The Dominion River Rock festival started in 2009 as a way to celebrate and promote Richmond’s unique position as an urban center and outdoor sport’s mecca. The festival has grown each year and now is billed as the largest outdoor sports and music festival in the nation. Events at this year’s River Rock included trail running, mountain biking, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, climbing, dog jumping, and slacklining, all within striking distance of the city’s downtown.
If you are a whitewater enthusiast, Richmond will never disappoint. The James River provides world-class whitewater in the middle of the city. River Rock highlights these whitewater opportunities by organizing boating and SUP competitions at Fish Ladder rapid. Brown’s Island and the Potterfield Memorial Bridge allow thousands of spectators to view and cheer on the competitors.
SUP Cross is a River Rock crowd favorite. This year, the event organizers decided to step things up a notch by increasing the challenge of the course. In past years, the SUP Cross course has generally involved one downriver gate and a race down the rapids. This year, two upstream gates were added directly below the bridge, before a final downstream move and navigating the remaining rapids of Fish Ladder to the finish-line eddy. The change in the course meant that 14’ boards became more of a liability and less of an advantage while trying navigate upstream gates.
Jack Nelson and Jason Kopp represented team Hala riding the 12’6” Hala Nass through the course. The speed, maneuverability, and stability of the Nass made it the perfect board for the competition. SUP cross was divided into prelims and finals for both men’s and women’s heats. After several exciting runs, this year’s top finishers were as follows:
1. Comer Bronwyn
2. Ellie Morris
3. Marina Eichenberger
4. Katie Lemmert
1. Spencer Lacy
2. Chris Gragtmans
3. Jack Nelson
4. Benjamin Moore
For those interested in SUP, however, the events didn’t stop with whitewater. Throughout the weekend, Blackdog Paddle demoed Hala Boards on the Haxall Canal. Adults and children of all ages could be seen paddling on the canal, playing in the water, and enjoying the incredible weather. This same canal became a torrent of energy on Sunday morning when the SUP Enduro challenge began. SUP Enduro was divided into two divisions: Recreational (1.8 miles) and Expert (3.6 miles). SUP Enduro was a fantastic spectator opportunity for flatwater SUP enthusiasts. The full results can be found HERE.
In addition to the SUP competition and demo opportunities, if you like to SUP with your pup, you certainly were aware the Hala Team Rider Maria Schultz was in town