(July 11, 2014) BJ’s on the Water is back with its 35th annual canoe races, pitting teams of four against each other in one of Ocean City’s favorite summertime events on Tuesday, July 15.
“We like to bill it as ‘the most fun that anybody could have,’” said Maddy Carder, co-owner of BJ’s with her husband Billy. “It’s just really an amazing day.”
BJ’s on 75th Street opens at 10 a.m. Tuesday for registration for the races. The competition is open to anyone age 21 and older, though many restaurants and bars have heated rivalries that have developed over the years, Carder said. Some visitors also plan their vacations around the annual event.
“As soon as it ends each year, people start asking when we’ll have it next year,” Carder said. “We have teams that are all ages… As long as you have two girls and two guys and they are both over 21, you can be in our canoe race.”
To compete, teams of four — two men and two women — take to their canoes in seven-team heats. The first duo paddles the boat around the island behind the restaurant and then jumps out as their teammates hop in the canoe to complete the same task. Winners of each heat move on to the next round of competition until the 2014 champions are crowned.
In addition to cash prizes of hundreds of dollars, each rower in the top three placing teams takes home a trophy. The first-place winners get their name engraved on the official tournament cup alongside the last 34 winners — an honor OC SUP & Fitness earned last year. Every racer takes home a souvenir T-shirt.
Because there is no pre-registration for the canoe races, Carder never knows how many teams will participate. However, there were 94 teams in the 2013 races and she expects a similar turnout Tuesday, she said.
For those not paddling, BJ’s will have a grill on deck to dish up hot dogs, hamburgers and food. There will also be drink specials for Twisted Tea, shots of schnapps, Jell-O shooters, canned beer and Fireball. Spectators can watch from outside or see the races on a close-circuit TV in the restaurant and must be 21 or older to enter BJ’s that day.
The canoe races began 35 years ago when the Carders were searching for an event that highlighted their spot in the bay.
“We asked, ’How can we utilize this area?’” Carder said. “It has evolved into the event of the summer.”
She emphasize that the races are “all about having fun.”
“It’s not so much about winning. It’s about the memories,” Carder said. “I can’t put the emphasis on fun enough.”
Registration for the canoe races begins at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 15, at BJ’s on the Water on 75th Street. Teams of four, which must be two men and two women age 21 or older, pay $50 to participate. All participants must wear closed toe shoes to protect themselves from the bay’s bottom.
Anyone who comes to BJ’s during the canoe races must be at least 21 years old to enter.
Call the BJ’s on the Water at 410-524-7575 for more information.