SOUTH MISSISSIPPI, Miss. (WLOX) - Before sunrise, dozens of kayakers made their way to the Little River Marina in Escatawpa to drop off their boats and prepare for the 12.5 mile paddle battle ending at the Light House Park.
“The racing season has been slow this season because of COVID. Usually, there are 15 races,” said kayaker, Jeb Berry.
The race was originally scheduled back in May but due to COVID-19, it was postponed. During the postponement, there were a few virtual races, but many people said they enjoy the actual race because it’s fair and filled with more fun.
“We had a lot of virtual races and people use their Garmin," said Berry. "All the conditions are different, it might be real windy where somebody is racing, and it might be nice and calm where someone else is.”
A total of 68 people registered for this race and they used the majority of the downtime season preparing to race the twelve and a half miles.
“The training, I live by the water and I get out and paddle usually three miles every day,” Berry said. “For a longer race like this, I’ll paddle six miles.”
Other than conditioning, many clean and wax their boats and make sure everything is working properly.
Berry said it’s important to set your paddles correctly and choose the right boat, depending on the water and weather conditions.
“Today I could’ve brought another boat," Berry said. "They said it was going to be windy and I was scared to bring this boat because it’s really tippy. I looked at the water this morning and saw it was pretty calm.”
Although training is very important, Berry said it’s ultimately about having fun.
“When we get out and actually race, we get to see everybody we haven’t seen for a long time and then everyone is under the same condition so it’s really a race," Berry said. "Virtually race fun, it fills a gap but it’s not the same as an actual race and getting out and getting trophies and seeing all your friends.”
There were also safety spotting boats throughout the course of the race in case of an emergency.