Three paddleboarders will join kayakers on a two-day challenge to circle the island for charity this weekend.

The 30-strong group will tackle the 40-mile marathon to raise funds and awareness for child sex abuse prevention organisation Saving Children and Revealing Secrets.

Organisers said it was the biggest turnout in the three years the event has been held.

Jerry Rivers, whose wife Debi founded Scars, said: “This year, we have roughly 27 kayakers and three paddleboarders — this is the first year we’ve had paddleboarders.

“We have added a West End Kayak For Kids event. Not everybody is going to have the equipment, dedication, time and physical abilities to go all the way around the island.

“We have two smaller routes in the West End that take between one and three hours that will be on Sunday afternoon as the other kayakers are finishing up their second day.”

Mr Rivers added: “One thing is to raise funds for Scars but also to raise awareness.

“The idea is with banners, radio spots, advertising and the general public seeing all the kayaks out on the water, that creates a lot of awareness of the cause, which is preventing child sexual abuse.”

Corporate sponsors of the event include insurance sector firms Willis Re, Ironshore and Fidelis.

The group is expected to leave Somerset Long Bay at 7am on Saturday and finish the day at Clearwater Beach, but direction of travel — clockwise or counterclockwise — will depend on conditions.

The circuit will be completed on Sunday and end with a barbecue for the paddlers and their families.

Mr Rivers hopes to raise around $90,000 for the charity, which was designed to help reduce the risk of child sexual abuse in Bermuda, as well as provide support for victims and their families.

He said: “What’s so nice about that is it allows Scars to focus on their mission — training, education, prevention and so forth, rather than spending the time and effort to raise funds.”

Mr Rivers added that he wanted to expand the fundraising paddle in future years and appealed for people to lend kayaks for the event.

He said: “We really want to increase the participation in the West End because most people can paddle a kayak for an hour or two.”

Mr Rivers said the shorter courses could be an opportunity for people to wear costumes or decorate their kayaks.

The other firms that have sponsored the event are insurance and reinsurance firms Chubb, Markel CATCO, Neon, XL Catlin, the Oil group of companies, Hiscox, and Rum Bum Beach Bar.

Mr Rivers said: “We are so humbled by their support.”

By Fiona McWhirter The Royal Gazette