Paddle for a Cause: That’s What’s SUP!

Last Thursday night, country superstar Blake Shelton organized a “Healing in the Heartland” concert in Oklahoma City to raise money for tornado relief efforts in nearby Moore, Oklahoma.

An avid country music fan, I was obliged to tune in. As the screen behind the stage rolled through photos of the devastation, I couldn’t help but think of the 12-12-12 concert that was organized for Sandy relief, and how I felt when they flashed scenes of my devastated home state. The East End was largely spared by Sandy, but it was all too easy to identify with the devastation and the people most deeply affected.

As Blake Shelton, an Oklahoma native, crooned popular tunes, you could see the sense of need on his face. “Everyone has their way to help, and mine as an entertainer is to perform to help raise money and awareness for this tragedy,” Shelton said in a release on his website. “This is why I want to do this special and especially hold it in Oklahoma City, which is near ground zero.”

That stuck with me.

I’m not a singer, so I cannot imagine going out there and raising money and awareness like Shelton did. But I’ve recently learned of the Hamptons SUP Race Series, and I can’t help but think of how perfect the events are to celebrate the East End and raise money for worthy causes.

With five races held throughout the East End, either in bays or in the ocean, the series supports various charities, and each offers both an elite and recreational class. The first event was held in Northwest Harbor on May 18, and proceeds benefitted the East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue Squad.

My plan is to sign up for the August 17 Paddle for Pink in support of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, held at Havens Beach in Sag Harbor. The triangular course is set in beautiful Shelter Island Sound and offers a three-mile recreational and six-mile elite race.

For those who feel slightly more confident on their board in the ocean, check out the Paddle Race for Humanity on June 16. The race will be held on Beach Lane in Wainscott. It’s a six-mile surf zone course where paddlers enter the surf from a beach start and then follow a downwind course to the finish line.

If you haven’t tried SUP yet, working toward the August 17 race could be a good goal. Flying Point Surf and Sport in Southampton, which recently opened a new, flagship location on Main Street, confirms that stand up paddleboarding will again be the sport of the summer. Rental boards flew off the shelves in 2012, and they’re gearing up for an even higher demand this year.

Consider taking a SUP lesson, or rent a board at any of our area surf shops and check out these launch locations. Just be sure to check area parking regulations before you go!

• Accabonac Harbor at Landing Lane, Springs
• Sagg Pond at Bridge Lane off Sagg Main Road, Sagaponack
• Three Mile Harbor at the end of Hands Creek Landing, East Hampton
• Georgica Pond at the rest stop on Route 27, East Hampton
• Fort Pond Bay, Montauk
• Mecox Bay, Water Mill
• Long Beach, Sag Harbor
• Peconic River, Riverhead

Visit mainbeach.com for additional details and to register for the Hamptons SUP Race Series. To donate to the United Way of Central Oklahoma May Tornadoes Relief Fund, visit unitedway.org/rebuild.

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