The Payette River Games put on an incredible whitewater event, setting the bar pretty high for others. The prize money was equal for both men and women with 1st place being $10,000!!! Believe it or not it’s hard to find competitions that pay equally for both sexes. For us that’s a big deal, as women, we bust our asses just as hard as the men to be the best athletes we can be, but because there aren’t as many of us (nudge to all you athletic ladies out there) we often times get shafted. With such a big payout the PRG’s attracted the attention of some of the best stand up paddle athletes in the world, some of which have never/or rarely paddle rivers. It was a stacked competition.
All the organizers took such good care of us. Every day you competed you got three beautifully cooked meals. There were hot tubs set up by the announcing booth for all the athletes. We had live music every night and free camping. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The announcers were great, Ken Hoeve did a great job in helping us get the word out for the film and we were able to pick up some extra support from sponsors, Body Glove being one of them.
The course was a huge challenge and it was difficult to find the perfect board for the sprint and cross. The sprint was a mile and a half and the first mile is all flat water. I’m terrible with flat water, it’s just not where I usually choose to paddle, to say the least it kicked my ass. I choose the Infinity ‘Cut Throat’ 12’6”. The bottom part of the course was more of what I was use to…punching through holes, crossing strong eddy lines, ferries, and buoy turns. The PRG did a good job with leveling the playing field for the ocean and river paddlers. It was a tough course for everyone involved, there was carnage, and for someone who choose to surf every day instead of train it was a REALLY tough course. If you progress to the last day you were doing the sprint and the cross every day for three days. Which in my opinion was too much, we all didn’t get a day to hang out and enjoy the games, everyone was pretty stressed so there was a lot of going to bed early and taking naps in-between races. I think everyone was physically and emotionally exhausted after it all.
The best part of the whole event was meeting everyone. This event brought so many paddlers together. I’d spoken to a lot of them but only in the virtual world and finally I was able to meet and get to know them. The ‘Surf Anywhere’ crew was there and it was a huge treat meeting these guys. They are sharing their knowledge with the world, trying to make the construction of world class river surf waves as easy as possible. Their slogan is “Build Waves. Build Community. Spread stoke.” which I’m pretty sure sums it all up. Visit their website http://www.surfanywhere.ca to see what you can do to help them. We also met Elijah Mack, the Godfather of River Surfing, who helped organize and put on the entire river surfing portion of the event. He’s a rad dude, with high-energy, and a willingness to do anything for his passion of surfing.
Huge thanks to the PRG’s for sponsoring our project and being huge supporters of female athletes and equal representation. We had a great time at the games and now it’s time for us to surf Idaho.
Being new and trying to fit into a tight knit community like the river surfing scene can feel like you’re trying to pry the cool kids password from the jaws of a navy seal. Feeling like you’re the awkward black sheep in the lineup? Here’s a few suggestions from one SUPer to anyone new to the river SUP community.
DON’T act a fool. If you’re not sure how to act or where to start, ask someone. In my experience 99.99% of the SUP community is super friendly people who are more than happy to show you the ropes. Don’t be too proud or stubborn to ask what proper etiquette is.
DON’T go by yourself. I don’t care who you are, being on the river alone is asking for trouble, especially for a beginner. And don’t assume that because you’re in a manicured whitewater park you’re exempt from harm.
DON’T disrespect the river. And I mean this in a few different ways- Do not litter, do not put others in danger, don’t be a self-glorifying know-it-all, and never forget the unrelenting power of the river.
DO keep trying! River surfing is a dirty son of a gun. It will chew you up just to spit you out with your dignity hanging on by a broken fin. BUT the moment you get your first good surf, it’ll all be worth it!
DO integrate yourself. River surfing is not a closed community. We want to meet you, we want to help you, we want to watch you become yet another addict willing to do questionable things in the name of river surfing.
DO find a way to give back. Whether it’s grabbing some snacks for the strangers you’re sharing a wave with, lending a helping hand for a heavy board, or sharing your new found knowledge with someone greener than you, remember that we are a small community that wishes not to remain small, but to remain kind, supportive, and true to our roots.
Remember, being a beginner is awkward, but being clueless is totally avoidable. River surfing and river SUP is a fast growing community with a lot to offer, so be apart of it in the best way! Keep our community friendly, responsible, and badass!
Share your beginner river surfing stories with us and comment below! Embarrassing or epic we want to hear about it. The best story could be featured on our Facebook page!
Written by Heather Jackson
Our standup paddleboard movie Can I Surf That was a first among it’s kind, attempting to show a life lived for standup paddleboarding and river surfing. It has become the next big thing for in-land dwellers, especially in mountainous regions like Colorado, Montana, Idaho. When I first learned how to standup paddleboard I was driven by a desire to try something new, something outside my comfort zone. As someone who know considers myself a lifer, here are 5 reasons why standup paddleboarding should be the next love of your life:
If you’re looking for something new to do with your lover, trying to get the kids out of the house, or an adrenaline-filled, heart-pumping good time, standup paddleboarding could be your next obsession. Feel like daydreaming a bit more? Watch our standup paddleboarding movie, or visit our other blog posts for the skinny on standup paddleboarding.
Written by Heather Jackson
The most challenging wave we surfed during the making of the river SUP movie ‘Can I Surf That’ was the ‘Lunch Counter’ wave in Jackson, Wyoming. This was mainly because of it’s power and intimidating entry. Many of the local surfers didn’t believe you could get into the wave on a SUP. Well, we proved them wrong.
When we saw Lunch Counter for the first time we were all a bit nervous. The power of the Snake reverberates off the canyon walls. Ten thousand cubic feet of water is being squeezed between the banks each second. It’s the roar of the mountains making you feel small and helpless at times.
But, we did not drive all that way to look at it. We had to get out there despite our churning stomachs and shaky legs, we were making a river SUP movie after all.
When entering into the wave you’ve got one foot on the basalt rock wall and the other on your board. Water is moving violently beneath your feet and it’s all you can do to keep your board in place before pushing off the rock into the current.
The entrance is easier than it looks but the wave and swim is much harder than it looks. We knew we’d be surfing some of the rowdiest waves in the country when we decided to make this river SUP movie and after having our first swim through LunchCounter we knew this was one of them.
The Lunch Counter rapid is 50 yards of large haystack waves. And just when you think you’ve made it out of the shit you end up trying to wrangle up your board against a pool of underwater tornados trying to suck you down to the river bottom.
If it sounds exhausting that’s because it is but it almost makes it sweeter. It’s like hiking a mountain to make turns on your snowboard instead of taking the lift. You feel like you earned each shot of snow to the face.
Lunch Counter was the most challenging waves in our SUP movie but it’s the one we spent the most time at. We really got to know Lunch Counter and all it’s quirks and began to love it for it’s powerful beat downs. We left Jackson with sore swollen arms and a knowing we would be back.
With Can I Surf That, we didn’t set out to make a women’s adventure film. Our standup paddle board movie was an idea that Claire Chappell and Brittany Parker had manifested the spark; Heather Jackson had the skills as a videographer to start the fire and they set out to make a stand up paddle board movie.
I was excited to be invited along with this amazing group of women to help with this SUP movie. Years earlier I had worked for ACE Adventure as a video boater, filming the raft trips with a small hand held camera, stored in a dry box in my kayak. Working in Fayetteville, West Virginia had given me a little bit of an exposure to filming but it was nothing compared to this.
There has always been an under representation of women in adventure/outdoor films. So getting the opportunity to be involved in a women’s stand up paddle board movie was so exciting. I’ve remembered growing up and watching kayaking and snowboarding movies being in awe of any woman I saw in those films. It was a rarity. I always wondered where the badass girls were. They had to be out there.
There are many theories to why there aren’t many films out there with women. In a world where women still earn less than men and where in many families childcare falls mostly on women, the chances are slim that they will be able to get out and challenge themselves in the outdoors.
With making this stand up paddle board movie we wanted to add to the slim genre of women’s adventure films. We wanted to tap into and show the experience of four women traveling across the United States and Canada trying to surf any river waves we could find and paddle the biggest water we could charge. Heather’s incredible camera work produces exciting footage that has you on the edge of your seat and jumping up cheering when we catch the wave.
We are hoping that with our stand up paddle board movie “Can I Surf That” more women with have the confidence to pick up a camera and take that front and center role. “Be the change you want to see in the world “ – Gandhi. Stop waiting for the badass women to show up in the films you’re watching and go out and create the adventure you want to star in. Explore and tell you story in your own stoked, scared, excited, honest, powerful, vulnerable voices.
-Written by Nadia Almuti
Want to check out the Can I Surf That trailer? Let us know what you think about our SUP movie on our Facebook page!
A life on the road means not always knowing where you’ll be sleeping that night. It might mean you unknowingly sleep in a parking lot that is right beside a very active railroad track; reducing any chance of a good nights sleep. It might mean you end up sleeping in a place so beautiful you can’t bare to leave, squashing all your previous plans to sleep beneath the tall pines for a little bit longer. When you choose to live a life on the road you choose to be adaptable and to embrace any and all the outcomes.
When we packed up the Scamp — a nine-foot bubble trailer — and loaded our quiver of eight boards and set off with all the confidence someone has when first setting off to follow their dreams.
The road trip began with Heather and I. We were two 24 year olds, one a full-time college student and the other a college drop-out with nothing to lose, setting out into the world to make a SUP movie with no prior experience, no real idea of what we were getting ourselves into.
Our music blasting while the yellow line shot out in front of us like a guiding light to freedom and adventure. Not only was this our first time making a SUP movie but it was also our first time living the life of vagabonds. It was in that moment that we realized this is what we were meant for. Being in a state of perpetual motion and building connections as we go is what inspires us — we feel more alive then ever.
It didn’t take long for us to get use to baby wipe showers and shaving our legs outside on the tail gate. Coffee shops became a second home to us, you’d often find us sipping on lattes glued to our computers updating the our followers on our sup surfing adventures.
We had a solid online following. So it was never difficult for us to find a place to park our home on wheels. It seemed like wherever we went people within the river surfing and SUP community would open their doors to us. There was so much support from people we had never met who wanted to see this SUP movie get made. I think all of us would agree that was the most impactful part of journey — the people.
This sport has impacted people’s lives in such a huge way. But it’s not just the sport itself that makes it so special, it’s the community that has stemmed from it. There’s not a ton of us but we’re spread out all over the world, we communicate regularly about gear, waves, and technique via the internet. Many of us have never met but it’s like we’ve known each other for years. Living a life on the road is easy if you’re part of something as strong as the stand up paddling and river surfing community.
“Can I Surf That” is a stand up paddle movie that follows four women as they search for river waves and whitewater, meeting a colorful cast of characters along the way.
We hear, “What is river surfing?” all the time. Hence, we are hoping that this stand up paddle movie inspires people to get out and try river surfing. There are waves everywhere and all people have to do is go out and look for them. Every river has the potential to have a great surf wave. All we have to do is get out there.
As the sport grows, cities are starting to realize what a “good wave” in their community can bring. Building a whitewater park in any town immediately provides a way for people to enjoy the outdoors, and surf right in their backyards. The rocks in the river are reshaped to form a wave feature with easy access from an eddy. As you will see in this stand up paddle movie, cities like Glenwood Springs, Colorado have built whole communities who share a love for the river. The whole family can enjoy the river together- kids on boogie boards and parents out on surf boards or stand up paddle boards.
Many of these rivers and surf features shown in “Can I Surf That” had only been frequented by kayakers and rafters. This stand up paddle movie highlights the evolution of river surfing. Smaller, shorter stand up paddleboards designed for river surfing have opened up the possibility of trying to surf anywhere. River banks and eddies have replaced the ocean line ups. The only swell that we have to wait for is the spring flow to flood the river banks and create the large waves that can be seen in the movie. From our backyards in Colorado, to British Columbia in Canada, we searched out the best waves we could find.
This stand up paddle movie combines compelling stories to create a shared experience that unites all river surfers. “Can I Surf That” shows how these communities of surfers all have the river in their blood. We all share the wave, waiting on the rocks for our chance to surf these incredible features.
River surfing allows you to be in the moment, moving with the water, completely focused. Nothing else is in your mind. You aren’t thinking about groceries or laundry- just the wave. It draws you in and leaves you wanting another ride, wanting to come back for more. When you meet other river surfers, you know they share your addiction, and instantly, you have a family. Learn more about Can I Surf That and river waves in our blog!
-by Nadia Almuti
‘Can I Surf That’ started as just a Facebook page. Claire Chappell and Myself created the page to provide a platform to promote women in the world of river surfing. But the Facebook page wasn’t enough, so we took it to the next level, we made a river surfing movie.
I grew up wanting to be a professional snowboarder. I’ve got a competitive spirit but what really inspired me were the films. I’d watch intently before and after hitting the mountain. When I’d listen to music I’d be trolling for which songs I wanted to play in my film. Making a film was the ultimate, the creme de la creme. Someday, that will be me.
After getting multiple injuries I found stand up paddle boarding and soon river surfing. I found it at a time it was still being pioneered. This offered up an opportunity that doesn’t present itself very often at this day and age. As river surfing grew so did my passion and it became time to share the thrill of river surfing with the world.
Claire was one of the very few river surfing ladies out there at the time. She was there from the beginning, she helped talk me through the frustration when I was just learning, on the verge of quitting. We formed an ever-lasting bond, so it wasn’t a surprise to me when she was on board to make the river surfing movie.
The film’s mission, at first, was to promote female athletes and inspire women to chase what fueled them no matter how daunting the task. It soon changed to be more of a focus on our journey and what the river surfing community looks like. It became a way for unfamiliar people to answer “what is river surfing?” The women empowerment theme we believe goes without saying. We went after this without really knowing what we were doing or what it was going to take. And despite all odds against us we pushed through and just did it. We’re a group of four river surfing ladies and we made a river surfing movie.
Written By: Brittany Parker