Go Paddle Race Profile: OABI Detroit – Once Around Belle Isle

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August 13,2016


Belle Island, Detroit River, Detroit, Michigan

Can you describe the different races and courses?

OABI stands for ‘Once Around Belle Isle’. The race is a 7-mile circumnavigation of Belle Isle in the Detroit River under the iconic Detroit skyline. This river course offers up- and down-current sections and passes through international waters on the US/Canada border. For paddlers not ready for the full OABI course, there is a 2.5-mile recreational race that starts up-current and finishes with an easy and fast run down-current.

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What kind of paddling settings and conditions will racers face?

Racers will be challenged by a 3+ knot current that they will paddle both with and against on different parts of the course. Possible freighter wake can either present a balance challenge or a surfable wave if paddlers are in the right place at the right time. If wind is a factor racers will paddle into the wind for part of the course and downwind for part. The Detroit River is part of the Great Lakes chain, so the water is clean, clear and warm in August.

What makes your event great? What will paddlers love about coming to your event?

OABI is a distinctly unique event in paddling. The venue is a beautiful beach setting with invitingly clear, warm water but set under an iconic city skyline. The OABI course is a challenging circumnavigation held in international waters and open to paddlers of any watercraft. The OABI Beach Party features food trucks, craft beers, a vendor village, fun activities and top-notch music including headline band Lee Fields and the Expressions! Paddlers also have the opportunity to enroll in clinics lead by Olympic Champion Larry Cain and participate in Starboard SUP Polo. To complete the weekend, the ongoing revitalization of the City of Detroit offers a fun and intriguing urban experience with world-class dining, shopping, sight-seeing and cultural activities.

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Will there be any clinics and what are the details?

We are very excited to welcome Olympic Gold Medalist and World-renowned paddle coach Larry Cain to Detroit for two paddle technique clinics presented by Paddle Monster. Space is extremely limited for these advance level clinics so sign up today!

Friday August 12th – $375

Paddle Monster presents this all-day session including water and classroom time along with personal critique and analysis. There are only 8 spots available for this exclusive, personal coaching experience!

—Paddle stroke theory – dryland session featuring full explanation of theory behind effective paddling, including video of top Olympic paddlers and SUP racers

—Video of clinic participants while coaching on water

—Review video of clinic participants – group session in which everyone’s video is analyzed by Larry

—Water session in which Larry works with participants one on one and in small groups

– Use of advanced GPS technology to acquire a “stroke profile” for each participant

—Addressing issues raised in video, one on one with each individual

—Useful technique drills and exercises in small group session

—Question and answer

Sunday August 14th – $150
Two Sessions: 10 AM – 12 PM / 2 PM – 4 PM

Presented by Paddle Monster, this two-hour intensive coaching session includes on land and on water coaching with personal critique and analysis.


—Brief land, then on-water instruction

—Advanced technique/stroke mechanics

—Technique drills

—Board management skills (steering, turns)

—Question and answer

—Maximum 15 paddlers/session


Where can people get paddle gear like PFDs and Hydration packs?

Great Lakes Surf Shop: www.greatlakessurfshop.com, Moosejaw: www.moosejaw.com

Are there paddleboard rentals available and if yes, where? Contact info?

Great Lakes Surf Shop and  Treetown Boards

Where can people buy groceries?

Whole Foods, 115 Mack Ave, Detroit, MI 48202

Where can people stay? Do you have a hotel you can recommend and contact info?

See list of hotels and camping options on our Experience page.

What great local restaurants can you recommend?

Eater Detroit is a great resource to learn all about the Detroit food scene.

Where is the best coffee in town?

Astro Coffee in Corktown.  Drifter Coffee will be serving on-site at OABI.

Does your event benefit a charity and if so, can you tell us about them?

OABI benefits The Belle Isle Conservancy. The Belle Isle Conservancy’s mission is to protect, preserve, restore and enhance the natural environment, historic structures and unique character of Belle Isle as a public park for the enjoyment of all – now and forever. Belle Isle Park is a 982-acre island park located in Detroit with historic, environmental, and cultural resources that have been beloved for generations. The park is home to the Belle Isle Aquarium, Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, Dossin Great Lakes Museum, Belle Isle Nature Zoo, the James Scott Memorial Fountain, and more!

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