Salida SUP Sessions

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(Salida, Colo.) — With a scene more Waikiki than Rocky Mountain, the second annual Salida SUP Sessions competition unfolded on Saturday with standup surfers sharing and shredding waves on the Arkansas River.

The Sessions featured a surf competition won by Salida local, and Badfish River Boards designer, Zack Hughes. Liz Block, a kayak instructor originally from Paducah, Ky., won the women's class for the surf competition.

Hughes' best two runs included 360-degree spins, back-surfs and ollies on the wave near the downtown of this central Colorado mountain-sports hub that has long served as a stronghold for summertime whitewater competitions.

Organizers also added a 2.5-mile downriver sprint race to this year’s event. Eagle, Colo., resident Brett Redden won with a time of 16 minutes, 1 second, for the men's class and Heather Gorby of Salida won the women's class at 18:47.

"We've seen exponential growth in board sales from last year to this year in the Rocky Mountain region," said Morgan Mason, a sales representative for Boardworks Surf and a competitor Saturday.

Mason said mountain users are taking the boards out for everything from lake paddling, surfing river features and downriver paddling to fishing.

Mason also noted the growth is evident with the upstart of Salida-based Badfish River Boards that manufactures specialized river boards and a large market base for Colorado Kayak Supply in nearby Buena Vista. (Read more about Hughes in the fall issue of SUP.)

Earl Richmond, a co-owner of Colorado Kayak Supply, said Salida was perfect for standup paddling because of the variation in the river features and a spectator-friendly setup.

"We've had high water, which I think made some people a little nervous, but it didn't scare them away,” Richmond said. “We had about 29 racers in the downriver and 15 surfers."

Richmond said the sport is gaining momentum, remarking on the FIBArk Stand Up Triple Crown which hosted three events. He said it was a great showcase of the sport and expected it will keep growing in popularity.  — Kevin Hoffman

Downriver Men
1 Brett Redden 16:01
2 Earl Richmond 16:12
3 Spencer Lacy 16:24
4 Chad Gorby 16:52
5 Ken Hoeve 16:56
6 Zack Hughes 16:59
7 Cole Phillips 17:06
8 John Blackshire 17:11
9 Tyler Wheels 17:46
10 Bob Vallevona 17:49
11 Morgan Mason 18:03
12 Joe Carrol 18:09
13 Kirk Roberts 18:26
14 Gary Lacy 18:37
15 John Bridenbaugh 18:43
16 Frankie Block 19:03
17 Andy O'Brien 19:16
18 Paul Byers 19:32
19 Bob Jensen 19:53
20 Brian Felse 19:58
21 Carl Sellers 20:41

Downriver Women
1 Heather Gorby 18:47
2 Tori Woodward 19:46
3 Claire Chapel 20:13
4 Liz Block 20:30
5 Sage Kitson 20:43
6 Mindy Phillips 21:24
7 Penny Kitson 22:05

Surfing Men
1 Zack Hughes 59
2 Mike Harvey 53
3 Earl Richmond 47
4 Frankie Block 40
5 Bob Vallevona 39
5 Ken Hoeve 39
7 Spencer Lacy 36
8 Morgan Mason 35
9 Mason Lacy 30
10 John Bridenbaugh 10
11 Paul Byers 5

Surfing Women
1 Liz Block 35
2 Claire Chapel 20