Ian Mackenize paddles his way to his fifth solo men's win in the annual Alert Bay 360 eco-paddle around Cormorant Island Sunday.

Ian Mackenize paddles his way to his fifth solo men's win in the annual Alert Bay 360 eco-paddle around Cormorant Island Sunday.

Alert Bay 360 boasts paddlers, prizes

Sixth annual circumnavigation of Cormorant Island draws nearly 100 participants.

ALERT BAY—This BC Day long weekend the sixth annual Alert Bay 360 took place and boasted 96 participants in 79 vessels. It is a weekend long event centred around a race that circumnavigates Cormorant Island. The race has become an important event on the paddler’s calendar, drawing people from all over North America.

Participants began showing up as early as Thursday to get settled in and test the waters. On Saturday the Legion hosted the Paddlers’ barbecue with a wide range of items to choose from. The race itself was held Sunday morning with the awards later that afternoon. Later on Sunday, a well-attended celebration in the Big House featured an even larger spread of food and some dancing by the T’sasala dance group.

“For many attending, this is considered a once in a lifetime opportunity” to visit the Big House, said Eric Gregory, event organizer.

The race primarily features kayaks of various designs, but surfskis, canoes, and outriggers field entries each year, too. The race is open to all types of self-propelled vessels and attracts entries of all skill and motivational levels. There are prizes for both first and second place, but many valuable prizes are won by being in the draw.

Finishing at or near first place is only one way to win a great prize. Each year every boat that finishes the circuit around Cormorant Island is entered in a draw and allowed to select from a large collection of prizes. This year’s draw pulled a tandem kayak paddled by Mike Cotreau and Ellen Laberge. Cotreau and Laberge walked away with a Bumble Bee mask carved by master carver Wayne Alfred.

This year’s first place single men’s was taken by five-time winner Ian MacKenzie, with a time of 52 minutes and 25 seconds. Anne Boulding had the fastest women’s time at 1:13:00. The first double’s kayak to pass the finish line was paddled by Pete and Silke Gumplinger. Second and third place were taken by Bob Woodman and Donald Irvine, respectively. Second and third place women were Bonnie Branham and Gene Ann Gapsis.