Misery loves company…especially if they’re paddleboarders. No longer are stand-up paddleboarders immune from the sufferfest that is annual Yukon River Quest, the world’s longest annual canoe and kayak marathon at 444 miles. In November, the organizing board voted to allow SUPpers in the 2016 18th annual race, to be held June 29 to July 3, 2016, as an experimental class.
“The River Quest board receives requests every year for allowing other craft, but this year, with some convincing by SUP racers, the board decided to allow 10 SUP racers as an experimental class to see if they can keep up with the canoes and kayaks,” says organizer Jeff Brady. “The fact that SUP racing has taken off also weighed in the decision, but this will be a very different race for them, due to the distance and what they have to carry.”
“The real test will be early on 30-mile-long Lake Laberge. If the lake is windy, which is the norm, it will be a challenge for them to make the cutoff time for getting off the lake, depending on the wind direction. We’ll see how they do.”
Interested SUP paddlers will be able to sign up for 10 available spots. For now, sign up as a solo kayak, pay the solo rate, and specify SUP. Racers in this class will be allowed on a case by case basis. Each paddler must supply the race a resume of racing experience or extensive adventure paddling in SUP, as well as the specs of their boards. All SUPs will be required to carry the same required gear as other solo boats.
“This class is experimental so we can see if enough of these craft can meet our cutoff times and finish the race without taxing our safety team and volunteers,” says Brady. “There will be no prize money in this class this year, but finishers will receive finisher pins and be listed in our results.”
The 444-mile race is held on the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City in Canada’s Yukon Territory. Known as the “Race to the Midnight Sun,” as paddlers race round-the-clock under a sky that never gets dark, it’s the world’s longest annual canoe and kayak race. There are just two mandatory rest stops – totaling 10 hours – over the course of the entire event. In 2015, 57 teams from 12 countries started the race and 44 teams finished.
Last year’s first team in was the USA-Canada tandem kayak Time To Go paddled by David Hutchinson of Montana and Bob Ross of Ontario in 44 hours, 51 minutes, 07 seconds. The course record still belongs to Canadian voyageur Team Kisseynew’s winning time of 39:32:43 in 2008.
Online entry forms are available starting November 1 via a link on the race website www.yukonriverquest.com. Entry fees remain $850 (CN) for tandem craft, $475 for solo, and $250 per person for voyageur canoe teams of six or more paddlers. Deadline for entries is May 15, 2016. There is a limit of 100 canoe and kayak teams, which includes a limit of 30 solo teams. These solo teams should register immediately to reserve a slot. Paddlers should have race or wilderness paddling experience, and all boats must meet the specifications defined in the 2016 YRQ Rules posted on the website.
Teams are required to have a SPOT device mounted on top of their boats and activated for tracking before their team is officially registered. The 2016 race purse will be $36,500 (CN) if a full roster of 100 teams is registered by the May 15 deadline. Otherwise the purse is adjusted downward on a percentage basis.