It’s All About the Water at Great Peconic Race

The Great Peconic Race includes a 19-mile paddle around Shelter Island. Photos courtesy of Great Peconic Race

The fifth annual Great Peconic Race, one of the East Coast’s premier paddle races for elite, intermediate and novice paddlers, will set out from Wade’s Beach on Shelter Island on Saturday, September 8, circumnavigating the island in a 19-mile paddle.

There will also be a nine-mile race course, a three-mile untimed course and a sprint race for kids at the beach. Proceeds from this year’s event will go to The Nature Conservancy’s Mashomack Preserve and its children’s water education program.

“I think the core of saving our waters here is really with kids,” said race co-founder Billy Baldwin, a children book author who lives in Sag Harbor. “If the kids end up falling in love with the water, hopefully they will start helping us save the water.”

Jeremey Samuelson, the executive director of the Mashomack Preserve, said he was looking forward to the partnership and that an offer to upgrade some of the paddle equipment “couldn’t be more timely.”

“The Nature Conservancy welcomes the support of the Great Peconic Race and hopes that we can use this opportunity to increase the number of kids that get to spend time on the water and learn about the water and how to be safe,” Samuelson said, adding that Mashomack’s education programs partner with schools from “Montauk to Orient and Shelter Island to Manhattan.”

This weekend’s paddle event honors the memory of Ted Baldwin, brother of Billy Baldwin, who grew up in North Sea on Little Peconic Bay, where he dared his family and friends to have as much fun as possible and, more often than not, that meant doing something on the water. He died in 2010 from blood cancer.

“Ted was a true water lover,” Baldwin said. “There wasn’t a sport or activity on the water that he had not tried while growing up on the bay. This race is for him and to help others to develop a love for the water.”

A prone paddler during last year’s Great Peconic Race.

The Great Peconic Race is an open-water paddle and conditions may include strong currents, strong wind and choppy waters. All paddle craft are welcome, including stand-up paddleboards, surf ski, OC1- OC6, kayaks, coastal rowers and prone boards. Recreational paddlers are welcome to compete in all races, although it is recommended that only advanced paddlers compete in the 19-mile race.

Following the paddle, there will be a party on the beach with a catered lunch, beer and water, music, paddle craft demos and massages. All participants in the race receive access to the beach party and spectator tickets for the lunch may be purchased online (beach party-only tickets will not be available the day of the race).

Registration opens at 7 a.m. and the first race starts at 8:30 a.m., following an 8 a.m. captain’s meeting. Trophies will be awarded to the top finishers in each class, and all racers receive a medal and a rash guard.

For more information, or to register for the event, visit