SURREY — “This is my third time going out, ever,” Petra Raschig beamed.
“I love it.”
Paddleboard at her side, she walked excitedly toward the water at Blackie Spit Park in South Surrey, a place that will play host to a new charity event on July 24.
When the Now met Raschig on a Friday morning late last month, a hard rain fell at Crescent Beach.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, we paddlers just go, rain or shine,” she said with a laugh.
“I’m new at it, but the weather doesn’t matter. I don’t want to be just a fair-weather paddler.”
Raschig is among those registered to take part in the inaugural Champion of the Crescent, a Stand-up Paddleboard, or SUP, event that aims to raise funds for Surrey Hospital & Outpatient Centre Foundation.
The day-long gathering will include a 10K competitive race, a 5K rec race, a race for kids, a corporate relay and a SUP exhibition and family-activity zone. Details are posted at ChampionoftheCrescent.com.
As a newbie to the sport, Raschig isn’t yet sure which race she’ll enter on July 24.
“I’m definitely in the 5K, for sure, and potentially the 10. We’ll see how it goes,” she said. “The 5K will be more for people like me, average people who may be still learning how to paddle and are intimidated to enter the more competitive 10K.”
A challenge for Raschig is learning to paddle without the use of her left arm, which she lost in an accident at her father’s canoe-building factory when she was 16 years old.
“I thought it’d be difficult to paddle,” she related. “But I can kayak and I sail, so the challenge is now to paddleboard, and I can do it. When I got on the board the first time, it wasn’t so much the rocking, the balance part of it that was difficult, it was more about whether I could paddle on the right side, and it turns out it was the left side I had a hard time with, which is really weird. The challenge is the push and coming back in currents.… I had some of that knowledge, but paddleboarding is a whole new game for me. It’s fun.”
Sarah Kocaba, a planner of Champion of the Crescent, said the event is the first charity paddleboard race in B.C.
“It’s a relatively new watersport, and some people are hesitant to try it, but I’ve been doing it for more than a decade, and I love it,” she said. “Once you get out there, it’s fun, it’s easy and the community is amazing. I mean, my two-and-a-half year-old daughter does it on her own, so anybody can do it, including my 70-year-old dad – before he passed away, he was doing it. And it can be great exercise or just a relaxing way to spend time on the water.”