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Battle on the Blueway set for June 9

May 30, 2018
By ANITA FORCE MARSHALL ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The fouth annual Battle on the Blueway at Fort Myers Beach is ready to kick off Florida's summer paddling season. The Battle on the Blueway is a competitive race event for paddling enthusiasts and includes races for standup paddleboarders as well as kayaks, outrigger canoes and surf skis. The Saturday, June 9, event is part of the Fastest in Florida and Paddle League race series as well as a World Paddle Association Region 5 sanctioned points race, that will include 7-mile and 2-mile races, sprints, a free Calusa Kids Race, and a Special Olympics Fun Race.

"Anyone with even a little interest in outrigger canoes, kayaking, standup paddling or just hanging out at the beach should come out," said Mike Hammond, Calusa Blueway coordinator with Lee County Parks and Recreation. "My favorite part has to be the Special Olympic Fun Race. Just watching the Special Olympic athletes out there competing and having fun is awesome; they are truly happy for each other and that's what this is all about."

Join in the fun at Crescent Beach Family Park at 1100 Estero Blvd. on Fort Myers Beach. Pre-registration is required for racers. There will not be an opportunity to register the day of the event. Be sure to register early when race entries are $45 and $55. After June 5, the entry fee will increase to $55 and $65.

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Any level of paddler is encouraged to participate. You can also be a spectator if you are not ready to plunge into racing just yet. There will be multiple paddle sports' companies and vendors around that will have SUPS, surf-skis, standup paddle craft and more to try out in the very popular demo area. Battle on the Blueway is free for spectators, who can see the races from the beach or the pier at Lynn Hall Memorial Park. This year, organizers hope to attract even more local participants and spectators.

Here's the paddling scoop: on Friday, June 8, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., racers will pick up their packets and enjoy a get-together social at Point Ybel Brewing located at 16120 San Carlos Blvd. in Fort Myers. Packets include a shirt, swag bag, and a Paddle Hard Pale Ale brewed just for the race.

Check in on the day of the race is from 7:30 to 8 a.m. with an 8:30 a.m. Racers' Meeting. Then at 9 a.m. either grab your paddles for the Ron Jon Pro 7 Mile Race and Open Class (Kayaks, OC's, surf-skis, prone) or at 9:05 a.m. grab your paddles for the Body Glove 2 Mile Race and Open Class (Kayaks, OC's, surf-skis, prone). At 10:45 a.m. be sure to cheer on the Special Olympic/Calusa Kids Races.

Lunch is at 11 a.m. with raffle prizes throughout the day.

"Everyone is welcome to paddle in the race or in our demo area," Hammond said. "The kids' race is free and all proceeds from the event benefit the Special Olympics - Florida Lee County SUP Team."

Awards from some very generous local sponsors will be presented at 1 p.m. Sponsors include: Ron Jon Surf Shop, Estero River Outfitters, Body Glove, Best Western Plus Beach Resort, Lee County Sports Development, SWFL SUP Club, Holiday Watersports, YOLO Boards, Planet Fitness, Pete's Time Out, Point Ybel Brewing Company, YOLO Board Adventures, MTI Life Jackets, Futures Fins, Hornet Paddles, Keep Lee County Beautiful, Duk Gear, Dan's Signs, Gulf to Bay Standup, and of course the Calusa Blueway.

Be sure to save just a little bit of energy for the after-party at Pete's Time Out, at 1005 Estero Blvd. on Fort Myers Beach. The party will include live music, free drink and discounted food for racers and volunteers from 6:30 to 10 p.m.

"Lee County is a great place for any paddling event for many reasons," Hammond said. "We have a supportive paddling community, great conditions, and 190 miles of beautiful paddling."

More than 120 paddlers from Southwest Florida, Mexico, Hawaii, Canada, and the U.S. attended 2016 race. The 2017 was cancelled due to weather.

"The first two years the event was geared more toward elite SUP racers and they are expected to return this year," Hammond said. "This year we really opened up the race for everyone to participate and by allowing all craft to enter the Body Glove 2-mile race, more recreational kayakers and youth paddlers are expected to participate. Plus everyone has an equal chance of winning great prizes like the Body Glove Performer 11' iSUPs that is being given away.

"I think first-time participants are surprised by how welcoming all the volunteers and other racers are," Hammond said. "We're really excited to see everyone. It doesn't matter if you're a top-ranked racer or someone doing your first race or a spectator, we're glad you came and will be sure you have fun."

For complete schedule and registration, visit

For more information about other paddling locations, visit or



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