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My heart was pounding all week leading up to the first Ultimate SUP Challenge on the Ottawa River.  This was my first time competing on a paddleboard and I had only been riding whitewater for 3 months on Class II rivers in Western New York.  I had seen too many Youtube videos of the Ottawa and knew this would be bigger water than I have ever been in – coming from a surfing background as opposed to whitewater.

Pulling up to where the race would be held I was super intimidated not only by the water but all the pros that were competing including Mike Tavares, Todd Caranto, Kristin Thomas and Jessica Rando just to name a few. The first heat was a simple ferry across a rapid, down through Push Button and finished on the far shore. The Second heat added a pivot turn start into some small rapids and two full buoy turns. I advanced through both of those heats in the top three.

The third and final heat added a much bigger challenge down the Black Chute. Watching the men go first there were some gnarly wipe outs on the Waikiki wave.  Todd Coranto and Mike Tevares wowed the crowd with the only clean rides through the wave train. When my turn was up I had my eyes set on the line and even though I was terrified I had a giant smile plastered on my face. There is an indescribable moment when the calm water drops and you’re fully committed to what’s rite in front of you. It’s so fast and so fun it makes me never want to work again. The Waikiki wave knocked me off my board for a moment but I stayed with it, hopped back on and finished first place in the woman’s and fourth overall.

With some help from the Owl Raft Guides my SUP partner Kevin and I were able to go on a paddle the night before that was essential to building my confidence. The water had risen three feet since we left Buffalo at 5:30 am that morning. One kayaker in the group suggested we stay at the Black Chute to familiarize our self with the river but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity before us. The rapids were amazing and the Jackson SUPercharger boards preformed incredible through the bigger water. I made the first two big waves on the Coliseum and then the Big Kahuna slapped me on my side and gave me my first taste of down time. I can’t wait to go back.

The whole weekend was a blast and every person I met was awesome. These events really showcase the community and spirit of stand-up paddling and whitewater. I really want to say thanks to Jackson for giving me the opportunity to get into this sport. I’m looking forward to more competitions, bigger water, and sharing whitewater SUP with a larger audience.

Christian Edie