Paige Bakhaus, organizer of the fourth annual Paddlefest at Englewood Beach, announced today that the event is canceled.

The culprit: Persistent red tide in the Gulf of Mexico off Englewood Beach and Stump Pass, where stand-up paddleboarders and kayakers of all experience levels would be competing and enjoying their sports this Saturday and Sunday.

"There is too much uncertainty regarding the overall condition of the water where Paddlefest athletes would be racing to ensure their enjoyment and well-being" Bakhaus announced in an email Wednesday. "The health and safety of the participants are paramount, and the potential that direct, prolonged contact with the water could be less than optimal cannot be chanced."

Paddlefest is part of Englewood Beach Waterfest, a two-weekend celebration of watersports held annually in the beachfront community. The OPA World Championship speedboat races scheduled for Nov. 17-18 are still on the schedule, organizers say.

Read more in Thursday's Sun newspapers.


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