Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

August 11, 2013

Suttons Bay hopes for 2,000 boats to float record

TRAVERSE CITY — It will take a “floatilla” of at least 1,903 kayakers and canoeists for Suttons Bay to splash into the Guinness World Records on Aug. 31. But organizers hope to launch 2,000 boats in their second try.

As of this week, more than 650 kayakers and canoeists had registered for Suttons Bay Floatilla2.

That’s twice the number from the same time last year, said Kate Thornhill, who is organizing the fundraising event which supports the Suttons Bay Public Schools Student Activity Fund.

“We’re happy,” she said. “We’re getting more press than last year.”

She encouraged participants to register through Wednesday, when the cost rises from $10 for a one-person canoe or kayak to $15. Prices will increase again to $20 beginning on Aug. 28.

The current record for “Largest Raft of Canoes/Kayaks” is 1,902, set in Inlet, N.Y., during a 2011 breast cancer awareness fundraiser. That floatilla broke the previous count of 1,619 boats recorded by Pittsburgh’s “Paddle at the Point” in 2010.

Thornhill learned about the New York floatilla through a friend who had been there and showed her stunning aerial and National Geographic photos. The images gave the mother of two Suttons Bay High School grads an idea. Suttons Bay could do a similar benefit fundraiser for their financially strapped school.

She pitched the idea to Suttons Bay School Superintendant Mike Murray as a way to counter severe budget cuts. He agreed to the idea, and community committee was born to deal with land and water logistics.

“The saying, ‘It takes a village,’ applies so literally to our Floatilla event,” Thornhill said.

By the time of last year’s event, 200 volunteers, many of them students, were on board and assistance was coming from all quarters. The 250 volunteers supporting this year’s event include everybody from kayak trailer owners to the Leeleneau County Sheriff’s Office.

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