Get ready for the ninth annual Wicked Whaleboat Challenge on May 4 at the Pope's Island Marina in New Bedford.

The event is hosted by Whaling City Rowing, an educational non-profit. The organization's website says its mission is to preserve the traditions of New Bedford's maritime past, while encouraging an appreciation for the area's modern day maritime beauty.

Mark "Hurk"  Hurley, the self-proclaimed "Vice Admiral of the Narrow Seas," stopped by Townsquare Sunday this week to preview the Challenge and give us a rundown on Whaling City Rowing.

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"Whaling City Rowing was formed in 2020, and we started with Independence Day races," Hurley said. "The Wicked Whaleboat Challenge began in 2013, but we lost a couple of years to COVID."

Several years ago, the organization added a "man overboard rescue" scenario to the Challenge, and it has proved to be a popular addition.

"It's not a real person, it's a dummy," Hurley said. "We call him Bob."

A total of 17 teams will take part in this year's Wicked Whaleboat Challenge, including teams from New Bedford, Boston, Cape Cod and California. At the end of the Challenge, there will be a chili competition at the marina.

The public is invited to view the whaleboat racing; there is no admission charge, and according to Hurley, you can see the entire race from the dock at the marina. It is a light-hearted event to be sure.

"To make it interesting, I thought when the starter's gun goes off, instead of going straight, you go backwards for about 20 strokes before moving forward," he said. "It really works the core."

Check out the Wicked Whaleboat Challenge on Saturday, May 4 at the Pope's Island Marina. Team Registration is at 8 a.m., and the racing starts at 9.

To learn more, visit

Townsquare Sunday is a community affairs program heard every Sunday mornings on WBSM.

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