The next step in the South Shore's stand-up paddle revolution is coming this summer. Chris Brackett and family, who own and operate South Tahoe Stand-Up Paddle, are already planning events around the sport.
"This last season, amazing things happened with the race and the Wednesday night thing," Brackett said. "With all that growth last year, I'm just looking at where we can go."
Last summer, Brackett started the Wednesday night stand-up paddle series at Regan Beach, which saw rising popularity throughout the season. The last race had more than 100 competitors and hundreds of spectators. This year, the weekly event will be held at Lakeview Commons (aka El Dorado Beach).
Brackett, along with son Jared Brackett, is also planning the South Shore's first World Paddle Association-sanctioned race, Race the Lake of the Sky, on June 30 and July 1. The competition will include team relays, youth races, open races and a distance race to Emerald Bay. And, with his snowboard background, Brackett has invented a new discipline, SUP Cross, to premiere at the event. SUP Cross, similar to boarder cross, will have competitors starting out of a custom-built gate and racing through a series of zig-zags.
"This is brand-new," Brackett said. "We're the originators of the whole idea."
Two of the best stand-up paddlers, Candice Appleby and Anthony Vela, are already slated to appear at the Race of the Lake of the Sky. Appleby and Vela will be hosting a workshop prior to the race.
The race, as well as the Wednesday night series, is exactly the kind of use Stan Sherer, director of the South Lake Tahoe Parks and Recreation Department, hopes to see at the city's new lakefront park.
"I've looked forward to partnering with them for a while," Sherer said. "He really has the best interests of the community at heart."
Brackett started South Tahoe Stand-Up Paddle two years ago after selling just two stand-up paddle boards. Since then, it's brought their family together.
"My sister and I would wake up at 6 a.m. and paddle to Emerald Bay," said Jared Brackett, the eldest of Brackett's nine children. "It's not just a sport any more, it's turned into a way of life for us."
And paddling has been a boon for Brackett's health, helping him lose almost 40 pounds, he said.
"I would've ended up really fat," he laughed.
The Bracketts submitted a response to the city's call for a boat rental concession at the new Lakeview Commons boat house. The City Council will decide who's awarded the contract at the April 17 meeting. The Parks and Recreation Department's recommendation will not be made public until the meeting agenda comes out, Sherer said.
Still Brackett has high hopes for what the sport can do for South Lake Tahoe.
"We want to make this a destination," he said. "People will come to town and say, 'Let's go stand-up paddling.'"