By peddle and by paddle, Wrightsville Beach will be flush with activity this weekend, as the area on Saturday will be the destination for two outdoor events.
On the water, paddlers from around the world will be in Wrightsville Beach for the annual Carolina Cup, one of the world’s top standup paddleboard races. Closer to home, Wrightsville Beach Park will be the destination for the annual River to the Sea bike ride, an event to encourage safe bicycle travel for local residents.
The World Paddle Association’s World SUP Tour added the Carolina Cup for its 2017 schedule.
The 2017 Carolina Cup itinerary, April 19-23, incorporates the renowned World SUP Tour Graveyard Race, a demanding and grueling 13.2-mile ocean and flatwater race; the 6.5-mile Money Island Open Race; the 3.5-mile Harbor Island Recreational Race; the 9-mile, 6-person Outrigger (OC-6) Blockade Runner Flatwater Race; the new 4-person SUP Dragon World Series; and the popular Kids Race for children 7 to 14. Competitors include Olympians, world-record holders, champions, professionals, amateurs, and first-time paddlers.
Organized by the Wrightsville Beach Paddle Club and sanctioned by the World Paddle Association, the West Marine Carolina Cup attracted most of the top professional paddlers in the world in 2016, as well as amateur and elite racers from practically every state in the nation. Almost 1,000 people participated in last year’s races and clinics, based at Blockade Runner Beach Resort.
Clinic instructors from Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Hawaii, California, and North Carolina include iconic professional paddlers Annabel Anderson, Connor Baxter, Candice Appleby, Michael Booth, Sonni Honscheid, Travis Grant, Titouan Puyo, Danny Ching, Dan Gavere, Jesse Lishchuk, Zane Schweitzer, April Zilg, and more.
On Saturday, the 28th annual River to Sea bike ride will take place with two different starting points to accommodate cyclists of all abilities. Last year, about 400 people participated. The event is free and helmets are required.
More accomplished riders will meet at 12 N. Front Street at 7:15 a.m. and will depart at 8 a.m. for a 20-mile, round trip ride. Inexperienced riders and families will meet at Empie Park, located at 3405 Park Avenue, at 7:30 a.m. and will depart at approximately 8:15 a.m. for a 13-mile, round trip ride.
The ride is a casual-paced bicycle ride to Wrightsville Beach Park, then back to the starting point along Wilmington’s River to Sea Bicycle Route – NC Bike Route 1.
Stops include the arboretum, Airlie Gardens, Wrightsville Beach Museum and Johnnie Mercer’s Pier.