HAVRE DE GRACE — Annapolis native Chris Hopkinson announced that he will attempt an ambitious 240-mile journey from Havre de Grace to Virginia Beach, VA atop a 14-foot paddleboard over the course of just nine days. The Bay Paddle, presented by Flying Dog Brewery, will take place September 18-26, 2020 to raise awareness and funds for the Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) to plant oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.
Hopkinson has set a fundraising goal of $200,000 for his journey, which will launch from Concord Point Lighthouse in Havre de Grace on Sept. 18. From there, Hopkinson’s will follow a route that mirrors that of Captain John Smith when he set out to explore the Chesapeake Bay in 1608. The route and anticipated timeline is as follows:
• Sept. 18: Concord Point Lighthouse to Fort Smallwood Park in Pasadena: 40 miles
• Sept. 19: Fort Smallwood Park to Annapolis City Dock: 30 miles
• Sept. 20: Annapolis City Dock to Chesapeake Beach: 25 miles
• Sept. 21: Chesapeake Beach to Cove Point Light Station in Lusby: 25 miles
• Sept. 22:Cove Point to Point Lookout Lighthouse in Lexington Park: 25 miles
• Sept. 23: Point Lookout to Hughlett Point Natural Area Preserve in Kilmarnock: 25 miles
• Sept. 24:Hughlett Point to New Port Comfort Lighthouse in Port Haywood: 30 miles
• Sept. 25:New Port Comfort to Old Point Comfort Lighthouse in Fort Monroe: 25 miles
• Sept: 26: Old Point Comfort to Cape Henry Lighthouse in Virginia Beach: 15 miles
Hopkinson didn’t truly understand the connection between oysters and water quality until viewing an oyster filtering video while helping his daughter with a science fair project.
“I’d always been concerned about the health of the Chesapeake Bay, but the challenge was figuring out what I could do to help,” he added. “After learning that the oyster population is down to a fraction of historical levels, and that they once filtered the entire Bay in a matter of days, I realized that bringing them back is the single most important thing we can do to help the Bay and every species in its ecosystem.”
Armed with that knowledge, Hopkinson connected with the Annapolis-based nonprofit, Oyster Recovery Partnership, the organization that produced the filtering video. Although admittedly initially taken aback by Hopkinson’s goal to paddle the Bay and raise $200,000 for oyster restoration, ORP decided to jump “on board.”
“Paddling 240 miles in varying currents and conditions of Bay waters is extremely difficult, and a true testament to Chris’ passion for oyster restoration,” said ORP Executive Director Ward Slacum. “We’re fortunate to have his time, talents and enthusiasm highlighting the important role oysters play in the health of our local waters. It’s wonderful to see what can happen when a group of conservation-minded partners join together toward a common goal.”
In addition to ongoing support from ORP — including hosting educational water quality monitoring activities and awareness and fundraising events throughout the summer — Flying Dog Brewery has signed on as the event’s title sponsor. Maryland’s largest brewery has been a longtime supporter of ORP, creating special beers and events to support the organization’s mission.
“As soon as we heard about Chris and his goal of paddling the Bay, we knew we wanted to get involved and help rally the community around this important cause,” said Ben Savage, Chief Marketing Officer at Flying Dog. “We have been a proud supporter of ORP for the last 10 years and are so excited about this opportunity to shine a light on their work.”
Hopkinson said he is thrilled with the support he has already received from ORP and Flying Dog, along with other area businesses including: media partner Chesapeake Bay Magazine; mentors Capital SUP; communications and marketing agencies Feldmann Communications Strategies, Marriner Marketing and Vim & Co.; official paddleboard sponsor Starboard SUP; official training sponsor Paddle Monster; camera sponsor GoPro; apparel sponsor Salt Life; and YSI, providing a water quality monitoring tool; along with the Popovich Financial Group at Baird and Riparius Construction.
People interested in learning more about the September event, and the importance of oysters to the health of the Chesapeake Bay, can go to the Bay Paddle website, baypaddle.org. A $10 donation supports the planting of up to 1,000 juvenile oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. To donate, visit the website or text BAYPADDLE to 44-321.