Stand up paddlers in a 16.5 km race on the Columbia River.

West Kootenay stand up paddle board river races are unique in Canada

Last weekend's races on the Slocan and Columbia Rivers show the explosion of interest in SUP in the past few years.

The West Kootenay SUP (Stand up Paddling) race is “putting this area on the map for beautiful paddling, flowing rivers and stoked locals,” says Andrea Ryman, one of the organizers of last weekend’s two races on the Slocan and Columbia Rivers.

The SUP Cross, a race that ran on a section of the Slocan river  is “a 3.5 km technical race where you have to hit certain buoys and tag lines to a finish line,” Ryman says.

The men’s winner, Chris Ryman, finished the race in about 20 minutes. The women’s winner was Jenny Poppitt of Kelowna who had taken her first SUP lesson only two days before.

Andrea Ryman says the SUP races in the West Kootenay are the only river races in western Canada, so they are an attraction, bringing people in from Saskatchewan and the Yukon. Most SUP races are on lakes or the ocean.

The other race, 16.5 km down the Columbia from Robson to Genelle, is the longest SUP river race in Canada, Ryman says. The winner did the race this year in just under an hour, and Ryman came in third in the women’s event.

What was the atmosphere like at the races? “Lots of cheering and huge smiles,” says Ryman. “People really encouraging each other, not as competitive as some of the others. The competition is dissolved because the river adds a new dynamic.”

Ryman says interest in paddling has exploded in the past three years. She says her Crescent Valley business, Endless Adventures, was about 80 per cent whitewater sports nine years ago and now it is 70 per cent SUP.

The reason for the sport’s popularity, she says, is that it is “less intimidating for people to get on a board than in a kayak. Anybody can do it.”

She said the level of the river made a difference to the races this year.

“Last year the river was a lot higher. The river level of the Slocan now is what it would be at the beginning of August.”

Just Posted

Downtown Automotive awarded for hiring practices

The annual award is handed out by the Kootenay Career Development Society

Castlegar, Grand Forks areas to see cleaner winter roads under new contract

YRB set to take over 10-year maintenance contract on Monday

VIDEO: Nelson Tennis Club’s new home opens

The revitalized courts above LVR had their grand opening Saturday

Purcell withdraws from Nelson council election

First-time candidate Heather Keczan has also withdrawn

U.S. Court upholds Teck pollution ruling

Teck appealed a previous decision that it must pay $8.25 million in Colville Confederated Tribes’ court costs

VIDEO: Rare close encounter with whale pod spotted off B.C. waters

Pod of southern resident orca whales breach within arms length of whale watchers

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

B.C. woman donates $250,000 to ovarian cancer research for friends

Two of Patty Pitts’s friends passed away from the disease within a year

B.C. could provide clues as to how New Brunswick electoral results shake out

Premier Christy Clark faced a strikingly similar scenario following the province’s 2017 election

Most Read