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One of the items on my bucket list has been to watch the Board Across the Bay paddle board race in Washburn, Wisconsin. We almost didn’t make the trip again this year. A week earlier the Ashland area had a bad storm with 10 inches of rain that washed out some of the key roads. A few days later a bad storm came through Duluth and caused widespread damage. It also went through the Ashland area and folks were still without power in both locations by the weekend. In addition, the weather report for Saturday indicated violent storms by noon with heavy rain and flash flooding. We didn’t want to get caught in a storm. We woke up at 5:30am and checked the weather. It look like it wouldn’t hit before we could make it back to Duluth so we took off for Washburn.

We were a little late in getting started. The mandatory meeting of paddlers was just ending as we pulled into West End Park. I quickly made my way down to the beach to get photos of the participants as they prepared for the start of the races. There were two races taking place. The 14 mile race which went across Chequamegon Bay from Washburn to Ashland and back and a 3 mile race that went up the coast and back.

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We watched the participants take off then we jumped in our car and drove over to Ashland where we were going to watch the start of the 7 mile race from Ashland to Washburn.

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When we arrived at Bayview Beach in Ashland a group of paddlers were carrying a large birch bark canoe down to the water.

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Some of the paddlers were already in the water and starting to loosen up. A second birch bark canoe was put in the lake. The canoers agreed to let the paddle boarders go first so as not to interfere with the start of their race.

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The racers lined up and they were off for Washburn. A short time later the canoes started out.

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I could see some of the participants from the 14 mile race heading toward the beach so we hung around until the first group of them made the turn at the halfway mark. The first one to make the turn was a woman. Three more racers were in hot pursuit.

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After watching the first half dozen racers reach the halfway point we jumped back in the car and headed back to Washburn to watch the participants in the 7 and 14 mile race finish.

While I was waiting I walked out onto the docks and started talking to a woman who worked with the Big Top Big Top Chautauqua. She was keeping her dog entertained while her husband participated in the race. She had just gotten her electricity back after the mid week storm. A house 3 doors down still didn’t have power. Fortunately the winds that had taken down trees in the area went right over the top of the Big Top Chautauqua tent and didn’t do any damage.

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It wasn’t long before the first racers started crossing the finish line. They were participating in the 7 mile race. One of the canoes was racing a paddle border to the finish line. He turned around and paddled across the finish line backwards.

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While I was watching the race I turned around and notice a group participating in a paddle board yoga class.

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A group of geese were swimming along in the middle of the racers. All of a sudden they took flight.

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My wife was meeting a friend at the finish line and we were going to grab lunch before returning to Duluth. When I came off of the docks I noticed she had a cat on a leash. My worst fear was that someone convinced her to take a cat. They did but she was just cat sitting Bugsy. His owner was out on the course racing. Apparently he takes Bugsy everywhere. Normally Bugsy rides with him on the paddle board but not during races. When his owner turned up Bugsy did not appear to be a happy cat because he had been left behind. Photos of Bugsy and his owner finishing the race.

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It was a great day for watching the paddle board race. It got even better when the bad storm that was predicted never materialized and we made it back to Duluth without any problems.

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More photos from Board Across the Bay can be found on my website.

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