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It's official - river season is under way
Ken "Hobie" Hoeve caught a ride at Glenwood's South Canyon wave April 22. South Canyon is already blown out, but the kayak park upstream should be hitting its prime.
Photo by Matt Solomon 

It's official - river season is under way

By Tom Boyd

April 23, 2008 —  The last time I saw someone ride a surfboard on the river it was 1997 and I was down at the legendary Big Sur wave near Grand Junction.

Leave it to Ken “Hobie” Hoeve to find a way to do something fantastic with a river wave and a surfboard.

South Canyon wave is a big, steep wave in the middle of the Colorado south of Glenwood, so I was pretty amazed to see that Hobie had found a way to get a surfboard out there. He discovered a large, submerged rock on river right which allowed him to creep closer to the wave, then launch forward, paddle hard, and catch a ride.

South Canyon is already blown out, but the kayak park upstream is rip-roarin’ and ready to go. I haven’t been there myself yet (I only just today dusted off the gear), but the photos on their site,, have every kayaker in the state quivering with anticipation.

The design is brilliant. When the water is low, the right- and left-hand sides create a hole and a wave. As the water rises (which it is doing quite swiftly), the sides blow out and the center gets prime. With the addition of this park, the Colorado River has some of the best paddling in the world all the way from Gore Canyon (class V) to the Upper C (Class I, II, and II) to Upper Death (Class VI) to Barrel Springs (Class V) to Shoshone (Class III) Grizzly Creek (Class II) to the kayak park, then to South Canyon Wave.

We truly live in the heart of fantastic kayaking and rafting country (especially in springtime).

Vail’s kayak park, on Gore Creek, doesn’t have near the whitewater, but this year ought to be the best year for our park so far. Hobie, Brad Ludden, Tim Kennedy, and a host of other local kayakers convinced the Town of Vail to allow Nick Turner, a kayak-park guru, to install a set of inflatable bladders on either side of the river. These bladders inflate according to river levels to help channel the water into the park’s sweet spot. This will extend our season considerably and ensure a great competition come the Teva Games June 5-8, 2008.

Turner is currently installing a similar system at the Olympic-quality kayak course in Dubai.

With runoff melting as quickly as we’ve seen the last few weeks, we ought to be in for an absolutely huge season, so big, in fact, that I’m sure the legendary Big Sur will once again run wild. And I’m sure Hobie will be there to surf it.



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