Surfing Vancouver Island  

2006 review of river surfing in Alberta  


Alberta River Surfing Association Well it’s been a year for the Alberta River Surfing Association. Shockingly we not only survived, but had a great year of surfing from the frigid winter day’s right through the beautiful Alberta Summer.

2006 saw the number of River Surfers in Calgary explode from 5 people to around 30 regulars in the local rivers. Also our online community has reached nearly 100 people; quite a growth considering the website and forum only came online in May.

The official start to the ARSA calendar was in May when the ARSA was approached by the local Kayak club in regards to holding a Surfing competition under the umbrella of the Kananaskis Whitewater Festival. The KWF is the major kayaking even in Alberta and ARSA happily took the invitation. We ended up with 7 guys on the water in the first River Surfing competition ever held outside of Europe. But, in what has become classic ARSA fashion, we quickly disposed of the contest format and ended up surfing most of the day away, and later over beers deciding who won. Ben “Skinner” Murphy took the first win. The KWF will be remembered by those that attend for the foul weather, free beer, and unbridled fun. ARSA owes a lot to No Friends, Rip Curl, NSP, and Big Swell for forking over prizes for the event.

Unfortunately for use the winter and spring were extremely dry in Alberta, so a lot of the rivers and bigger waves to be found in the local area were unridable. This definitely limited our ability to go out on the search and find new spots to ride. Almost everybody wound up at the old predictable Kananaskis River for most of the summer. However there were exceptions to that rule.

Led by Dave Roscoe, Neil Egsgard, and the Wallace brothers several previously unsurfed spots were checked off the list this year. This group of pioneers were the first to experience some of the better waves to be found in Alberta, and their reports have all of us foaming at the bit for the heavy spring runoff in 2007. Waves were ridden across Alberta, in Manitoba, and in Montana. .

S-Bends Search Video

The spring and early summer of 2007 will be a record year for new spots. Already there are plots and plans to take in more Alberta spots, places in British Columbia, Idaho, Saskatchewan, Montana, and perhaps a return to Manitoba.

The summer past with weekend trips to the few local spots that remained wet enough to surf, camping, and general good times. One of the highlights of the summer has been the growth of the backyard shaper. It seems that almost weekly a new person was trying their hand at shaping. Things that were learned in the process were past on, and slowly the quality of backyard shapes in and around the province has skyrocketed. With such a small target audience it has been hard to acquire gear, but the birth and growth of the home-made equipment has been a great boost to the community on the rivers.

Labour Day Weekend Video

Throughout the year members of ARSA were able to attract the interest of local and other media outlets. The Alberta River Surfing Association and its members to date have been featured in the Calgary Herald, the Edmonton Journal, and the International Surf Radio Webcast.

The end of the surfing season for most of ARSA occurred in September when the ARSA held the second planned event of the year, the ARSA SURF SLAM. This event was held to celebrate the season, get people together to talk story, and as a side note surf in the second Competition of the year. ARSA rented a group campground; we had a massive sound system, and did our best to out party each other.

The actual surfing component of the weekend was a raging success. People came to watch, some photographers showed up, and we were able to have 20 competitors in the water. The amount of people in the water made it possible for the ARSA to divide the competition into a beginner, and an advanced group. A Great day of surfing was had by everyone with Ben Murphy taking his second win of the year in the advanced group, and surprise winner Big Steve taking the beginner category. Big Swell and Red Nik stepped up for prizes for the event. To add to the peculiar nature of the weekend a game of cricket was held under beautiful skies following the surfing event.

ARSA Surf Slam Video

Since September the numbers have tapered off on the river with most people heading for the ski hills. However there is still a group of winter surfers taking in the snow frozen conditions. We are calling the year officially over on December 15th with a Holiday party at a local Calgary pub, The Kensington pub.

2006 was a brilliant first year for the ARSA, and 2007 promises to be even bigger and better. A return to the KWF will once again start the season, another Surf Slam in the summer, a third mystery event, and many trips to ride new river waves.

Still Surfing, Just Upstream.
Paul Barrett
Alberta River Surfing Association

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