Some of the best paddlers in the world will convene May 12-14 for the Reno River Festival, the third annual event celebrating the sport of kayaking.
The Friday-through-Sunday competitions will include boater-cross, in which multiple paddlers charge horse-race-style down a 100-yard course, and freestyle contests in which paddlers perform maneuvers such as squirts, nose stands, flat spins and others while making their way through Class II and III rapids made plenty challenging by high flows from this year's big spring runoff.
A freestyle invitational contest will feature returning champions Eric Jackson of Rock Island, Tenn., and Tanya Faux of Victoria, Australia, along with hometown favorites Jay Kincaid and three-time world champion Brooke Winger.
It all takes place at the $1.5 million Truckee River Whitewater Park in downtown Reno, where there's plenty of spectator seating on river-rock "bleachers" along the shore. Live music, a beer garden, food vendors, skills clinics and a paddle-sports expo with dozens of exhibitors round out the free weekend event. Festival-goers can extend the vibe both evenings with free concerts at Harrah's Plaza.
Also on tap: a series of free clinics for paddlers of all skill levels. Offerings include instruction for first-timers; a course in adaptive paddling techniques for those with mobility impairments; and sessions in rolling, bracing and eddy-line techniques. Advanced kayakers can dip their paddles into "playboating," slalom basics and other disciplines. Space in the clinics will be allotted on a first-come basis, with on-site registration starting at 8 a.m. May 12.
The Truckee River Whitewater Park, which opened three years ago, includes slalom and freestyle channels totalling 2,600 feet in length. Features include 11 drop pools and boulders for kayaking maneuvers. North and south channels surround Wingfield Park, on an island in the river where the expo will be staged. The venue is within easy walking distance of downtown Reno hotels.
Reno River Festival
When: May 12-14
Where: Truckee River Whitewater Park, downtown Reno
Getting there: Take Interstate 80 to Virginia Street in Reno. Exit south onto West First Street and follow it as it turns right. Street parking is available near the park.
How much: Free
More information: www.renoriverfestival.com or (800) 376-7366