Historically a huge boon to competitive kayakers’ pocketbooks, the country’s largest-purse paddling event, the $100,000 Payette River Games held at Cascade, Idaho’s Kelly’s Whitewater Park, recently announced that it’s going SUP-only for 2015 and beyond.
“After hosting kayak events for the past four years we’ve decided to eliminate the expense of this event and instead focus primarily on stand-up paddleboard events for 2015,” says event organizer Mark Pickard. “We have really enjoyed doing our best to promote and expand the sport of whitewater kayaking over the past four years through our competitions with record-setting purses…but we’ve decided to not underwrite the expense of hosting another kayak event.”
“This will free up much needed river time to meet the needs of a much larger field of SUP athletes,” he adds.
Pickard says that this year organizers expect the field of SUP athletes to grow from last year’s 90 to as many as 180 competitors. Organizers also plan to include more junior and open SUP events in the schedule.
Corran Addison, founder of Corran SUP and an earlier top competitor in both kayak and SUP events, sees the reason for the change. “There were twice the number of SUP entrants than kayak in the 2014 event,” he says. “Unlike kayaking where it’s a given that one of the Jackson extended family will win, SUP is completely open, making it more exciting to watch.
“The SUP companies have also all reached out to help support it,” he adds.
Last year’s overall men’s SUP winner Fernando Stalla of Sayulita, Mexico, as well as women’s overall SUP winner Candice Appleby of California – each of whom won $10,000 for their wins – are expected to return to retain their titles.
Built in memory of Kelly Brennan and funded by Mark and Kristina Pickard, Kelly’s Whitewater Park, designed by Recreation Engineering & Planning on land donated by local philanthropist Hans Borbonus, has been recognized by many paddlers as one of the premier whitewater parks in the country. The park opened in June 2010 and has hosted two National Kayak Championships and four Payette River Games. A 2.5-mile river trail parallels the course, and “The Strand” lets spectators view the action from 3.4 acres of landscaped grounds or walk across the bridge to Rock Island to relax by the river.
Pickard adds that Kelly’s Academy will continue to focus on teaching local kids all three river disciplines of kayaking, SUP and surf. “We are excited to focus on the future whitewater athletes that can excel in all three sports,” he says.
This year’s even will be held June 19-21, 2015.
For video of last year’s PRG SUP action, click HERE
For more information, click HERE