2019 Paddle for Access racers line up for the start by Safe Harbor Newport Shipyard © cleanocaenaccess.org

Clean Ocean Access (COA) since 2017 has hosted the annual Paddle for Access, an event that originated as a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) race around Goat Island called The SUP CUP and has since evolved into an event that includes additional paddle disciplines like prone, canoe, and kayak. Combined with the history of SUP CUP, Paddle for Access is the longest running paddleboard event in Rhode Island that’s now in its 11th year.

This year, COA will host Paddle for Access virtually for 50 days from June 26 to August 15 in honor of the 50 public rights-of-way (ROWs) here on Aquidneck Island, and we’re thrilled to have Phoenix Bulk Carriers, Newport Shipyard and Peoples Credit as sponsors for our 2020 Paddle for Access Event.

“We are very excited to expand Paddle for Access into a 50-day competition at shoreline access points throughout Aquidneck Island,” said COA Executive Director Dave McLaughlin. “We’ve added multiple new challenges that community members can participate in on water or land, as well as in the realm of fundraising.”

Event registrants will be provided with an online fundraising page to help raise funds that go towards COA’s ongoing work to raise awareness about the importance of public shoreline access. All virtual Paddle for Access participants will be provided with a custom 2.5-liter dry bag. All activities take place either at or from public shorline access points and COA is looking forward to celebrating the ongoing work to protect and preserve these shoreline access points in this new extended event format that will allow even more community participation.

Paddle for Access committee member Melissa Lefebvre, who finished third in the three-mile race last year, commented: “It’s just such a great event,” she said, noting that paddling started out as a casual interest for her a few years ago, and has now become a  hobby. “It’s addictive,” she says of the sport. “Once you start, it’s very addictive, and very fun.”

Patrick Sheerin, another Paddle for Access committee member and a Newport resident said: “Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay are such integral parts of the Newport community, and it’s so easy to take it all for granted. It’s important to appreciate the value of these waterways – and all of the important work COA does to protect and preserve water quality and shoreline access.”

As part of its core Access program, COA monitors 50 designated rights-of-way to the shore (ROW) all year-round across the approximately 41.5 miles of coastline on Aquidneck Island. To date, Clean Ocean Access has adopted 31 of these ROWs for residents and visitors alike to enjoy. Most recently adopting Marine Ave in Newport on June 10, 2020! 

In celebration of our ongoing work to protect and preserve shoreline access, several ROWs on Aquidneck Island will be highlighted each week on COA’s social media channels starting June 26th  to encourage all to get out there and enjoy these public access points.

Please join us and help support our work to protect and preserve shoreline access! To register for participation as an individual or as part of a team, please visit

Follow COA on Facebook and Instagram and celebrate public access rights-of-way with us throughout the summer.

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