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Paddle to the finish

Julie Angell • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:43 PM

Kayakers of all skill levels made big waves in Grand River Saturday morning at the fifth annual Grand River Kayak Race.

“It’s grown quite a bit,” race coordinator Karl Tucker said. “I think there’s 40 ... between 40 to 50 participants.”

Kayakers pushed off the shore, paddled lightly to the starting line and then took off in a sprint, digging paddles into the water and waking up the calm river waters. A crowd gathered at the bridge across from Felix’s Marina overlooking the channel leading out to the river and cheered on 40-50 athletes of all skill levels.

Saturday morning’s competition opened with the open 8-mile race, followed by a surfski race and youth competitions.

Tammy Hartman and her family are from Holland have been participants in the race since it began five years ago.

“It’s close to home. … The kids have a chance to race with their dad and it’s new,” Hartman said.

Hartman’s daughters, Chloe, 10 and Olivia, 12, are some of the youngest kayakers, yet they took the competition seriously as they inspected each of their kayaks and warmed up before the race took off.

Chloe Hartman paddled along the bayou giving tips to her grandmother, with whom she would share the boat for the youth tandem category.

Race lengths ranged from a quarter mile to 3 miles and 8 miles down the Grand River and back to Stearn’s Bayou.

Race categories included youth solo, youth tandem (one youth and one adult), amateur, kayak and surfski and stand-up-paddle.

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