The 10th Annual Block Island Challenge: 18 Miles of Stoke

Paddle of the past photo courtesy of Paddlers for Humanity

Rip currents, sharks and strong winds, oh my! Believe it or not, people voluntarily, most of the time eagerly, face these conditions each summer when they make the 18 mile journey by water for the Paddlers for Humanity Annual Block Island Challenge. StandUp and prone paddlers alike, along with a number of kayaks and outrigger canoes, make the trip in hopes of raising funds for the Paddlers for Humanity organization, and to push their personal limits as athletes in this iconic paddle.

For 10 years now, men and women of the East End have made the long paddle from the Montauk Lighthouse to Block Island and this year will be no different.

Block Challenge of the past Photo Courtesy of Paddlers for Humanity

Block Challenge of the past Photo Courtesy of Paddlers for Humanity

Next Saturday, August 29, at around 6:30 a.m. paddlers will hit the water and begin their journey north bound for what the Paddler’s for Humanity consider their largest and most successful event of the year. The approximately six hour paddle will begin on the north side of the Montauk Lighthouse and end over at Champlin’s Marina on Block Island, RI. On the paddle over, at least four support boats will be in the waters along with three jet skis manned by certified lifeguards from Hamptons Lifesaving Association. So rest assured, our paddlers will be taken care of on the valiant journey over.

Once on Block, paddlers will celebrate their accomplishment with a catered lunch and a ceremony thanking everyone involved with making the event happen. A ferry ride to Montauk thanks to the Viking Fleet Montauk-Block Island Ferry departs Block Island at 5 p.m. to return home.

Block Challenge of the past Photo Courtesy of Paddlers for Humanity

Block Challenge of the past Photo Courtesy of Paddlers for Humanity

It is pretty extraordinary to see what it takes to make this paddle happen, and even more so that the event is celebrating its 10th year. Each paddler raised or contributed a minimum of $1,500 to participate, and most participants didn’t stop there. All paddlers under 18 years of age contributed at least $750 each as well. Although campaigning and fund raising has been a season-long effort, registration is still open. The cut off for any paddler to register is Thursday, August 27 and all registries can be done online at, so you haven’t missed out if you’re into giving it a go.

Back in 2005, when the very first open ocean paddle from Montauk to Block Island happened, it was the race that ultimately led to the formation of the Paddlers for Humanity, what now is a successful non-profit organization supplying funds for prospective college students and various community charitable efforts.

Robbie Rosen, Block Challenge of the past Photo Courtesy of Paddlers for Humanity

Robbie Rosen, Block Challenge of the past Photo Courtesy of Paddlers for Humanity

Rewind those ten years ago, and you would have seen a brave group of 19 fishermen, surfers and other East End locals, including some of Whalebone’s own, taking on the challenge. Even then, they raised personal funds for sponsorship and paddled from the Montauk Lighthouse with the drive and motivation to make it to Block Island — an iconic event that will be remembered for many years to come, even after 10 years have already gone by. Of course it was a physical challenge these paddlers wanted to prove to themselves they could achieve, but the event was also a charitable gesture that raised money for a cancer support organization known as the Miracle House.

From then on, the paddle became a tradition and by 2008, the core group of paddlers had found a way to better brand and harness the power of the event and thus, Paddlers for Humanity was born and has become a valuable part of the East End community. Since that first paddle the local not-for-profit has raised over $1 million to assist projects and programs dedicated to benefiting the lives of children on the East End and beyond, and they are expecting this year’s paddle to be nothing short of a success in adding to that number.

Post paddle photo courtesy of Paddlers for Humanity

Post paddle back in Montauk. photo courtesy of Paddlers for Humanity

Paddlers for Humanity is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) local non-profit organization based in East Hampton, NY dedicated to bettering children’s lives. The organization places emphasis on supporting innovative and comprehensive mental health programs for kids and youth, including greater early intervention outreach, resiliency, anti-bullying and changing behavior through a focus on the positive.

For more information about Paddlers for Humanity and this event in particular, visit, email, or contact (917) 834-3888. Find them at and on social media as well.

Good luck to all the paddlers and congratulations on a another year going strong.