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Ride Out Reflections - Toronto

Posted by Jordan Curet

Courtesy of Diana Lee, Red Paddle Co Ambassador

 

Red Ride Out - Toronto from Red Paddle Co on Vimeo.

On Saturday, June 18, 2022, Red Paddle Co. hosted their Toronto Ride Out with the theme "Women On The Water."

As a Red Ambassador, certified SUP instructor, and fellow crew member of the Lake Surfistas, it was an honour to show other women stand-up paddleboarders my home paddling spot, help improve their stroke, and grow the SUP community right here in my hometown!

The fifteen of us, paddlers, guides and instructors, all women, spent the day on Ward's Island, one of the Toronto Islands on Lake Ontario.

I always tell people looking to escape the city that they don't have to go far for paddling adventures. A 15-minute water taxi ride took us across the busy Toronto Harbour and into a nature paradise.  

Upon arrival at our launch and hosting spot for the day, Toronto Island SUP (TISUP), we started our event by acknowledging that Tkaronto/Toronto is on Indigenous land. It is the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Wendat, and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

It was important to recognize this as many participants had never visited the Toronto Islands, and whenever I travel, locally or abroad, I always try to learn about the traditional territory of the place I'm visiting or exploring. Learn more about why it matters here.

We, as paddlers, recognize that spending time improves our mental health. The Indigenous people before us and who are still here today actively honour nature for its healing.

After the introductions and learning about what each participant wanted to get out of the day, we pumped up our boards at Toronto Island SUP (TISUP), went over safety, and headed out onto the water.

 

Una from TISUP led a 2-hour Eco-Tour, sharing interesting facts about double-crested cormorants and pointing out the sun-bathing turtles along Turtle Alley.

The tall trees that lined the lagoon sheltered us from the strong winds that day, allowing us to take in the meandering where there are several designated Environmentally Significant Areas.

After the tour, the group enjoyed a quick lunch on the fun little patio at Castaways, just steps away from TISUP.

We kicked off our afternoon session with an intro to SUP racing chat led by Sarah Lutz, a certified SUP instructor with SUPGirlz. While Sarah currently spends her time teaching between Ecuador and Mexico, she had several podium finishes at

local races and was happy to talk about SUP racing, one of the popular requests from participants on what they wanted to learn about for the skills clinic at the Ride Out. 

“For me personally, after not being out on Lake Ontario for many years, it was wonderful to meet others who love the water as much as I do, share stories, learn about nature and more! Doing an impromptu race paddle clinic with my OG Diana was the icing on the cake as we started teaching and learning more about SUP at the same time.” – Sarah Lutz

After the on-land chat, we had a race simulation on the water! Many participants got to experience the thrill and mini-adrenaline rush of paddling hard for the first time! It was so great to see the paddlers try out a pivot turn they just learned moments ago in a friendly SUP competition.

Exchanging paddling stories and SUP gear tips is always fun but challenging each other with SUP yoga poses added to the hands-on experiences of the day! 

 

One of the event participants, Smriti Sundar, a yoga instructor, shared her goal of teaching SUP yoga one day. 

“I really like the way this activity brings together like-minded people. You can do it alone; you can do it with friends, and you can do it with strangers who then become friends. It was a great experience learning paddling techniques from women who have dedicated their time to becoming experts at it. Especially as someone new to the paddling community, this event left me inspired and craving more.” – Smriti Sundar, Toronto Ride Out Participant

As a SUP instructor, introducing people to a sport that can instantly make them feel calm, refreshed, and closer to nature brings me so much joy. As part of the Lake Surfistas crew, we host and support events like this to grow the community, particularly with water women. Support from a global brand to host events like this can also help address existing barriers in the sport (e.g. access to boards) and increase women's representation in the industry.

Seeing people try new boards, apply paddling techniques they just learned, and exchange contact info to meet up for future paddling fun is what a Ride Out is all about. 

 

With thanks to:

 

The Toronto Islands is my favourite spot as it is an accessible, choose-your-own-adventure spot, abundant with nature with the iconic city skyline as the backdrop. You can re-create this Toronto-edition Ride Out and customize it to your paddling ability, the amount of time you've got, or what you'd like to get out of your paddling session. For example:

  • Beginner paddlers without boards can rent from TISUP.
  • If you've got your own board but are unfamiliar with the Toronto Islands, bring it over via the ferry or water taxi and book an Eco-Tour with TISUP.
  • Experienced paddlers can paddle over to the Toronto Islands from Cherry Beach.

The Lake Surfistas is an all-women surf crew that aims to bring together women of all abilities to celebrate surfing, SUP and SUP surfing in the Great Lakes, whether it's 32°F or 32°C out. Join the Lake Surfistas Discussion Group for women or connect via Instagram @LakeSurfistas

Tag us on Instagram if this Red Ride Out has inspired your next Toronto urban paddling adventure @RedPaddleCoUSA @only1phoenixx

Happy and safe paddling!

 

 


 

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