One of the premier races for crafts powered by paddles makes its return this Saturday, September 8, when the fifth annual Great Peconic Race kicks off at Wades Beach.
The 19-mile circumnavigation of Shelter Island has joined The Blackburn Challenge, a 20-mile open water circumnavigation of Cape Ann in Northern Massachusetts, along with the Carolina Cup in Camden, South Carolina, in attracting large crowds to watch the elite of the sport in action.
The Great Peconic Race will feature the beautiful sport of paddle boarding — easy to witness from any shore around the Island Saturday — where the athletes stand straight up on what looks like a surfboard and power along with rowing strokes, but will highlight kayaks and surf skis. The latter are long, lightweight vessels with the athletes sitting high above the water line, controlling rudders with their feet.
In addition to the 19-mile race, Saturday will also have a 9-mile racecourse, a 3-mile course and a sprint race for kids at the beach.
All paddle craft are welcome – stand-up paddleboards, surf skis, OC1- OC6, kayaks, coastal rowers, and prone boards. Recreational paddlers are welcome to compete in all races, although it’s recommended that only advanced paddlers compete in the 19-mile race.
The day won’t just be about pro racers and amateurs churning around the Island for cash, fun and meeting challenges. There will be food and drink at Wades Beach where the race kicks off and ends, board and vessel manufacturers’ reps on hand for people to take some test drives, and fun events for kids.
Following the paddle, there will be a party on the beach for participants and spectators, which includes a catered lunch, beer and water, music and massages.
All participants in the race are invited to the beach party and spectator tickets for the lunch may be purchased online. Beach party-only tickets will not be available the day of the race.
Registration opens at 7 a.m. and the first race starts at 8:30 a.m., following an 8 a.m. captain’s meeting. Trophies will be awarded to the top finishers in each class and all racers receive a medal and a rash guard.
Proceeds from this year’s race, according to the organizers, will go to The Nature Conservancy’s Mashomack Preserve and its children’s water education program and to develop a paddle component for it with help from race director Fergis Sloan and race founder Billy Baldwin.
The race honors the memory of Ted Baldwin, brother of Billy Baldwin, who grew up in North Sea on Little Peconic Bay, where he dared his family and friends to have as much fun as possible and, more often than not, that meant doing something on the water. He died in 2010 of cancer.
For more information, or to register for the event, go to greatpeconicrace.com.