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Hundreds visit paddlefest event

By: Brett Ransford/Telegraph Correspondent
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Hundreds of paddlesport enthusiasts crowded the shores of Nimbus Flat on Saturday as the 18th annual Paddlefest returned to Lake Natoma. Keith Miller and Tammy Borichevsky, co-owners of California Canoe & Kayak, a paddlesport company founded in 1972 in Oakland, hosted the jubilee of events. Kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle boards ranging in price from $299 to $5,000 were being demoed on the cold water of Lake Natoma. CCK staffed around 40 to 50 paddlesport instructors and volunteers. The day’s events featured five clinics beginning at 10 a.m. with “How to Choose Your Kayak” and concluded with instruction on “Forward Stroke,” a paddling technique taught at 2 p.m. Also included were a stand-up paddleboard clinic and a kayak rescue demo. CCK introduced their first-ever “Kids Zone” where professional instructors introduced children to the world of paddling through fun and games. Chris McCandless, his wife Lisa and their two sons Ben, 9, and Judah, 7, participated in the Kids Zone and Paddlefest as part of Judah’s seventh birthday celebration. McCandless said his family wanted to take advantage of chances to do all kinds of things on the water. “We’ve paddleboarded, kayaked and tried out some sea kayaks, so it’s been cool,” said McCandless. The family made a trip down from their home in Nevada City and though it was Judah’s birthday, Ben could be seen maneuvering the water in a $4,000, 17-foot long sea kayak normally fitted for an adult. He handled the kayak with ease and described how his dad showed him how to prevent a kayak from completing tipping over in the water. “You put your paddle behind your back and turn it sideways so if you tip, you only go sideways and not completely under,” said Ben. “I like the blue piranha boat at the kid’s whitewater section. I like this big red one and I also tried a two-person one with my dad and that was fun.” The Kid’s Zone was busy early in the day with about 15 kayaks in the water together. Leo Siecienski, Sou Seaphan and Matt Parker were the three Oakland instructors running the area. Siecienski, a kayak instructor and representative at CCK’s Oakland store, said kids played tag in kayaks fitted for children and had a lot of fun participating in the day’s events. For $10 participants signed a waiver and were able to then demo and otherwise use kayaks made available from factory representatives like Hurricane Kayaks, Prijon, Kokatat, Liquid Shredder, Kialoa, Werner, Hobie and others. Borichevsky said attendance was down at this year’s event. Economics may factor into attendance and purchasing the state park permit for Nimbus Flat increased nearly three-times from last year to around $800, according to Miller. Miller also said being able to spend quality time with those in attendance was a welcome benefit and worth the price. “It’s usually quite windy out here, but today the weather has been perfect,” said Miller. “This is an absolutely beautiful location to do this event. There seem to be a lot of people here, so if it’s a little low then that’s OK.”