Take a team SUP race mix it with a scavenger hunt and set it in the beautiful natural landscape of the 10,000 Islands and you get the Red Bull Privateers. Teams of four put their paddling and navigation skills to the test as they raced to collect all the hidden treasures and cross the finish line in the first event of its kind on Saturday, February 10.
The event was located on Cape Romano in the Rookery Bay Aquatic Preserve. Getting to the event site was an adventure itself since it is on island participants had the option of taking a ferry or paddling the 3.5 miles. Many participants chose to arrive Friday and camp out at the event site. The beach was full of tents, hammocks, and paddle boards. Unlike the competitive atmosphere created by most races, this event had more of a family reunion feel as paddlers with similar interest connected.
The day of the race, teams were briefed on the rules and race area, then they all received maps and were given 10 minutes to formulate a strategy before shoot off. Basically, teams had to collect doubloons from 15 hidden treasure chest located throughout the estuary and then cross the finish line. Navigating the mangrove maze was just as important as speed since many fast paddlers got turned around and lost valuable time.
After the race, there was a pig roast feast and beach party. Overall it was a fantastic event to be a part of and we hope to see Red Bull Privateers become an annual event.