Kayak Program

Achilles International's Kayak Program has been paddling the waters of the Hudson River and Long Island Sound since 2007.

Kayak Team 2015 Season Preview

We are emerging from the winter for the 2015 kayak season. This year will build on last season’s success with an expanded schedule, growing team and additional kayaks! In the off season we have been raising awareness and developing support. It has been a busy time and both Joe Traum and I are excited about 2015.


Here is the preliminary schedule. We have other events in the works that are not yet confirmed.  In addition to racing we have training sessions and expect to host another VA workshop at Northport NY.

Sharkbite Challenge: April 10, 2015 | 8 Miles | Tampa, FL

Essex River Race: May 16, 2015 | 5.5 Miles | Essex, MA

Sakkonet River Race: June 6, 2015 | ____ Miles | Rhode Island

Downwinder Race: June 20, 2015 | ___ Miles | New Jersey

Blackburn Challenge: July 25, 2015 | 20+ Miles | Cape Ann, MA

Lighthouse to Lighthouse: September 12, 2015 | 14 Miles | Westport, CT

Great Stone Dam Race: September 13, 2015 | ___ Miles | Massachusetts

Sharkbite Challenge – This is an early season event in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The racing takes place over the course of the weekend with competitors racing Outrigger, Surfski and Sea Kayak boats for 20 and 8 miles. We are being welcomed by race director Karen Mirlenbrink. The event is a fundraiser for the Friends of the Island Parks. They are a Citizens Support Organization (CSO). Florida Park Service CSOs are volunteer organizations that sponsor events, raise funds, and support the goals of the parks.

In May, we are being welcomed by Rich Klajnscek and his team for the season opener – Essex River Race. This is a fast paced event out of the historic town of Essex in Massachusetts, starting and finishing at the Ship Building Museum on the Essex River. Last year Kevin Cooke raced this as his first event and nailed it. I will be racing with him again this year.

In July we will be racing the Blackburn Challenge also run by Rich Klajnscek. This is an iconic and historic event, in celebration of Howard Blackburn’s heroic escape from the icy North Atlantic in an open dory. If you are not familiar, I encourage you to click the link in the above schedule. The Blackburn is a 20+ mile circumnavigation of Cape Ann starting out of Gloucester, Mass. and finishing under the famous ‘greasy pole’. This is the toughest event of the year and we will be training hard to chase the great times recorded in 2014.

In August, we paddle the Jamestown Counter Revolution. This is a 15.5 mile race around Jamestown Island in Rhode Island. This is a favorite of our surf ski friends and is one of the prettiest locations on the circuit. Our host for this event is race director and open water oarsman Daniel Gorriaran. In 2011 this event coincided with the landfall of Hurricane Irene in Rhode Island which forced us a few miles upstream. We are hoping for much better conditions this year.

In September we return to conquered shores in Norwalk, Conn. The Lighthouse to Lighthouse is an event close to my heart and I will be working with Wayne Lysoby and his team to host this event again this year. We have a slightly different course this year – still 7 or 14 miles but starting from Shady Beach in Norwalk . As always – Wayne will be cooking chowda’ and the famous raw bar and beer party will follow the racing.


We are pleased to announce, through the generous support of Navint Partners LLC, Russell Lazarus and Stephanie Gentile and Current Designs the purchase of two new Current Designs: Unity tandems, to bring our permanent fleet to a total of 6 boats, complete with outfitting. This season’s additions are being customized to make it more comfortable, functional, stable, and of course, faster. The Unity is the best and fastest in its class and we are excited to expand with this quality equipment. As I mentioned, both new kayaks will have the front cockpit and seat modified for adaptive use. Kevin Carr, of Creating Ability is undertaking this work for us. Kevin is a master fabricator and has designed and built a modified seat that provides support to the paddler using an ingenious torso brace. This fully adjustable modification compensates for any loss of contact with the boat, and will enable a complete and balanced forward stroke to be executed with less risk of destabilization. 


We are planning several events with pre-race training.  Keep an eye out for details as they develop. We typically train in the NE, close to most of our athletes –from the NJ shoreline to MA coast.


We depend on the generous donation of time and money for this program. Our boats are crewed by experienced kayakers and we are supported on land by additional volunteers who take care of logistics . I would be happy to hear from anyone who would like to help or attend the events to support the Team. These races are very social and are always held in interesting locations. I encourage you to take a look at the race details behind the links provided and let me know if you can make a contribution to the program in any way. You can find out more about Achilles International and the programs we run by visiting our web site: www.achillesinternational.org


Gary Williams
Manager – Achilles International Kayak Program