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The Paddlebuoy Classic

The Paddlebuoy Classic paddleboard races were held annually during Elk Rapids Harbor Days


The races were held on Saturday at 4pm at the Elk River boardwalk on the east side of the highway bridge.  In the 1980's the races were held in the upper harbor off the docks at Ship & Shore, the marina in business at the time.  Long time race participants have family members who have raced in both locations!

Letter to the Editor in Elk Rapids News July 16, 2015:

For as long as we can remember, our family has held the Paddlebuoy Classic Paddleboard Race on Saturday during Harbor Days.  We may have taken a year or two off over the last 40 years, but no one can remember when.  Along with tons of amazing volunteers, we’ve hosted the race with our paddle boards which we manufacture in Elk Rapids.  We have enjoyed being a part of the festivities, love the enthusiasm of participants on race day and have met great families who return each year to race and defend their titles. 

Every year as August approached, we would pick out the year's t-shirt and artwork color combination.  It was fun to try to keep the color a secret until the parade, when it was revealed. Everyone has their favorite shirt color.  Tom says one of his memories of teaching at the middle school is, no matter what time of year it was, he saw at least one student per day wearing a Paddlebuoy t-shirt they earned by racing.  The t-shirts are everywhere.  

Many local businesses have helped us along the way with various items needed for the races like docks, a sound system, safety boats and starter pistols (way back when).  Thank you to everyone who has helped us out over the years.  Harbor Days is truly a community event and it takes many hours and many volunteers to make it all happen.  

This year (2015) we’re passing the torch and letting someone new organize the Race.  Dan from Race TC will host the race at the same spot in Elk River with Paddlebuoy Paddleboards this year.  With his race planning experience, this may be the best race day yet!

Thank you to everyone who has helped our family build Harbor Days memories.  If you’ve volunteered for us by driving the Jeep in the parade, installing the buoys for the race course, moved paddle boards after the races, stood in the river for 2 hours, helped a child put on a life vest, registered hundreds of racers in a short amount of time, been patient with us on race day, raced, had fun, told a friend, THANK YOU.  You are awesome.  We couldn’t have done it without you.

Tom, Susan, Nora Wiltse and Anne, Matt and Harrison Conrad

2015 Paddle Harbor Days info at