Essex River Race 2009  



Blackburn Challenge Race Information

Saturday, July 18, 2020

2020 Online Registration is NOT OPEN.

NO RACE DAY WALK ONs for the Blackburn Challenge
T-Shirt Size may not be available for late registrants

Please see new Pricing under Entry Information

*** Race Capped at 300 Boats - Register Early ***

Fees are non refundable (except under exceptional circumstances as decided by race committee)

Click to View Current 2019 Registrants

Click to View Current 2019 Registrants by Class

Urgent Parking Update July 2016 - Parking is only allowed in town lots, not in the Beauport hotel lot, and not in the Chamber lot. It will be challenging this year taking out boats. There is a public boat ramp on Western Ave at the end of Pavilion beach. Getting your car from the high school and taking out there may be the best option for take-out until the party ends at the beach. There will be a parking attendant managing our lot. Trailered boats or OC6 are allowed to pass through the cut. .

Time Limit Update - 6 Hour limit to complete course. Chase Boats and Timing will finish after 6 hours. Racers are paddling at their own risk after 6 hours on the course. Please plan appropriately if you believe you can not complete in 6 hours.

5:45 am - 6:45 am Safety Check: Each vessel must pass inspection before registering. Get your sign-off at central safety booth by the tennis courts or find a roaming safety volunteer with orange vest
6:00 am - 7:00 am Registration & Check In
7:00 am Captains Meeting - All Participants
7:45 am - 8:30 am Staggered Start by Boat Classes
12:00 Noon Pavilion Beach Finish Line Facilities Open
3:00 pm Award Ceremony & Festivities

Click to Download Release and Waiver of Liability

Registration & Check In:
Registration & check in is from 6:00 am to 7:00 am at the Gloucester High School. Registration tables will be located in the cafeteria. Access is from behind the tennis courts.

Race Charts:
Downloadable Race Charts below. Print them out and put them back to back in a dry chart bag or a zip lock. Staples or Kinkos can laminate them inexpensively as well. Race coordinator phone number included. See Race Course page for additional info.
Download Blackburn Race Chart 1
Download Blackburn Race Chart 2

Rest Rooms:
Rest rooms are available in the Gloucester High School

Race numbers:
Should be taped to both sides of your bow. Call your number to the timers at the finish line when crossing at the Greasy Pole. Do not cross the finish line twice.

It is essential that race personnel know who is on the course. Therefore, each participant must confirm his or her presence with the start committee, the committee boat anchored off Straitsmouth Island, and the finish committee at the Greasy Pole. If you are not at Straitsmouth 3 hours after your start time, you will be expected to pull out of the race and notify the committee. Race officials need you to be able to complete the race in 6 hours. Chase boats and the finish committee will not be responsible for racers who do not comply.


Anyone who retires from the race at any point between the registration table and the finish line should inform the Race Committee by calling 978-764-9407. Otherwise, people will be needlessly searching for a boat that isn’t on the course.

LOGISTICS CAN DELAY YOU! Please allow plenty of time to park, register, attend the skipper’s meeting and launch. Smaller boats can use the unpaved areas for launching. Boats must be rowed or paddled up the Annisquam River to the starting line near the railroad bridge. (See Logistics Map at right)

Start Order - To Be Finalized -Confirm at Captains Meeting
7:15 - Paddle Boards Only - Leave after Captains Meeting
7:45 - Sliding Multi and Fixed Multi (Possible moving start)
7:50 - Workboats, Banks Dories, Tandem Canoes, Single Canoes and Open Class
7:55 - Fixed Seat Singles and Doubles
8:00 - Sliding Seat Racing and Sliding Seat Touring Doubles
8:05 - Sliding Seat Racing, Men and Women
8:10 - Sliding Seat Touring, Men and Women
8:15 - All Outrigger Double and Single Canoes
8:20 - All Double: Kayaks, HPKs and Surfski. Men and Women
8:25 - All Sea Kayak (SK) Men and Women
8:30 - All FSK Men and Women
8:35 - All HPK / SS20+, including All Surfski - Men and Women
8:45 - Outrigger Canoes 6 Man

Finish line facilities
At Pavilion Beach by the Chamber of Commerce. Note that there is NO PARKING in the Chamber of Commerce parking lot or at the new hotel Beauport next door (unless you are a guest at the hotel). Parking is available at the town lots, e.g. St. Peter's plaza, or on street e.g. at Pavilion boulevard.

There will be food catered by Redbones, beer catered by Mercury Brewing / Ipswich Ale, and live music by Orville Gidding's band. Massage for tired participants organized by Gina Lampassi (in the shade under the big tent). Sales tent with t-shirts and assorted other items. Porta-potties. Ham radio station and finish headquarters.

Beer can only be consumed by people over the age of 21 and inside the fenced area. Please be courteous to the neighbors and other beach goers. Do not bug the timing crew inside the Chamber of Commerce or disqualification will follow.

Due to construction, the Coast Guard does not want participants to go through the cut (under the drawbridge) with the exception of trailered boats and OC6. Those can go back to the high school to take out but ALL OTHERS should proceed to take out at Pavilion beach. There is a small town landing just west of the finish. Please plan accordingly. The high school is walking distance (20 min) or you can try to find a ride back to the school with someone.

The Cape Ann Rowing Club reserves the right to refuse to register any individual or boat. CARC may also expel or refuse any participant or boat before or during the event for lack of required equipment, unsafe operation, disregard for event rules, or unsporting behavior. See updated Event Rules. The spirit of the Blackburn Challenge holds that racing boats will not be entered in touring or recreational boat classes.

The Cape Ann Rowing Club is a 100% volunteer non-profit organization. We donate excess registration funds to deserving non-profit organizations.



Entry Information:

Entry Fee:
$90 per participant registered by Saturday, June 29th Midnight, then increases to $120 per participant

Registration Closes: Wednesday, July 10th Noon.

*** T-Shirt Size may not be available for late registrants ***

$450 per boat maximum if early registered ($TBD if late)
$10 per additional meal ticket
50% discount for traditional banks dories if early registered

  • Fees include T-shirt, race management and pre/post food & beverages.
  • Meal tickets for non-racers must be ordered online during registration.
  • Extra T-shirts may be purchased at the finish line if available.

GPS Address:
32 Leslie O Johnson Rd., Gloucester, MA 01930

Interactive Map for Driving Directions to:
Gloucester High School - Registration and Parking

Click to View Larger Google Map


Safety Equipment Requirements - New July 2016:

There will be safety checks at registration this year. Checkers will have a station in the high school parking lot that you can bring your equipment to, and they will be wandering around to check for you. YOU MUST PASS SAFETY TO BE ABLE TO ENTER THE RACE. YOU WILL NOT GET A BOAT NUMBER OTHERWISE.

1. All boat types must have one of these for each member of the crew:
- Wearable PFD
- Spray skirt if relevant (kayaks and OC-6)
- Fluids and provisions

2. All boat types must have at least one of these per boat:
- Communication device such as cell phone or marine radio (VHF)
- Noisemaker such as a whistle

3. Recommend that people have a VHF. VHF will always get through, whereas cell phones may have poor reception or batteries drained. Cell phones are needed for Racejoy tracking but not enforced.

4. Additional Safety Equipment Information:
- There will be a central safety information booth close to the cafeteria entrance.
- There will also be roaming safety checkers wearing orange vests.
- Get your check at the central booth (bring your equipment) or have one of the roaming safety people sign off at your boat.
- One person per boat (captain or designated person) should obtain sign off.
- This person gets a stamp or sticker to show the boat passed inspection.
- After you get the sign off you can register. don't forget having the waiver signed by all the crew members.