Whitewater SUP races continue to grow in popularity, and in the case of this June's Payette River Games, the prize money keeps growing too.
June 21-23, Kelly's Whitewater Park in Cascade, Idaho plays host to the Payette River Games with $14,000 in prize money up for grabs (gender equal), the largest purse in whitewater SUP history. "We just kept dreaming big and made it happen," says KWP Board Member Jeff Banks. "Kelly’s is very fortunate to have the support of some very kind and generous individuals and companies. Our goal from the start (with this event) was to have the largest purse ever. This was designed to draw competitors from all over. We know it takes some effort to get here and we wanted to award people for their efforts."
The Games features two events including a 1.5-mile sprint on the North Fork of the Payette, paddling through the whitewater park while navigating the various whitewater features. The SUP Cross follows, where paddlers start together in groups of five in a sprint through the park, battling their way through heats to decide the winner. To take the overall purse, paddlers must compete in both events and will earn point values for their finishes in each race.
"It’s a real family-oriented, community event at a state-of-the-art facility," says Nikki Gregg, who recently signed on as a KWP ambassador after spending time in Idaho last summer. "Once people see the Kelly’s WW park and the beauty of Idaho they'll be forever changed. I definitely was."
The Payette River Games has the potential to attract some of the sport's best athletes. "I’ve already heard of some pretty big names who plan to attend," Gregg says. "But the cool thing is, people interested in trying out river SUP for the first time will enjoy the event because it’s a very user-friendly facility with features that are forgiving, easy to learn on and the water is fairly warm. The largest purse in whitewater history might help, too"
Click here for event details and stay tuned to SUPthemag.com for coverage from the Payette River Games.
Photos by Gary Ertter