The first running of the Coast to Coast Expedition Challenge began this afternoon, November 4, 2012 at 2:34 p.m., at the Calusa Blueway Festival. The race received strong interest from expedition races. In the end, William H. Highsmith of Ft. Myers accepted the Challenge to complete the course in the allotted time.
Bill Highsmith aka "SwimBoy" is a lifelong athlete and competitor. Competing in long distance swimming events was just the start. To his credit, Bill raced in 244 swim meets between 2007 and 2008. Complemented by his love for the outdoors and boat building expertise, Bill's next natural move was expedition racing.
In the 70's-80's, he led wilderness trips of 45 days in open rowing/sailing boats up the Maine Coast almost to the Canadian border. Most to these trips were teaching teens age 14-17 community building, camping, cooking, navigation, sailing, etc. Most had never cooked a meal or washed their clothes by hand. By the time the teens completed the expeditions they gained invaluable self-assurance they would carry throughout their lives.
Also during this time, Bill Highsmith did several solo sailing/rowing trips in the 2 to 3 week range. He apprenticed in wooden boat-building under a master builder in the 70's. Most to the boats were newly built from historic plans provided by the Smithsonian Museum in the 16 to 24 ft. range. As Bill boasted, "Florida has a wonderful history of historic boats being built through trial and error over a long period of time for specific uses."
Join Bill on his quest to complete the Coast to Coast Expedition Challenge. You can follow his progress through SPOT. If you are in his vicinity, please stop by and cheer him on his way. Congratulations, Bill. You are truly an amazing challenger!
Coast to Coast Expedition Challenge
240-Mile Expedition Course for Paddle Crafts and Small Sailboats
Start: November 4, 2012, 2:00 p.m., Calusa Blueway Festival, Sanibel/Ft. Myers, Florida
Finish: November 11, 2012, 4:00 p.m., Miami Rowing Club, Virginia Key, Miami, Florida
Register by October 15th, $250 per racer, additional team member $100 (includes awards dinner on November 11th); after October 16th, registration is $325/$150
Following Juan Ponce de Leon's historic route in 1513 A 240-mile mostly self-supported expedition race for paddle crafts and small sail boats. The race is open to all non-motorized crafts. Support is available at designated locations only. Race Classes are grouped by speed capacity and vessel types. Individuals and teams must be experts in their class. The rules are quite simple -- start, paddle or sail, eat and sleep as needed, follow all race rules and comply with all US Coast Guard regulations, finish. What happens in between is pretty much up to each competitor. Where you stop, how long, where you rest is all up to each racer. If you're part of a team, we suggest you stop together. It could be ugly otherwise.
Paddle Crafts and Sailboat Racing
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 email@example.com.
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.”