What's the Future of Whitewater SUP and Who's Contributing to it?

2014 or 15 Fibark SUP downriver race

2014 or 15 Fibark SUP downriver race

What is the future of whitewater SUP? I’ve been getting this question a lot and I don’t really know the answer to it. Here’s one thing I’ve noticed, our numbers of participants in events have dwindled, especially in the women’s division. Athlete’s who were stoked on the sport just two years ago are fading out. I’ve heard some complaints about the fact that there is not a whole lot of money in the sport. People think being a sponsored athlete means getting paid to compete and be awesome but in this sport that’s not really a reality. This isn’t professional skiing or surfing; this is whitewater SUP. It’s a niche sport just like snowboarding use to be. 

For all of you who are questioning your involvement in this sport can I ask you to ask yourself one question? Are you doing the work to encourage the growth of the sport? If not, what could you do to change that? 

Every sport started at the bottom, look at snowboarding…there was no money in it. Now, it’s a multi-million dollar industry. How did that happen? It happened because people believed in it and were so passionate about making it succeed that they put on their own events, they taught freestyle clinics, and they made the sport accessible. 

You’ve got to do the work. Simply showing up to an event to just compete isn’t going to do the trick, regardless of if you win. If you want there to be more competitions and if you want there to be more money in the sport than you’ve got to help it grow. Show people why you love this sport and share that with them. 

We’ve got to take the initiative. We all have something different to offer to the sport, play to your strengths. There’s a bunch of roles that you may not have known about within the industry that are begging to be filled. Getting burnt out is a real thing but if you can create your own opportunity it may just be that fuel that you need to re-inspire that passion you had in the beginning. This is our community let’s not sit back and let it disappear. 

I want to acknowledge those that are making a difference in the sport and continuing to help it grow. Thank you and please help us keep this sport alive. 

  • Mike Harvey & Zack Hughes with Badfish SUP for always coming up with innovative designs specific for the river and having an instrumental role in the SUP event circuit.
  • Dan Gavare for being there in the beginning and continuing to push the sport, offering instruction, and hosting SUP events.
  • Charlie Macarthur with Aspen Kayak & SUP Acadamy teaching the highest level of SUP instructor certifications on the river. 
  • Benjamin Smith with SUP for the Soul who is always putting out information on boards, waves, helping organize the surf comps, and creating fins specific for the river.
  • Ian Smith, co-founder of the First Waves organization, that offers hands-on education in watershed conservation to under-served youth by making stand up paddling on their local waterway accessible and safe. 
  • Mike Tavares been there from the beginning, pushing the sport, and offering instruction to get paddlers comfortable surfing river waves and paddling downriver. 
  • Norm Hann, Gabriel Gray, and Christian Shaw for all their work on the conservation side of stand up paddling. 
  • Masayuki Takahata, with River Base Halau, for putting all of his love and energy into the growth of the sport in Japan by teaching whitewater SUP and holding the first ever whitewater SUP event in the country. 
  • Melanie Seiler Hames in Fayatteville, West Virginia at www.activeswv.org and her organization of whitewater SUP events in WV and donating her time to get people out on stand up paddle board who otherwise couldn't afford it. 
  • And to everyone else is offering instruction in river SUP and river surfing. Making it accessible is the first step to growth. 

Surf Bend

Bend is one of those towns that I instantly thought, "Yeah, I could live here." 

This was my second time visiting Bend. Last year I didn't go near the new surf wave due to some horror stories I heard about the swim behind it. But they spent all of last Winter improving it, making it safer, and making the wave even bigger (from 20 feet wide to 40). I hadn't been in Bend more than an hour before I was wetsuited up with my new Badfish Sk8 under my arm. 

It took me hours to figure out how to surf it. Floating in on my stomach and popping up proved to be unsuccessful. The only way I was going to surf it is if I learned how to acid drop. Seeing me struggle and probably wanting me to get a surf as much as I did, the locals offered me some tips...
"You need more of an angle." or "Try going into it with more speed." 
All of which were welcomed and eventually I put them all together and glided across the green face for the first time. I had never felt anything like it! Despite my arms feeling like they were going to fall off; I couldn't stop.

But it's not just this beautiful wave that makes me think I could put my van on cinderblocks and change my address. It's the people. When I showed up they didn't make me feel like I was some imposter looking to take up their precious wave time. They looked to me with a smile and a head nod that implied "Welcome to Bend". There was an energy so stoke filled there was no feeling of intimidation just pure excitement and slight disbelief that this dream wave exists in their backyard. 

I've seen surf communities with epic waves turn sour and bitter because their wave was getting to crowded. And I hope that never happens here. This is not the ocean, the wave is endless, it's there 365 days a year (give or take). I want people to be stoked that there are more and more people getting out and enjoying the river. A result of this growth more waves will be built. Why would anyone want to stifle this river wave revolution? My message to Bend is don't lose your soul, every day be grateful that just three years ago this didn't exist and now you get to surf in the F'ing mountains! I love you Bend "Dont go changin!"

(P.S. for insanely friendly service, atmosphere, delicious coffee, and ocean rolls visit our friends at The Palate Coffee Bar and tell them Brittany from RVR 2 RVR sent you ;)

Surf Dolores

The chase is on! I was in the desert in Moab for the past couple weeks and was starting to get a bit antsy for surf. My friend Tyler Lausten messaged me about a wave on the Dolores River, just minutes from his families farm, that was in and begging to be surfed. So I said adios to Moab and hit the road eager to get back on my board. 

First we hit Durango, it was it's typical rowdy self but still a blast. The next day I surfed the Dolores river for the first time and I have to admit it was better the Ponderosa wave in Durango (at 2300 cfs). The other bonus was having it all to ourselves. The window for this wave is very short. The mouth of the river empties into a big lake just half a mile downstream, once the water starts to flow they begin to fill up the reservoir flooding the river making it esentially part of the lake. 

I felt very fortunate to catch this wave and am so happy to have friends that have an obsession with river surfing like I do. Thank you Tyler for showing me the ropes and sharing your spot with me!