The Black Blade Trophy
Back in 2012 – without any permits or insurance, yikes! – 25 stand-up paddlers raced around the island chasing the glory of a hand-made, traveling trophy – fabricated by Detroit artist and waterman, Alpha Mallory – in the first-ever Once Around Belle Isle (OABI) race. In 2013 the race grew to 50 paddlers.
Because the race takes place in international waters, the trophies – known as Black Blade – have an international flavor. The men’s SUP trophy has a Canadian maple leaf on one side to represent Canada and a star on the other side to represent the USA. The women’s SUP trophy has an Ontario trillium on one side to represent Canada and a Michigan apple blossom on the other to represent the USA. The kayak and rowing trophies are designed in a similar way with international flavor on each blade.
A favorite among SUPers and kayakers is the ritual passing of the OABI Black Blade trophy from athlete to athlete around a pre-race circle on the beach.