The typical approach to navigating a rapid on a stand-up paddle board is to sit down or kneel.

At the fifth annual Windermere SUP Cup, Spokane's David Busch threw caution to the wind -- blowing upstream on the Clark Fork River on Sunday -- and decided to ride through the course's main drop on two feet.

"I made it through the wave and then about 30 yards down I hit one kind of sideways and kind of tipped over," said Busch, who lost his hat and sunglasses to the wave just before the dog park.

He should be able to score some replacements. Busch, racing in the recreational division, hopped back on his board and placed second overall in the time trial event. Second place took home a prize valued at $250.

In the elite divisions, men and women brought home cash.


For the third straight year and fourth time since the SUP Cup has existed, Martin City's Cyril Burguiere won the men's elite race, taking $700 back to his home in northwest Montana. By the race's end, he was already putting his paddle board away while others enjoyed the luau-themed festivities at Bess Reed Park.

"Just look for the most fit guy here, it's him," said Coeur d'Alene's Joe Threadgill, who finished one spot behind Burguiere in the men's elite.

Burguiere set a blistering pace in the 4.2-mile race, which starts at the Sha-ron fishing access site in East Missoula. He clocked in at 29 minutes, 10.55 seconds.

Threadgill crossed the finish line -- 75-yards up from the riverbank -- 32 minutes behind Burguiere, despite successfully navigating the trickiest part of the river.

"I did the kneel and paddled through it mainly because we don’t get to practice that on a lake," Threadgill said of the dog park rapid. "To try to stand up through that I guarantee where I’m going to be -- it’s going to be swimming."

Most paddlers opted to sit -- like Doreen Stokes from Plains. The third-place finisher in the women's recreational race had watched Busch, who had just gained the advantage before the rapid, go overboard. Stokes, an avid surfer from her years at the New Jersey shore, chose to ride the impending curl seated.

Otherwise she was standing and paddling away. She wanted to pass Busch, but she also appreciates the exercise riding and balancing on a SUP provides.

"It’s really good for your core," Stokes said. "It starts from underneath your feet, all the way up your neck. Every part of your body is getting a workout."

Spokane's Valerie Saguid earned both the workout and a win in the women's elite division. She floated in for her second straight victory with a time of 34:27.66. Bigfork's Coral Meyers took second at 35:29.26.

Dawn Lev of Whitefish won the women's recreational at 38:14.35. Bozeman's Hayley Mortimer finished just 17 seconds behind her for second.

Greg Findley gave Bozeman a winning paddler in the men's recreational race, besting Busch. Findley finished at 34:48.62.

But win or lose, every racer had a blast navigating the unique river course -- especially through the wave.

"That wave is wicked on a SUP," said Missoula's Brint Wahlberg, who finished eighth in the recreational run. "It rolled me once on a test run and wrecked my confidence in it.

"Got through it fine today but it still gets the heart racing for sure."

Kyle Houghtaling can be reached by email at or on Twitter @khotel.