Learn how to rescue yourself and others in the event of a capsize. This course will give you a chance to learn and practice some of the most tried and true kayak rescues!
East End Race Series
A friendly competition on Casco Bay for kayakers and paddleboarders
- Series Pass Includes Race T-shirt
- Single Race Entry
- Series Rental (per person) Kayak or SUP
- Single Rental (per person, per race) Kayak or SUP
The East End Race Series is a ten-week series of friendly competitions for kayakers and paddleboarders, with races scheduled every Monday evening, the first week of July through the first week of September!
The first nine weeks will be our regular series, with a tenth finale event on Labor Day afternoon (the first Monday in September). We encourage both serious racers and more casual paddlers to join the fun. It’s a great way to connect with other paddlers, train your paddling muscles, and enjoy an evening paddle on beautiful Casco Bay!
Purchase a series pass and compete as many weeks as you like for $45, or join a single race for just $12. With a series pass you can decide each week which class you’ll join, so you can transition from the beginner to experienced classes or switch between SUP, K1 and K2.
Need a kayak or SUP to compete? All registered racers can rent a kayak or SUP from Portland Paddle for just $15 extra. Select this option when signing up.
The Monday Evening Itinerary
- 5:00: Racers should plan to arrive to park and unload gear.
- 5:15-5:45: All participants should check in between 5:15 PM and 5:45 PM at the race check in desk. If you intend to rent a boat from us or to switch your class from the previous week please arrive on the earlier side.
- 5:50: A brief race meeting will occur on the main beach. Boats and gear must be ready by this time.
- 6:00: All “butts in boats” for the race start!
- 7:30-8:00: Race finishes.
- 7:45-8:00: There will be a brief “awards” ceremony at the end of race.
There will be a small ceremony each evening announcing the results of that night to the participants. Per tradition you must be present at the ceremony for your name to be read! Results and photos will be posted to the links at the bottom of this page each evening following the conclusion of events!
Please arrive between 5:00 and 5:30 to park, unload, and check in. Please remember that parking a few minutes walk away may be necessary, so plan for enough time to get back down to the beach. If you are renting a boat, or would like to change your racing class please arrive on the earlier side.
Parking in the lots circled in orange, or in the residential neighborhoods at the top of the hill (indicated by the orange arrow), are free and have no time limit. Check in will be at the East End Beach lowest parking lot (all time limited), near the bathhouse and Portland Paddle shipping containers (yellow and blue on the map respectively). You will see our signs at the end of Cutter Street by the East End Beach.
Race start location is on the main beach at East End Beach past the bath house, indicated by green on the map.
Our races will involve paddling on the open waters of Casco Bay, where current, tides, wind, waves, cold water, boat traffic, and other hazards may be present. All crafts and their paddlers must be adequately prepared to handle these conditions and to follow Coast Guard regulations, including by wearing a life jacket at all times, and by keeping noise signaling and communication devices on them. Individual paddlers are solely responsible for their decision to go out in whatever conditions present themselves.
We strongly recommend wearing a wetsuit in case of immersion. Sit-inside kayaks must have appropriate features and equipment to allow paddlers to use established self rescue practices. SUPs, surf skis, and other sit-on-top vessels must be connected to the paddler by a leash or tether. Each craft is expected to have at least one paddler who has the prior training and experience to perform an established self rescue appropriate for the craft and venue, to help other members of their boat if necessary, and to carry the necessary equipment for said rescues.
Please note that racers are expected to look out for each other. Should someone become in distress, other racers are asked to assist them. There will not be a motor boat or sweep paddler on course. Race management will be monitoring racers from shore with binoculars, will contact racers if they do not return on time, and will have both cell phones and maritime VHFs on their person at all times.
Racers are advised to bring a nautical chart and compass for navigation in an emergency, and to help ensure they stay on course. A headlamp or flashlight is also recommended in case of a late return. Each race will begin with a map briefing from race management. Racers must be off the water by 8 oclock. If finishing the race is not possible within this time limit racers are asked to get to shore as quickly as is safely possible and check in with race management via phone or VHF.
Participants should bring their own boat and equipment unless they have arranged for a rental from Portland Paddle as part of their race registration.
Racers will be asked to place themselves in a race class at registration based on three criteria: vessel type, experience level, and gender identity.
Touring K1 – Any typical sea kayak meant for touring and other recreational paddling. Generally 14 – 18 feet long, and made of plastic or fiberglass.
High Speed K1 – Any kayak meant for going FAST! Generally 17+ feet and made of fiberglass, kevlar, or other high performance materials. Also appropriate for OC1/Va’a.
Touring SUP – A typical SUP, meant for casual paddling, yoga, surfing, etc.
High Speed SUP – Long, skinny SUPs meant for racing or otherwise going FAST!
K2 -Any 2 person kayak with appropriate safety features for the ocean. Also appropriate for OC2/Va’a. K2 teams do not have to be the same experience level or gender as each other. K2 racers must both register, but it is okay to mix a series pass racer and a single entry racer.
Beginner / Recreational – for the casual or first season racers!
Advanced / Competitive – for any paddler who wants to go head to head with the fastest competitors!
Racers can choose from male, female, or nonbinary.
We will rotate through several different courses for the series. Each course will be raced 1-2 times, unless weather dictates otherwise. Each course will range from approximately 3-5 nautical miles in length (exact length constrained by available landmarks). Every race will start and end at the main beach at the East End Beach in Portland, Maine.
Start and finish lines will be indicated by a pair of small orange buoys floating on the water. Turning points will be marked by fixed features (islands, coast guard navigation aids) or by a large race buoy clearly described before the start of the race.
Maps and descriptions of that week’s race will be available in person and in the prerace email. It is the racers’ sole responsibility to stay on course!
Initial Schedule (subject to change due to weather)
- Fort Gorges Sprint (~3nm)
- The Triangle (~4nm)
- Presumpscot River / Gisland Farm (~5nm)
- Martin’s Point Sprint (~3nm)
- Back Cove (~4nm)
- House Island (~4nm)
- The Brothers (~5nm)
- Race to Nowhere [Green Can 9] (~4nm)
- Fort Gorges Sprint (~3nm)
- Finale courses (4 and 8 miles respectively)
If wind or fog conditions still allow for racing but constrain course choices we will either race an alternate course from the above list or the “Mooring Field Disco”, an obstacle course of navigation aids which sticks close to the shore of the East End Beach. In general we try to avoid racing a course where the predicted wind or the wind observed at start time would result in finishing into a headwind, or a seaward pushing cross breeze, though this is not always possible to avoid.
Our finale races in September feature an 8 mile champions course highlighting several of the landmarks used throughout the season, as well as a 4 mile open drop in which anyone can join. See the Finale Details drop down below for more information!
Detailed course descriptions can be found here. Each description includes waypoints (such as navigation buoys or landmarks) which racers must pass by in order to stay on course. It is strongly advised that racers study the nautical charts before race start time. Updated course maps will be posted before the start of the season!
Updated course maps will be posted before the beginning of the season. Below is an overview of ones we have used in the past, and a close up of the legendary Mooring Field Disco!
The Points Series is a fun way to track your progress over the season, compare to fellow racers, and motivate yourself to race regularly!
We use a 10 point system for our series. What this means is that first place receives 10 points, second place receives 9 points, etc. down to 10th place. Everyone who finished 10th and below receives 1 point. Not racing is of course 0 points.
To qualify for the Champions (long course) Race in September, a racer must place in the top 3 in their classification in any one race during the regular season. The finale will always have an open (short course) race option for anyone to drop in to. The sprint bracket and other “just for fun” races are always open to all.
Champions (long course) Race – Cheer on our fastest racers of the season as they go head to head over 8 miles to find out who will be crowned the fastest paddler in Casco Bay!
Drop In (short course) Race – a 4 mile race around the Eastern Harbor for anyone to join! – Included in the season pass price, or $12 if just dropping in! $15 boat/board rental fee, or bring your own!
Adult-Child Tandem Race – a 1 mile race for an adult-child team! Two divisions, Child 7-11 and Child 12-15 – $12 entry fee per team, free for series pass holders, tandem boats provided at no additional cost
Kayak Sprints – a 200 meter, one on one, single elimination tournament bracket just for fun! – Free to enter!
Used Gear Sale – Portland Paddle will begin our annual used gear sale on Labor Day. See our blog post for full details.
Celebration Cookout! – Portland Paddle will provide burgers/veggie burgers for a $5 fee. Participants are invited to potluck additional food!
- 2:00-2:30: Racers should plan to arrive to park and unload gear.
- 2:15-2:45: All participants should check in at the race check in desk. If you intend to rent a boat from us or to switch your class from the previous week please arrive on the earlier side.
- 2:50: A brief race meeting will occur on the main beach. Boats and gear must be ready by this time.
- 3:00: All “butts in boats” for the race start! Champions race will start first, Open race will start second.
- 5:00: Main races finish
- 4:30-5:00*: Adult-Child Tandem race starts
- 5:00-5:30*: Sprint Tournament races start
- 5:30-6:00: All racing completed. Cookout and awards ceremony begins!
*Exact start time depending on Open and Champions race finish times in order to manage space on the beach
Low tide courses (2024)
MAPS COMING SOON
High tide courses (2023)