A Primer on Race-Day Conditions

Question: What conditions should I prepare for on race day?
Answer: All of them.

The Lake Ontario Crossing Paddleboard Race is the definition of ‘you never know what you’re going to get’, and that is one of the great challenges, both mentally and physically, of this race.

As race directors, we can’t determine if a crossing is safe or not until a few days before the event, and even then we are making a judgement call based on a forecast that may or may not hold. Then on race day, if your first hour is in glassy water, your last hour could be spent navigating 3-foot swells.

This great variability is what makes this crossing the great challenge that it is.

How It Looks

Here’s a quick snapshot of how conditions can change out there. The bottom line is that you should train and mentally prepare for flat water, serious open-water paddling conditions and everything in between:


Flat water paddling (the middle can be flat too)


Tedious cross chop


Quartering downwind conditions – challenging and fun


The holy grail: Smokin’ downwind conditions!