Original seven Paddle for a Cause

From left, Chris Maher, Frankie Walsh, Mike May, Tom Forkin, Todd DeSatnick, Gavin O'Donnell and Mike Tkacz prior to the first Paddle for a Cause.

Todd DeSatnick has a sick sense of humor.

He convinced me to participate in a recreational paddleboard event Sunday as part of the sixth annual Cape to Cape Challenge by explaining the 4-mile journey from the Coral Avenue beach in Cape May Point to the Queen Street beach in Cape May would be with the current.


Ten minutes into the trek, I was still trying to get around the same jetty, courtesy of the slack tide and slight headwind.

“Well, I had to tell you something to get you out there,” he said with a laugh.

I agreed to do it to get at least a taste of what the real racers experienced during their 17-mile journey across the Delaware Bay from Cape Henlopen, Delaware, to Cape May.

Actually, it really wasn’t much of a taste. Compared to what the 45-plus competitors went through Sunday, my event was the equivalent of taking a bite from a large Italian hoagie at White House Sub Shop.

Not that it was easy, however.

I’ve been lucky enough to experience a few SUP (standup paddleboard) races/events in the last five years, including a 5K race in the bay and two appearances in a 4-mile Upper Township Beach Patrol MS Bay Row/Paddle.

The Upper Township race, held in the back bay of Strathmere, is extremely tough, due to the current and greenhead flies the size of cellphones.

Sunday’s event was hard in a different way.

I’ve had the pleasure of doing SUP in bodies of water such as Cape May Harbor, Delaware Bay, Lake Michigan in Chicago, a harbor in Redondo Beach, California, and another one in Marina Del Rey outside Los Angeles.

The Atlantic Ocean was the first one to literally bring me to my knees.

Because it was not an official race, there were no limitations as to kneeling vs. standing.

Thank goodness.

My plan was to stand after negotiating the waves on the way out to the course, but rolling side swells quickly reminded me of advice my wife, Karen, had offered as parting words earlier that day.

“Don’t be a hero.”

It helped to be a local. Cape May lifeguard Marty Franco, a classmate of mine at both Lower Cape May Regional High School and Appalachian State University, came out on his rescue board to say hello. Terry Randolph handed me a bottle of water from his water rescue boat.

I also had other company.

Dolphins were everywhere, frequently swimming close enough to almost touch them, which made for a breathtaking experience for me and the 24 other participants.

Being a few hundred yards offshore also afforded me a different vantage point of the Cape May coastline, though I think some beachgoers may have mistaken me for a whale.

I finished in 1 hour, 54 seconds, raising my arms as I crossed the finish line, then immediately steered to the beach and waited for the real competitors to complete their 17-mile trek.

That group included Todd DeSatnick, who helped start the Cape to Cape event six years ago with brother Chad to help raise money for the DeSatnick Foundation. Chad formed the nonprofit organization to help those with spinal-cord injuries after shattering the C6 and C7 vertabrae in his neck while surfing in Cape May in 2001.

“So, what about next year?” Todd asked me.

Sign me up.

But that’s for the 4-miler. The only way I’m crossing the bay is aboard the Cape May-Lewes Ferry.

David Weinberg’s Extra Points column appears Wednesdays and Sundays in The Press.

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