Chris Hopkinson, who last summer captured the attention of thousands of people nationwide when he became the first person to traverse the entire Chesapeake Bay on a standup paddleboard, recently announced plans to expand Bay Paddle as a multi-team paddle race.
The 215-mile, 8-day staged paddle race will begin Aug. 27 in havre de Grace and finish Sept. 3 in Virginia Beach, Va. where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean.
“Seeing the Bay the way I did last year gave me even more appreciation for its beauty and motivation to do more,” Hopkinson said in a news release. “In addition to benefiting the Oyster Recovery Partnership’s important work to restore the health of the Chesapeake, this year’s paddle will also help support Chesapeake Conservancy in their coalition efforts to create official and permanent National Park Service presence in the Chesapeake Bay.”
Relay teams and solo paddlers will face wind, current and tides, using standup paddleboards, kayaks or other paddlecraft to cover the distance.
Last year, Hopkinson averaged 25 miles a day over nine days in his effort that raised more than $180,000 for the Oyster Recovery Partnership and helped put 18 million oysters back in the Chesapeake Bay.
“Chris’s journey inspired a movement,” said Oyster Recovery Partnership Executive Director Ward Slacum. “We are so grateful for Chris’ passion and enthusiasm. He’s brought so much attention to our important work...”
“Chesapeake Conservancy is so excited to join Oyster Recovery Partnership as a beneficiary of this epic race, and I can’t wait to get out there and be a part of it myself,” said Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn.
Nearly 50 local paddlers have already registered for the event, including Slacum and Dunn, who will be paddling with members of their respective staffs.
Other relay teams include a group of local teachers, veterans from the Valhalla Sailing Project and a group of local Riverkeepers.
Local filmmaker Katie Sheridan produced a documentary on Hopkinson’s journey, “Power of the Paddle,” which recently aired on Maryland Public Television’s Chesapeake Bay Week.
Proceeds from the relay event will benefit the Oyster Recovery Partnership and Chesapeake Conservancy.
Participants should register for the event by July 1.
For more information on how to join a team, create a team, donate or how to become a sponsor, go to www.baypaddle.org.