2015 Payette River Games Breakdown With Dan Gavere

All photos: Payette River Games

It's more than just the fastest growing sector in SUP, or the idyllic location at Kelly's Whitewater Park, or even the $50,000 prize purse (the plumpest purse in SUP history) that makes the Payette River Games a favored event by all. It's the community the event inspires. Come June 19, folks from all strokes will converge on the tiny mountain town of Cascade, Idaho, for a packed weekend of competition, camaraderie and even a bit of carnage. Surfers, ‘yakers and flatwater fanatics. Newbies, pros, groms and grandparents—they’ll all be there. And according to event organizer and whitewater SUP aficionado, Dan Gavere, they’re in for an experience beyond anyone’s expectations.

SUP caught up with Mr. Gavere for an early, inside scoop at the 2015 Payette River Games.

SUP: What separates the PRG from other competitions?

Dan Gavere: For starters, there’s the $50,000 prize purse—the largest prize purse of any SUP event in the world. In addition to the SUP races, there'll also be a lumberjack event, a beach volleyball contest, yoga, a dog fetch comp and a river surfing competition, all happening simultaneously throughout the weekend. And, after the first day, athletes get free food as long as they continue to advance in the SUP race.

How is this year's format designed to give equal opportunity to all paddlers?

We're focusing completely on standup this year, so SUP contenders will have a lot more river time. That way, we can include a few consolation rounds, so even if you don't make it through the early rounds, you'll have another opportunity to place—last chance qualifier style. Each day, every competitor will paddle twice. They'll do the SUP-er G, and then they'll do the SUP Xross, working their way to the last day (Sunday) for the final rounds. The event builds throughout the whole weekend, and in addition to the head-to-head race, there’ll also be a timed race. It's the best way to reveal the top overall paddler.

What are the board requirements for this year's PRG?

We’re going with an 11-foot board requirement this year to give everyone equal opportunity without making it too tough to travel. Any 11-foot board is allowed, but whatever board you pick, you need to use the same board for the whole competition.

What changes are being made to the flatwater course?

We changed the flatwater race (the SUP sprint) to a timed event, so the athletes will be racing against the clock in one-minute intervals. There will be some technical whitewater maneuvers and the course will be approximately a kilometer long, so it’s fairly short. That will give the athletes a chance to show their skills on their own rather than having to race only in a head-to-head format.

How will the SUP-er G course be different this year?

The SUP-er G will be a pretty wide-open slalom course with a combination of gates and buoys. The major change from last year is, each round, the course is going to change completely. It's going to require the athletes to come with a well-established, adaptable skill set to win.

What's in it for the groms?

Kelly's Whitewater Park a great family venue. This year, we're including a kid's race and an intermediate race because we want to make sure beginners have a fun way to be involved without feeling intimidated by competing in the pro-class.

What's in it for the town?

The park is dedicated to a gal named Kelly who died in a car accident, and the race supports the park. Also, the town of Cascade is based around the old logging industry there, and since that industry isn't as booming as it once was, the race and its patrons are a welcomed addition to the community.

What's the expected turnout this year?

We're expecting at least a 30 to 40 percent increase from last year. I'm hoping to see more of the kayak and river community out there. Dane Jackson (one of the biggest names in whitewater kayaking) finished top-10 at last year's PRG. The whitewater kayakers have a really good chance to do well there.

Why would a SUP race appeal to kayakers?

Whitewater experience—especially kayaking experience—gives people a huge advantage over standup paddlers who don't have river knowledge. Also, the North Fork Championship (a whitewater kayaking comp) is happening the weekend before just down the river, so we're hoping some of 'yakers will come up from that. All they'll need to do is drive up the road.

Any advice for the unacquainted?

If you're on the fence about going, do it! Commit and get on it. Lodging could sell out, but that's fine because the tent camping and car camping is awesome there. So many other flatwater races have people staying in hotels; it's kind of cool to have the chance to camp. It's a beautiful area and an awesome community. There's something in it for everyone.


For more insight, check out SUP’s coverage from last year’s Payette River Games.

As Dan Gavere says, commit and get on it! Register now for the 2015 Payette River Games.