Photos: MEC Paddlefest at Jericho Beach

One of the main organizers of the eighth annual MEC Paddlefest event, Matt Armstrong, was in a cheerful mood today at Jericho Beach.

In an interview with the Straight, he explained that this year's festival was more well-rounded than in past years.

There were kayaking clinics for kids, standup-paddleboarding lessons, and participation from many environmental groups, including the David Suzuki Foundation and Greenpeace.

"The cool thing this year is we've got a lot more advocacy," Armstrong said.

That's a grizzly skull on the right side of the Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society's table.
Charlie Smith

The Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society table featured skulls and jaws of numerous creatures native to B.C., including a grizzly bear.

But the centrepiece of the event is still the water craft.

There was no shortage of water craft ready for use.
Charlie Smith

Armstrong noted that standup paddleboarding has become enormously popular in recent years.

"It's something you can do close to home, whether it's an inflatable standup paddleboard you can take to a lake or a fibreglass one that you can hit the beach with," he said. "The workout can be as hard as you want. So if you really want to bear down and go for a hard paddle, you can really get a great sweat on. But at the same time if you just want to go lilly-dipping and paddle around the bay here, it's really sheltered and safe."

MEC Paddlefest lets weekend warriors try out gear before buying.
Charlie Smith

Armstrong volunteers every second Thursday at the Big Chop, which is a community-oriented event that takes off from Vanier Park between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. 

"You actually see all manner of self-propelled water craft down there from sea-one canoes and kayaks to standup paddleboards," he said. "Even though it's a race, it has more of a festival atmosphere. There's a big barbecue at the end."

Kayaking is easy in the placid waters off Jericho Beach.
Charlie Smith
Standup paddleboards come in different shapes and sizes.
Charlie Smith
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