Kayak enthusiasts who have the stamina can enter a pair of races next weekend.
The 2013 Salt Springs Classic Kayak Race & Fun Paddle will be part of the Cotee River Seafood and Blues Festival, on April 27. Racers will head toward a watery finish line on the Pithlachascotee River next to Sims Park in downtown New Port Richey.
The next day, April 28, the inaugural Durney Key Challenge will offer a course primarily near the mouth of the river in Port Richey.
The new event particularly gets a strong endorsement from Pasco Parks and Recreation Director Rick Buckman. He is a member of the county’s Paddling Pasco group, which offers monthly expeditions and sponsors the Durney Key event.
“This is a very, very unique paddling race,” Buckman wrote in an email reply about Durney Key Challenge. “Google-search races and you will not find another like this one yet.”
The Durney Key race is aimed more at endurance racers with lightweight kayaks, organizers said, rather than the leisurely jaunts Paddling Pasco organizes each month.
The race offers a 2.3-mile paddling course around stilt houses in open water starting and ending on Durney Key, a small island just off the mouth of the Pithlachascotee River in Port Richey. The course poses 10 challenges to test paddling skills and endurance.
Top racers will get awards at the Hooters restaurant, 5336 Treadway Drive, at 1:45 pm. An after-party will take place at Gill Dawg Marina, 5419 Treadway Drive.
Registration costs $30 for an event shirt, water bottle, goodie bag and a chance at awards. Register online at www.saltspringsalliance.com. For more information go to the Parks and Recreation Department Web page at www.pascocountyfl.net, or contact the county department at email@example.com or (813) 929-2760.
The Salt Springs Classic has developed a reputation as the Nature Coast’s premier kayak competition, organizers said.
Doug Cassidy, president of the Salt Springs Alliance, explained twin events appeal to both racers and casual exercisers.
The record time for the 5˝-mile river and open-water course is just under 48 minutes. Intermediate and expert kayakers can test their skills against some of the best racers to win awards.
Contestants can paddle from the scenic lagoons and inlets of Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park through the open Gulf of Mexico waters and up the river to New Port Richey.
Novice paddlers, or those who just enjoy paddling, are invited to try the “fun paddle” class.
The entry fee for the race is $25 for a single-person kayak, $40 for a tandem or $20 per person. Fun paddlers pay $10 per person. Advance registration is highly recommended. For questions, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.