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  • Jeramie Vaine

Paddling Around the Statue of Liberty.

City Life.

Horns honk. Shuffling footsteps. Voices. All fill air. As you step away from the city streets. Move towards the Hudson River. It all seems to fade away.

Just as the sounds soften. The visual aspects come to life. Facing west. The view passes from the Hudson River to the far banks. Which are not the typical river bank, but city style, with walls and piers. Lined with people. Boats. Just behind. The sky line of Jersey City extends upward.

The Colgate clock. 50 feet in diameter grabs ahold of the view. As I pan from the north to south side of the Hudson. A small island comes into focus. Before my view becomes fixed on deciphering what it may be. The iconic structure takes over my focus.

The Statue of Liberty.

An architectural feat. A greeter. And something that stands for so much more than I’ll ever know.

“Liberty Enlightening the World”

Paddle Event in New York City.

A few weeks back I heard about a stand up paddleboard event in New York City. Being only 4 hours to the North. It was a race that was on my radar. After chatting with my good friend Travis Grant about the event. He convinced me to join him in the city.

Arriving into the city on Friday. The hustle and bustle of the city set me back a step. I was unsure that I knew what I was in for. And honestly I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Meeting up with Travis and another good friend and paddler Larry Goldstein. We were trying to sort out a plan for the day. And get to the water.

After a phone call that Travis made. Within moments we were driving through gates and on the sidewalk. Putting us just a few feet away from the Hudson River. And the uneasiness that was with me a few short moments before began to subside.

Still in awe of where we were and what was happening it didn’t set in until my eyes caught Lady Liberty standing proud. After a bit of research and scouting we decided that paddling was not going to happen today. We unloaded the boards and begin to plan our escape back out of the busy sidewalks. As we were in a car. And it was now rush hour on Friday. On the streets and sidewalks in the city.

But before we made it back to the car. An opportunity to paddle on the Hudson revealed itself. Once again Travis talked me into the adventure. And before I knew it I was walking down the dock. Board and paddle in hand alongside two friends. Michael Booth and Travis.

Paddling out through the Marina and into the Hudson was surreal. Now seeing the Jersey City sky line from the water. The Colgate Clock. Ellis Island and of course the Statue of Liberty. We made our way across the river. And took a seat just in front of the clock. Looking back at where we were standing.

The New York City skyline.

Race Day.

This event was different than many others I’ve attended. Not just because of where we were going to paddle. But the logistics of everything. Many times we have our cars. Where we have everything stashed. But this one we knew that having a car down at the event site was going to be a challenge. So we packed our bags. And took off to the event city style.

We biked.

Meandering down the bike paths. Seeing the Hudson. And sky line from another unique vantage point.

The race itself was challenging. The conditions glassy. But filled with rolling boat wakes from the New York City Water Taxis and other boats who were on the water. But the conditions didn’t matter. As we traveled around the iconic land marks, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty itself. At times I would just stop and look at these sites.

Wondering what the people on the boats had going through their mind as they arrived on a foreign land to start something new. It was an inspiration to keep charging ahead.

Rounding the islands the next breath taking view came back into focus.

The Freedom Tour, One World Trade Center.

Seeing this building it was hard to describe the feelings that came over me. Gratitude. Honor. As I was out here on a board. In the Hudson because of some many others.

The Celebration.

Arriving back on land. The energy was high. People passing by wanting to know all about our sport. Photos. Instagram stories. Snap Chats. All taken of the event. Fans took photos with their favorite paddlers.

Zane Schweitzer and Justin Holland spent endless hours in the pool teaching kids how to paddle. And then was joined by Connor Baxter.

People shared stories of the paddle. We cheered as on the jumbo screen they replayed many of the highlights. Making for a fun post race experience.

Thank you.

Leaving the event we all had a sense of accomplishment. It was something very special. One that will stay with me. And the reason why I love this sport of stand up paddleboarding.

I can not say thank you enough to the event organizers for getting us out on the water in this spot. For all the help with the boards. Logistics. And making us all feel like celebrities.

And to Larry and Travis for all their help. Without you both none of this would have been possible.

The next time an opportunity comes up to paddle in New York City. I’ll be there. And I hope you will too.

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