Stand-up paddle boarders race downwind in the Alberni Inlet during last year’s ACDC challenge. This year’s challenge takes place on Saturday

Downwind paddle challenge hits Canal Beach

The third annual Alberni Canal Downwind Challenge (ACDC) is gearing up to to be what organizers say is the biggest year yet.

The third annual Alberni Canal Downwind Challenge (ACDC) is gearing up to to be what organizers say is the biggest year yet.

Taking place on Saturday, June 4, the ACDC is a stand-up paddle board competition organized by members of the Canal Beach Water Sports Society. The challenge draws competitors to the Valley’s waterfront from all around British Columbia to race nine kilometres downwind on the Alberni Canal from China Creek Marina to Canal Beach.

“We have a lot more [competitors] signed up this year than we did at this time last year,” said organizer Sandra Gentleman. Last year the race saw 46 competitors from around B.C.

The Alberni Canal’s unique inlet offers ideal afternoon thermals for the downwind challenge, Gentleman said, and co-organizer, Alicia La Rue agrees.

“The downwind challenge is special because of the inlet and because of the afternoon thermals that we get. They give a nice push behind you and you kind of end up riding the wave, which is fun, so you can go a lot faster,” La Rue said.

The winner of the challenge will get the opportunity to sign a custom-made salvaged wood trophy made by Rob Gentleman and La Rue.

The race begins at 2 p.m. but there are many more festivities taking place for those who would prefer to hang out on the beach.

Events to the pubic run from roughly 2 – 5 p.m. at Canal Beach with live music and entertainment following until 11 p.m.

A just-for-fun SUP relay race will be taking place for teams of five people, who can sign up upon arrival at Canal Beach. Team members will launch from the shore, race around a buoy in the harbour and pass their paddle to the next teammate. Teams can sign up for this event at Canal Beach upon arrival.

After the ACDC, Dope Soda, a ska and reggae band, and The New Groovement, a 12-piece funk band from Victoria, are scheduled to serenade the public. Music and entertainment should run until close to 11 p.m.

Another new element to this year’s event is the addition of a beer garden, available from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m., that is hosted in partnership with the Young Professionals of the Alberni Valley.

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