Race By Paddle

Paddlers compete in the Great Rappahannock Whitewater Canoe Race.

Race by Paddle

Great Rappahannock Whitewater Canoe and Kayak Race Fredericksburg, Va. • June 4 The all-day, multi-race event holds five downriver races, a series of fast one-mile sprints, and the hearty 20-mile marathon run on the idyllic free-flowing class I-II river. Categories range from the novice father/daughter tandem class to the serious action of the American Canoe Association Middle States Division Whitewater Championship.

Beaverdam Canoe Jam Gloucester, Va. • June 11 Paddlers get no moving water to help their cause, as they battle fellow boaters on the open-water lake at Beaverdam Reservoir Park. The course includes a short, two-mile option, as well as a longer four-mile stretch, in classes for recreational canoes, kayaks, and racing hulls meeting the United States Canoe Association standards.

Canoe Club Challenge Bryson City, N.C. • June 18, July 16 & August 13 The Nantahala Outdoor Center sets up a challenging yet beginner-friendly slalom course on the Nantahala River for three weekend days in the summer months. Paddlers are allowed to run it as many times as they can in three hours with only their best time counting toward the final tally. Paddlers must go through every gate for their run to count. There is also a canoe club team challenge through the whole series.

Harpers Ferry Outdoor Festival Harpers Ferry, W.Va. • June 18 Paddlers meet at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers for a full-day festival that features live music, good local eats, and plenty of on-the-water action. Comps include the Harpers Ferry Cup Amateur Raft Race, an attainment race, and the Tim Gavin Down River Race, which honors fallen paddler Tim Gavin, who died in a kayaking accident on the Upper Blackwater River in 1998.

Potomac Whitewater Festival Great Falls, Md. • June 25-26 The centerpiece of this full weekend of paddling comps is the Great Falls Race—an epic downriver descent that drops 60 vertical feet through the Potomac’s tumultuous class V-plus Great Falls. If bombing down the falls is too rugged for your taste, this fest has additional events in freestyle, slalom, boatercross, and downriver squirt, as well as clinics, demos, and a party at the Old Angler’s Inn.

Smith River Fest Martinsville, Va.• August 13 This popular river festival features a 4.5-mile flatwater race on the Smith from the South Martinsville Access Ramp to the Smith River Sports Complex. Stick around for the rest of the fest events, including group paddles, live music, a river film festival, and fly fishing clinics.

Lumber River Canoe and Kayak Challenge Lumberton, N.C. • September 17 Paddlers will meet for a day of downriver action on the Wild and Scenic Lumberton River. The race includes a 10-mile recreational course for canoes and kayaks, as well as a 20-mile United States Canoe Association sanctioned course for kayaks, canoes, and double canoes.

Watch the Pros

The country’s next class of Olympic paddlers has to get past the Blue Ridge before they get to London in 2012. The best in boating will be battling for placement in Western North Carolina this fall, when the USA Canoe/Kayak Slalom Nationals take place October 1-2 at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Spectators will have a sweet riverside view of the top whitewater slalom racers in the nation competing for the national championship in their respective divisions: Kayak, Single Canoe, Double Canoe, and Women’s Kayak. Since slalom is the only Olympic whitewater discipline, expect paddling’s elite to be slithering between the gates on the 300-meter course set around the Nantahala River’s biggest rapid, the class III Nantahala Falls.

Get Up, Stand Up

A Riotous Roster of Regional Paddleboard Races

Charleston Watersport 50/50 Summer SUP Race Series
Mt. Pleasant, S.C. • June 11
Bring your board to Shem Creek Boat Landing and get ready to paddle hard. Additional races take place on June 25, July 9, July 30, and August 6.

James River Paddle Challenge
Williamsburg, Va. • June 11
Paddlers will race around Jamestown Island in the tidal section of the James River. Kayakers, canoeists, and paddleboarders will be taking on the 10- or 17-mile courses.

Naish Paddleboard Race Series
Rodanthe, N.C.. • June – August
Details are still coming together for this summer series in the Outer Banks, set to take place at the Rodanthe Kitty Hawk Surf Company.

Paddle for Humanity
Washington, D.C. • August 20
One of California’s premier paddling events is expanding to the Nation’s capital. Paddle for Humanity raises money for SurfAid International with this growing series of paddleboard races. In the new D.C. race, boarders will paddle through a six-mile course from Maryland’s National Harbor. There is also an open two-mile fun paddle for novices.

Places to Go, Things to See:

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