The Puntledge River will again turn into a raging whitewater rendezvous for the ninth annual Puntledge River Paddle Festival.
Everyone, from beginner kayakers to seasoned professionals, to those looking for fun on guided river rafting tours, or those just wanting to watch the action from the riverbanks, is invited to the festival.
The festival — hosted by the Vancouver Island Whitewater Paddling Society — is set for June 7 to 9 this year, with most of the activity planned for Saturday and Sunday June 8 and 9.
Organizer Dave Prothero says the festival usually attracts 140 to 150 paddlers from all over B.C. and the Northwestern United States, plus a smattering from other parts of the world.
He notes the river is accommodating of various skills levels, which is one of the Puntledge’s draws.
“The Puntledge is really neat just in the way the features are,” he says. “It’s a really good play wave — so there’s a feature on the river that kayakers can go and surf and do a number of playboating sort of tricks — and it’s accommodating to a lot of different levels.
“There’s sections for beginners, there’s sections for intermediates and there’s sections for advanced paddlers.
“There’s also a class 4 plus 5 section on the upper side with slides, and waterfalls and drops, and it’s quite unique to British Columbia so it makes for a really unique river for paddlers to come and visit.”
Non-kayakers looking for some excitement can sign up for guided rafting trips down the Puntledge by Campbell River’s Destiny River Adventures. Visit www.destinyriver.com, or call 250-287-4800 for more information.
Prothero adds spectators are encouraged to check out the paddling activity; there will be a map posted on the Whitewater Paddling Society’s website at www.surfkayak.org and signage posted in the surrounding woods.
Festival camping will be at Maple Pool Campsite, which backs out onto the river. The weekend will also feature some games, a raffle and Saturday night entertainment.
New this year, a kayak will be auctioned off to raise money for local charity group YANA (You Are Not Alone). Donated by Western Canoeing and Kayaking and Jackson Kayak, proceeds from the live auction Saturday evening will help YANA support Comox Valley families who must travel for their child’s medical care.
Prothero notes the timing is excellent for non-water enthusiasts, too, as Elevate the Arts Festival in downtown Courtenay is set for the same weekend.
To register or for more information, visit www.surfkayak.org or check out the group’s Facebook page, Vancouver Island White Water Paddling Society.