In early 2014, while the City of Detroit struggled through the largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of North America, the gutsy entrepreneurs behind Green Veil Outdoor: Joe Choma, Larry Balone and Shawn Riley decided to double-down and invest in a boutique beach fest that they hoped would appeal not only to hardcore stand up paddlers but also to kayakers, rowers and those who were completely new to paddling.

I love this course. We’re not doing any bouys. It’s straightaways. It’s scenic. Being able to see the Canadian side, the towers. Everything. It’s a great venue for a race. -Brian LeFeve, Great Lakes Surf Shop

“We wanted to keep the event a boutique festival and paddle experience. Hoped for 300, ended with just over 700 before we shut down the box office,” said Joe Choma about the success of the reimagined OABI beach fest that took place on Saturday August 9th, 2014 at Belle Isle Beach.

By combining a newbie-friendly paddlerama, live music, Michigan craft beer, food trucks, fowling (invented by Detroiters) and vendor tents with the hard-core OABI race they created a festive, welcoming environment that celebrated Detroit’s rightful place as one of the world’s primary centers of water sports and recreation.