Standing Up to Buseater
Kayak and board designer, Corran Addison, had been board surfing the waves of Montreal's Lachine Canal for years before he decided to throw a standup paddle into the mix, two years ago. The paddle, he quickly discovered, "opens some doors" for river surfing on an SUP. "If you understand the paddle from a kayaking perspective it allows you to do lip turns and things like that," says Addison. "It's the same way you'd use the kayak paddle to throw a blunt."
By surfing big waves and running increasingly difficult rapids, Addison, along with Americans Dan Gavere and Taylor Robertson, are charting the course of whitewater SUP. Veteran Canadian open boater Mark Scriver is another recent SUP convert. After receiving a few pointers from Addison, Scriver quickly became a regular on the renowned features of the Ottawa River. Last June, Scriver scored the first SUP ride on the Ottawa's infamous Buseater wave. "Luckily I ride normal-footed and that way you're looking at the shore and not into the pit of the hole," says Scriver. "It's big and intimidating, but you can start off on the shoulder and bite off as much as you want to chew."
Whitewater SUP is quickly becoming less ungainly and more refined. On his blog, Addison compared the current state of the sport to that of freestyle kayaking in the early 1990s. "Up until 1991 kayaking was a river running thing," he explains. Then a small group of paddlers, including Addison, began experimenting with different skills and equipment. "There was a vision of what freestyle kayaking could be and it started a decade-long revolution," he says. "I think SUP is in the same position today. There are a handful of us using and modifying equipment and skills that come from the ocean. We're starting to find our own way and realizing that anything is possible." –Conor Mihell