Paddlers will brave the waters of Lake Michigan while competing in a 19.3-mile marathon or 8-mile loop race during the 7th Annual Ride the Wave Regatta on Saturday, Sept. 6. The event, organized by the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association (NWIPA), is an official points race of the Indiana Division of the United States Canoe Association, and the last race of the season in the Great Lakes Surfski Race Series.

Experienced competitors in sea kayaks and surf skis will compete in a straight, downwind 19.3-mile race on Lake Michigan, beginning at Marquette Park in Gary, and ending at Michigan City's Washington Park. Many of the participants are seasoned racers who will demonstrate the technique and skills that make this an Olympic sport.

"Participants really enjoy the race. They come out looking for a challenge and they find it in our race. It can become very competitive with top-notch racers, and they push each other hard," explained race director and NWIPA Vice President Ken Stelter.

In 2013, the race attracted several world class paddlers from a seven state region, with racers coming from Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa and Minnesota.

"This year we expect the race to be even more attractive, with the addition of an outrigger boat class, and $850 worth of prize money being offered to the top three finishers of the marathon," said Stelter. Spectators can watch the start of the marathon from the Marquette Park launch at 10:00 a.m., but the real action will be an hour or two later at the finish line at Washington Park Beach. The event is free to watch, though there is a $7 fee to park at Washington Park.

The 8-mile short course race will launch at 10:30 a.m. from Washington Park Beach, paddling to Beverly Shores and back. According to Stelter, the short course race is also encouraged for paddlers looking to get started in the sport.

Participants can pre-register for the event by visiting www.ridethewaveregatta.com. Race day registration is also accepted. Cost to participate in the marathon is $25 in advance online or $30 for day-of registration. Cost to participate in the 8-mile race is $15 in advance online or $20 for day-of registration. A shuttle is being arranged for the marathon, and full times and details are posted on the website.

"What we're trying to highlight here is the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. We are trying to draw paddlers to this region because we really think it's a wonderful place and we would like to boost tourism," Stelter said. "Participants really enjoy how scenic the race is. You're paddling along some absolutely beautiful dunes and scenery. They really enjoy that."

For more information on the Ride the Wave Regatta, visit www.ridethewaveregatta.com. For more information on the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, visit www.nwipa.org. Those wishing to become an event sponsor can contact Ken Stelter at oddyseus57@hotmail.com.