Sanctioned Event Of The Year Award
Sanctioned Event Of The Year Award
Presented to the top ACA sanctioned event as nominated by the paddling public.
2021 - Diversify Whitewater - Community River Floats
Diversify Whitewater is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works to promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in paddle sports by removing the barriers that exist for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), and Allies in kayaking, canoeing, rafting, and stand up paddling. They accomplish this goal through
- Events — Providing no-cost paddling instruction and river trips.
- Equipment — Providing free use of boats & equipment to all participants.
- Education — Communicating how to effectively address diversity, equity, and inclusion on and off the water.
- Conservation — Preserving our waterways and natural spaces through responsible, respectful, and sustainable practices.
- Representation — Increasing the number of BIPOC faces and voices in the paddling community, industry, and media.
- Mentorship — Building a cohort of BIPOC boaters who can pass on their skills to the next generation.
The organization was co-founded by two women and kayakers of color in June 2020: Lily Durkee and Antoinette Lee Toscano. Antoinette learned to kayak after 11 years of service in the U.S. Army through Team River Runner, a nonprofit organization that teaches paddlesports to veterans to facilitate mental and physical recovery. Lily started to kayak when she was 9 years old, and she competed nationally in kayak slalom as a teenager. Growing up with whitewater taught her at a young age how to face challenges head on and to effectively problem solve when faced with adversity. Diversify Whitewater strives to share the beauty and many benefits of paddling on to BIPOC and Ally communities across the country. On behalf of the ACA Board and staff, we congratulate Diversify Whitewater for their trailblazing work in inclusive paddling for everyone!
2020 - Carolina Canoe Club - Mighty Mayo River Trip
For nearly a decade, paddlers and friends of Carolina Canoe Club have been showing up to paddle the Mayo River in remote Henry County, Virginia and Rockingham County, North Carolina. This annual “ice breaker” is considered by veterans to be a mini version of CCC’s Week of Rivers.
Organized by Carolina Canoe Club’s Cruise Chair, Joe Berry, the Mighty Mayo River trip (MMRT) is an opportunity to dust off the winter cobwebs and holiday crumbs with a group of welcoming paddlers and friends. Using the power of numbers, stewardship and conservation are easily added to the fellowship of the day.
In addition to the paddling trip and associated conservation efforts, event organizers collect donations and food for LOT 2540, a local food bank, and host a post event potluck menu for the takeout. Once off the river and refortified, volunteers completed a sweep of the riverside roadway and surrounding park. The trash collected has fortunately been trending downward in recent years as the park is more frequently patrolled by local authorities. This year’s cleanup yielded dozens of bags of trash.
Event organizer, Joe Berry’s, famous tagline is: ” If some slacker C-boater like me can organize an event in the dead of winter that draws around 40-50 boaters, imagine what you can do?”
Congratulations to all members of the CCC who have played a role in this impactful event!
2019 - Carolina Canoe Club - Week of Rivers
The 2019 Recipient of the Sanctioned Event of the Year award is the Carolina Canoe Club & their annual event, Week Of Rivers!
The Carolina Canoe Club is a non-profit club devoted to promoting recreational paddling in the Carolinas and southeastern United States. Currently their 1,100+ members use canoes, kayaks, and inflatables to frequent flat and whitewater rivers, lakes and coastal areas, engage in environmental stewardship initiatives and host safety and skills training classes.
Carolina Canoe Club’s Week of Rivers 2019 and 50th Anniversary Celebration brought over 400 paddlers together from all over the country to participate in an event that captured the spirit of the greater paddling community: Education, Conservation, Community Service, Fellowship, and Friendly Competition.
We’re proud to call you one of our Paddle America Clubs, CCC!
2018 - Manhattan Kayak Circumnavigation
Since 2004, the Manhattan Kayak Circumnavigation started by Jerry Blackstone and Steve Blumling both members of the Yonkers Paddling and Rowing club is one of the most highly anticipated and definitely the most visible kayaking event in New York City metropolitan area every year. On average, 150 paddlers participate, many coming from outside of New York state and from countries around the world. The organizers work closely with NYPD Harbor Patrol and collaborate with US Coast Guard to provide safe passage for the flotilla. The high visibility, including significant press coverage, of the Manhattan Kayak Circumnavigation has been a powerful driver of enhanced recognition of paddler’s access to and safe passage through New York City’s increasingly busy waterways. With waterfront residential development exploding along miles of previously industrial shoreline, the NYC waterfront is going to be an area of tremendous opportunity for the ACA. But, the mythology about the insurmountable danger (pollution/currents/traffic) of the City’s waterways persists. The Manhattan Kayak Circumnavigation is a vital event in showing that a large group of paddlers can safely do what many people continue to think is impossible. The founder of this event passed away this summer and the event has now been renamed ”The Jerry Blackstone Manhattan Kayak Circumnavigation”
2017 - Penn Cup Slalom Series
The Penn Cup is a fall series of races designed to introduce paddlers to the sport of slalom racing. Races are held on Sundays, with Saturdays reserved for course construction, practice, and clinics. Clinics are taught by experienced racers — including former series champions and some of the best paddlers in the state and in the US — and serve to introduce beginners to the sport, and to help more experienced racers advance from the basics of running the gates to discovering and paddling the most efficient lines. Awards are presented at each race, and overall series awards (earned on a point system) are presented after the final race. There are many classes available at each race for open and decked boats, solo and tandem boats, racing boats, recreational boats, canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, juniors, cadets, and masters. The emphasis is on fun and learning, and so the races in this series make an excellent introduction to the sport. Courses are designed to be challenging to beginning-intermediate paddlers. Penn Cup Series is dedicated to building interest in slalom racing at the grassroots level. Some of our past participants have gone on to national, international, and Olympic teams in the sport. This event series has been ongoing for 40+ years, and has a strong youth slalom development program. This is the perfect example of local clubs and instructors working together to form a multi-location competition series that also places strong value on education and training.
2016 - Buffalo Bayou Partnership Regatta
Established in 1986, Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP) is the non-profit organization transforming and revitalizing Buffalo Bayou, Houston’s most significant natural resource. BBP’s geographic focus is the 10-square mile stretch of Buffalo Bayou from Shepherd Drive to the Port of Houston Turning Basin. Thanks to the generous support of foundations, corporations, individuals and government agencies, BBP has raised and leveraged more than $150 million for the redevelopment and stewardship of the waterfront.
Buffalo Bayou officially starts just west of Katy, Texas and flows approximately 53 miles east through the Port of Houston and Houston Ship Channel into Galveston Bay and onto the Gulf of Mexico. Ever since the Allen Brothers founded Houston in 1836, Buffalo Bayou has played a critical role in the evolution of the city. But in more recent years, Buffalo Bayou had been a neglected river. Additionally, Houstonians built a perception of the city’s bayous as drainage ditches since a number of the city’s sewage-treatment plants discharged directly into Buffalo Bayou. The water smelled and was not deemed safe for recreational boating or swimming. But in an act that was part joke and part celebration of the bayou, Wayne Walls, a local canoer, and his friends from the Houston Canoe Club created “The Reeking Regatta: The World’s Smelliest Canoe Race” in 1972 with posters and a logo that depicted a paddler wearing a gas mask. Expecting only a handful of people to participate, the first-ever race in 1971 gathered 120 brave paddlers and then grew to 500 paddlers within 5 years – the largest race “west of the Mississippi.” More environmental-awareness and social gathering than official boat race, participants navigated trash and debris in the water and were greeted with beer steins at the finish line at Allen’s Landing.
In the late 1990s, Buffalo Bayou Partnership took charge of planning and executing the annual boat race and renamed it to the Buffalo Bayou Partnership Regatta. Now 700-900 participants – skilled and novice paddlers ages 12 and up – in approximately 600 kayaks and canoes, race down a 15-mile stretch of Buffalo Bayou. It is Texas’ large canoe and kayak race and is one of the top 5 largest in the nation. The event attracts hundreds of spectators to the bayou’s banks along the recently renovated Buffalo Bayou Park and to the finish line in downtown’s Sesquicentennial Park to see this colorful and uniquely Houstonian spectacle on a pleasant weekend in March.
2015 - Penobscot River Whitewater Nationals Regatta
In the beginning, it ran free. Home to Native American People, fish, birds, wildlife. Dams were constructed in various locations in the 1800-1900’s. The Penobscot River slowly became a series of impoundments, much of its vitality sapped. The migratory fish slowly stopped returning, the birds lost much of their food supply and their numbers declined. Recreational opportunities were diminished.
Take it down and they will come……In the fall of 2013 the two lowermost dams had disappeared, a result of the remarkable work of the Penobscot River Restoration Project, a collaboration of various stakeholders previously at odds with one another. The Penobscot Nation, Hydro Generators, Conservation organizations, and Federal and State Fish and Wildlife agencies cooperated to strike agreements that ultimately led to the removal of these dams. The stakeholders were unified by the Penobscot River Restoration Trust’s vision and determination. Racing canoes are built from fiber reinforced plastic – Fiberglass, Kevlar and resins. Alone, these materials have no utility, the cloth unravels and will blow away in the breeze. The resin has little strength without the reinforcement of the fibers. Combining these materials yields laminates that can be creatively formed for speed, stiffness, resilience and durability. The Penobscot Restoration Trust is the resin, the glue that binds the partners in the project together, resulting in a unity of purpose and accomplishment. And they came: The first spring, 2014, welcomed new runs of alewives, shad, sturgeon. This year even more – hundreds of thousands of alewives and even an increase in Atlantic Salmon numbers. Something else came in 2014: Bashabez Run, the first canoe race on the free-flowing lower Penobscot in modern times. The success of the Bashebez Run naturally led to the formation of a race committee and a bid to host the 2015 ACA Whitewater Open Canoe National Championships. And they came: 162 strong, with boats, paddles, helmets and PFDs. The Penobscot River Whitewater Nationals Regatta marked a number of firsts in Whitewater Open Canoe Downriver Competition: For the first time in the history of ACA WWOCD a National Championship Regatta for open canoe, kayak and SUP classes was conducted at one venue. The first time such a competition was held on a 9.5 mile segment of the Penobscot River that had been restored just 2 years earlier to unencumbered free flow after nearly 200 years of dams and impoundments. The event was hosted by the Penobscot Indian Nation a Native American people that calls the Penobscot River their ancestral home. This tribe includes a number of current and former ACA National champions and one individual, Neil Phillips, who played an important role in early ACA WWOC competitions in the 1970’s. It is no coincidence that one of the most popular racing canoes over the last 25 years is the Old Town Penobscot. A design inspired by the handmade bark canoes of the Penobscot people. No less than five neighboring communities and towns border the race course, contributing to and benefiting from the planning and running of the Regatta. The ACA Whitewater Open Canoe Downriver Committee gave an unequivocal endorsement of the Regatta by voting to return to Old Town Maine and the Penobscot River for National Championship Regattas in 2016 and 2017. The racers and their families who return, like the migratory fish in the Penobscot, will find a vibrant and welcoming host community.
2014 - StreamSweepers
StreamSweepers is a youth training and job corps for college-aged youth in Central Virginia. StreamSweepers perform river health diagnostics and sweep up tires, plastic, glass and any other garbage small enough to get in a canoe. This incredibly popular project was piloted during the summer of 2013 by the Center for Natural Capital in Orange and Madison Counties of Central Virginia. Recently, the StreamSweepers Advisory Board and the Center for Natural Capital‘s Board of Directors approved Virginia river reaches to be swept by StreamSweepers for 2014. Last year, Sweepers completed roughly 20 miles of river from the Greene County line to Rt. 15 near Orange. This year, 20 miles of the Rapidan River, from Rt. 15 to Rt. 522, and 20 miles of the Robinson River, from Rt. 29 to its confluence, will be assessed and swept. This event is overseen by ACA instructor Beth Seale, a Level 2 Essentials of River Kayaking Instructor who is also teaching the youth how to be safe while paddling on the river during their cleanups and other studies.
2013 - North Fork Championship & Whitewater Festival
The 2013 North Fork Championship and Whitewater Festival was sanctioned by the ACA. The North Fork Payette event has strong paddlers, and comes with an even stronger paddling community. The greater Boise area has long attracted and supported those most committed to an active outdoor lifestyle. This community comes together to create the NFC Whitewater Festival. This festival is collectively made up of businesses and friends who have cut their teeth on some of North America’s most pristine natural terrain. Many of the businesses in the region manufacture equipment and gear for most of the recreationalists in all outdoor water sports. The Whitewater Festival invited people to enjoy an eventful weekend and watch some amazing kayaking. Paddlers came from all across the world to compete in the North Fork Championship, and the river seemed to rise to the challenge. The day before the event, the NF Payette came up to a challenging and awesome flow – showing its classic, impressive identity. Mad inspiring times were placed in the Expert Division early Thursday morning. This set the tone for how stiff the competition of the NFC in its second year would be. The endurance and athleticism that were shown throughout the whole event highlighted kayaking as a legitimate extreme sport and not just a past time. The second year confirmed that the NFC is here and it’s here to stay. A huge shout out to this amazing river and all the awesome people that make the NFC happen. We are excited for this event to continue hosting the highest level of competitive kayaking!
2012 - Whitewater Open Canoe Downriver Nationals
This national championship event was held on the Nantahala River in Wesser, NC and was hosted by Tom Blue, William McDuffie, and Lynne McDuffie of French Broad Canoe Racing, Inc. The purpose of the ACA Whitewater Open Canoe Downriver Committee is to encourage, sanction and sponsor amateur competition in …Whitewater Open Canoe Downriver … at local, regional, national, and international levels.
2011 - Oregon Members Only Backcountry Paddling Excursion with Slickrock Expeditions
Master guide Burt Kornegay of Slickrock Expeditions, based out of western North Carolina, led a varied group of ACA members on one of the 2011 Members-Only Backcountry Paddling Excursions to a remote river in Oregon. This trip combined tandem canoeing through scenic landscapes, whitewater rapids, great food, and the camaraderie that can only be experienced through a multi-day, self-supported wilderness canoe trip.
2010 - Camp Cup: Alzar School
The Camp Cup Challenge is a whitewater paddling event involving numerous summer camps from North Carolina and other states. The Camp Cup Challenge is put on by the Alzar School with the assistance of regional ACA volunteers and hosted by the Nantahala Outdoor Center on the Nantahala River. The event is an opportunity for young paddlers to meet and develop friendships with like-minded youths, and gives kids a venue in which to build a community of active, engaged, and enthusiastic peers. Event highlights include a beginner-friendly slalom race on the Nantahala Bridge Gates as well as a downriver race through Nantahala Falls.
2009 - Open Canoe Slalom Nationals
This international championship event was held in Wausau, WI and hosted by the great folks at the Wausau Canoe & Kayak Corporation. The purpose of the ACA Open Canoe Slalom Committee is: to encourage, sanction and sponsor amateur competition in “whitewater open canoe” slalom at local, regional, national, and international levels.
2008 - Whitewater Open Canoe Downriver Nationals
This national championship event was held on section IX of the French Broad River in Hot Springs, NC and was hosted by Tom Blue and French Broad Canoe Racing, Inc. The purpose of the ACA Whitewater Open Canoe Downriver Committee is to encourage, sanction and sponsor amateur competition in …Whitewater Open Canoe Downriver … at local, regional, national, and international levels.
2007 - Teva Mountain Games
The Teva Mountain Games are one of the country’s largest celebrations of adventure sports, music, and the mountain lifestyle. Professional and amateur outdoor adventure athletes from around the world converge upon the mountains and rivers of Vail to compete in eight sports and 23 disciplines including: x-country, freeride, slopestyle and road cycling, freestyle, 8-Ball, sprint and extreme kayaking, raft cross, World Cup Bouldering, stand up paddle sprint and surf cross, as well as trail, mud and road running, dog comps and the Ultimate Mountain Challenge. In addition to the athletic events, the Teva Mountain Games include a mountain photography competition, adventure film school, film festival, an interactive exhibition and demo area, live music, and mountain lifestyle parties. The Teva Mountain Games are a project of the Vail Valley Foundation.
2005 - Two Harbors Kayak Festival
Two Harbors Kayak Festival offers four separate kayak races: Youth Races, Emma Challenge Tandem Sprints, Betty’s Pies 5 Mile race, and finally the Great River Energy Kayak & Canoe Marathon, all with various age groups and boat categories. In addition to the four races there are local exhibitors, kayak & outrigger equipment demos, stand up paddle boarding demos & classes, beginning level instructional tours, kids kayaking, treasure hunt and climbing wall, live music, food, fun, and more! There is something for everyone at this one of a kind paddling festival. The racing portion of the THKF has grown steadily and is the oldest and largest open water race on the Great Lakes. It is well known for its challenging course, stunning scenery and its superb organization. Some great rivalries, stories and friendships have evolved over the years.
2004 - Ohio RiverWay PaddleFest
Cincinnati is the paddling capital of the United States and the Ohio River Way Paddlefest is the largest canoe/kayak paddling event in the Midwest with over 2,200 paddlers making their annual trek down the Ohio river during Paddlefest. It is a celebration dedicated to enjoying the experience of “paddling the Ohio River” one of Cincinnati’s greatest natural assets that sits right in our own back yard. Paddlefest is a fun filled family event designed to bring people together to paddle, enjoy the outdoors, listen to great local music and much more for the whole family.
2003 - Ohio Adaptive Paddling Workshop
The Ohio Adaptive Paddling Workshop (APW) is the longest continually running APW in the county. This four day workshop is a great way to learn how to outfit canoes and kayaks for people with disabilities and is an endorsement for any ACA instructor but you do not have to be an instructor to participate in the workshop. This program is run through the hard work and volunteerism of ACA Instructors, Trainers and local sponsors.
2003 - 33rd ICF Flatwater Racing World Championships
The 2003 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships were held September 10–14, 2003 in Gainesville, Georgia, United States at Lake Lanier. Located north of Atlanta, this was also where the canoe sprint and rowing events for the 1996 Summer Olympics took place. The men’s competition consisted of nine Canadian (single paddle, open boat) and nine kayak events. Women competed in nine events, all in kayak. This was the 33rd championships in canoe sprint. This event was also the first time women’s Canoe exhibition events were offered at the Flatwater Racing World Championships. The ACA was a sponsor of this ICF event.
2002 - Midwest Freestyle Symposium
Welcome to the Midwest FreeStyle Symposium! The MFS offers excellent instruction in a quiet water venue for people wishing to improve paddling and precise boat control skills. Courses are offered in all skill levels and are taught by ACA certified instructors. Student/instructor ratio is limited to 5 to 1. We are located in the scenic Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and can provide info on activities such as hiking, biking, historic tours, shopping, etc. for non-paddling friends or spouses upon request. The event also hosts the National Interpretive Freestyle Canoe Championships.
2001 - East Coast Canoe & Kayak Festival
Come out to James Island County Park and immerse yourself in a full weekend of the history, technique, hands-on experience, and fun of canoeing and kayaking. The East Coast Canoe & Kayak Festival includes lectures, on-water classes, and demonstrations directed to the novice and the experienced paddler. The heart of the festival is four classrooms run simultaneously throughout the three-day event. Refine your skills in a master class presented by many of the leading experts in the paddling world. Learn new strokes, rescues, or rolls with expert instruction and meet other knowledgeable paddlesport enthusiasts. Dozens of commercial exhibitors will be on-hand to give you a chance to try before you buy. At the East Coast Canoe & Kayak Festival, you will be able to test boats, paddles, and accessories on the water at the festival site. You will also have the opportunity to speak with equipment designers and manufacturers throughout the weekend.
2000 - Round Valley Roundup
1999 - Round the Island
1998 - Whitewater Open Canoe Nationals
The purpose of the ACA Whitewater Open Canoe Downriver Committee is to encourage, sanction and sponsor amateur competition in …Whitewater Open Canoe Downriver … at local, regional, national, and international levels.
1998 - Western Carolina Rescue Rodeo
Organized by Chris Bell, teams from throughout the Southeast and beyond participated in six judged events: a rope throw for speed, accuracy and technique;a self rescue incorporating a roll and a swim in class II water;an equipment roundup in which teams race to recover equipment dropped into class II water; a team rescue in class II water; a rescue scenario in which the team encounters a victim of a common river accident playing a scripted role; and a first aid scenario in which the team demonstrates their mastery of skills similar to those taught in Red Cross CPR and Advanced First Aid classes. Though nominally a competition, the competitive aspect of the rodeo is friendly and low-key. The event concluded with a barbecue dinner and raffle. A range of ACA certified Swiftwater Rescue Instructors and Trainers assisted with this event.