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Great Peconic Race is back: A circumnavigation of Shelter Island on Sunday

Another summer event that was put on pause by the pandemic, The Great Peconic Race, is back.

Kicking off for its seventh running this Sunday, July 31, the race is one of the premiere events for crafts powered by paddles or oars, and will start and finish 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, as elite water races.

A view of a past Great Peconic Race. (Reporter file)

The race will feature the beautiful sport of paddle boarding — easy to witness from any shore around the Island on Sunday — where the athletes stand straight up and power along with rowing strokes, but will also 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.

According to the organizers, “Because this is our first year with the race during peak summer vacation months, we plan to keep the event as simple as possible in all respects, to not disrupt the activities of summer beach-goers at Wades, and to gain the trust of Shelter Island Town officials. And there will only be one race this year — the 19-mile circumnavigation of the Island.”

Lunch will be served from noon to 1:30 p.m. by the Rolling in Dough Pizza Truck.

For information on registration and start times, go to greatpeconicrace.com/.

According to the race organizers, proceeds from this year’s race, in addition to a recent donation of $25,000, will be donated to the Town in support of a new children’s educational program, entitled “The Waterman Challenge,” which is expected to begin next year.

The program will be created in coordination with Town Recreation Director Bethany Ortmann, and will emphasize environmental coastal water concerns, outdoor water activities and water safety.  The race honors the memory of Ted Baldwin, brother of race founder Billy Baldwin. Ted Baldwin grew up in North Sea on Little Peconic Bay, and died in 2010 of cancer.

(Credit: Beverlea Walz)