Competitors before the Annual Key West Paddleboard Classic starts

Marius, Nicole, and Westy compete.

by Shayne Benowitz

This weekend marked the 13th Annual Key West Paddleboard Classic, and the second year that Fury’s own Captain Westy has headed the event. Over 150 paddlers descended for the 12 mile race around the island, nearly doubling the turnout from the previous year.

Westy makes his way to the start line.

Westy makes his way to the start line.

This was also the first time a couple of other Fury paddling enthusiasts threw their boards into the race: our cruise ship liaison extraordinaire, Nicole, and the boss-man-bubba himself, Marius. Saturday morning, the winds were unseasonably high creating challenging conditions for the race start at Smathers Beach and along the stretch from Fleming Key through Sigsby. However, Fury’s finest made it look easy. Becky and I followed the paddlers around the island, and at every checkpoint they were smiling and looking strong!

A few other Fury folk helped with the race logistics. Rob, Andrew, and Mr. Scott Saunders positioned themselves as support boats ensuring that the race ran smoothly.

Maruis finished strong in his stand-up paddle stock division placing 14th with a time of 2:59:32 and Nicole finished ninth in ladies stand-up paddle stock at 3:49:16. Westy raced in the men’s 14’ stand-up paddle division and finished second place at 2:51:03.

Competitor Marius passing by Cow Key Channel

Marius looking strong at Cow Key Channel.

Fury represented as a title sponsor and hosted two pros, EJ Johnson and Byron Kurt from Dana Point, California who led a paddling workshop the day after the race. There were also a couple of remarkable paddleboarders who used the race in Key West to kickstart some very long sojourns. Cynthia Aguilar will cross from Cuba to Key West on her paddleboard, a journey of 100 miles, to raise money for Make a Wish Foundation. In order to raise awareness of a plastic free ocean, as well as the sport of paddleboarding, Tom Jones set out from Key West the day after the race with his final destination New York City, a trek of nearly 1200 miles.

It was a fun weekend with pre-registration and the awards ceremony held at everyone’s favorite honky tonk saloon, Cowboy Bill’s. Westy did a great job organizing the race. He is very enthusiastic about the future of this fast-growing sport and the 12-mile classic in Key West. Hey, next year, maybe Fury Girl will give it a whirl!

Shayne Benowitz is a Fury crewmember and freelance writer. For more travel stories and a daily dose of what’s cool around the globe visit her Wanderlust Website at

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Last Updated 08/03/2023