Published on August 10th, 2017 | by RB Team

Slam Festival 2017 Recap

With river surfing continuing to grow around the world a crew in Alberta has shown they are playing a big part in its development. Slam Festival 2017 marks the year of the first ever North American Championships (NACs) where the Alberta River Surfing Association and Surf Anywhere transformed Slam the Kan into an eight day marathon of events through July 15-23.

The inspiration for the event pulled directly from river surfing roots in Europe and stayed true to that with events including everything from bowl skating to and art gallery. Those travelling in from out of town had lots to see and do in the week leading up to the big competition. The schedule included the Bowl Jam, Rooftop Party with a game of SKATE, a Speaker Summit, Pool Party, Wave Wednesday, Art Night,Campfire Stories and the NACs with Afterjam to wrap it all up.

Art Night at The Compound (photo by Robert Bishop)

A monumental undertaking by the Alberta RSA’s staff of volunteers and made possible by an impressive list of sponsors. In all, the group raised over $10,000. The first efforts towards building a world class wave in downtown Calgary. The festival attracted over 1,200 attendees and reached thousands more through a strong online presence. An epic contribution to the international river surfing community that will ripple for years to come.

The festival attracted over 1,200 attendees and reached thousands more through a strong online presence.

The competition took place on a river wave built by Canada’s leading surf wave builder, Surf Anywhere. Judging was a format adapted from the Austrian Championships with support from Maximilian Neuböck from Nu.Art Surfstuff and Gerwin Andreas from Delight Alliance. Three volunteer judges were selected from different regions. One of the judges, Chris Cindric, River Surf Spokane, travelled from Washington to attend the event with his son Charlie Cindric. “I was humbled to judge surfers moving on the water like I can only dream. It was a task I did not take lightly and I am grateful for the opportunity.” Chris went on to say that the Canadian surfers are a special breed, “quirky, eclectic, fun, wood chopping, wood burning, beer drinking, music playing, story telling, video showing, happy surfing guys and gals of all walks of life.” Chris was happy to see community values remained strong in the face of competition but offered a friendly warning to keep the fun community roots alive and not focus too much on the winners and losers.

The placing was as follows:

Men’s Open

  1. Tristan Gaudet
  2. Aaron Black
  3. David Cachero and James Bigelow

Women’s Open

  1. Brittany Parker and Angela Knox
  2. Lindsey DeJongh

A crowd pleaser moment of the competition was the teams category where crowds in attendance cheered for an acid drop off a ladder by Eddie Meyer and other highlights like a hockey face-off and surfing toboggan from team members Justin Gullickson, Jacob Kelly Quinlan and Peron Desnoyers.

Music being a much larger component of the event this year, featuring local talent and musicians coming in from river surf communities as far as Montreal. “We felt well taken care of and like we were part of the community, which is super amazing. Such good vibes all round”” said Orion Miller from The OM Sound.

Rooftop Jam (photo by Eric West)

When you put river surfers around a campfire my worries disappeared and my mind shared its experience

The campfire stories were a new attraction to the event and well received by the local and travelling surfers. Kevin Ludwig, Oregon River Surfing Association, shared his heart warming story of fighting off cancer and training to bike 45 miles to his local surf wave. “Campfire stories was the peak event for me”, says Kevin, “my heart was pumping to say the least but when you put river surfers around a campfire my worries disappeared and my mind shared its experience. Forever grateful for that night.” Listen to how Kevin sums up the Slam event:

Colorado native Brittany Parker has a rich experience to pull from in the realm of river competition as River Surf SUP has been competitively judged for almost ten years in her home state. “I hope to see more river surfing competitions across North America. It’s such a great way to get everyone in the community together and to get to know other surfers from different communities. I believe competition plays a big role in the progression of the sport.”

The comp got me excited to get out and try to raise the bar for myself as a surfer.

Brittany believes competition in shortboard river surfing still needs development in terms of judging and format but will only progress by holding more competitions like Slam in all the different river surf communities in Canada and the US. “Although there are some things I would change, such as developing a way to settle ties, I had a very positive experience. The competition helped me visualize what was possible and got me excited to get out and try to raise the bar for myself as a surfer.” Brittany would like to see the NACs held in Colorado in the future but would be happy to travel to any river surf community that is willing to put in the effort of hosting the NACs.

The event director, Jacob Kelly Quinlan, and Slam Festival co-founder Jenna Henderson want to continue Slam down this new path involving music, art, skate and surf but bring it back to the roots of why Slam was started. Regarding the NACs, The Alberta RSA is making a call out for communities who wish to hold the event next year and offering their full support to pass on their knowledge for this event to continue to bring river surfers from across the continent to one place to share surf stories, session together and build a brighter future. You can connect with Jacob Kelly directly if you would like to have a voice in the future of river surf competition in North America.

Check out #slam17 on Instagram for more action from the event!

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The editorial team of Riverbreak is a loose connection of passionate river surfers. As a group, we strive to give the larger community a voice on an international level. Our mission is to connect river surfer around the globe.

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