An Island Experience: The Red Bull Privateers.
An Island Adventure.
The soft. Sugar like. White sand. Beneath my feet. The warm blue water meets it and splashes over my toes. My gaze drifts up. Catching the birds inquisitively circling over head.
Wondering what brings me here.
As just a few miles away sits real life.
But for this weekend. It stayed off island.
A New Type of Event.
This past weekend, this was the setting. Something new. A change to the ordinary. Of our traditional stand up paddleboard events. Less of a race. More of an experience.
The team at Red Bull. In their outside the box approach to everything. Wanted to create a stand up paddleboard event. That would be for everyone. From the racers to the new paddlers. College students. Adventure enthusiasts. And everything in between.
We ventured over from the East Coast of Florida. Making our way across Alligator Alley. And then onto Marco Island. Meandering around the small island. Which was heavily hit by Hurricane Irma. And the blue tarps revealing the impact of this storm. Still months later.
We pulled into Caxambas Pass Park. Where we dropped off our gear. And waited for our boat. To bring us to our home for the weekend.
Greeted by the excited team from Red Bull and dear friend Julio. Who shuttled my car over to the Hilton where it would stay for the weekend.
With our gear loaded up on the boat. And friends along for the ride. We set out. The boat ride set the tone for the weekend. As we navigated around the sand bars. A group of playful dolphins, broke the surface. Only a few feet away from our boat.
Arriving on the islands. The Red Bull tent serving as the lighthouse for the island.
This was our home. For the next 48 hours.
Each arriving passenger made their way onto the island. And within moments smiles made their way onto everyones faces. Maybe it was the laughter and excitement of the people already on island. Or the raw beauty of the place. This would continue throughout the duration of the event.
The Red Bull Privateers. Was an event, that provided a lot of uniqueness.
It was an amazing teacher to many of us. In the typical race setting many of us need to have everything in perfect order. Race time. Course map. Structure. Food. Water. And so on.
But this was far from that. Many were ok with the island style structure. But to some it was a challenge. Simply due to the vast amount of variables.
And as the day would prove. It was less about speed, training and the fastest boards. But more about team work, strategy and a solid understanding of the 10,000 islands and their layout.
This event was something that resonated with me a long while back. And when Rob and the Team of Red Bull launched it. I knew I had to attend. But this event, had some hurdles. Ones that were overcome with grace.
The event was originally set in November. But due to the damage of the Hurricane. The Team at Red Bull switched gears. They postponed the event. And on the date when we were supposed to be on the island. A clean up of the Rookery Bay Estuary took place in lieu of the event.
A massive amount of debris was taken out of the water ways. With over 130 people in attendance and the full support of Red Bull and the Rookery Bay Estuary.
This clean up solidified my support for the event. And I wanted to do whatever I could to be involved.
Surftech carried this same sentiment. Providing a huge amount of support. We donated two boards and two paddles. Putting together a team of our paddlers.
For me I wanted to sit back and watch the event unfold. As a spectator. Chasing the Sun during the day. And the fires into the night. Sunrise brought me on the water to fish. Meet other friends who shared their knowledge of fishing.
During the event my friends Marissa Williams and I paddled around. Fished. Explored the Mangrove tunnels. We saw our friends on the water searching for the buried treasure. And truly enjoying the experience.
A Great Weekend.
The Red Bull Privateers was a success. It provided something for our community that has never been done before. It brought new paddlers on the water. And those who have been paddling for years. It combined the racing and recreational communities.
Forging new friendships.
Solidifying why this sport. Is inclusive. No matter the age. Ability level. Type of board.
And is why I can not wait for the Red Bull Privateers 2019.