Kayaking’s Best: The Rider of the Year and Whitewater Grand Prix


There are many different platforms to showcase the sport of whitewater kayaking. Whether it’s big wave surfing in remote places or whitewater parks nestled in the heart of town, they all contribute to the progression of whitewater kayaking.

Patrick Camblin, of Tribe Alliance, has been instrumental in this progression. Patrick is leading the charge with innovative and progressive ideas like the Whitewater Grand Prix and the Rider of the Year awards.

Both the Whitewater Grand Prix and the Rider of the Year showcase the best athletes in the sport and are held at a very high level.

I was able to ask Patrick a few questions about both of these events:


Is there is one broad goal that you’re trying to achieve with both the Whitewater Grand Prix and Rider of the Year awards or are they two completely separate ideas with different goals?


I guess the overall goal is the same, to get more eyes on whitewater kayaking, but the Rider of the Year concept is more of a community-building project and the Grand Prix is more about getting into the mainstream.

There hadn’t been a platform that showcased the community’s highlights since the Big Gun Show (which stopped back in 2005) and something needed to take its place. The growing use of the internet made the online platform the natural progression, and I added a lot more dimensions to the contest to ensure we could make it something worthy of the community’s support.

Having the event peer-voted (vs. by a magazine editor or whatever) makes it more relevant and ultimately much more meaningful to those that win. With the Grand Prix, the idea was to come up with an event concept that might transcend the normal whitewater circles and actually get some mainstream attention.

It wasn’t easy to convince people that the vision would work but I think we pulled it off and the encouraging viewership – both online, in magazines around the world, and on TV – is definitely raising that potential as we move forward.


Would you say that the Rider of the Year awards are a way to showcase the most progressive and best kayakers in our sport under one roof?


That’s the idea, yeah.


Who determines the rider of the year awards and how many people voted?


It’s open to voting to anyone in the AWP membership (www.awpworldseries.com/members) as well as those felt to be the peers of that membership. It’s a self-regulating group, anyone within the membership can add people they feel paddle to their standard.

This year, the voting was only open for five days because of timeline constraints – we were presenting the awards at the Paddle Expo in Germany – but we still had almost 80 top boaters who participated in the voting, which is a significant number to have taken the time/effort to do so. If we can maintain that level of participation I’ll be happy, and with some luck it should grow a bit each year.


Any new categories going to be added for next year’s Rider of the Year?


Potentially! Stay tuned to the website for more details once the third edition gets underway.

Check out Tribe’s Rider of the Year video on VimeoLearn more about Tribe, Rider of the Year, and the Whitewater Grand Prix on their Facebook pages and websites:




Rider of the Year:



Whitewater Grand Prix:




Like this post? Chances are you’ll like Jason’s other posts: River Fun and Kayaking in the Fall, Whitewater Kayaking and Learning to Roll, Go with the Flow and Get in the Know, and Kayaking the Lochsa River.

Our page about Missoula Kayaking, Canoeing, and Rafting also has tons of info to help you get out on Missoula’s amazing rivers.

  Visit the Go With the Flow blog archive.


Jason Shreder is the owner of local whitewater company Zoo Town Surfers. He loves Missoula, the great community, and all the awesome water that surrounds it. He’s constantly moving and 90% of that movement involves kayaking, rafting, working, and hanging out with his awesomely supportive girlfriend and dogs.