When we’re talking about stand up paddling, the ultimate aim that a lot of people have is in taking part in one of the BIG races. Sometimes because they think they can win some money, most times because it is a WHOLE LOT OF FUN! There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline of a start line, or the reward of crossing the finish line, no matter how many races you’ve done before.

With the increase in popularity of Stand Up Paddling, there are a whole lot of races to choose from, particularly in Canada and the US. We’ve picked just some of the big ones to give you a taste of what to expect.

  1. Pacific Paddle Games

Okay so the PPG JUST happened last weekend (30 Sept – 2 Oct) at Dana Point in California. It basically replaced Battle of the Paddle which folded last year, and constitutes a full weekend of racing, both technical (buoy course and waves) and distance. Its big selling point is one heck of a big prize purse $60,000 USD, which attracted most of the world’s paddling contenders like Connor Baxter, Michael Booth and Candice Appleby.

Pacific Paddle Games

If you want to take part, you have to pre-register at least two weeks before, and you can either enter in the Open or the Pro categories, and for both or either races. Registration for adults varies between $135 and $260 depending which category and how many races.

Why is it worth it? This is the biggest event of its kind, which also means the biggest parties. Head down to take part, or just to partake in the atmosphere!

  1. Molokai to Oahu

This iconic race celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, so to say it’s one of the bucket list races is an understatement. When it started it was for prone paddlers, but now is included in the SUP World Champs, and attracts world class athletes across all divisions.

It is a pretty specialist event, and to take part you have to arrange a safety boat as escort as the crossing can get very hairy. Finish times vary but winners are usually under 5 hours, and you can do it as part of a team relay.

Molokai to Oahu SUP Race

It takes place at the end of July each year, and to take part you have to be able to paddle 10 miles in under 2 hours, and there is a lottery for places.

Why is it worth it? If you’re up for it, just the kudos you receive for taking part is worth a lifetime of races. And it’s in Hawaii…what more do you need to ask?!!?

  1. The Gorge Paddle Challenge

The Columbia Gorge is an incredible place to paddle on any day, but for the Paddle Challenge around 350 racers take part in one of the biggest SUP events in the world. And it’s not even that far away!

Taking place over a weekend in late August each year, the event comprises both a distance downwind race, and a technical course race. There are SUP exhibits from many companies, free SUP lessons and demos and live music.

Columbia Gorge Paddle Race

Why is it worth it? Downwind paddling is a different kind of beast, and there’s nowhere better than the Columbia Gorge.

  1. Kalamalka Classic

Out of all the races in BC, this one merits mention because of how incredible the scenery is, and is one of the bigger races on the calendar. It is a full weekend of racing, with a short technical course and relay on the Saturday, and distance race along the length of Kalamalka Lake on the Sunday.

There’s also a GREAT party on Saturday night, a super fun way to chill out and enjoy time with the paddling community. It’s the first weekend in September too, which usually falls on the Labour Day weekend so you’ve got plenty of time to enjoy the Okanagan if you’re not a local.

Kalamalka Classic SUP Race

Why is it worth it? Paddling on a turquoise lake, two days of fun races and all your friends…

  1. Board the Fjord

We couldn’t write a list of the best SUP races of the year without including our own fantastic race! If you don’t know already – Board the Fjord is a distance race around the lower part of the beautiful Indian Arm, starting in our own Deep Cove. There are 14km, 7km and 4km races, and the race has grown each year to now be the official end of the BC SUP Cup racing calendar with cash prizing.

It’s a fitting end to the season as many of the racers take part in our Tuesday Night Races each week right from April, so ending the season in Deep Cove seems appropriate.

Why is it worth it? Indian Arm is a stunning place to paddle, so even when you’re hurting you can look around and enjoy it…or so we’re told 🙂

Board the Fjord start


If you haven’t tried racing before, find a weekly fun race to dip your toes in and see what it’s all about. We run Tuesday Night Races in Deep Cove from the start of April with varying length courses for different abilities, and we welcome new racers every week! We also have rental boards available for a discounted rate if you don’t have your own board. Check out our results page here for info on last season.