Paddleboarders head out into Semiahmoo Bay during the Sundog Classic in August.

Paddleboarders get set to ring in the New Year

Polar Bear Paddle set for White Rock's west beach on Jan. 1

White Rock beach will be busier than ever on New Years’ Day, as the first-ever Polar Bear Paddle is set to hit the waters of Semiahmoo Bay.

The paddleboard event will take place on the morning on Jan. 1 near the west-beach boat launch, just down the beach from where revellers will be dipping into the icy water as part of the Polar Bear Swim.

The paddleboard race, which begins at 11:30 a.m., is being put together by the same group – Sundog Adventure Sports – that hosted the Semiahmoo SUP (Stand-up Paddleboard) Classic in August, as part of the Spirit of the Sea festival.

And though the Jan. 1 race won’t be nearly as warm as the popular August event, organizer Scott Robertson doesn’t think the chilly temperatures will deter many.

Already, a handful of people have pre-registered, but he expects many others to show up the day of the race.

“In August, we only had 15 pre-registered and ended up with 60,” Robertson explained. “So I think it’ll be similar. It’s going to be good, a lot of fun.

The (August) race went so well, doing this was kind of a no-brainer.”

The course for the Polar Bear event will be about four-km, Robertson said, or half the distance of the Spirit of the Sea race. He figures it will take paddlers about half an hour, from start to finish.

On the shore, there will be plenty of options to keep warm, for paddlers and spectators alike. There will be heated tents on the beach, and hot chocolate and coffee will be served.

There will also be paddleboard equipment demos and prize draws – the grand prize is a trip for two to Las Vegas.

Robertson said the event is a good one for both experienced paddle boarders and newcomers interested in taking up the sport – or for those people who’d rather ring in 2013 on the water, rather than in it.

“I’ve only done a polar bear swim once, just so I could say that I’d done it, but that was enough for me,” he laughed, adding that he hoped to take part in the Jan. 1 paddle if his organizational responsibilities allow time for it.

To pre-register for the Polar Bear Paddle, visit www.raceonline.ca and follow the links.