Ocean City Today
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OC resident to compete in SEA Paddle NYC, Saturday

By Kara Hallissey | Aug 03, 2017
Courtesy of: Wayne Best During the 11th annual SEA Paddle NYC event tomorrow, Ocean City resident Wayne Best will compete for his third time in Manhattan while raising money for the environment and autism including local nonprofit, Surfer’s Healing.

(Aug. 4, 2017) During the 11th annual SEA Paddle NYC event this Saturday, Ocean City resident Wayne Best will compete for the third time in Manhattan while raising money for the environment and autism, including local nonprofit, Surfer’s Healing.

The 25-mile paddleboard race begins under the Brooklyn Bridge where participants will head north up the East River, into the Harlem River and then down the Hudson River before finishing at Chelsea Piers Marina.

About 100 people are slated to compete on Saturday, Best said.

“The registration fee [$365] is expensive, but it’s extremely rewarding to see all the money raised,” Best said. “I am happy to be a part of it and plan on doing it next year.”

SEA Paddle NYC is the largest fundraiser for the Surfers’ Environmental Alliance, an organization committed to the preservation and protection of environmental and cultural elements integral to surfing.

“Every year we raise a lot of money and a portion comes back to the community,” Best said. “I enjoy paddleboarding. It’s the hardest race, but they treat you like royalty.”

Through paddler fundraising, corporate sponsorships and events, SEA Paddle NYC has raised more than $2.84 million for environmental preservation and various autism nonprofits since its inception.

Best, 43, has friends who are affected by autism and sees the event as an annual tradition.

“Autism is a lot more common these days and I’ve seen the struggles. It can be tough,” Best said. “The race is something I feel a part of and want to continue. It is a great race and they treat you the best.”

Last year, Best finished in seventh place in the race and raised more than $2,000. He was ecstatic to stand at the podium with professionals and other talented paddleboarders.

“It will be tough to beat, but hopefully I can get close,” Best said. “I train my butt off. To get seventh place, in a race like that, I was extremely proud.”

Participants are also ranked by how much money they have raised, which Best has collected from friends, family and shares on social media.

All participants are required to raise at least $1,000 to race and Best has collected close to $8,000 in his three years of involvement.

“I am trying to pull more donations on the Eastern Shore and [let people know] some money comes back to Surfer’s Healing,” Best said. “Part of the money you donate will come back to Ocean City.”

Surfer’s Healing is a nonprofit organization providing autistic children with free surf lessons from professionals in Ocean City. Every August, a local camp is held on the beach in front of Castle in the Sand on 37th Street.

In 2015, Dawn Ehman, owner of Yogavibez in West Ocean City, brought SEA Paddle NYC to the attention of Best. He decided to participate for the first time and raised $3,600.

“To me, it’s a no brainer,” Best said. “I couldn’t imagine not doing it. I’ve had shoulder surgery and I am not 100 percent this year. I will definitely finish the race and hope to finish in the top 20. I’ve been training quite a bit.”

Best started training in October for the race and credits its intensity for keeping him in shape all year.

“To be competitive you have to train all year-round,” Best said. “Twenty-five miles is a long way to go paddleboarding. Every year, I try to get people from the Eastern Shore to participate. I am the only one who does it.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, Best had raised $2,510.

“To go back and compete with these big names and professionals is not something I can pass up,” Best said. “I am hoping once people hear about it, they will be more inclined to donate.”

To donate funds for SEA Paddle NYC through Best, visit seapaddlenyc.dojiggy.com/ng/index.cfm/13490/regPages/pledge/waynebest. For more information on the event, visit seapaddlenyc.org.

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