Carolina Cup Harbor Island Race Preview with Tides

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Race Info:

3.5 mile race starts at 09:00am at the Blockade Runner, goes northeast on Banks Channel, west on Lees Cut, southwest on the ICW, east on Motts Channel and back to the Blockade Runner. They will reverse the direction based on the direction of the Graveyard Race so everyone is going in the same direction.

8:30a Harbor Island 3.5 Mile Race Racers Meeting
8:50a Racers start to get on water
8:58a Racers line up
9:00a Harbor Island 3.5 Mile Race Start

The Tide: Low Tide is at 10:49am

The tide will be going from high to low at race start, meaning it will be dropping or going out from the waterways, streams, rivers and marshes out the inlets to the ocean. At 10:49, it will be low tide. It will be a slack tide at that time meaning there will be no incoming or outgoing current.

The current will start strong at the beginning of the race and slowly decrease in intensity until it goes slack.

Be prepared to go in either direction

The direction of the harbor island and money island races are called based on the direction of the Graveyard race to keep people paddling in the same direction. The general rule of thumb is to take the most direct line in the absence of current. Second, when there is current with you, stay in the middle. Lastly, when there is current against you, stay to the sides. For harbor island, that would mean hugging the docks, but not going under them (disqualification) and remaining in the eddies.

Study the map and see the major areas of current change. These are at Palm Tree Island or what the locals call the Diminishing Republic. It is a low tide island where Lee’s Cut on the north side of the island meets the ICWW. There is a fake parking meter and fake palm tree on it.

The second spot is where the ICWW meets Mott’s Channel which is on the south side of the island.

Watch your GPS devices. Be conscious of where you are paddling, the people around you and your current speed. If you are at zero miles per hour, do something differently. It’s not working. Go toward or away from the docks. Be creative.

Watch for these sand bars and oyster beds

There are three area where sand or oyster bars will be an issue.

If you need help, get help or get out

Water and air temperatures are above 70 degrees so there’s little chance of hypothermia. If you are in distress, wave your paddle above your head and let someone paddling near you know. There are safety boats. And you can get out and go to shore at any time. It’s a short walk back to the hotel and we can go pick up your board.

Do not touch the pilings on the docks or the bridge supports

We have a lot of oysters and barnacles in Wrightsville beach. Be careful. grabbing on to a piling might result in some good cuts and scratches as well as damage your board.


Do not wait to get there and unload AND find parking for 8a. Be there by at least 7 at the latest to give you time to unload.


There are other, more fun things to talk about, but you need to know about parking. Unless you are staying at the Blockade Runner, you cannot park in their lot. You will have to park on the street. Here is a link to our parking page:

Wrightsville Beach Parking Information

We strongly encourage you to set up park by phone before arriving and use that service. It is an app and it works great. 


Please note that there are no dogs allowed on the Wrightsville Beach ocean-side beach strand. There are also no open containers of alcohol allowed on the beach.


Wrightsville Beach is a small town. They are kind enough to let us have this event here each year and the vast majority are excited to have us here. But for some of the residents it can disruptive or inconvenient, so give them a break and cross at designated crosswalks, be conscious of traffic and smile. Try not to give anyone the bird or jaywalk with giant boards and expect cars to stop and get out of the way.


We may be in a race, but boats still have the right of way. We will have Ocean Rescue, Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary there, and large portions of the race go through no wake zones, so there shouldn’t be an issue. Please don’t play chicken with a big boat. The bug always loses to the windshield.