Escape with paddleboarding

Anticipation builds for Salmon Classic races Aug. 31, in Washougal

Erick Gelbke curls around the shore at Lacamas Lake. The Sweetwood Paddleboard guide, from Whitefish, Mont., loves tooling around the water with beginners and experienced riders. “I always enjoy the stoke people have,” Gelbke said. Buy this photo


Washougal City Administrator David Scott (left) joined Sweetwood Paddleboard guides Erick Gelbke (right) and Terry Click (center) for a clinic at Lacamas Lake.

Stand Up Paddleboarding Salmon Classic

Saturday, Aug. 31, at Capt. William Clark Park

• 8-mile long course race, $75, 9 a.m.

• 4-mile short course race, $50, 11 a.m.

• 2-mile novice race, $15, noon

Register at www.supsalmonclas...

Terry Click escapes life’s hustle and bustle with a board and a paddle.

“There is great calmness as I am gliding across the water,” he said. “I usually am mesmerized by the water peeling off the nose of the board, how quiet it is, how elegant. I appreciate all the nature around me and feel at one with it.”

The 1980 Camas High School graduate parlayed his passion for woodworking into building Sweetwood Paddleboards, in Bigfork, Mont. Now Click is back in his old stomping grounds to promote the first Stand Up Paddleboarding Salmon Classic Saturday, Aug. 31, at Capt. William Clark Park.

Racers from around the world will be coming to Washougal to test their skills on the Columbia River. After speaking to several paddleboarders during the Rose City SUP Classic June 8, Click is even more excited for this Washougal expedition.

“This is going to be an amazing event. Most of the racers from Portland are already planning to attend. Our sponsors are eager to participate,” Click said. “The SUP community is about to meet the community of Washougal and the result will be a wonderful and lasting relationship, I’m sure.”

On June 7, Click and Erick Gelbke took sponsors, family members and friends out for a paddleboarding clinic on Lacamas Lake. The group gathered at Heritage Park for some instruction before heading out to the historic Leadbetter House and back.

“We started with introductions and everybody quickly became friends,” Click said. “Then we demonstrated on land what we were going to teach them in the water. The parts of the board, how to stand up, how to hold the paddle and so forth.”

Balance was the name of the game, but people weren’t afraid to get wet. Once the first person fell in the water and said it wasn’t that cold, the others jumped in.

“As much fun as it is to paddle with people who have, it’s even more fun to be with people who have never done it before,” Gelbke said. “It’s always cool to see the stoke people have.”

Click enjoys seeing smiles on beginner’s faces when that light bulb goes on.

“They were amazed at how quickly they could get the hang of it,” he said. “Everybody was eager to push their skills and then get better.”

One of the biggest smiles belonged to Washougal City Administrator David Scott. He cannot wait to get back out on the water and paddle some more.

“I’ve been around this lake a lot, but I’ve never been in this water before. It was a lot of fun,” Scott said. “Terry was great. He’s so enthusiastic about this. I’m glad I got to share it with him. It gives us a little taste of what this sport is all about.”

Scott has some good stories to tell at the city council meetings about his paddleboarding adventure.

“Learning how to maneuver the board, tips on how to turn, and falling into the water and laughing with each other,” he said. “Try stand up paddleboarding. You can do it in the Northwest. It’s not just for the Hawaiian islands.”

Click said the activities that can be done on a paddleboard are limitless.

“It combines cardio exercise with balance and becomes a great core workout,” he said. “The sport has become very popular in the yoga and pilates world, with people teaching classes on their boards. It is also a great venue for meditation.”

Click has even been known to nap on his board. Anything to escape that hustle and bustle.

“The learning curve is easy. The standing on the water position is unique,” Click said. “You can distance paddle, race, leisurely tour, whitewater, surf, fish and the list goes on. It crosses most fitness levels and age groups.”