News | Riot Stand Up Paddle Boards

Corran dominates the Kern Fesitival SUP class

Recently returning from the Dusi race in South Africa, Corran went to the 50th annual Kern festival held in Southern California this weekend, and dominated the event with his two new race boards, the Dusi and the SL350, winning two of the three events and taking 2nd in the other. Winning the 16 minute sprint race with a commanding 45 second lead (including two “silly” swims while trying new untested lines through some of the rapids), he started out his weekend well, and went on to win the Boarder Cross against fellow Olympic kayaker Eric Giddens, who lives and trains on the Kern river. Eric managed to edge Corran out of 1st place for the slalom win, using his left handed paddling to his advantage on the course that by luck happened to favor a “leftie”. Eric took 2nd in the boardercross, and third in the downriver sprint, being beaten out by local paddler and Corran SUP dealer John Stalone who was also racing a Dusi. In 4th place in the sprint was Matt Hudgins, racing the inflatable iDusi (with broken ribs no less). Overall it was a fantastic weekend, with decent flows and an enthusiastic crowd of spectators and participants.


New iDusi goes into production

As a result of the astounding success Corran had at the Dusi Marathon, taking first place in the first ever SUP participation in this 50yr old race, we have decided to make an inflatable version, called the iDusi. While the board carries the name of this amazing race, really the target market for it is paddlers who want the speed and enjoyment of paddling a 17′ board  -all the glide and excitement – without the problems of storage and transport of such a craft.

The logic was simple. If you’re going to roll the board up into a back pack, then it doesn’t matter how long it is when its blown up – as far as convenience is concerned. But then once you take the back-pack off, and blow this up, you have a really fun and exciting board to paddle – something that will allow you to cover great distances with retaliative ease so you can really explore your local environment.

“It makes sense why some people want a 12’6″ board for general fitness and distance paddling”, explained Corran Addison, the boards designer. “You have to store that board somewhere. But this is different. Since they roll up into about the same size,  it makes perfect sense that the longer board is the way to go. It just makes the whole paddling experience more enjoyable.”

The iDusi is a 2015 model, and is only available in small numbers as a “pre-production” board in 2014.


iAfrica Wins Best SUP Movie

The whitewatwer SUP film, iAfrica – a whitewater zulu adventure – has won the Reel Paddling film festival “best SUP movie”, and will be shown around the world at their film festivals. You can read more about the festival and the films here:


Streetfighter production in the USA

The Streetfighter, long awaited, has finally gone into production here in the USA. Molded using the same machines that are making our lightweight Tahiti and Waikiki boards, we are able to bring a plastic whitewater specific board to market at a weight that’s at least 30% lighter than the closest next plastic board. At 45lbs, the Streetfighter is a very manageable weight to carry and paddle for all.

The Streetfighter is also the best outfitted board out there. Features like our patent pending tail skeg allows the board to be paddled with a skeg making it easy to track and paddle, but this skeg flips up and out of the way with impacts with rocks – so you don;t go flying off the board. The Boof Buddy makes landing even the hardest drops easy, and our effective non slip deck pad is second to none for grip and traction. But lets not forget its amazing shape – this board is the “creek boat” of paddleboards. Highly rockered, rounded sides and forgiving rails makes it easier to run class 4 on this than most boards can run class2, and that’s saying something. And its still really fun to surf!!


Corran SUP and AerialiteX

The Dusi marathon in South Africa saw the first real extensive test of the new AerialiteX material that we’re using for all our river boards (and custom Surf shapes) from here forward. In the past we’ve used Kevlar, which is a remarkable material, but has many practical problems in its application for use in paddleboards.

The Aerialite X material uses a special fiber called Innegra, woven in a special way to optimize its performance for use in paddleboarding. AerialiteX brings the best of all worlds – a material that bonds well with the epoxy resin, resists delamination when struck, has similar properties to kevlar in its ability to absorb direct impacts and resist shearing (cutting), has high abrasion resistance, does not absorb water when broken, and lastly does not turn nasty brown when exposed to light.

On the Dusi marathon I dished out everything you can imagine to my board, which at the end was completely intact except one small crack right in the nose where I pitoned the riverbed at high speed running a low head dam that was about 10′ high. I drug the board behind me for a total of about 20km on tar road, gravel road, rocky trails, and both up and down stairs. The result was no more than a “sanding” of the bottom of the board – a million small scuff marks that were noting greater than surface scratches. Over the three days I ran ledges, low head dams, and rock infested rapids. Sometimes the best line was to ramp up and over a series of rocks rather than paddle around, and that’s exactly what I did. There is no teltail sign at all on the bottom of the board from all the abuse I handed out. All around me kevlar, nylon and carbon/kevlar kayaks were exploding and breaking with each contact with rocks – not this stuff. I was truly impressed and am confident that we have really found an amazing material to make our high end river and surf shapes from.


Dusi marathon success

Yesterday, the four SUP paddlers of Dean Botcher, Brendon Germain, Jon Ivans and myself completed the first ever successful Dusi marathon on Stand Up Paddleboards. It was truly the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I must have considered giving up a dozen times.

The event was not without mishap. It started with me coming down with Ecoli bacteria (and the runs) the day before the race, weakening me dramatically. The air temp was in excess of 39C (102F) in the valley. I snapped my fin an hour into the race trying to avoid a K2 taco in a particularity nasty rapid called taxi. Dean fell in a nasty low head dam and his board was recycled for almost an hour before it came out. We all fell in some nasty rapids and by the end of day two were limping and moaning in paid and from exhaustion.  Brendon came in with a 10 min lead after day one, having run over the two alarming hard portages (miles from the river over mountains, board on head in oppressive heat). I was second with Dean and Jon not far behind.

Day two however was the long day. The portages were less severe (though still no joke) and it was miles and miles of hard class 3-4 whitewater (standing on what is little more than a knitting needle) and I slowly ebbed out a lead, being nearly 45 mins ahead by the second major portage of the day. The day ended with a 12km paddle across Inanda Dam (after 4hrs paddling and portaging), into blasting head winds. Speed was reduced at times to 2km/hr, and I can assure you I contemplated giving up several times as it dawned on me that the lake paddle itself could take as much as 4hrs alone. However sometimes the wind switched to a heavy side wind, and while this resulted in “sweep stroking” for two miles at a time on one side, with rolling waves trying to tip you off with each stroke, it also allowed speed to increase to about 7km/hr. In the end I completed the day in just over 6hrs. Jon was in next with a time of about 7hrs, Brendon in about 7:30hrs and Dean limped in at just over 8:30hrs (after waiting 45 mins for his board to come out of the low head dam). When I got to the finish line I quite literally shed a tear – the overwhelming emotion of suffering, exertion and elation of having made it. We limped home for a short nights sleep as the start was 6am the next day (requiring us to get up at 3am).

Day 3 starts with a 4km sprint across the last part of Inanada Dam, and amazingly I was feeling fresh and took off, giving myself about a 20 min lead by the time we got to the portage at the dam wall. The first rapid (Tops Needle where we held the 1992 Barcelona Olympic trials) chicken line was congested with K2’s piled into each other, so I went for the hero line, coming off about half way down where I proceeded to get rammed over and over by K2’s out of control. I have to say the Innegra fabric we used in these boards is nothing short of bullet proof… three days of rock pounding, miles and miles of dragging it over rock strewn terrain, and barely a ding to be seen.

Eventually I got going again and increased my lead over the guys as the big water release of Day3 really put up some challenges. Brendon opted for the Burma Road portage – a tough over the mountain run which would cut out the loop in the river of hard whitewater, with the plan of closing the gap. Getting lost, he didn’t make up the hoped time.

Dean and Jon had good days, making most of the lines with style and control. I decided to portage the Island 1+2 rapids, and Powerhouse, deciding to save my strength for the 10km paddle to the sea into head winds (running hard rapids is fun, but saps your strength as it takes immense power to turn the boards). In the end I completed the run in 3:49hrs, a time comparable with K1 spring kayaks. Dean came in second with a time of 4:34hrs, making up for day 2’s mishaps, with Brendon coming in about 10 mins later and Jon finally completing the race 20 mins after Brendon (because of a repair) making it a 100% finish for the SUP class in this first ever Dusi marathon.

The only way I can describe this race is you’ll never enjoy suffering this much. You’re mad if you try this on stand up (all the other guys have done it many times in a kayak and say its no where near as hard), so I encourage anyone who kayaks and wants to try a new way of doing it, or who SUP’s and wants to really do something they’ll never forget. For sure next year I’ll do it again. Wiser and better prepared.


SUP river racing

The three boys in South Africa are still training for the Dusi marathon, and this last weekend competed in the Drak Challenge – the uMzimkulu river in the Drakensburg mountains. This is a grueling 2 day race that’s mostly flatwater but some really challenging rapids none the less. Brenden, Dean and Jon have been going hard down there, while I’ve been training on the Dusi board here in California – preparing for my flight in two weeks. I can’t wait.


Dusi training continues

Here is a reprint of a great interview with the two South African boys who are doing the Dusi with me in a few weeks time.


Pioneer paddlers to see whatSUP at 2014 Drak Challenge Underberg

As hundreds of canoeists ready themselves for this year’s N3TC Drak Challenge, a trio of brave souls are bracing themselves to make history on the South African paddling scene as they tackle the daunting task of completing the 68km race on a stand up paddleboard (SUP) rather than in a conventional river kayak (K1 or K2).

As if taking on the mighty uMzimkulu River sitting down wasn’t tough enough, Dean Bottcher, Brendon Germaine and Jon Ivins have set themselves the mammoth task of trying to achieve the feat standing up and, should they be successful, will become SUP trend setters globally, showing the many surf and flatwater SUPers worldwide that rivers can be their playground too.

“Stand up paddleboarding is huge internationally and is really growing quickly in South Africa too, so much so that many local surfski events are including an SUP category these days,” explained Bottcher. “What we’re looking to do, take on a technical river on a SUP with an under stern rudder, is a completely new concept though. It’s never been done before anywhere in the world!” he added.

Together with SUP sensation Corran Addison, the three hope that a smooth Drak Challenge will open the doorway to them taking part in the iconic Dusi Canoe Marathon in mid-February with their ultimate goal being to race the three-day spectacle from Pietermaritzburg to Durban competitively in 2015.

“Coming from a kayaking background I have been paddling for years but I’ve been paddling a SUP on the river since February last year,” said Bottcher.

“Since we had the boards made we’ve been doing the usual pre-Dusi races on the upper uMngeni River and the likes. The Drak is a completely different challenge though! “Hopefully we can make it through Drak in one piece and then we can look to do Dusi in a few weeks’ time with the goal of just finishing this time around and, if things all go according to plan, then look to try race Dusi next year,” he added.

While one eye may be on the future, Bottcher is all too aware of the challenge that lies ahead of him this weekend in Underberg and will be looking to take things just one step at a time.

“I haven’t ever had the best of races (in a kayak) down the uMzimkulu previously so it’s going to be pretty tough for me.

“Brendon, Jon and I will look to stick together throughout though and fortunately the others know the rapids pretty well and are quite confident on the river so hopefully we can just make it through the two days.”

As exciting as this weekend’s challenge may be, getting to this point has been a long, tough journey with challenges of various shapes and forms constantly raring their heads in the build-up.

Despite their being an abundance of challenges, some difficulties of others’ perceived the small group may have battled to overcome have in fact proven not to be an issue at all.

“We’ve had guys say ‘What about weirs?’ but we’ve run one or two now and it was like they weren’t even there!,” said Bottcher.

“It’s probably actually easier going down a weir on a SUP than in a kayak because you stay on top of the water rather than the nose digging in at the bottom.

“Rapids are a challenge, especially some we’ll encounter at Drak this weekend, but you’ve got three different ways of approaching these depending on your skill level. You can either stand up, kneel or, if you’re worried about falling off, then you can even lie down.

“We’ve also found we don’t actually need all that much water in the river at all to be able to go along quite comfortably.”

Brendon Germaine, Bottcher’s fellow Drak hopeful and the driving force behind the manufacturing of the new MaxPaddle Crossover SUP which the trio will be paddling this weekend, echoed Bottcher’s sentiments. “Rather than getting stuck in some of the holes that many K1s and K2s often do, the Crossover seems to in fact go over them which is obviously a huge bonus.”

Germaine also unpacked some of the challenges he was faced with on the design front. “The development of the board has been quite a nightmare,” said Germaine.

“Getting the right strength and weight has been really tricky, especially in the short space of time that we set ourselves.

“Making sure the boat was stable enough, without losing too much speed, was also something we had to overcome as well as dealing with the issue of drainage.”

A combination of Germaine’s manufacturing background, Bottcher’s enthusiasm and SUP experience as well as a guiding hand from Kayak Centre’s Rick and Clive Whitton have however produced the first ever SUP of its kind and is something all involved are extremely proud of, despite still having a little more work still to do.

“We’re about eighty percent of the way there now,” explained Germaine. “Our standard board is 14 feet long and, once we’ve finished working on our Dusi board, it will weigh about 14 kilograms, which is very similar to your average K1. “

The increased volume at the front of the board compared to most other SUPs and the sloped deck means a lot of water in fact flows off the front and even if the board does end up with a full deck of water, the drainage is good enough that, if you’re moving, it should drain entirely within 30 seconds which was a major breakthrough for us!”

With unpredictable water levels a characteristic of the Drak Challenge, Bottcher, Germaine and Ivins will have a close eye on the skies over the coming days as they hope for a medium river level come Saturday’s stage one start.

The N3TC Drak Challenge 2014 starts on 18 January at Castleburn outside Underberg and finishes on 19 January at Hopewell Farm close to Coleford. More information can be found at


Dusi Marathon Training

I’ve been training hard for a race in South Africa called the Dusi Marathon.

The Dusi is a 120km race over three days that goes from Pietermaritzburg to Durban in Kwazulu South Africa on the uMzimdusi and uMgeni rivers. It’s about 30% flat water paddling (in oppressive 100F weather with 100% humidity), 30% class 2-3 whitewater and 30% running over mountains with your board (kayak) on your shoulder.

An experienced sup paddler with minimal whitewater experience could still do the race as all the main whitewater sections have options to portage around, or paddle the rapids. It varies depending on water levels which is faster anyway and the winner each year is not necessarily a runner vs a paddler. This means an experienced racer who ocean sups would have a chance against seasoned river paddlers (as long as he’s a runner too).

There are four of us doing the event. Myself, and local paddlers Dean Bottcher Jon Ivins and Brendon Germain. Dean, Jon and Brendon are experienced Dusi kayakers, but have minimal sup experience outside sup surfing (though they have now done a few “Dusi” qualifying races). Dean has some whitewater sup experience (he is in the iAfrica film). But they know the river and the race well, and the tactics to use: how to pace yourself, where the hard sections are and to conserve energy for them, the lines through the rapids and so on

I have the most sup experience, and I have been training hard, with split times now which are on a par with some of the kayaks. However, while I know the day3 section of the uMgeni river fairly well, the first two days I have not done before. I hope to run them prior to the race to get an idea but the subtleties of the lines and tactics I will not know. It makes for a level playing field.

I have a special 510cm board made from a new material called AeroliteX which uses Innegra fiber. It’s like Kevlar on steroids. This will stop the board getting smashed to pieces in the rapids. The board is fast and tippy for the arduous flat water sections of the race. Special harnesses are needed too for the long tough portages because a SUP can’t be shoulder carried like a kayak.

Here are some photos of my board, and of the guys in South Africa training for the race.

The race itself is Feb 13-15..


Dusi Race Paddleboard

I’m looking forward to the marathon that’s coming up – three of us will be taking part on SUP

Brendon Germain from max paddle, Dean Bottcher and myself. I’ve designed a new board specifically for the race, so it should be interesting. Here’s a look at the board and the race itself.

The Dusi Board

Dusi marathon


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