As testimony to its reputation as one of the state’s top stand up paddling hot spots, today’s stand up paddle Sprint and Surf Competition in Salida drew a field of 35 competitors, including some of the state’s top male and female stand up paddlers.
Colorado Kayak Supply co-owner Earl Richmond who hosted and sponsored the race, said turnout for the event was better than expected, noting the field was bigger here than two major events held earlier this summer, the US National Whitewater Stand Up Paddle Championship in Glenwood Springs and Teva Mountain Games in Vail. “I guess people just like surfing Salida better,” Richmond surmised.
The top two finishers of today’s 2.5 mile downriver race are the silver and bronze medalists from the SUP Nationals. Silver medalist Charlie MacArthur of Aspen finished a scant two-hundreths of two seconds in front of National bronze medalist and Vail Valley TV weatherman Ken “Hobie” Hoeve. In third was Vail Valley firefighter Brent Redden. The top three times for the race that went from just above the upriver end of the whitewater park to the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area boat ramp at Salida East were: 21:07, 21:09 and 21:15. CKS awarded prizes to first, second and last place. Finishing last with a time of 32:00 was Salida businessman Ray Kitson.
A record number of women for any of the main SUP events in Colorado this season, 11 in all, entered the SUP Sprint Race. The top two finishers are the gold and silver medalists at the SUP Nationals, and also finished one-two at Teva Mountain Games. Jenny MacArthur, joined her husband in taking top downriver honors, followed by Boulder’s Nicole Duke with times of 23:01 and 23:58 respectively. In third was CKS store manager Tiff Simpson who crossed the finish line in 24:29. And just as the MacArthur’s took top honors, Salida’s Kitsons took bottom honors as Ray’s wife, Penny, finished last with a time of 30:12. Although she was last among the women, Penny noted she was nearly two full minutes faster than her husband. It was Ray Kitson’s second humbling defeat by women in his family in as many weeks. A week earlier, Kitson was rescued by his teen daughter, Sage, after swimming from his kayak in The Numbers.
Chaffee County locals fared better on their home wave during the surf competition. Mike Harvey, who engineered and built this and the other three features of Salida’s whitewater park, finished first with a crowd pleasing exhibition of a bass air guitar followed by a move he’s calling the 12-ounce Cutback, or possibly the Bottom’s Up Turn, as seen in this video of his ride.
Coming in a close second was Hoeve, who had already consumed three of his favorite malt river beverages before the competition started. In third was another Salida local, Zack Hughes, riding a board of his own making from his fledging stand up paddle board company, Badfish Riverboards. At press time, it was not known how many, if any, malt river beverages Hughes consumed before, during or after the competition.
For their part, the women had a much tougher time getting and staying on the wave. Surfing to first with side and overhead paddle twirls was sprint silver medalist Duke. US National Freestyle Kayak Team member Haley Mills of Buena Vista placed second while another BV pro kayaker, Amy Jimmerson, placed third.
The staging grounds for the event were held at the new riverside home of Gary Lacy, a longtime FIBArk downriver competitor and Harvey’s boss at one of the world’s premier whitewater park building firms, Recreation Engineering and Planning. Lacy’s home is directly adjacent to the uppermost play feature of Salida’s whitewater park which has seen nearly as many or more stand up paddlers as kayakers. Lacy was enthusiastic about the event and said he hopes it becomes an annual fixture of Salida’s annual summer event calendar. He noted that SUP comps don’t need high water, in fact lower water levels are preferable, so once peak high flows recede, it’s a perfect way to extend the season for river sports enthusiasts. Lacy quipped, “The only downside I see to this sport is I might not ever get back in my boat.”