Key West Paddleboard Classic

By the time the Key West Classic comes around each year (usually the first weekend in May) I’m ready. LIKE REALLY READY. Not necessarily to race, but to get in the warm water, walk Duval Street and eat good food, see Lazy Dogs and soak up the heat.

While I’m no longer a race director for the Carolina Cup, it’s still emotionally and physically exhausting. By the time it’s over each year, I’m ready for a break. The Key West Classic has traditionally been that break for me. It is this year also. And while I’ll race my hardest around the island, I’ll be looking around for manatees, seeing familiar faces, supporting the Monroe County Special Olympics and having as great a time as possible considering this can be one of the most grueling courses on Earth. Key West = Wind. Nuff said.

Time and Events: FRIDAY

  • 5:00-7:30pm Registration & Kick Off Party on the beach at Salute!

Time and Events: SATURDAY

  • 7:00am RACER CHECK-IN
  • 7:15am Classic Vendor Expo Opens
  • 7:15/7:30am Mayanjali Cafe Breakfast served on the beach
  • 8:15am Racer’s Meeting (Rules & Course Review)
  • 8:30am Hawaiian Pule Blessing directly following
  • 9:00am 12-Mile Distance Race Start
  • 2:00pm Lunch FREE FOR RACERS
  • 3:00pm Awards *Raffles* Following

Time and Events: SUNDAY

  • 9:00am KIDS CLINIC with Dylan Geiger Check-In at Lazy Dog
  • 10:30am KIDS FUN RACE (FREE EVENT)10:45 Awards & Ice Cream Sammys
  • 12:00-6:00pm Sunday FUNDay Boat Excursion & Sand Bar Party!

Race Course

12-Mile KWPC “Classic” Race

Starts at Higgs Beach, just right of the White Street Pier with a hopeful down-winder to Ft. Zachary Taylor State Park, rounds the corner, passes famous street performing landmark, Mallory Square, then continues through the harbor where paddlers will head toward the KW Special Forces base and under the Fleming Key Bridge, enter into the Gulf of Mexico, paddle past Dredgers Key (Sigsbee,) then turn right toward Cow Key Channel….a quick spin through the the lush mangrove alley between Key West and Stock Island, finally the course heads back out out into the Atlantic ocean toward the finish line at Higgs Beach.

Key West Classic Race Course

For more information: Go to the Official Race Page on Paddle Guru

Weather Forecast for Saturday

30% Precip. / 0.01 in  Isolated Thunderstorms. High 84F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.

Sunrise, Sunset and Tides

Tomorrow Saturday, 4th of May of 2019, the sun will rise in Key West at 6:50 am and sunset will be at 7:58 pm.

In the high tide and low tide chart, we can see that the first low tide will be at 3:41 am and the next low tide at 4:32 pm. The first high tide will be at 10:07 am and the next high tide at 11:14 pm.

Tide will be going high at race start.


SSE 1 foot at 5 seconds

Water Temp

Key West will be 78°F

Where to stay

Special Thanks to Key West Hospitality Inns and Heather Whitehead for accommodations. The cottages are amazing and the staff is wonderful. Perfect location, walking to everywhere on Duval Street and beyond.

Monroe County Special Olympics

Monroe County Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and competition to children and adults 8 years of age and older with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We serve 151 athletes throughout Monroe County and runs a truly exceptional standup paddleboarding program that has been producing some of the best paddlers in the country for the past 10 years. Key West Conchs is coached by Lazy Dog, Liana Baron
who holds practices weekly from May to October at Higgs Beach on Wednesday evenings. There are two other local teams, the Middle Keys Dolphins coached by Shana Gaskill and the Upper Keys Manatees who needs a coach!

I encourage all of you to take their Special Olympics Athlete Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” That’s my goal for this and every race.

Tips from Larry Cain from 2015

  • Tip 1 – Inspect the course before the race
  • Tip 2 – Drink fluids
  • Tip 3 – Use a stable board, or at least have one on standby
  • Tip 4 – Wait till Saturday night to party

Read the full blog post from Larry’s old blog

Keep in mind, he was giving race course tips for different tides and conditions.

Final Note: Enjoy Key West

If you aren’t here this year, plan it for next. This is truly a vacation with a race thrown in. See the Southernmost Point and do the tourist thing. Watch bachelorette and bachelor parties stumble by with phallic hats and buy an “I’m with stupid” shirt with a friend. Key West is different. No matter what you are, where you’re from, what you think, what you don’t, there’s a place here for you to be.




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