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Yankee Homecoming Paddle the Port Kayak & Sup River Races

By Elizabeth de Veer, Newburyport.com Correspondent
Elizabeth de Veer is a writer who lives in Georgetown, MA. Her hobbies include organizing her elementary school-age daughter and chasing her labradoodle. Favorite coffee: hot. Favorite Beatles album: Sgt. Pepper. Favorite naughty food: lobster roll and fries. Her first novel is due to be published in winter 2019.
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This year, Yankee Homecoming will kick off with the fourth annual Paddle The Port, Kayak and Sup River Races on the Merrimac River, on Saturday, July 27. Contestants in the Kayak and Sup River Races must be at Cashman Park to check-in between 8-9 am and the race will start promptly at 9:30. Online registration should be done prior to race day. All registrants will receive an event t-shirt, designed by Paddle Paddle Surf Apparel, and names will be entered into a drawing for tickets to attend the Yankee Homecoming Brewfest, happening that night. Organizers are working hard to make Paddle the Port as fun to watch as it is to participate in, so grab your kayak or stand-up paddle board and join in, or watch from shore and cheer on your favorites; a great time is guaranteed.

Competitors will launch kayaks and stand-up paddle boards into the Merrimac River at the Cashman Park boat ramp off Merrimac Street and after a safety review, paddle up river past Ram Island, Carr Island and around Deer Island, then back to Cashman Park and the finish line for a total of 4.6 miles. This year’s Kayak and SUP River Races has several divisions: kayakers will compete for Elite, Recreational, Tandem, and Over Age 60, first, second and third places, male and female. Stand-up paddle boards will compete for first, second and third places and winners will receive a medal.

New to the Kayak and Sup River Races this year are some complimentary fitness as well as food options to round out the event for both spectators as well as participants.  New sponsor this year, Pure Barre, a boutique barre studio in town, will offer free barre classes throughout the day while. At 11 AM there will be the chance to enjoy a SUP YO Demonstration/ Class. On the culinary front, food trucks on site this year to add ease to your picnic plans. The Sacred Cod with be offering up fresh breakfast items while Flor de Cafe will be nearby with both with fresh hot coffee as well as yummy pastries. If you are in the mood for something a little stronger or cooler on the summer day, be sure and check out Floyd’s Spiked Ice Tea & Lemonade tent.

Race Wire is handling all registrations and providing professional timing for racers. This means that competitors in the Kayak and SUP River Races will get their time and photos sent to them moments after they cross the finish line. Participants come from all over New England to join in this fun and exciting event, and organizers are expecting around 150 competitors. The event also has some new sponsors this year, including REI who will have a tent with give-aways and lawn games in the park. The course should take the average kayaker or stand-up paddle-boarder around 30-40 minutes to complete, so spectators have time to enjoy a picnic lunch by the river and play games while they cheer on the contestants.

Organizers put safety first and enlisted the help of the US Coast Guard to pick the safest time for racers to take on the rushing Merrimac River. On race day, there will be several motor boats in the water to supervise and assist boaters and paddle-boarders who need it. Alcohol is prohibited, and all participants must have a USCG approved flotation device and a race whistle. Inspectors will review all equipment before they allow racers to launch.

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