All swimmers MUST have a support vessel. There is no limit on the number of support vessels you may have.
Solo swimmers generally choose to have a kayak with a kayaker next to them. The kayak is able to stay close to the swimmer, providing the swimmer with protection from dangers such as motorboats or jet skis, and also to provide the provisions and hydration needs for the swimmer’s success.
In order to facilitate solo swimmers who have no kayak and kayaker, the organizers of the Swim will offer a service for the needy solo swimmers. For $200, we will provide the kayak AND the kayaker. Click here for more information.
For solo swimmers who hire their own kayakers, we are often asked what sort of honorarium to give the kayaker. Considering that the kayaker must be at the pre-race meeting and will spend a full day on the water protecting and feeding you, we suggest a minimum of $100 for such a service.
Relay teams usually choose a motorboat. While supplying the swimmers with safety, hydration and sustenance, the boat will carry the other relay members to the transition points. At the start, the lead swimmer will be in the water and the team-mate(s) will be in the boat. There are no land entries for swimmers! Many relay teams also choose to have a kayaker as an additional support vessel. We highly recommend this as it allows the kayaker to remain close to the swimmer while the motor boat remains at a safe distance from its swimmer and others on the course. Motor boats must be extremely vigilant of swimmers in the water. Stay far enough away to avoid spewing exhaust on all swimmers in the race!
Some relay teams choose to use only kayaks, switching amongst themselves while the other teammates paddle/swim. This can certainly be done (and has been), but please be certain you will be able to paddle after swimming 4 or 6 miles. If not, your team will be disqualified and your teammate will not be too happy with you! This situation happened a few years ago in the two-person relay. The first swimmer finished her leg of the swim and then could not paddle for her teammate. Even though the teammate was fully ready to swim, the team had to be disqualified because there was not a kayaker to accompany her. Remember, if the weather is rough or windy, paddling can be even more difficult than swimming. Be prepared.
There will be no land entries for relay swimmers. (Transition points for relay swimmers are clearly marked by inflatable buoys for the relay swimmers at mile 6 for the two-person relay, and at miles 4 and 8 for the three-person relay.)
Relay teams must bring or rent their own boats. Some rental agencies can be found here. Please note that we do not endorse any of these companies. Be sure you check the boat well before the swim to make sure that it is seaworthy and acceptable to you. Make sure it has all the safety features required by the U.S. Coast Guard. Tell the rental company that you need a vessel that will go under both the Fleming Key Bridge and the Cow Key Channel Bridge.
All support vessels will be given an orange pennant on a rod with the number of the solo swimmer or the relay team. That number must be placed prominently on the kayak or boat so as to be visible to all. Swimmers who show up for the registration or the swim without a support vessel will be disqualified.
Remember, it is the swimmer’s responsibility to tip the kayakers and support boat crews, not the organizers of this event! However, as a show of our appreciation, we welcome, without cost, all kayakers and support boat crew members to enjoy our post-race refreshments on the beach.