Published: Jul 24, 2017

Paddlemania 2017

It seemed different but not out of place to be giving a safety speech on the Lower St. Louis River to a group of rafters. It was the first commercial whitewater rafting trip on the Lower section of the St. Louis River. Quick side note: if you are going whitewater rafting in Duluth, Minnesota, or rafting in Minnesota in general, the St. Louis River is where you would go. Anyways, we had rafted the Lower with our team several times to train our guides and dial in the trip. Now (2 years ago) we were doing a trip to kick off to the 2015 Paddlemania—St. Louis River Rendezvous Event.

Paddlemania—St. Louis River Rendezvous is a two part name because it is the marriage of two whitewater events. Paddlemania was established 18 years ago through the efforts of Joerg Steinbach and support through whitewater kayak outfitters and companies. It began on the St. Croix River and eventually made it to the St. Louis River six years ago. The goal of Paddlemania was to bring kayakers together to demo boats, have a fun race, enjoy whitewater of Minnesota and to hang out.

The St. Louis Rendezvous has been around since the 1990’s. It originated as a slalom event and later added a whitewater freestyle competition. Since then whitewater playboats have changed and the highway 210 feature was no longer desirable for playboaters to demonstrate their freestyle moves. The flood of 2012 had also put the kibosh on it.

In 2014 Swiftwater Adventures teamed up with the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Recreational and Outdoor Sports Program to bring back paddling events to the region. Through the support of dozens of great sponsors and volunteers Paddlemania—St. Louis River Rendezvous was back in a new way. Our goal was to showcase whitewater rafting and kayaking near Duluth, Minnesota and to bring the paddling community together.

Below is the lineup for the 2017 Paddlemania Event on the weekend of Juky 29th and July 30th coinciding with Carlton Daze in Carlton, MN. For more info or to register in advance visit:

Saturday, July 29th

10:00am to 12:00pm Racer Check In.

12:30pm Race Safety Staff Meeting

12:45pm Racer Meeting

1:00pm Boaters head to Start

1:15pm First Kayaker launches

4:00pm Slot Machine Showcase Showdown

7:00pm Grill Out and Awards Swiftwater Adventures office and kayak center (adjacent to Outpost/ event HQ).

Blast to the Bridge Race: Watch expert kayakers navigate class III to IV+ rapids as they race down the lower St. Louis River to the Swinging Bridge in Jay Cooke St. Park. Best time wins! Racers can register here.

Slot Machine Showcase Showdown: A narrow falls that can be tricky to negotiate without getting stuck in the bottom. Watch as expert paddlers take a gamble by either beating the odds and clearing the base of the falls or letting the house win by getting stuck.
Sunday, July 30th

Team Freestyle Rafting Event: Get your team of four together. An experienced paddler appointed to you by the event Safety Team will steer your raft as you work together to obtain eddies, ferries, peel outs, and surf your way to points while rafting the lower St. Louis River.

Raft teams with the most points wins their heat.

9:30am Team Rafting check in begins. Check in is 30 minutes prior top each heat

10:00am 1st Heat
11:30am Second Heat
1:00pm Third Heat
2:30pm Fourth heat
To register your team of 4 please email: [email protected]
There are only 4 teams per heat so space is limited, sign up soon!
Swiftwater Adventures will be supplying the rafts and equipment and some of the guides for the Team rafting, the other guides will come from a pool of experienced paddlers appointed by the event committee. Some experienced paddlers will be bringing their own raft and teams.

Everyone must register to race.

See you on the river!

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