Coast to Coast Expedition Challenge to depart Nov. 4th
Coast to Coast Expedition Challenge set to start from 2012 Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival
FORT MYERS – Join spectators and adventure racers Sunday, Nov. 4, at the Sanibel Causeway
to watch the departure of racers in the first-ever Coast to Coast Expedition Challenge, which will snake from
Sanibel through the Everglades to end Nov. 11 in Miami.
The Paddle House, Race South Florida, Lee County Parks & Recreation, Miami Rowing Club and the Volunteer
Wilderness Alliance have joined to make possible The Paddle House’s Coast to Coast Expedition Challenge.
Miami-based The Paddle House is pleased to announce the Coast to Coast Expedition Challenge, a 240-mile
self-sustained human-powered race featuring small non-motorized sailboats and paddlecraft. The route
commemorates Juan Ponce de Leon’s discovery of Florida. Featuring historical, scenic and environmentally
diverse eco-systems, the race will cover the route traversed by Ponce de Leon’s fleet in 1513.
The start of the race is part of the Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival’s closing afternoon on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012.
Racers will launch their crafts from the Sanibel Causeway as they follow the historic route toward Cape Sable
entering the Everglades at Ponce de Leon Bay before crossing Whitewater Bay and heading to Florida Bay.
Mandatory check-in stops are at Chokoloskee and Flamingo. Here, paddlers have the advantage. Shallow waters
and narrow passages present a special challenge to sailboats allowing paddlers an equalizing advantage on a
common course. Facing challenges similar to those the fleet encountered, competitors will travel across Florida
Bay to the upper keys before rejoining Ponce de Leon’s route past Santa Marta (now known as Key Biscayne)
and their finish at Race South Florida’s Warrior’s Challenge, a paddlesport race presented by The Paddle House
and Race South Florida at the Miami Rowing Club on Virginia Key.
The challenge must be completed in seven-days. Outside assistance is limited in scope. This is a self-sustained
expedition challenge. Required checkpoint stops along the route and limited support. Competitors will be tracked,
and spectators can follow their favorite racers via SPOT integrated tracking maps.
In 2013, the race will be offered together with an expedition. The Viva Florida Expedition will be led by local
guides offering local flavor and historical perspective. Participants are encouraged to complete the entire route but
may join and leave at various segments throughout the route. The entire route will be covered in two-weeks and
will be supported.
“The race and companion events – the Calusa Blueway festival and Race South Florida’s Warrior’s Challenge –
will showcase Florida’s paddling and sailing opportunities from coast to coast,” said organizer Esther Alonso-Luft,
owner of The Paddle House, which will have a tent display at the Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival’s Causeway
Island site Nov. 2-4. “Let the explorer inside you out for a modern-day adventure. Join us on the water or follow us
from your computer or smartphone as we celebrate the discovery of Florida and the indomitable human spirit.”
Racers will depart at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, from Sanibel Causeway Island A, 19950 Causeway Island Road,
Sanibel, FL 33957. Entry fee is $250 for first person; $100 for second in same boat. Racers are responsible for all
equipment and supplies; pre-registration online at www.racesfl.com and click on “registration.”
Racers must arrange for their own transportation to the start line. Vehicles may not be left on Causeway Island A
overnight. More details can be had at www.racesfl.com or Esther Alonso-Luft at (786) 307-3816 by email to
The Paddle House, a proud sponsor of the 2011 Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival and a return vendor for 2012,
is located at 2753 S.W. 27th Ave., Miami, FL 33133 or online at www.thepaddlehouse.com.
Note: The Coast to Coast Expedition Challenge is separate from the other race event during the 2012 Calusa
Blueway Paddling Festival, which is called the CaluSUP Family Fun Race. That race is a relay-style event to be
held at noon Sunday, Nov. 4, along Sanibel Causeway Island A. It’s designed for newcomers to paddlers,
families, children and recreational paddlers. For details, go to www.calusabluewaypaddlingfestival.com and click
on “activities” and “SUP/kayak/canoe races.”
People looking for a pre-festival race can join in the Imperial River Challenge on Oct. 27 in Bonita Springs as part
of the annual RiverFest event. Go to www.cityofbonitasprings.org or (239) 949-6262.