This event is from a previous season. Please check out our events page on our site to see what is coming up this season!
Bend Oregon’s Annual Riverhouse Rendezvous Slalom Kayak Race and Clinics return after year hiatus
Racers and spectators alike will be stoked to hear the Bend Oregon 8th annual Riverhouse Rendezvous Slalom Race is staged for March 25th and 26th after a one year hiatus. A collaboration and revival by locally owned paddle outfitters Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe and the League of Northwest Whitewater Racers (LNWR), the Rendezvous will include four events over two days and benefits the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance. Originally a slalom race in the 70’s, the Rendezvous was resuscitated nine years ago by Geoff Frank (Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe founding partner and owner) and Bert Hinkley (Pacific Northwest representative for the National Whitewater Slalom Committee).
Whitewater slalom kayaking has been a sport since the 1940s, when Swiss alpine skiers embraced the runoff from the mountains to race the rivers on their off-season. Today, this sport is known world-wide to test not only the physical skill of paddlers, but their knowledge of the river and their ability to use currents and river features to their advantage.
The course is run on a popular section of river behind Riverhouse Hotel on the Deschutes, at 3065 N Hwy 97, Bend, OR 97701. As the season’s opener for the Northwest Cup Slalom Paddle Series and a Junior Olympic qualifier, the Rendezvous is also an opportunity for local whitewater enthusiasts to celebrate navigable flow levels before canal diversions are made in April.
Frank says long term he hopes to see gates set up for the Rendezvous a month in advance which would allow for a whitewater city league. “This race event has much potential to be the crescendo of a four week period of running river drills, refining whitewater technique, celebrating kayaking and high flows on the river. Besides racing, Rendezvous festivities will be a great time for spectators to watch, kayakers to progress their river skills in clinics and for those interested to learn more about local rivers.”
Bowerman adds, slalom kayaking is, “one of the most fundamentally grounding types of kayaking for an aspiring whitewater boater. People who learn slalom are consistently honed whitewater paddlers because they have such good kayak skills. Eric Jackson of Jackson Kayaks is a great example of this.”
March 25th (Saturday) festivities will include two slalom open course clinics. The two sessions, 10-12pm and 1-3pm, are offered at no additional cost to all race registrants and will be taught by Hinkley, Quinn Daley (American Canoe Association Instructor) and former U.S. National Team members.
Course participants will be broken into ability groups novice to experienced. Each group of three to five participants will run sections of the course with their instructor focusing on edge placement and how to choose a line when approaching gates based on boat type and negotiating river elements. New techniques in hand, clinic participants will have a chance in the afternoon to run the entire course.
A post-clinic “boatercross” event, organized by Jayson Bowerman of the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance, is scheduled for 4pm. The format is a mass start head-to-head sprint. On a length approximately half the distance of the race course, four boat heats will be run with top two times advancing. Roshambo will determine boat placement at the start line and ringing of a gong will be required to stop the clock.
To end the day, at 6pm, Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe will host a cookout at their retail shop on another popular section of the Deschutes River in the Old Mill adjacent to the Whitewater Park, 805 SW Industrial Way, Suite 6, Bend, Oregon 97703. American Whitewater Association river advocate Tom O’Keiff will lead a discussion relevant to boaters on river work in the northwest and future opportunities, specifically focused on the Crooked River.
Finally, March 26th (Sunday), the slalom race will commence at 10 am.
Registration, held onsite Saturday morning, costs $20 for LNWR members and $25 for non-members and includes race and clinic fees. Interested paddlers are encouraged to attend clinics regardless of participation in the race. There is no cost to spectators in all Rendezvous events.
About Rendezvous collaborating organizations:
The LNWR is an organization of northwest boaters devoted to promoting slalom and downriver racing in the Pacific Northwest. Volunteers organize the races which are sponsored by local paddling clubs in Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, Idaho and Montana. Hinkley explains the challenges of Whitewater slalom saying, “Being fast and clean (negotiating the course without touching gates) isn’t easy. Athletes demonstrate a dance of precision and speed in fragile carbon-fiber boats on powerful whitewater.”
The Bend Paddle Trail Alliance is a non-profit which actively promotes and works to establish a navigable paddle trail within Deschutes County that enhances river and lake recreation and appreciation for a wide variety of recreational water enthusiasts while promoting water safety, education and stewardship.
With locations in Bend and Sunriver, Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe is truly the epicenter of paddle sports in Central Oregon. Offering a full range of paddle equipment for purchase or hire they compliment their retail selection with the region’s best paddle instruction. In addition to hosting local cult-classic events, including the Pickin’ & Paddlin’ summer concert series, Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe has made river stewardship central to their mission by donating 5% of profits to conservation focused organizations.