Mark your calendar for Battle on the Blueway
FORT MYERS — Paddling enthusiasts will mark the return of a competitive Calusa Blueway race event with the Battle of the Blueway to be held June 11 and 12 at Fort Myers Beach.
The event is a World Paddle Association Region 5 sanctioned points race that will include more than $10,000 in prize money, 7-mile and 2-mile races, sprints, an OC-6 race, a Calusa Kids Race, a Special Olympics Fun Race, a demonstration area, and vendor and environmental education areas.
The event happens at Crescent Beach Family Park, 1100 Estero Blvd., and includes competitive events for standup paddleboarders (SUPs) as well as kayaks, outrigger canoes and surf-skis. More than 110 racers from Southwest Florida and the Southeastern United States competed in the 2015 event.
Races with major prize money include Ron Jon’s 7 Mile Pro Race. Prize money will be given for first through fifth place, from $1,400 to $100, respectively. Another race with prize money is the Any Lab Test Now Sunday Sprints, which is for teams of four. Prize money will be given for first through third place, from $500 to $200, respectively. Cash prizes also are available for several other classes based on participation.
The complete schedule is available online, including details on June 10 pre-race event at Point Ybel Brewing Company, the June 11 and June 12 racers’ meetings and the actual race starts. Race day starts range from 8:30 through 10:30 a.m. Awards ceremonies are in the afternoon each day. June 11 features a post-race day after party at Pete's Time Out.
The event is free for spectators, who can view racers from both the Fort Myers Beach Pier and the shore at Crescent Beach Family Park.
Race entries are $45 to $65. After June 3, race prices increase to $65 to $85. No registration will happen during the event. Beach parking typically has a fee.
The event also is designed to introduce non-racers to paddling with a spectator area and places for those who want to try out a paddleboard. Nonprofits will be onsite to display wildlife, Native American artifacts and environmental education materials.
Sponsors of the Battle of the Blueway include the Any Lab Test Now, Best Western Plus Beach Resort, Ron Jon Surf Shop, Body Glove, Extreme Life Sports, Holiday Water Sports, Functional Artwork by Steve Nagy, Point Ybel Brewing, SWFL SUP Club, Pete’s Time Out, Planet Fitness, Fish-Tale Marina, Sunset Beach Tropical Grill, SUP Magazine, YOLO Board Adventures, Snikwah, Lahui Kai and Lee County Sports Development.
Out-of-area paddlers and spectators can book lodging at the host hotel, The Best Western Plus Beach Resort, for discounted rates. You must note your participation when making the reservation. Call 239-463-6000. Additional lodging can be found at the Lee County Sports Housing website, or by calling 1-888-529-6588.