• Paul Clark

SUP: Reno River Festival


After a couple years of prohibitively low flows in the Truckee River, the Reno River Festival was back in action this May. Several events were on the schedule, including costume bike rides, concerts, and several kayak disciplines. Whitewater paddle boarding was also scheduled. Great weather and good fun was had for racers and spectators.

Unfortunately for me (and perhaps the sport of river SUP in general) SUP-Cross the one paddle board event promoted was cancelled due to low participant numbers. (I was the only one to show up for it.)

Races and organized events are ways in which sports grow in popularity. There are about a dozen river festivals in the US that highlight river paddle boarding including the GoPro Mountain Games, the Golden Games, and Tuck Fest. Most are held in Colorado where there is a river paddle boarding community of racers and outfitters, and board brands like Hala (Steamboat, CO) and Badfish (Salida, CO). The biggest event in river SUP over the last few years in terms of cash prizes was the Payette River Games in Idaho. It promised attention and expansion for the sport. Sadly, it lacked sponsorship dollars this year and was cancelled.

Other than at Payette, SUP is usually a sideline spectacle at whitewater festivals. There is typically a downriver race, and, more popular, SUP-Cross where groups battle around a short course around buoys. Cross encourages carnage, and the crowd loves it. At least the crowd tolerates it waiting for other things to happen like the featured kayaking events.

River SUP events are growing in popularity, but not exploding. This begs the question, what is the future of the sport?

Paul Clark going to the river in Reno.

Entertaining the crowd with acid drops. I attempted this trick a few times. The loudest applause was when I didn't land on the board.

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