10 SUP Teams Take On 444-Mile Yukon River Quest
Standup paddlers keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible on a SUP.
Whether paddling into 20-foot faces at Jaws, charging down Class-V rapids or even standup paddling across the Atlantic Ocean, what was deemed impossible only a couple years ago is now happening before our eyes.
Another example of this occurred during the 2016 iteration of the Yukon River Quest.
Taking between two and three days to finish, this race challenges paddlers–traditionally in either canoes or kayaks–to paddle 444 miles through the Canadian wilderness on the Yukon River. Aside from two mandatory 10-hour rest breaks, teams complete this grueling race by paddling nonstop.
Last year, a few brave standup paddlers decided it was time to attempt this epic journey. Unconvinced about how this new craft would fare in such a demanding race, organizers responded by deeming SUP an “experimental class” and did not offer prize money.
Unfazed by the skepticism, 11 standup paddle teams entered the race determined prove their mettle. Led by longtime expedition paddler Bart de Zwart, nine of the 11 SUP teams would complete the race and thus prove standup paddlers deserved to be a part of this legendary event.
Their efforts did not go unnoticed. Organizers have including SUP as an official class in the solo division for 2017 Yukon River Quest. That race officially began today with 88 teams carrying 224 paddlers from 12 countries, including 10 SUP teams.
De Zwart and fellow expedition paddler Joanne Hamilton-Vale highlight a dedicated field of standup paddlers striving to push their boundaries once again. Stay tuned for full coverage and results from this marathon event.