Ocean City Today

Ocean City’s Best finishes 13th during SEA Paddle NYC

By Kara Hallissey | Aug 10, 2017
Courtesy of: Christy Fulton

(Aug. 11, 2017) During the 11th annual SEA Paddle NYC event last Saturday in Manhattan, Ocean City resident Wayne Best finished in 13th place and raised $2,740 for the environment and autism, including local nonprofit, Surfer’s Healing.

“I am super stoked and really happy considering I had shoulder surgery in February and didn’t have a ton of time to train as hard as I did last year,” Best said.

About 120 paddlers raised more than $177,000 last Saturday, which was the third time Best competed in the event, he said.

Four professionals participated and he finished in 13th place in the Men’s 14’ Elite Division.

“I’m glad I finished it and beat my time last year by two minutes,” Best said.

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

“The last 12 miles in the Hudson… the wind was pretty brutal,” Best said. “There are so many variables including the wind, current and water. I was able to keep my speed the whole race and felt good about my finish. It felt tougher this year since I didn’t train as much, but it was fun and I will definitely do it again next year for sure.”

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 $3 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.

“I train my butt off,” Best said. “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 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 more than $8,000 in his three years of involvement.

“Some of the money comes back to Surfer’s Healing and Ocean City,” Best said.

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 Hotel 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.

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. To go back and compete with these big names and professionals is not something I can pass up.”

For more information on the event, visit seapaddlenyc.org.

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