26th Annual Canoe & Kayak Industry Awards Winners Announced in Salt Lake

From C&K Staff — The mood was electric and the music acoustic at the 2011 Paddlesports Industry Party in Salt Lake City on Aug. 5. Athletes, legends and industry employees flooded the venue for free food, beer, networking and the 26th Annual Canoe & Kayak Industry Awards.

NRS, Tahoe SUP and Canoe & Kayak magazine played host for the evening. Party goers were treated to world premiere films and great live music from Moonsville Collective. The Explore Project: Catalina Island displayed the playful side of standup exploration while whitewater pro Steve Fisher brought down the house with eye-popping 3D footage.

The Industry Awards winners are selected through polls taken by industry professionals. Equipment providers and manufacturers vote for the Retailer of the Year and retailers vote for the Boat and Accessory Brand of the Year.

Boat Brand of the Year went to Wilderness Systems for the third consecutive time. Confluence CEO Sue Rechner came up on stage to accept the award with designer Bob McDonough. Rechner said, "We humbly accept the award as a great compliment that we are on the right track. And while we couldn't be more excited about the hat trick, it also motivates us to continually set the bar higher and consistently work harder and smarter on behalf of our specialty dealers."

Bending Branches won its first ever recognition for Accessory Brand of the Year. President Ed Vater was on hand to accept the award, and said, "Our goal as a company is to make selling paddles easy and profitable. We are honored that our dealers value our hard work and commitment to their success. Thank you to everyone that supports Branches, LLC., and enjoys our American made paddles."

Retailer of the Year is the award that draws the most intrigue. It is a highly coveted designation to be considered the best retailer in North America. This year, two winners were announced. Colorado Kayak Supply tied with Texas' Austin Canoe & Kayak. Austin has now won two years in a row (tying Wisconsin's Rutabaga last year).

The paddling industry enjoyed the rest of the evening by dancing, drinking and goofing off with the 3D glasses provided for Fisher's flick. Paddling pros let their guards down, and many mentioned the light, festive atmosphere in Salt Lake. In 12 months time we'll be back again, celebrating and showcasing the best paddlesports has to offer. We hope you can be there to join us.