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Old 12-22-2008   #1
Seattle, Washington
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 78
RESULTS: Whitewater Racing Survey

Here's a summary of the Whitewater Racing Survey posted a couple weeks ago. It's difficult to graph this on a forum if you would like to see the file online go to:
You may need a google account to view it.

Point of Survey Collection was to:
See how many people were interested enough in whitewater racing to click on the survey link.
Collect Basic Demographic information
Collect comments and suggestions from a wide spectrum of boaters.
Collect emails of those interested in whitewater racing to better organize efforts.

Total Surveys Complete was 242.

Survey was administered from Dec 8th 2008 Dec 17th 2008. The following web forums were used to administer the survey.
  • (California)
  • (Colorado Rockies)
  • (Washington)
  • (Oregon)
  • (East Coast)
  • (Idaho)
No other means of solicitation were used.

60% of Respondents had participated in at least 1 race in the last year.
o 24% of which had participated in at least 3 races in the last year.
Class III/IV is the most popular section to race (56.3%).
o Followed by Class V (19%).
The most popular craft is a Kayak (85.5%).
o Followed by a Wildwater Kayak (19%) and Raft (17%)
California had by far the greatest response rate (37%)
o Followed by Colorado (14.5%) and Washington (13.2%)
30% of respondents are members of the ACA.
A Cross-Tab of the some of the California results was done as this was the only demographic with a sizeable sample.
150+ emails addresses were submitted.

Gender: Male 218 (90%) / Female 24 (10%)
Age: 0-14 <1%, 15-18 5%, 19-24 13%, 25-30 31%, 31-40 26%, 41-50 13%, 51+ 12%
Craft willing to race (Multiselect): Kayak 207, Wildwater 46, IK 10, Raft 42, Cataraft 9, Skipped Question 5.
State User Paddled Most: CA 88, CO 34, WA 31, NC 25, OR 19, ID 11, WV 10, TN 6, MD 4, GA 4, PA 3, SC 3, WY 2, MT 1, ME 1, UT 1, NV 1, MI 1, IN 1, VA 1, BC 1.
Days Paddled Annually: 0-26 13%, 27-50 27%, 51-100 34%, 101-200 19%, 201+ 7%
Class Willing to Race (Multiselect) Class I 50, Class II 89, Class III 154, Class IV 159, Class V 104.
ACA Member? Yes 30%, No 69%, Skip 1%
# of Races Participated in last year 0 40%, 1-2 36%, 3-5 17%, 6-10 6%, 11+ 1%

Cali Crosstab: N =88 - Results for those who selected CA as their main paddle state.
Days Paddled Annually - 0-25 20%, 26-50 31%, 51-100 33%, 101-200 11%, 201+ 5%
# of races participated in last year 0 48%, 1-2 38%, 3-5 10%, 6-10 2%, 11+ 2%
CA Class willing to race (MS) Class I 23, Class II 42, Class III 60, Class IV, 53, Class V 18
CA Craft willing to race (MS) Kayak 79, Wildwater 14, IK 5, Raft 15, Cataraft 2, Skipped 3
CA Age 0-14 1%, 15-18 1%, 19-24 7%, 25-30 27%, 31-40 23%, 41-50 17%, 50+ 24%
CA ACA Member? Yes 28%, No 72%

Thanks to everyone who helped with the survey, especially those who left comments and suggestions. More information and organization coming in 2009!

If you would like to contact me about organizing whitewater races or having your whitewater race be part of these efforts my email is paulgamache at

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Old 12-22-2008   #2
Seattle, Washington
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 78
Comments of Note:

I think the giant slalom type events are the most fun( in this case not telling the specific moves or course until race day is crucial). I also like the mass start races in a class 3/4 rapids that has a squeeze or something in it. That makes it a lot tougher.

More extreme races! Maybe a national extreme racing series!

Attainment races would be awesome, really great possibilities on the Ocoee. More creek races too!

More races on Class IV. We had 93 participants at the Canyon Creek Race - that is huge for this sport. We need to open this up to the good 9-5ers out there, not just the most impressive thing for pro-boaters to show their sponsors.

Suck Creek - Chattanooga It would be sweet for a race!

I really want to see the sport head in the direction of larger payouts. Cash purses are rarely enough to justify travel expenses, training, and the level of athleticism required to do well in whitewater races. Maybe corporate sponsorship and national television exposure can bring the sport to the next level. People find slalom racing quite boring, but like watching class IV/V whitewater action. Many other alternative sports have better payouts (like disc golf for example).

Why are all of the races in Colorado located on shitty rivers filled with blast rock and rocky-ass mank? Like homestake, poudre narrows race, SSV creek race. Why not vallectio?

What is broke that you will fix by adding yet another race organization? Other than perhaps by making the various organization's activities visable to the race community at large? Question 6 -- I'd never race head to head in anything above Class II and I'd recommend an insurer decline to cover such an event. It is just plain dangerous. Too much luck, jockeying for position, etc. Brings out the worst paddling decisions -- people run a line they'd never consider because they can't get past the boat in front of them. Plastic boat only races and the wildwater idea of a "standard boat" are crazy. I won't race some heavy, ill-maintained pig of a boat that is cut for a 150 lb paddler when I weigh 200. And vise versa -- why would a 90 lb girl be paddling a boat suitable for a 180 pound guy? Plastic boats in general are crazy overweight and about as stiff as (shove in a lewd erectile dysfunction reference here) -- I don't see how the engineers who produce them (if they are engineers...) can live with themselves.

a giant slalom type thing on the ocoee with some gates set up requiring the hard moves to be made would be cool. the deeper southeast needs a few more events and such than it has. great idea on setting this whole thing up though, im excited to see it work out!

where is the box for canoe??????

More raft races - there are plenty of kayak races

Mix up the formats. More head-to-head, more slalom, more relays. Less time trial on an empty course. More races on class V water, a la the Giant Slalom series. Use accepted racing rules from established disciplines such as slalom or wild water to ensure consistency and fairness. Standardize the rules and time keeping requirements for all races so that organizers don't have to reinvent the wheel every time a race is held, again to ensure consistency and fairness. Create a national or regional circuit that crowns divisional champions so that the top racers can be recognized for their achievements.

add open canoes to the list.

Race Suggestions: Wilson Cr.,Nolichuckey,Pigeon,French Broad.

I love racing but in the PDX area, the races seem a bit short (with the exception of the Upper Wind Race). I would love to see more longer races of approx 10-20 minutes. For example, instead of just a section of Canyon Creek, let's race the whole thing. It's been done before. The length of the Upper Wind is perfect IMHO. On the LWS, a good course might be from below Island to the pool at Wishbone.

Paddle surfboard surfing rivers up and down race style. Could that be a future river event?

Keep it inclusive. Short, hard courses where you can practice more and see much of the race are best .. combine times to eliminate ties on the shortest courses

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Old 12-22-2008   #3
Seattle, Washington
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 78
Creek races, endurance races, endurance dual/multi sport races

A whitewater attainment race like the one on the Lower Yough would be sweet.

Slalom, head to head are always cool. Most boatercross races are too short, a 10 minute or so format allows alot more opportunity for lead changes and carnage. Gnarrows Race on the Poudre is the best race I've participated in, as well as one of the most highly praised by other participants and spectators.

All the racing lately seems to overlook that WW has one of the best class IV stretches of WW for a race... good old Boulder Drop. I can't think of a better med. distance sprint, from Anderson Hole to the bottom of the rapid below the weir. I think it's time to ressurect Skyfest...

Let's get a dependable Green Truss and Little White Race date set- maybe the same weekend for a double header. The Gorge Games is good too but a less hyped version is much better. Also, no more boat length limits. Races like the Russell Fork, the Green, Moose, etc... are a blast. The fastest boat wins- period.

Races are sweet. I think that races down rivers are cool, races down rapids are better and races down class 4-5 rapids are best. I like mass start races. Time trials are cool, but head to head competition is better.

slalom class is exactly that, speeders and sea kayaks need to be in seperate class, not slalom

Boatercross sprints and giant slalom are best with a tournament bracket. Relays can be fun too, as well as two person timed team races (each team provides their own safety). Rodeo is dead!

Cash Prizes. Joking. Actually, just more races would be nice.

I'm really against races on runs where the ecology is fragile. Specifically, I am against the race on OBJ because it is a beautiful area with wildflowers and alpine scenery. It doesn't need all the extra visitors and machinery that a race brings. I'm all for races on SSV, the Payettes, Gore, and other roadside type runs.

Include rafts and raft slalom. Market the races starting 6 months or more before the race so people can make travel plans and get friend interested. Also put up a solid website with dates at 6 months out. I really appreciate the folks at Timberline Tours for taking the reins on the Rafting National Championship, but they have done a very poor job of doing the two things listed above.

Will the the NWRO have a division that organizes safety for the events? Personally, I enjoy being a part of an event by safety boating, but it is more enjoyable when well organized.

Head to head.... PoudreNarrows is always a hit

More head to head, giant slalom, extreme races, mass starts

Unlimited lengths. Short boat divisions are lame if that’s all is offered. If someone is willing to run a 14 foot boat down a creek, let them.

Safety as number one priority, as in qualified people in the right places.

Need more racing opportunities out west! Not everyone can live in Maryland or Wausau, WI.

more races in idaho and on the North Fork

Would be nice to have a slalom course set up in the Boise area, think there would be a great deal of interest if it there was something local

What about a category for people who want swim race down the course or "adventure swim"?

WTF. did you forget about canoe? c1, oc1. (Yes)

Slalom has no appeal to me. downriver, boater cross

Have races for the weekend warriors. It gets annoying that all of the big races are on class 5 creeks and regular joe races are on class 1/2. Also, it seems races are more geared toward the traveling pro-boater circuit and do not attempt to include the vast majority of the boating public. Have more races like the cheat race where dozens or even hundred or more racers with a wide variety of classes. Oh yeah have free beer at take out.

have class 5 races, possible multi hour/day races of several difficulties. There is a place for non sprint events. I see a niche for longer multi-day races-MF feather or South Merced or generation giant combo. Establish med/check stations as used during the western states race. Limit impact by using established camps. Possible required bivy/camp spots throughout the length of the race.
Simply more of them...right now, locally (Bay Area) we just have the MokelumneRiver races...the Sierra Club used to do races on the Merced. Further away we have the Kern...this year the North Fork of American race was a hoot!

grand canyon of the stikine race! just playin

MORE KIDS EVENTS AND Recruitment/cultivation of youth participation here on the west coast esp northern California

some more head to head races would be sweet next year. maybe some lobin carnage

The Moke Races sponsored by Sierra club on Mokeulme near Jackson, CA are well run

Fantastic idea. Keep it going and ask me for help

your "craft" above did not include C1, C2 or OCs. what's up with that?

Good Idea for organization. We need a national and world circuit.

Piegon Point race with gates or eddies that must be caught would be fun. A race where class 3 boaters could participate would probably get a huge response. There are a lot more class 3 boaters out there then there are class 5 boaters.

I don't think this is a good idea. The races now seem cool because they are locally run and about community. Add a National Circuit and you turn a fun way to earn money for charity into a sponsor-laden, in-crowd, over-competitive circus. I understand the desire for this but I don't want to see Whitewater Boating go the way of Snow Sports, Surfing and Climbing.

Age bracket 60+.
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Old 12-22-2008   #4
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,239
head to head race on Bear Creek's No Fun Falls,you try to shove the other guy right of the FU rock so they get worked in the small but viscious hole against the cliff base you eddy out on the left just above the main drop and enjoy the show, you drop the falls to get out of throw baggers way and get a bottoms up view of the carnage.Single elimination.You spend the night in Morrison jail or the hospital.

team demolition duckies by political orientation?

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