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Paddle Sport Expo Floats the Idea of Kayaks

June 03, 1993|RICK VANDERKNYFF | Rick VanderKnyff is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to The Times Orange County Edition. and

A kayak was a pretty rare sight in Newport Bay or off the county shoreline as recently as seven or eight years ago. These days, the craft are gliding all over the local waters; the sport of sea kayaking has caught on in one big wave.

The fourth annual Paddle Sports Expo at Newport Dunes is one way for folks who haven't given the pursuit a try to get a taste of it, while giving more experienced paddlers an opportunity to try out the latest kayak designs or learn advanced techniques.

Sponsored by Southwind Kayak Center, Saturday's event will offer more than 100 kayaks for tryouts on the waters of Newport Bay. On-the-water paddling clinics and demonstrations will be offered every half hour, with other events to include a cardboard boat race, "kayak polo" and a used-kayak swap meet.

Organizer Joanne Turner, probably the biggest local booster of sea kayaking, calls the Paddle Sports Expo "the biggest paddling festival on the West Coast." Last year, more than 1,900 people attended the daylong event, but this year Turner is hoping to keep the figure down.

"It was too many people last year. We hope that we don't get more than 1,000 this year," Turner said. "We want everybody to have quality time on the water."

The festival's "most fun element" is the opportunity to try out and compare different boats, Turner said.

Manufacturers and designers will be on hand to answer questions about the different models. Kayaks vary widely in design from simple, inexpensive models made for paddling around bays to more rugged boats designed for touring. There are single and double kayaks and surf kayaks--made for surfing the waves.

Seminars at the event will range from some geared specifically for beginners to others that will demonstrate more advanced techniques, including Eskimo rolls and rescues. Even among experienced paddlers, "not many people have tried, much less mastered, some of the things we cover," Turner said.

In addition to the on-the-water clinics, talks on equipment will be given on the sand. Also, from 9 to 11 a.m., support will be available for disabled people who would like to try kayaking.

The Crazy Cardboard Boat Race features boats made only of cardboard and duct tape, made and raced by teams of three paddlers. Usually only a few boats finish the course.

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