NWPP : Plea for Participation...

Northwest Performance Paddling 

Hello boating fans, race directors, etc:

Thanks for taking a minute to read my note - you're copied on it because I think (or someone else thinks) you're a "stakeholder" in the Portland/Vancouver paddling scene.  I'm exploring a need for coordination among local shops and clubs to

  1. promote use of the local waterways, and 
  2. increase participation in "performance" events such as recreational racing scene.

We've seen several northwest kayak and canoe race events over the years, from the OCRA-coordinated Bridges Marathon to the more recent BYOBoat race series.  To my knowledge, none of them exist now.  Portland and Vancouver-based paddlers and rowers attend races in Puget Sound (well-organized Sound Rowers events), 

and even Bellingham-area events; clubs have other local, one-time events; and there are a couple new relay races to up participant and spectator interest (

JD's fun Wildside Relay (Hood River/Gorge), 

Willamette Challenge,
CROCC's Race Around the Island,
PNWORCA events,
Head Of The Dog,
Row For The Cure,

My goals are 1) to create a sustainable tradition of performance paddling in the River City, and 2) to simply see more folk on the water.  Some of you know I did a trip around Vancouver Island last May that involved training for some long days; couldn't have done that amount of training, while a full-time working stiff, living most places.  Portland makes year-round paddling very attainable, yet I'm used to having the rivers to myself.

Here's my hypothesis for what the scene lacks (see bottom of note for more detail on these points):
 - cohesive race series needed;
 - competing calendars - we have dragon boat, outrigger canoe, etc seasons that create an ebb and flow of interest;
 - insurance - most clubs operate under ACA insurance, some require USACK coverage, and event-specific coverage is expensive for some enthusiasts;
 - complexity (permits, river levels, current, local weather) for otherwise enthusiast coordinators;

Additional issues to consider:
 - polluted river anxiety;
 - daylight, river level and flow data;
 - locations - advantages of repeat vs varying locations.

 - One body specifically tasked with:
   - online calendar maintenance of race and other related events;
   - facilitating resources - timing watches, race #s, permits, access coordination;
   - coordinating volunteers with event staff;
   - reporting timely race results; and
   - tallying results for series-overall competitors.

I propose we support three 2008 races - to grow in 2008 with enthusiasm and safe, positive event coordination:
 - three different race venues under investigation;
 - distances between 8 - 12 miles;
 - point-to-point races, or race-around-the-island style;

Paddling rituals to be promoted:
 - Wednesday night pick-up races (NWPP), beginning after MLK weekend (?);
 - Saturday morning workouts with PKCT, ongoing.

Now lacking:

No cohesive race series.  Bike racing in Oregon has increased the number of cyclists riding for longer distances under the auspices of "training," which increases road safety improvements, enhanced commuting, and, eventually, bike/accessory sales (this is an assumption on my part, haven't gathered metrics).  The most attended (and I assume popular) bike races appear weekly series, involving point totals and team strategies. 

Competing calendars.  Like asthma, I assumed the problem was getting air IN - when it's an issue of getting it OUT.  We have many performance-related paddling events that I'm not aware of - but since I'm not aware of them, and I'm _looking_ for them, there's an apparent need for a unifying schedule.  Wouldn't you rather have to set a limit on number of race participants than hope enough signed up again in 2008?

Here's an example of what I propose to maintain for a global calendar:

NWPP Calendar

Here's an example of what I will post for race results:


Second, I'd like to introduce two new races we're coordinating for 2008 coordinated by the NWPP.   

From Clackamette Park to Kelley Point Park (the tidally-influenced Willamette River):


Longest Marathon Around a Freshwater Island in the world (LMAFI):


Both events are scheduled for 2008; we're also coordinating the Columbia River Challenge, a 3-day "stage race" scheduled around May 2009.