And the winner is…The Dean Randazzo Cancer foundation and everyone who finished the 3rd annual 22 mile Paddle for a Cause around Absecon & Atlantic City New Jersey.Under the direction of Mike May, this very challenging event has transformed from a few crazy past & present lifeguards to a classic east coast event, testing the skills of a waterman and raising money for a good cause.
The event is a mix of prone paddlers and stand ups, individuals and relay teams. The previous 2 years included hurricane surf and greenhead flies big enough to carry away small children. This years’ challenge was provided by the 20-25 mph winds.
The event started in the back bays of Atlantic City and headed south into 20mph head wind. After 5 merciless miles we made a left out Longport inlet into the ocean and into a 3-4 foot southeast swell. The inlet resembled a washing machine with the mixed swell, and staying upright was challenging.
With the wind at our backs and “bumps” running sideways and behind us, we made pretty good time for the 11 mile ocean stretch, although staying upright involved some serious focus. Props go out to former lifeguard Sean Duffy as he completed this entire portion without taking “a dip in” to cool off (as I did twice).
As we entered the Atlantic City inlet and headed west, we had a slight reprise from the wind. It didn’t last long as the twisting canals and marshes eventually forced us to head 5 miles south into a 25mph wind to the finish line ( The Wonder Bar). Ya gotta like a race that starts and ends at a bar!
Mark Timmens was the first sup’er across the line & he enjoyed a cold one while the rest of us suffered to finish.
The after party included a 50\50 raffle, and a custom made wooden paddle was raffled off to raise more funds. And I proudly stood there in my Distressed Mullet t-shirt reading “Be a man, learn to stand”, amongst 30 prone paddlers with a buzz on, happy to have survived the struggle, but knowing all too well it was nothing compared to the real struggle cancer patients like pro surfer Dean Randazzo and thousands of others face daily.
I would encourage any east coasters who want a test of their paddling skills to put this one on the calendar for next year!
Stay wet & Stand Strong! – Mark Colino
Mark Colino is a sales rep for Starboard SUP’s and runs No Flat Earth surf shop & Stand Strong paddle fitness.