2014 SUP Cup — Water, Fun & Community
What’s not to like?
In our second year of the race, last Sunday 67 stand-up paddleboarders unloaded their boards into the Clark Fork River in Missoula to race for the SUP Cup. They arrived from all over Montana and from as far away as California, Arizona and Alberta, Canada.
New this year, we were fortunate to welcome disabled paddlers into the race. Onit Ability Boards owner Kawika Watt has developed adaptive paddleboards that allow wheelchairs to be secured to a board outfitted with outriggers for stability. The company had extensively tested its boards on the ocean and on lakes but had never tested the boards on a river. Kawika found our race online and traveled to Missoula to have a disabled friend compete.
While here, they met Joe Stone — a quadriplegic athlete — who in a week learned how to paddleboard and also raced in the SUP Cup. Both disabled paddlers finished the race and are planning to put together a team for 2015.
The SUP Cup started out as a way to attract SUP racers from all over the region to Missoula and has unexpectedly introduced the sport of paddleboarding to numerous Montanans. Many racers in the recreational division had never been on a board or only tried the sport a few times on a (calm) lake. This event has even inspired two local racers to compete across the Northwest — both are now sponsored racers representing Missoula in various races. Another racer was told a year ago she had cancer and wouldn’t live a year; this year she celebrated beating cancer by competing in her first-ever SUP race.
While putting on an event of this size can be overwhelming, feeling the true impacts of a great race is inspiring. And really fun.