News | 2016 Payette River Games Off—For Now

The past three year of the Payette River Games have been a blur of good times and stiff competition. Hopefully this isn't the last we'll hear of it and Kelly's Whitewater Park. Photo: Greg Panas
The past three year of the Payette River Games have been a blur of good times and stiff competition. Hopefully this isn’t the last we’ll hear of PRGs. Photo: Greg Panas

News | 2016 Payette River Games Off—For Now

In one of many unsettling news releases to hit the industry this year, founders of the Payette River Games—the premiere river SUP event widely adored as one of the most progressive, well-organized and exciting events in standup paddling—announced today that the event will be put on hold for 2016 due to lack of appropriate funding.

“We want the competition flame to continue at Kelly's and we believe we have the perfect venue to hold world-class events,” event organizer Mark and Kristina Pickard as well as Nikki Rota wrote in an industry wide release. “We just can't be the financial engine to do it anymore, nor can we commit the extensive time it takes to pull it all off.”

While the announcement comes as a blow to the standup paddling community, it is by no means surprising that the PRG’s founders are unable to foot the bill indefinitely for the expensive event. The Pickards nearly single-handedly funded the unprecedented $50,000 prize purse and orchestrated the event since its inception in 2013. They earned little to no financial reward in hosting the Games; their support stemmed from a passion for paddling—both kayaking and SUP—and the community of enthusiasts they uphold.

The Pickards, also founders of the venue where PRG took place—Kelly’s Whitewater Park in Cascade, Idaho—provided an invaluable service for the industry by supporting the most progressive whitewater event on the calendar and garnering international attention for a realm of the sport that was otherwise generally overlooked by the world-wide community. In the three years since the inaugural PRGs, the competition evolved from a small, niche, grass-roots river event into one of the most famous and highly anticipated events on the paddling agenda. A few months ago, the 2015 Payette River Games became one of the few SUP events to be nationally televised, appearing on CBS Sports and garnering national attention for the burgeoning realm of river SUP. With fair warning and more than eight months remaining until the scheduled date of the 2016 Payette River Games, the Pickards wrote that they are open to people using their park to continue an event there.

“We are hopeful some entity takes ownership of it and we encourage any race organizer or group that is interested in holding a whitewater event at the park to approach us,” they wrote. “We will gladly consider allowing you full use of the park for free.”

This news comes in a spate of cancellations in 2015 from the Rainbow Sandals Battle of the Paddle to the Standup World Series events to Germany’s SUP World Cup.

2015 Payette River Games full recap and gallery.

SUP magazine coverage of past Payette River Games