KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Watersports enthusiasts on paddleboards and other self-propelled watercraft can race around the continental United States’ southernmost island Saturday, Oct. 1, during the 25th annual Key West Paddle Classic.
The 12-mile distance race around Key West is open to paddlers on stand-up and prone paddleboards, outrigger canoes, surf skis, kayaks, row and dory boats. Participants can compete as individuals or in two-person, three-person, five-person and six-person teams as well as in relay teams of three.
Presented by the Florida Keys’ adventure tour company Lazy Dog, the race is a World Paddle Association national points event.
A kick-off party, packet pickup and late registration for racers is planned for 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, at Salute! on Key West’s Higgs Beach, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at 1000 Atlantic Blvd.
Saturday’s challenge begins with a participant check-in from 7:45 to 8:45 a.m. at Higgs Beach. A 9 a.m. racers meeting and a 9:15 a.m. Hawaiian Pule blessing are to precede the race’s staggered start times. The first wave of racers is to begin at 9:30 a.m. and the second wave at 10 a.m.
The 12-mile course takes competitors past island landmarks such as the Southernmost Point marker, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park and Mallory Square, site of Key West’s nightly sunset celebration, before they reach the finish at Higgs Beach.
Participants can relax after the race at a 12:30 p.m. lunch hosted by Salute!, followed by an awards celebration.
Entry fees for the renowned competition begin at $85 for individual participants and range from $160 to $360 for teams, depending on team size and division.