New York City lends itself to unexpected things, but nothing quite like this. The SEAPaddle is a 28-mile long paddling marathon around the isle of Manhattan that fundraises money and raises awareness for Autism Organizations and the Surfers’ Environmental Alliance (SEA).
A true sight to behold with nearly 200 paddlers sprinkled about the waters of Manhattan, they will embark on an arduous, and the simultaneously humbling task of navigating New York City’s waterways, beginning at Pier 40 on the Hudson River and ending at Pier 17 at South Street Seaport. This is not your typical leisurely weekend cruise about the city, and can take the fittest of the fit anywhere from 4-6 hours to finish.
Since the creation of the SEAPaddle, Jorg Badura has been dedicated to capturing the spirit and inspiration of these selfless athletes. You will be sure to find him floating on a barge somewhere in the Hudson River or on a boat fervently racing to capture this fearless bunch tomorrow for the 4th Annual Sea Paddle.
Here are some images that Jorg photographed from last year’s SEAPaddle:
Paddles and hands entwined, the day begins with a circle of prayer, mirroring their unity and collective efforts for the greater good. They come from all walks of life: pro-surfers, teachers, wall street business men, celebrities, parents of autistic children, water lovers alike from the far reaches of California, Florida, South America, Hawaii, Germany, Australia, and so forth.
The SEA Paddle is a collaboration between the Surfers’ Environmental Alliance (SEA), which advocates the preservation of our “fragile coastal habitats, natural ocean waves, a clean ocean, non-restrictive beach access, as well as the cultural and environmental integrity of the sport of surfing,” side by side with autism advocacy groups like Surfers Healing, which hosts day camps at the beach where autistic children and their family undergo an adventurous type of therapy through the act of surfing and the healing properties of being in the ocean. Last year, the event raised a whopping $400,000 which was split between SEA and their partner Autism organizations.
Here are some of the SEAPaddle stars that appeared in the water in 2010:
Fourth place winner, Ernie Johnson is an international rider for Starboard. His sincerity and humbleness are common traits associated with his name. Ernie is also talented in the art of carpentry and founded his own paddle making company called “Johnson Big Stick Paddles”. A connoisseur of the trade, he creates custom wood stand up paddles made out of the finest of woods and care.
Second place winner, Slater Trout, is often referred to as the “future of stand up paddling”. At the age of 16 he has competed and even surpassed athletes that are oftentimes double his age. This young prodigy already has a wide array of accomplishments on his belt. Here a but a few successes in 2010 alone: Stand up Journal honored him as the “2010 Junior of the Year”, US Champion in the 14ft. Elite Class Men’s division at the Hennessey’s Paddleboard Championships, and 3rd place at the Gerry Lopez, Rainbow Sandals Battle of the Paddle, which is more commonly referred to as the “World Championships of Stand Up”.
First place winner, Thomas Maximus Shahinian, rides for OHANA Paddleboards. A true gladiator in his work ethic, he has the utmost dedication which translates in everything he does from selling real estate to the many water sports like paddling and kiting. Fun fact: he is one of the only SUPs to get a ticket, which prompted him to become one of the founders of the Stand Up Paddle Alliance organization, which advocates for SUPs rights.
Garrett McNamara is an extreme surfing world champion who has pushed the realm of surfing to the limits. Always searching for the next biggest wave that mother nature can spew out, he has made quite the reputation as a fearless big-wave or tow-in surfer. He’s explored much of the world’s oceans and ridden some of the most unforgiving waves in the world such as Teahupoo, Jaws, and even the tsunami waves off the coast of South-Central Alaska.
For more information on SEAPaddle 2011, or to pledge your support, check out SEAPaddle NYC Website. If the paddling seems a little overwhelming and you feel more at home on shore, there are lots of happenings to enjoy like the Ultimate Beach Party at the South Street Seaport’s Water Taxi Beach. You can buy your tickets here for $35 and join everyone in the cause and watch these noble athletes drag themselves out of the East River. You won’t want to miss this event!
Text by: Jorg Badura’s Studio