In 2020, one guy was crazy enough to attempt to paddle the length of the Chesapeake Bay, north to south, on a standup paddleboard. In 2021, he recruited entire teams of people crazy enough to paddle at least a portion of the Bay on their own paddlecraft. (CBM served as proud media sponsor).
And in August 2022, the Bay Paddle will launch again from the upper Bay—this time with two different race length options, all benefitting three valuable Bay-focused organizations.
To kick off training season for this year’s race, organizers are throwing a fundraiser party in Annapolis boasting live music, freshly shucked oysters, and prizes. The party will be held Thursday, June 2 at Blackwall Hitch. You can register for the race, mingle with paddling enthusiasts, and support Bay Paddle’s three worthy causes.
Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP), the original beneficiary of Annapolis paddler Chris Hopkinson’s 2020 journey, has been using its funds to plant oysters in the Bay, cleaning the water and restoring a depleted bivalve population. Chesapeake Conservancy, who came on as a partner and beneficiary in 2021, uses its portion to continue its fight to designate the Chesapeake Bay a national park unit. And for the first time, the Bay Paddle also supports Waterkeepers Chesapeake, a coalition of 17 different waterkeeper organizations from around the Bay who work together to keep rivers and other waterways healthy.
Bay Paddle participants get to see these tributaries from water level, underscoring the importance of taking care of our Bay. ORP’s Allison Albert Guercio, an organizer who also participated in last year’s paddle, puts it this way:
“The best way to learn to appreciate something is to experience it firsthand. Paddling the Bay makes wanting to protect the Bay an intrinsic feeling. You can’t experience the beautiful scenery, wildlife, people and cultures that create the fabric of the Bay without also learning to cherish and want to protect it.”
The Bay Paddle will host two races this year to accommodate both expert and recreational paddlers. The full-length, 150-mile race takes place over five days from Rock Hall, Md. to Cape Charles, Va. New this year, there is also a 45-mile, two-day option from Rock Hall to Cambridge, Md., for those who aren’t ready to commit to a weeklong race and the required training. Both races kick off August 27.
Dozens of people have already signed up for the races, including a returning team of local schoolteachers, multiple kayak clubs, and a Valhalla Sailing Project/Live Water Foundation team.
Funds raised from the paddle and fundraising events like next week’s party will be split equally among ORP, Waterkeepers Chesapeake, and Chesapeake Conservancy to support ongoing efforts to protect and preserve the Chesapeake Bay.
Tickets for next week’s kickoff event are $35 (available here). They include a half-dozen oysters, a complimentary Tito’s cocktail or Pacifica beer (both race sponsors!), and a raffle entry that’s made up of gear from REI and Patagonia, music festival tickets, wine, and more. Those already registered to compete in the Bay Paddle come to the party for free.
-Meg Walburn Viviano