Ladies and gentlemen, start your paddleboards. The Once Around Belle Isle (OABI) race, now in its seventh year, commences Aug. 11 at 10 a.m. The yearly race, held at Belle Isle Beach, offers a full day of fun-in-the-sun activities for racers and spectators alike.
Moderate to experienced stand-up paddleboard, kayak or surf ski racers can register for the 7-mile race online for $75 ahead of time or $90 for day-of registration. Paddlers with a little less experience or stamina who still want to participate can sign up for the 2.5-mile race for the same prices.
Spectator tickets, which will get you into the beach party and concert, start at $25 and go up to $35 on the day of the race. The beach party will consist of live music, a craft beer garden, full service cocktail bars, beach games, local food vendors, food trucks and the vendor’s village. Be sure to bring your bathing suit and sunscreen – just because you’re not racing doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of the beach!
For the cost of registration, racers also get access to all of the festival’s events. Race finishers will also have exclusive access to the racer hospitality tent, where they can relax and hydrate with provided snacks and beverages.
All tickets are available for purchase online. Accompanied children 12 and under get in free.
Racer registration starts at 8 a.m., and participants are required to attend a pre-race safety meeting at 9:40 a.m.
As is tradition, winners from each category will receive the Black Blade trophies. Additionally, all finishers will receive participation medals.
A DJ will be performing for the duration of the race, and then after the 1 p.m. award ceremony, the festival has several bands lined up.
- Dead Again: 2 – 3:30 p.m.
- Big Something: 4 – 5:30 p.m.
- Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe: 6 – 7:30 p.m.
Not racing but still interested in participating in some water-based activities? Check out the Paddlerama, which features classes, demonstrations, sprints, contests and more, according to the website. There are several learning sessions you can sign up for on the website, including a stand-up paddleboard yoga class and a paddling clinic with Olympic gold medalist Larry Cain. Be sure to register online ahead of time to ensure you have a spot. No experience necessary. It’s recommended that participants bring their own personal flotation device, as there will be a limited amount available at the event.
Whether you plan to race, test out your paddleboard yoga skills or just kick back on the beach and watch the race while enjoying music and drinks, this year’s race is sure to be a good time for all.
“OABI draws a community of people from around the country to take in the unique urban beach setting in the heart of Detroit,” the website says. “OABI is the best of what Detroit has to offer. Everyone at OABI gets to see what Detroit surf culture is all about.”