Kan Fest Event Recap with Reta
– Written by: Reta Boychuck owner of RetaSups
While driving south on Highway 40 look out for a majestic river nestled on the edge of the Rockies as it is a place like no other. The Kananaskis River is 76 kilometers long with a predictable flow as TransAlta controls the three dams on the river. They post the release times and the flow rates daily on their site. The water is as glacial blue and theirs a wave designed for every craft. The Kananaskis River is the place for paddlers and river surfers to come together and share their love for the water. Every year a group of hard-working individuals organizes an amazing event called KanFest, a kayak festival that takes place at the beginning of August on the Kananaskis River east of Canmore, Alberta.
This year it was my mission to try and get more stand up paddlers to come out and join me in running rivers, participating in clinics, and trying the first-ever SUP Challenge event hosted at KanFest. It was a huge success! During the weekend Adventure Paddle School lead River SUP clinics that had everyone dialing in eddies and ferries. I taught a River SUP Surfing Clinic that had everyone smiling as they rode their first waves and groups of SUPs could be seen traveling down the river all weekend.
My weekend highlight was the SUP challenge. I spent a lot of time beforehand working out all the details, prizes, location, difficulty, and structure of this event. I wanted paddlers to see how technical stand up paddle boarding can be when you incorporate buoy turns that require working against the current. I also didn’t want to scare paddlers away by making the course too challenging. Having Shasta of Streamworks and my friend Kim there to help me test the course on-site resulted in a course that showcased the sport perfectly!
“In Canada, the waters may be cold but our hearts are warm so grab your wet suits and learn to go with the flow! ”
There were nine participants in the event and I kept the format of the event simple. Round 1 and 2 were a set course that each participant needed to complete standing on their feet in order to move on to the next round. Round 3 was where it got exciting. Three to four paddlers lined up in the eddy above 40 Boat Rock and when the whistle blasted, paddlers leapt onto their boards and started paddling downstream. The strong current at the top caused some wobbling but all the racers paddled hard to maintain their balance knowing that only the first two paddlers would move on to the next round. The first buoy allowed for those in second or third position to move into the first position by sprinting out of the eddy and paddling to the next buoy ahead of everyone else. A paddle tap on a Badfish iSK8 would mark the completion of the round. Based on the smiles on the participants’ faces everybody was having a blast.
The final results were Brenna Kelly in 1st place, Kim Kenyon in 2nd place, Shasta McCoy in 3rd place and Robyn Bell in
4th place. We had participants with varying skill levels and after the race, all the participants agreed that they would like to attend more events like this one because they are a fun and exciting way to bring the SUP community together.
Since competing in the first race on July 27th, 2019 at Toby Creek near Invermere and paddled other surrounding rivers I’ve met and worked with at least thirty other river stand up paddlers. I am so proud to be able to say that the paddling community in Canada is growing and is fully stoked to try new rivers.
I’m very excited for the upcoming Bow Valley Logjam SUP race on Sept 7th. The race is held on the Bow River in Canmore, Alberta and organized by Badfish friends and Bow Valley SUP. I am sure I will meet even more paddlers there. The sport is blowing up here in Canada!
In Canada, the waters may be cold but our hearts are warm so grab your wet suits and learn to go with the flow!
Check out Reta’s clinic schedule on her site www.retasups.com!