Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Kayak racers muster all their skills on rough seas in Salt Springs Classic

PORT RICHEY — With gusty winds and patches of rough seas, the skills of local kayak enthusiasts were challenged over the weekend at the fifth annual Salt Springs Classic kayak race.

The race on Saturday coincided with the Cotee River Seafood Festival in Sims Park, where the finish line was. The event is one of several annual fundraisers for the Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park, providing money to maintain the park amid state budget cuts.

"Once we exceed the park budget, that's it," said Burt Golub, president of the Salt Springs Alliance, a group of park supporters who organized the kayak race. "Unfortunately, the park needs things beyond what the budget will allow. We've used the funds we raise here for everything from signs out in the park to cameras that allow us to monitor restricted wildlife areas."

The 6-mile race attracted experienced kayakers and novices, but a solid foundation in the sport would prove helpful on a day when the wind roused rough conditions in the Gulf of Mexico.

Even without the elements adding to the difficulty, paddling 6 miles is no small task. For many participants, the finish line represented an achievement in itself, regardless of where they landed in the standings.

"It was tough getting through that really rough patch out near the gulf," said Felicia Webb, who made the journey with her 11-year-old son. "Two years ago, my son and I did this and I couldn't lift my arms up for a week. You really have to be in shape for a race this long even without battling through the whitecaps. We figured since he's two years older this time we'd have more strength, but we had more weight, too."

Participants enjoyed the challenge, and many were delighted to have a chance to attend the seafood festival afterward. Casey Pot, who drove up from Fort Myers for the event, said the drive was a small price to pay for one of the best races he's had since moving down from Michigan this year.

"The route here is very pretty, and there aren't so many people that you don't have a ton of people battling for position," Pot said. "It's just fun — and unlike the races I did up in Michigan, the water is not freezing."

To add to the weekend's festivities, the alliance organized a second paddle on Sunday night, a 4-mile journey out to Durney Key to watch the sunset before heading back in the dark.

"We usually only do it once a year, but after last month there was such an outcry for us to do it again that we decided to have a second one this year," Golub said. "It's really a neat experience being out there and seeing the sunset. Coming back at night is beautiful and you see all kinds of wildlife."

>>on the web

More about park

For information about Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park or the Salt Springs Alliance, visit

>>on the web

More about park

For information about Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park or the Salt Springs Alliance, visit

Kayak racers muster all their skills on rough seas in Salt Springs Classic 05/17/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 8:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)


    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.