Post Falls-based rental shop dealing in paddleboards. Keith Quien, who teaches lessons, said most people who try paddleboarding are able to stabilize themselves quickly.
“Everyone is up within a minute,” he said.
He admitted the rough sailing Saturday on Lake Coeur d’Alene wasn’t ideal. “Close your ears,” he told Higdem, saying he prefers boarding on the river near his Post Falls home.
Alexander Nipp, 8, took home a gold medal for winning the children’s race. His father, Ryan Nipp, is chairman of the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce board.
It was scary to paddleboard against the waves, Alexander said, but he was excited to win the race.
“I really like getting a lot of exercise,” he said, looking at his shiny medal.
Ryan Nipp said he hopes the event will be bigger next year, but it was a good first effort for a new festival in Coeur d’Alene.
“We like paddleboarding and being out here on the lake,” he said.
Higdem said they plan to bring the festival back next year, but hope to schedule it at the same time as the annual Wooden Boat Show to guarantee good weather and a better turnout.
“I always tell them, ‘If the weather’s bad, you can throw me in the lake,’ ” Higdem said. “I haven’t gotten wet yet.”