FLOW Standup Paddle First Annual Fundraiser for DART (Drowning Accident Rescue Team)

by Jen Fuller

The DART race showed up on my radar last minute and I have Michael Melville to thank for asking me to take a closer look.

I loved the cause, which is to raise money for the Drowning Accident Rescue Team (DART).

Being a Professional Standup Paddle Association Instructor Trainer I took particular interest in the DART organization. This dedicated group of individuals is comprised of rescue divers, line tenders and other support personnel dedicated to responding to emergencies on a 24/7 basis. www.dartsac.org.

I asked Rob when I saw him what the inspiration was to do this event and he said it happened over time and getting to know Kelsey Follett, who is the marketing director for Riverbank Marina and was instrumental in launching the fundraiser. They came up with the idea to fund raiser for a cause that keeps the community safe as well as educated.

Rob said he expected 75 participants but over 100 showed up! He was thrilled with the support of the SUP community.

Waking up before the crack of dawn and weaving my way up the highway to Sacramento from Sausalito, I was struck by the contrast in landscapes. The lush and brilliant colors of the Bay area began to fade to very arid dry conditions. The coolness of the Bay area turned to warmer and eventually hot conditions.

The sunflowers, which normally light the way with their bright yellow color were all dried up and brown. This area has its own beauty but the long concrete highway is full of constructions zones and fast drivers, including me!

I paint this picture because as I arrived into the entrance of the Riverbank Marina I felt like I had entered an oasis. The parking lot was lined with giant shade trees that cover a large portion of the parking lot inviting birds and on this morning, a refreshing, cool breeze.

The Riverbank Marina is just up the Sacramento River from Discovery Park, which is where the American River meets the Sacramento River. Even more magical is the walk down the stairs and ramps that lead to the docks of Crawdads Restaurant.

The highway trip melted away and I was engulfed with beauty, and happy, fun people. Who should I see first but hard working Rob Macias of FLOW Standup paddle and organizer of the DART event, Scott Estrada from Whole Hearted Juice all of whom I have not seen in way too long!

I don’t think I have seen so many rescue and safety people all in about a 40 foot area! This event had so much support!

Other people supporting those on the racecourse were Beth Faust and Michael Crimmins, both of who are wonderful supporters in their communities. There are many more people I do not know the names of that were out there too.

An aspect of this event/race was that there were probably more beginners here then I had ever seen at a race. They had either never been on a board or had just started. With the guidance of Rob Macias’s and Scott Estrada’s SUP instruction there were quiet an impressive number of new paddlers.

Another aspect I found refreshing was that the solo 4.5 mile race was not timed. It goes to show that for many of us a simple bell or whistle seems to trigger the racehorse inside! The solo race took us on a 1+ mile loop, first, up river to a buoy, then down river.

The finishing order was Rob 14’, Jen Fuller 12’6, Daniel Alverez 14’, Michael Melville 12’6”, Tommy Joseph, 14’, Teresa Rogerson 14’, Michael Crimmins 14’ and Madeline King 12’6”!

Following this, the relay teams were a hoot and created quite the entertainment for those who now, at this 11am hour had gathered for lunch and lined Crawdad’s restaurant dining area just above the docks and a hands length from the competitors. The relay team Michael organized was named 51/50 Dangerous Minds – (51 50 is a legal term they use to lock crazy people up for 72 hours)…..I did not sign up for that name but I did sign up for Michael’s relay team along with Daniel Alverez, and Teresa Rogerson. A few handycaps were applied to this group which made for some more entertainment!

Many raffle tickets were sold to support the DART program.

A great event! I would recommend bringing friends and family to enjoy this next year. I had no idea! Now I do. Next time I will encourage all the people I know to come!

Thanks again to Rob Macias or FLOW Standup paddle, Kelsey Follett of Riverbank Marina, all the Safety folks, and everyone who helped out!

DART group photo