NMTA buys Northwest Paddling Festival

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The Northwest Marine Trade Association recently bought the Northwest Paddling Festival, the region’s largest event dedicated to the increasingly popular recreation.

The acquisition follows recent efforts by the Seattle-based trade group to widen its footprint within the industry.

“NMTA represents the boating interests of everything from stand-up paddleboards to superyachts,” NMTA president George Harris said in a statement. “As we look to the future of boating, paddle sports will continue to serve as a major gateway to introduce people to the water.”

A new NMTA Paddling Committee was created that includes leaders of Paddle Events LLC, which will provide guidance to NMTA staff in producing the festival and will discuss issues and regulations important to paddle sports businesses so the NMTA can become a voice for that segment of boating.

The Paddling Festival, which Paddle Events started in May 2011, has quickly grown to feature the latest paddle sports equipment from the region’s largest retailers and industry manufacturers, as well as demonstrations and presentations from experts and on-water tours. Last year, nearly 1,000 paddling enthusiasts attended.

The event also includes the Northwest Paddling Challenge, a 6-mile race for kayakers, stand-up paddleboarders and outriggers that the trade group said routinely attracts some of the best paddling talent in the region.

“We are absolutely thrilled to add the Northwest Paddling Festival to our lineup of events and programs to grow boating in the Pacific Northwest,” Harris said. “Paddling is a passion for thousands of boaters in our region, and the festival is a wonderful venue to grow the sport. There is no other event in the region this large bringing together the paddle sports community.”

The 2014 Northwest Paddling Festival is scheduled for May 10 at Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah, Wash. The one-day public event is preceded by a day of industry training offered by paddle sports manufacturers to area retailers and their employees to familiarize themselves with the latest products on the market.

“The Northwest Paddling Festival has grown to provide Puget Sound residents the ability to meet with all of the major paddle sports industry manufacturers and to try innovative new products, all on one beach,” Greg Whitaker of Paddle Events LLC said in a statement.

“With stand-up paddleboarding exploding around the world, we are seeing more excitement and participation in paddle sports than we have in the last decade. With the skilled staff and experience the NMTA brings to the table, we feel the show will continue to grow and evolve to provide the Pacific Northwest an even better experience at the paddling festival.”

The NMTA is working to include all segments of boating in its advocacy. In 2011, the trade group said, it expanded its support of the superyacht segment of the industry when it established a Super Yacht Committee aimed at promoting the region’s world-class cruising waters to yacht captains and began work to expand Washington state’s cruising permit to reduce heavy taxes on visiting boaters.

Since that time the NMTA has promoted the region at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show and NMTA staff and members were named to the U.S. Superyacht Association’s board of directors.

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