Stand-up paddlers entertain at the wave
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – It’s a good thing Jenny MacArthur’s a strong swimmer.
After circling the final gate in Saturday’s SUP-cross race at the Whitewater Stand Up Paddling Championship, MacArthur parted ways with her board. Downriver she went, her board upstream and beyond her reach.
Undeterred, MacArthur did everything in her power to grab the board and preserve her first-place position.
“As I eddied out, I just caught an edge and got separated from my board,” MacArthur recalled. “I spent 400 meters swimming upstream to reunite with it before the finish line.”
A happy reunion awaited the Aspenite, who tracked down her board just before the finish line to win her second event of the day and put herself in prime position for an overall title. Today’s surf competition is all that remains.
“That’s two out of three so far, baby,” her husband, Charlie, said afterwards. He then gave his wife a kiss and added, “One more to go.”
The MacArthurs are ambassadors for stand-up paddling (SUP) in the Roaring Fork Valley. Charlie, owner of the Aspen Kayak and SUP Academy, has introduced many locals to the sport in recent years.
Both Jenny, a native of Australia who grew up surfing on ocean waters, and Charlie are highly competitive paddlers.
Jenny won both the SUP-cross and the downriver women’s races at Glenwood Springs Whitewater Park. Charlie finished second in the men’s downriver competition and fourth in SUP-cross after a late fall.
Nikki Gregg finished second to Jenny MacArthur in both women’s races. Gregg is the girlfriend of Dan Gavere, who won both men’s races on Saturday.
Gavere, who hails from Hood River, Ore., and won the SUP championship’s first two overall titles, took both men’s races on Saturday. He’ll try to claim a third straight overall title with a high finish in this afternoon’s surfing contest.
Above winning, though, Gavere would like to see the sport’s profile boosted.
“I’m trying, you know,” he said. “I really want to see the sport of stand-up paddling in whitewater grow. … That’s a big motivation factor for me as well, to grow the sport.”
And that’s the aim of the weekend’s Whitewater Stand Up Paddling Championship, which is the cornerstone of the Rocky Mountain Surf Festival. Atop the SUP competitions, the festival features all sorts of festivities. Among them: music, food, beer, a mountain luau, a limbo competition, a costume contest and a Goof Off competition.
The action continues today with short and long board surfing competitions today at approximately 10 a.m. The SUP surfing contest is slated for 1:30 p.m.
Most of the action centered around the renowned Glenwood wave, which is flowing with force in the midst of runoff season.
Saturday morning’s downriver competition began near the wave and finished a few miles down the Colorado River.
The afternoon’s SUP-cross race began just upstream from the wave and featured heats of four.
Competitors began by paddling upstream and around a gate before venturing out into the main current. As racers surged through the right side of the wave, they had to abruptly eddy out and circle a second gate. Once around that second gate, they charged downstream underneath the Midland Avenue bridge to the finish.
The sharp turns and crowded course led to many a spill, entertaining the sizable crowd that populated the river banks.
And Gavere hopes those in attendance walked away wanting to give SUP a try.
“It’s just a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s good, friendly competition, but it also helps to progress the sport and help people get into it and learn to do it in a safe way.”
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The Glenwood Springs-Rifle sports rivalry goes way back for GSHS baseball coach and former Demons multi-sport student-athlete Eric Nieslanik.