The threat of rain and a brisk southeasterly wind on Sunday could not deter keen paddle boarders who took to the waters of Lake Illawarra on the third day of the Shellharbour SUP Festival.
Whether the final day would go ahead at all was touch and go due to significant rain across the Illawarra, with Albion Park recording 60 millimetres in 24 hours and Bellambi copping almost 155 millimetres.
After assessing conditions, organisers from Stand Up Paddle Boarding Shellharbour decided to proceed with the nine-kilometre distance race and a novelty race, but called off the market stalls, food trucks and the SUP dragon boat race.
The two races drew in a total of 25 competitors, some travelling from outside the Illawarra to attend with at least travelling from as far away as Victoria.
Sixteen people tested their endurance and speed in the nine-kilometre race, with Victorian Peter Jackson ultimately winning. Lisa Cross won the women's nine-kilometre race.
The novelty event saw nine competitors, from a Barbie in a box to a butterfly, complete a two-kilometre course.
It was the dragon, Tess Peni, who won the race, while it was the Barbie in the box, Di Byers, who claimed best dressed.
Unanderra resident Lesley Turner was among those who competed in the novelty event, dressed as Little Red Riding Hood.
It was the allure of wearing a costume - "I love dressing up," she said - and the opportunity to have fun with like-minded people that brought her out on a chilly Sunday morning.
Ms Turner said she had been paddle boarding for about three and a half years.
"The sense of freedom," she said about her love of the sport.
"And I'm an outdoorsy person, so the fact I can be on top of the water and see wildlife and feel the breeze through my hair."
Other aspects she enjoyed were the challenges of the tides and the wind, and fitness.
The first two days of the festival featured SUP surfing and BOP racing, an intense event that takes competitors on a circuit through the surf and out past a buoy about 300 metres offshore, as well as running with their boards on the sand.
Participants also enjoyed a presentation night at Warilla Surf Life Saving Club on Saturday where about $6000 in prizes and $4500 in cash was handed out.
Organiser Bec Dunning said the festival was "really great", with the exception of the inclement weather cutting short the final day, with about 100 competitors across the event's three days.
Mrs Dunning gave special thanks to major sponsor Noel Potter from Albion Park Landscaping Supplies for his support, saying the festival wouldn't go ahead without him.
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