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Click Here for the 2016 Open Water Challenge Registration Packet

 July 9th, 2016 

Join other surf ski, SUP, sea kayak and stand up paddleboard enthusiasts for the 4th annual 13.5 mile Cheboygan Waterways Open Water Challenge, Saturday, July 9th, 2016. The open water race will take place in Lake Huron’s Straits of Mackinaw. The Straits are known for great downwind conditions especially with prevailing Northwest winds.

This Unique course will start with the majestic Mackinaw Bridge and Mackinaw Island as a backdrop and proceed downwind to the mouth of the Cheboygan River (long course). The new alternative short course has been added this year and will start at the State Park located at the beautiful Duncan Bay.  For both races the final mile will take racers past the coast guard cutter Mackinaw and various working barges and tug boats to the final finish under Cheboygan’s newly constructed pedestrian bridge. After a short walk across the bridge, participants will have the opportunity to swap stories at the post race party and awards ceremony at the Cheboygan Brewing Company. Paddlers can then continue their evening enjoying live bands and refreshments at the new location of Anchor In Marina just down the street as a continuation of Cheboygan’s waterways festival.



Long course – With prevailing N.W winds, the planned start of the race will be at the Mackinaw Mill Creek campground (9730 US Hwy 23, Mackinaw City, MI 49701). In order to help ensure a quality “downwind” event, if winds were to be out of the East on race day, an alternative start at a landing site South of Cheboygan would occur.

Additionally, if weather conditions in the Straits were to be deemed unsafe on race day, an alternative downstream inland waterways course may be considered. Racers should monitor the Cheboygan Chamber of Commerce website for instructions regarding possible course changes. Alternatively, racers could e-mail the race director at or phone 231-420-1148 for updates. Finally all racers are encouraged to include cell phone numbers and/or email contacts on their registration forms.



  • 11:00am – Registration at Mill Creek campground and boat staging. (or alternative starting area as weather dictates)
  • 12:15pm – Participants leave Mill Creek campground to drop their vehicles at the parking lot on the South side of the pedestrian bridge in Cheboygan. Directions: Take US23 South to Cheboygan. At the stoplight in Cheboygan; turn left and continue on US23 approximately 1/4 mile to Cleveland Ave. Right on Cleveland Ave about 1/4 mile to the pedestrian bridge parking lot.
  • 1:00pm – Shuttle leaves from the pedestrian bridge to bring racers back to the start at Mill Creek Campground
  • 1:30pm – Marathon course description and safety talk at Mill Creek starting area
  • 1:45pm – Kayak launch and line up
  • 2:00pm – Marathon starts!
  • 5:00pm – Awards Ceremony and post-race party directly across pedestrian bridge at Cheboygan Brewing Company.




  • 1:00 pm – Registration at Cheboygan State Park Pavillion at Duncan Bay and boat staging.
  • 2:00pm – Participants leave State Park Pavillion to drop their vehicles at the parking lot on the South side of the pedestrian bridge in Cheboygan. Directions: Take US23 North to Cheboygan. At Cleveland Street in Cheboygan; turn left and about 1/4 mile to the pedestrian bridge parking lot.
  • 2:15pm – Shuttle leaves from the pedestrian bridge to bring racers back to the start at State Park start area
  • 2:30pm – Marathon course description and safety talk at Cheboygan State Park starting area
  • 2:45pm – Kayak launch and line up
  • 3:00pm – Short course starts!
  • 5:00pm – Awards Ceremony and post-race party directly across pedestrian bridge at Cheboygan Brewing Company.


  • Marathon K1 Unlimited Men (Surf skis and sea kayaks over 18’ long)
  • Marathon K1 Unlimited Women
  • Marathon Sea Kayak Men (Boats 18′ and under)
  • Marathon Sea Kayak Woman
  • Stand Up Paddle Boards Men
  • Stand Up Paddle Boards Women

Awards will be given to the top three finishers in each division

Pre-Registration Cost: $45      Cost after July 4th: $55

(Registrations received before July 4th will receive a T-shirt)


  • All participants must wear a properly fitted, coast guard approved PFD (life vest) at all times during the race. Failure to wear a PFD will be grounds for disqualification. Inflatable BELTS are not acceptable by the coast guard. Inflatable VESTS are acceptable.
  • All racers must carry a safety whistle
  • All racers must attend the course and safety briefing
  • Keep an eye on your fellow paddlers and assist where needed.
  • The official time keeper’s result will be final
  • Your boat should be sea worthy, with water tight bulkheads or adequate flotation.
  • Spray skirts are strongly recommended for sea kayaks
  • Boat and paddle leashes are strongly recommended and may be required as weather dictates.


  • At least one safety power boat will be available to provide race support
  • Each racer should carry a cell phone or marine VHS radio for contacting race officials in case of an emergency. Contact numbers will be provided and we will monitor VHF marine channel 69.
  • Race officials reserve the right to modify the course, times or other event particulars to accommodate weather, lake conditions or group dynamics.
  • Drivers will be available to pick up participants at designated places in case of an emergency.


Your go-no-go decision should be based on weather, water, your skills and experience with understanding that:

  1. You are engaging in an activity with inherent dangers.
  2. You accept and acknowledge your are participating at your own risk, and
  3. You are responsible for your own safety and to use your best judgment.




Surf Ski Men 

Erik Borgnes                  1:39:50          Epic V10

Greg Hintz                      1:50:26         Huki S1X

Denny Paull                    1:51:03         Stellar SEI

Greg Greene                   1:53:25         Epic V10

Nick & Haden Murray   1:55:48   Stellar S2E Tandem

Tony Short                     1:58:39         Fenn Elite

Billy Bellinger                 1:59:28          Epic V10

Gary Sadowski               2:17:37         K12 Kangtrav

Steve Bannow                2:21:00         Epic V10 Sport

John Gravlin                   2:44:28         Stellar SR

Wayne Stroope              3:06:00         Stellar SE


 Women Surf Ski

Tracy Hardin                  2:28:31          Stellar SR

Sue Stroope                  2:42:42          Epic V10 Sport




Tony Paul                      2:29:45          Bark

Ryen Keenan                 2:51:05          Blue

Rob Patton                    2:56:52          14’BIKBox

Ben Tinholt                    3:09:35          SIC F14 


Kayak Men

 Greg Bechtel                 2:41:36           Current Designs Strom GT

 Kayak Women

Shellie Charboneau        2:56:20           Keeweenaw 14



1st        Rob Hartman              Holland, MI                 1:41:55

2nd        Denny Paull                 Cheboygan, MI            1:49:50

3rd        Jon Sanborn                 Minneapolis, MN        1:51:57

4th        Mark Anich                 Racine, WI                   1:54:00

5th        Nick Murray                Traverse City, MI        1:55:39

6th        Greg Greene               Oshkosh, WI                1:55:40

       7th        Greg Hintz                   Petoskey, MI               2:01:59 (1st Sea Kayak)

8th        Mike Alexeer              Russia/Dublin, OH       2:03:15

9th        Steve Bannow             Sheboygan, WI            2:09:40

10th      Dan Sikora                   Des Plaines, IL             2:09:50

11th      Eric Haas                     Holland, MI                 2:20:47

12th      Mike Rubino                Traverse City, MI        2:23:3

      13th      Tracy Hardin               Cheboygan, MI            2:24:23 (1st Woman)

14th      Jim Kemp                    Royal Oak, MI             2:31:15

15th      Greg Bechtel               Cincinnati, Oh             2:37:20

16th      Jeff Dykehouse            Cheboygan, MI            2:39:55

17th      Ralph Dollhopf            Traverse City, M         3:18:20