By Melissa Newell
“This is the best day of the whole year. I love it,” says local Idaho paddler, Micah Kneidl. And how could you not when rodeo contestant Ryan Crockett mid-ender, tosses a wooden paddle in the air, allowing it to fall and snap in two against the hull of his upside down Perception Mirage, or when James McLeod, sporting an 11-foot Infinity and yellow down vest, balances a paddle vertically on his chin mid-surf while another paddler surfs with enough time to pull his spray skirt, take his legs out of the kayak and simply lounge on the wave. The 1980’s at its best, reminiscent of a time when playboating was more of a social event (i.e. no pros), only beers, granola and rag wool.
For this year’s second annual 80’s Rodeo, the banks of Idaho’s South Fork Payette were lined with members of freestyle’s golden age, including the likes of Grant Amaral, as well as with a new generation of boaters decked out in 1980s garb. This extraordinary play feature – wave next to hole – located just a few miles from the North Fork Payette inspired spontaneous playboating events. Thanks to local kayakers Preston Woods and TJ Kauth – the revivalists – the 1980s are so back!
A revival of the Payette Whitewater Roundup – originally organized by Whitwater Hall of Famer Rob Lesser – the 80s Rodeo was a true blend of local talent and flavor as 19 participants sported the longest, and oldest, boats they could find. Really, what can one do in a 10-foot kayak with a hole that’s two feet deep? Tren Long can throw Piroutte 1080s in his Perception Super Sport. “I don’t think anyone can withstand the Tren80 – probably the most progressive move on the circuit. In the 1980s, that would have been the sick move for sure,” Kauth says.
A heckler from the crowd shouts, “play the air guitar,” as a judge yells, “enough with the paddle twirls. I’m only giving points if they surf backwards and drink beer.” This rodeo is more about spirit, creativity, and people cheering each other on for silly stuff rather then the latest new school moves. “I see creativity being the real winner here; it’s more important than edge control,” Kneidl says.
“I’m seeing lots of nice paddle twirls, but I was hoping to see more juggling and drinking on the wave,” says Jordan Dew who sits in the crowd decked-out in his own old-school garb.
Everyone gave it their best shot at paddle twirls, enders, and pirouettes but those with the most creativity and correct application of the cross bow draw made it to the final four: Tren Long, Brian (B-Real) Ward, James McLeod, and Ryan Crockett.
They battled it out, going for the most original ender: checking the watch, the paddle shot gun, paddle twirl, paddle guitars, paddle throw to upside down paddle breaker… 180s, 360s, 720s, and 1080s! In the end, Long took first, Brian (B-Real) Ward second and Ryan Crockett third.
In Banks, on the grounds of Bear Valley River Company, the 1980’s continued long into the night, as local heavy metal band, Offbeat started things off and DJ Revolve finished up the evening with 1980s hip hop. A true celebration of a decade that rocked.
Melissa Newell is the publisher of Banks Magazine