Local paddlers invited to enter SUP, Dragon Boat events
OKLAHOMA CITY (Aug 5, 2022) – Oklahoma City will welcome athletes from more than 20 countries for the 2022 World Paddlesports Festival, August 26-28 in downtown OKC’s Boathouse District. RIVERSPORT is hosting the event which includes Super Cup and World Cup events relocated from Russia in the wake of the war in Ukraine.
Olympic and world champion paddlers will compete in the International Canoe Federation (ICF) 2022 Canoe Sprint Super Cup, an event which was first hosted in Oklahoma City in August, 2021. The weekend will also include the ICF Stand Up Paddling World Cup and Red Bull Rapids, both have never before been held in the U.S.
“Oklahoma City offered such a great experience for athletes and coaches at last year’s Super Cup, the ICF felt confident in asking our city to host again this year, even on such extremely short notice,” said Mike Knopp, executive director. “We’re really encouraging people to come out for the races and show our support. It’s about racing at the highest level, but it’s also about building a more peaceful world through sport.”
The weekend begins with preliminary racing on Friday followed by a World Party on Friday evening. The ticketed event will include opening ceremonies featuring athletes from each country. World champion and Red Bull athlete Dane Jackson will do freestyle kayaking demos on the water, and Red Bull Rapids team members will be special guests at the party. The public is invited to attend the World Party; tickets are $40 and can be purchased online at riversportokc.org.
Saturday & Sunday Race Events
Racing begins Saturday morning with Stand Up Paddling World Cup qualifiers and the Canoe Sprint Super Cup Portage race. Stand up paddle board racing is a new race discipline expected to become increasingly popular in the U.S. The Canoe Sprint Portage race is one of the more exciting races as paddlers must dock their boats mid-race, then carry them 300 feet on shore before re-entering the water to finish the race.
“You’ll see a lot of jostling among the athletes as groups of paddlers come out of the water and run at full speed,” Knopp said.
Evening finals for racing begin at 7:00 p.m. and will conclude under the lights on the Oklahoma River sprint course.
“This is really the marquis event for the ICF athletes,” Knopp said. “We’ll have six U.S. athletes competing including Nevin Harrison who won gold at the Tokyo Olympic last year. We’ll also be cheering on local favorite Augustus Cook who’s trained at RIVERSPORT for many years and is now competing at the top levels of the sport around the world.”
Four Ukrainian athletes are expected to race including Liudmyla Luzan who won gold at last year’s event. Maxime Beaumont of France, last year’s men’s gold medalist, will also be competing. Other countries represented include Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Republic of Georgia, Germany, Italy, Korea, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, and Spain.
Sunday racing will feature Stand Up Paddling World Cup distance racing from 9:00 a.m. to noon.
Community Dragon Boat, SUP Racing
“We want people in Oklahoma City to get involved so we’re inviting local paddlers to race Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. just before the international racing begins,” Knopp said.
Stand up paddle boarders are invited to enter the SUP Open Recreational race. Entry is free and inflatable boards will be provided. “If you know how to paddle on a stand up board, you should enter,” Knopp said. “You really don’t need a lot of experience.”
Dragon boat paddlers are also invited to enter. Dragon boats are large canoes with teams of 10 paddlers and a drummer. Teams will compete in short sprint races and, like the SUP event, entry is free and all equipment is provided. For more information about entering either event, email email@example.com.
Red Bull Rapids
Red Bull has been hosting this “wacky” race featuring homemade boats on whitewater for 11 years, but this is the first time the event has been held in the U.S. Red Bull expects as many as 50 teams to be on the water for racing, noon to 4:00 p.m., on Saturday, August 27 in RIVERSPORT’s Whitewater Center. Judging will be led by celebrity judge Darci Lynne Farmer, an Oklahoma entertainer who is the youngest to ever win NBC’s America’s Got Talent television show. OKC Thunder player Tre Mann, University of Oklahoma softball star Jada Coleman and Red Bull freestyle kayaker Dane Jackson will complete the judging panel.
The gate opens at 10:00 a.m. for Red Bull Rapids and spectators are encouraged to arrive early with large crowds expected for the race.
More Family Activities
RIVERSPORT’s adventures will be open with specially priced passes for $29.99. Rafting, tubing and flatwater kayaking will not be available that day. Big Water Grill & Bar will be open along with food trucks. Fireworks will begin at the closing of racing Saturday evening.
Admission to all race events is free; parking is $10.