Kayak? I don’t need no stinkin’ kayak. That’s the sentiment of Dan Gavere, who showed his versatility in the stand-up world by winning the SUP downriver sprint race on Gore Creek at this year’s Teva Mountain Games, edging out rival Charlie McArthur by 13 seconds…
Sponsored by Maui Jim and presented by C4 Waterman, the SUP Sprint is a three-mile long time trial pitting competitors against the clock and their ability to balance and paddling hard while navigating the challenging rapids of snowmelt-swollen Gore Creek.
This is just the second year stand up paddling has been a competitive event at the Games. In the men’s division, river SUP pioneers and rivals Dan Gavere and Charlie MacArthur avenged their upset loss to last year’s dark horse champion Noa Ginella. Gavere, of Hood River, OR, won top honors with a time of 18:49.27, followed by MacArthur, Aspen, CO, 19:02:53 and Ginella, Sunset Beach, HI in third at 19:09.45.
MacArthur said he thought this year’s lower flowing river, more than half the volume as last year, favored those with greater river knowledge. For his own part, MacArthur thought switching from a hard board to C4 Waterman’s 12’6” was another key factor to his silver medal finish. Also wider than the board he used last year, MacArthur said sometimes wider is faster since the more stable platform requires less energy to balance.
MacArthur said he also switched to the deeper, longer paddle stroke favored by his Hawaiian teammates. Riding the 12’6” to the top of her division was C4 secret weapon and river ingénue Mariko Strickland of Kauai who finished in 20:58.24. The former semi-pro soccer player said she might have been even faster except for two minor line errors that cost her a few seconds. Even still, Strickland was 16 seconds ahead of whitewater kayak steep creek specialist Nikki Kelly of Rotorua, New Zealand, 21:14:09.
Taking third was top-ranked elite ocean SUP pro Candice Appleby of San Clemente, CA, 21:23.38. This was Stickland’s first whitewater experience.
While a half dozen practice sessions earlier in the week made her feel confident about her chances, Strickland said she didn’t know what to expect today and stuck to her Kauai mantra “just give ‘em;” translation: just go for it and see what happens. The increase in the number and diversity of participants at Teva Mountain Games could be used as an indicator of the burgeoning popularity of whitewater stand up paddling. Some 78 paddlers registered for this years SUP Sprint, nearly double last year’s 40 entrants.
Among this year’s competitors, 17 were women, up from just six last year. In 2010, all but a few competitors hailed from Colorado or C4’s stable of world-renowned SUP surfers from Hawaii, while this year, there was a noticeable influx of contenders from Utah, California and as far away as New Zealand.
C4 Waterman co-founder Todd Bradley said he is proud of how his team of athletes and his company’s boards performed but also was clearly pleased with the event as a whole. “Conditions were ideal, organization was flawless, sportsmanship was at a high level and we are especially thankful for the support to Teva, Vail Valley Foundation and Maui Jim for their support of this new, exciting sport.”