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Winfield Watersports Weekend Produces Competitive Fun

Paddleboarders and kayakers race against each other during the Winfield Watersports Weekend. (Photo by Betsy Allen)

The Kanawha River was a popular place to be last Friday and Saturday during the Winfield Watersports Weekend. The two-day celebration of Winfield’s wonderful water featured several local food trucks and a concert by The Blame, a classic Southern rock and country band, on Friday evening. In addition to food and entertainment, there were stand-up paddleboard lessons for an evening paddleboarding experience. Unfortunately, rainstorms later in the evening put a damper on the festivities.

Saturday’s events started bright and early, with an all day kayak fishing tournament hosted by Gunter’s Yak Shak. Throughout the morning and afternoon, there were a 7.3 mile long distance paddle, water ski and wakeboard exhibitions, a watersports safety course, paddleboard and kayak races, water tube rides, and a rubber ducky race. Half of the proceeds for the rubber ducky race went towards the Backpack Buddies program, with the other half going to the winner.

The Winfield Watersports Weekend was hosted by the Putnam County Conventions and Visitors Bureau, the City of Winfield, and the three water-based businesses located in Winfield – Appalachian Boarding Company, Gunter’s Yak Shak, and Kanawha Watersports. This is the second year that the event has been in operation.

The City of Winfield has been trying to drum up interest in watersports and promote the Winfield Boat Ramp and Dock, which is a relatively new addition to the area. Although construction on the boat ramp began four years ago, many people in the community are not yet aware of its existence, or the presence of the nearby Winfield Community Center. Events such as the Watersports Weekend help bring the boat ramp and the community center into the view of the public.

The state of West Virginia has a growing reputation for outdoors activities, such as hunting, camping, hiking, fishing, and whitewater rafting. While Putnam County has not traditionally put much of an emphasis upon outdoor recreation, there has been a growing emphasis upon the Kanawha River as a source of exercise and entertainment. Appalachian Boarding Company has hosted stand up paddleboarding lessons upon the river and at the Hurricane Reservoir, and Kanawha Watersports offers wakeboards, water skis, paddleboards, and tubing birthday parties. Gunter’s Yak Shak, located at 11559 Winfield Road, sells kayaks and kayak accessories, in addition to offering custom embroidery services.

Winners of the kayak fishing contests were Blain Winters from Kanawha County, who finished first with 74 inches in his five best bass; Kaleb Hill from Putnam County, who was second with 73.75 inches; and defending champion, Winfield’s Brian Butcher, was third with 66.75 inches. The big fish of the day went to Jon Abshire, who caught a 17.75-inch large mouth bass. Jaxon Sauls from Mooresville, North Carolina, was the youth angler winner with a 11-inch large mouth bass. While most anglers were from Putnam and Kanawha Counties, there was one angler from South Carolina, one from Pipestem, and one from Beaver.

Winners of the Youth Stand Up Paddleboard race (ages 12 and under) were Sophia Young, First Place; Parker Hannah, Second Place; and Madison Atkins, Third Place. Winners of the Novice division (ages 13 and up) were Matt Stevens, First Place; Christian Call, Second Place; and Carter Young, Third Place. Winners of the Young Novice Kayak race were Sean Sigman, First Place; Brian Young, Second Place; and Mike Mayberry, Third Place. ProAm – Paddle Royal (Stand Up Paddleboard and Kayak) winners were Evan Young, First Place – SUP; Doug Kirk, Second Place – Kayak; and Matt Stevens, Third Place – SUP.

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