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Paddle Golden Gate

As the sun rises on Paddle Golden Gate 2018 later this month, we take a look back on Sean Morley’s report on the 2016 event and perhaps what it says about the kayaking community both in the Bay Area of California and further afield.
To see the actual online magazine article see:

Paddle Golden Gate, presented by California Canoe & Kayak, is a destination event for paddlesports enthusiasts on San Francisco Bay and the Marin Headlands.
Photos by: Tom Gomes, Nathan Moody and Mark Boyd.

Paddle Golden Gate

The mission of Paddle Golden Gate is simple; to offer high-end professional paddlesports instruction and a quality event experience in a truly unique location. The remarkable venue provides a challenging coastal environment any time of year but we choose to have the event in the winter when the strongest ebb currents and powerful winter swells combine to produce ideal conditions for advanced skills training alongside protected water appropriate for more novice and intermediate paddlers to develop their skills.

With a focus on skills training, this unique event offers participants the opportunity to paddle with some of the world’s best instructors and coaches, in one of the finest teaching locations in the world. Sea kayaking, kayak sailing and surf ski all featured in this festival of paddlesports.


A similar event known as the Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium (GGSKS), was created by myself, Jennifer Kleck and Matt Palmariello in January 2009. After the first year, GGSKS was given to the California Paddle Sports Council, a non-profit paddlesports advocate organization in Northern California. With the cancellation of the event and dissolution of the California Paddlesports Council in 2015, there was an opportunity to review every aspect of the event and thus Paddle Golden Gate (PGG) was born.

A new name for a new era – Paddle Golden Gate better reflects the diversity of paddlesports in the Bay Area and the event is owned and organized by California Canoe & Kayak, the premier paddlesports retailer and instructional provider for over 40 years.

Paddle Golden Gate

The date for Paddle Golden Gate 2016 was set long before the Super Bowl date was announced and El Nino started to assert itself on our weather patterns. These were just a couple of the challenges we faced as we developed an idea into an event that was worthy of such an iconic location.

74 degrees F
We also chose this time of year because much of North America remains frozen while San Francisco can experience summer-like weather making it the perfect paddling destination. As fall turned to winter, El Nino started to assert itself on our weather patterns bringing consistent heavy rain through January. We became concerned that the event would be a washout but we caught a lucky break as a ridge of high pressure diverted weather systems to the north and we saw perfect conditions; cloudless skies and near record high temperatures of 74 degrees F (25 degrees C) all weekend. This combined with powerful tides and solid Pacific swell to produce truly perfect conditions for our inaugural event.

Paddle Golden Gate

The three-day event operates a simple format offering full-day courses to maximize learning potential and give the best value to participants with some half-day, land-based classes on the last day for those whose energy levels might dropping. Much of the magic of events like Paddle Golden Gate happens off the water where participants rub shoulders with some of the biggest names in paddlesports from as far afield as Canada and Europe. Most of PGG’s coaches and instructors stay at the Marin Headlands Hostel and the sense of community is what makes this event so special.

Evening entertainment on Friday included a presentation by a US Coastguard rescue swimmer, a flare demo, GoPro video competition followed by an informal social gathering sponsored by Canoe & Kayak magazine.

Paddle Golden Gate

On Saturday night the keynote presentation was ‘Ice Bears & Islands’ – Jaime Sharp’s successful circumnavigation of Svalbard with Tara and PG . Sponsored by Kokatat, this was a truly epic tale with stunning images. Dagger also donated a new Stratos kayak for the Silent Auction, Ninkasi Brewing Company agreeing to donate caseloads of their delicious brews, the list goes on…

Of course, a sea kayak symposium is all about the participants and they came in record numbers from far and wide to learn, share and play. Canada, Mexico, Chicago, Florida, Georgia, New York, as well as the Pacific Northwest and Southern California were all represented. We had paddlers aged 15 years to 70+ and the level of passion and dedication to their sport was clearly evident.

Paddle Golden Gate

Sea kayaking is dead (NOT)
In 2015 we heard many stories coming out of the paddlesports media that, “sea kayaking is dead.” Here at California Canoe & Kayak we knew that it was a myth and with the help and support of CCK staff and instructors, presenting sponsors Canoe & Kayak Magazine and Kokatat and all of our other sponsors, we put together what we hope will be considered a worthy replacement for GGSKS and appropriate for this iconic location.

It should remind everyone across the paddlesports industry that sea kayaking is thriving and as long as companies like those already mentioned and Werner Paddles, Current Designs, NRS, Sterling’s Kayaks, Thule and GoPro continue to support grassroots events like ours, we at CCK will continue to do our part to create paddlers for life.

Paddle Golden Gate

We hope to see you all again in 2018!

If you have any questions regarding the event, visit: or please send us an email:

CCK offers classes all year round and we can create custom programs for individuals or large groups. Check out: for more information.

Paddle Golden Gate

About thepaddlerezine (654 Articles)
Editor of The Paddler magazine and Publisher of Stand Up Paddle Mag UK.

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