World’s Best Stand Up Paddlers To Compete In … Chicago?

Fiji, France, Brazil, Hawaii – these are all stops on the 2012 Stand Up World Series, a global tour which features some of the top stand up paddle racers on the planet in what is arguably one of the world’s fastest growing watersports.

While the aforementioned venues rank as “the usual suspects” when it comes to international watersport competitions, next week the Stand Up World Series will be kicking off the US leg of its tour in the least likely of locations: Chicago.

Yes, I will say it again. At the end of this month there is going to be an international caliber surf competition in Chicago.

Well, sort of. The difference between the Stand Up World Tour and the Stand Up World Series is that the event taking place in Chicago features racers who compete on flat-water courses in an effort to cross the finish line in front of their fellow paddlers, as opposed to competing against other paddlers in heats where the object is to ride the biggest and most complex waves possible. In races such as the one taking place in Chicago, utilizing the wind is often a determining factor in success, so it makes perfect sense that “The Windy City” will soon be hosting such an event.

Taking place from June 30-July 2, competitors will take to the waters off of North Avenue Beach and introduce Midwesterners to a sport usually associated with the tropics. While many Chicago city dwellers may be surprised to think of their beach as a water sports destination, for some Chicago residents the event vindicates Lake Michigan as a legitimate source of regional surf travel.

Don’t believe me? Check out the website for the Chicago Surfrider chapter, or better yet, this incredible video of surfing Lake Michigan in winter.