CULVER — Even after a brief and fierce storm June 29, the first annual Lake Max Challenge was held — and a huge success, according to organizers Ed and Becky Furry of Culver’s Sail22.
Stand-up paddleboard (SUP) racers from throughout the Midwest, Hawaii and Canada were in attendance for the only World Paddle Association (WPA) sanctioned race in Indiana, which was also part of the Midwest SUP Series. The event — which had been previewed on WNIT PBS television earlier in the week — kicked off with Friday evening’s SUP demo at the Culver Beach Lodge with over 50 people experiencing paddling and trying out different boards thanks to the Culver Marina and Boardworks Surf. An open house at Sail22 Headquarters provided racers and the public a chance to gather and enjoy several types of microbrews provided by Papa’s restaurant and light snacks.
Local musician Chad VanHerk provided entertainment at the open house strumming tunes on his guitar throughout the evening.
Saturday morning, boards on top of cars were spotted coming from all directions to the Culver Beach Lodge. Shaina Lampton of the Bottom Line Training Co provided an early morning yoga session on the beach for our racers and the Culver Community. Registration more than doubled from the preregistrants with word spreading among the SUP community that the Lake Max Challenge was not to be missed. Fresh fruit from the Original Rootbeer Stand and the Lakehouse Grill was available prior to racing, with free coffee available at the Culver Coffee Company to race participants.
Unfortunately, all of Culver was without power due to the massive storm that swept through the area that afternoon, causing major damage to many trees. Racers took this in stride and joked this would add to the “challenge.”
Kelly Young and her team of workers at the Culver beach worked extremely hard to make sure the beach area was free of debris in the racing area so that the Lake Max Challenge could take place, say the Furrys.
The men’s recreational race category was the first group to take to the course, with Maurice Anthon, winning the race, followed by Chad VanHerk (Culver, IN) in second, Tim Truman (Indianapolis, IN) in third, Steve Schaub (Culver, IN) in fourth and Bill Becker (Culver, IN) in fifth.
A separate ladies division recreational race start had Susan Mikesell (Noblesville, IN) winning the ladies recreation category, followed by Leslie Maclin (Evanston, IL) taking second place and Susan Stanley (Orland Park, IL) in third.
The Elite division, which included world ranked professional racer, Slater Trout (Maui, HI), was impressive to watch. Starts for the 12’6” and 14’ categories were requested and led to some great racing.
Slater Trout won the 12’6” Elite division, followed by Tony Paul (Spring Lake, MI) and Matt Reaume (Belle River, ON). Winning the 14’ Elite Division was Matt Johnson (Holland, MI), with Rob Plankenhorn in second and Ken Lambrecht (Waunakee, WI) in third.
Trout had high praise for the event and Culver in general on his website, slatertrout.com, following the event.
“We were amazed to find not only a beautiful spring fed lake but also the coolest little town, Culver, settled right along the lakeshore,” Trout wrote in a July 9 posting. “After finding our bed and breakfast we headed to the lake for a swim and found lots of people from town had the same idea. Everyone there enjoys the lake wether its for sailing, waterskiing, swimming and yes now stand up paddling.”
Of the town-wode power outage during the race, Trout wrote, “...No one in Culver complained, everyone just dealt with it, got in the lake to cool down and waited for power. Even Gina at the Inn by the Lake where we stayed rallied the next morning and made bacon and eggs on her gas stove, served up instant coffee and muffins and sent me off to race with a good breakfast. Everyone in Culver was awesome and as we loaded up to head to Chicago we were figuring out how to come back next year and spend some time before the race hanging out at the lake for a few extra days.”
One of the highlights of the day was the Kid’s Races where 15 children ranging in age from 5 to 14 years old participated in multiple heats. Furthest traveled was Stephanie Richey of Grayslake, Ill.
Tim Truman of Boardworks Surf provided demo boards for the Kid’s Races and to many of the race entrants to allow maximum participation. The perpetual Lake Max Challenge trophy, created by racer and local artist John Bickel, was presented to each classes’ winner along with generous prizes from sponsors.
After the racing was completed, Slater Trout held an optional clinic for racers where he shared his knowledge of paddle techniques, buoy turning and beach starts with participants. It’s always great to learn from one of the best and he was happy to share with the group.
The Maxinkuckee Yacht Club and the Culver Marina provided on course support of the racing.
Interested readers should mark their calendars for next year, June 29, 2013, for the next Lake Max Challenge. Slater Trout is planning to return and bring some of his biggest competitors, say the Furrys, who plan to keep the Lake Max Challenge FaceBook page up to date all year long (www.facebook.com/LakeMaxChallenge ). Email firstname.lastname@example.org  with questions.
Meanwhile, xcessive temperatures last weekend forced a rare cancellation of Culver Summer Schools’ annual Moonlight Serenade — or, to be more prescise, the event was “postponed,” according to Culver Upper Camp assistant director Emily Ryman, who announced the postponement Saturday night.
“Due to the extreme heat conditions aboard the Ledbetter,” she wrote, including “steel hull boat which has been baking in the 100 degree sun for the past four days...we have cancelled the Moonlight Serenade for this evening. We hope to re-schedule it for a later date.”
The event had already been altered, earlier in the week, to a one-night schedule for Saturday (as opposed to respective sails Friday and Sunday on the east and west shores of the lake), with the R.H. Ledbetter boat planning to avoid the shallowest areas of the lake, where drought-affected water levels have sunk low enough to endanger the boat’s ability to safely sail. In fact, rumors have abounded that the Ledbetter may have to be removed from the lake early this year due to those low levels, which last occurred during the drought of 1988.
Saturday night’s Woodcraft Council Fire program was also canceled due to the heat, the second cancellation in a row for the event (the previous weekend’s was called off due to the widespread power outage following Friday afternoon storms). The cancellation comes as unfortunate given the special roster of programs for the camp’s 100th year this summer. This Saturday’s program, says Indian Lore director Dick Zimmerman, will still focus on the Indians of Lake Maxinkuckee.
Temperatures pushed well over 100 last week, particularly on Thursday and Friday, when special cooling stations were set up through 11 p.m. at Culver’s beach lodge and town hall. Many outdoor activities, including at Culver’s summer camps, were canceled or moved indoors through the end of the week.
Culver’s fire department still hopes to reschedule the 4th of July fireworks show which was put on hold due to a county-wide ban in wake of dry, fire-conducive conditions. Especially in light of the Woodcraft centennial, it’s hoped the display can yet take place this summer.
The heat wave seems to have caused no major problems in Culver, said town marshal Wayne Bean, who expressed his thanks to the citizens of Culver for working with the police department following the June 29 storm and power outage here. Police, along with town crews, were on the streets immediately after the storm, assisting in cleanup of fallen trees and limbs.View more articles in: