EKI Introduces The Kentucky Waterman Series

As you probably know, the Explore Kentucky Initiative has a deep love for paddlesports. We spend a lot of time out on Kentucky’s scenic lakes and rivers, and served as a host for two successful races in the last year — Riverthon: the Ohio River Challenge and the Big South Fork Dash.

If you were at either race, you know that we’ve been working hard to build a race model that can be sustainable and popular, drawing attention not just from our intimate racing community, but from those in surrounding communities, even other states.

With your help, last year’s efforts brought in over 200 paddlers from 15 states and generated $20K for local economies. We know that paddlesports can thrive in Kentucky, we’ve seen it happen and we plan to keep working in 2017 with the launch of Kentucky Waterman Series, a multi-race series.

We already have several races that have signed on to take part in KWS:

The season will include an easy point system, incorporating existing events alongside ones that EKI will host, stretching all from Covington, Ky to the Big South Fork. You can keep up with updates about the series through KWS's website, Facebook, and Instagram.

How will it work?

The point system is pretty straightforward. Racers will be assigned points according to place at the finish line — first place gets 1 point, second place gets 2 points and so on. Those who do not finish, retire or are disqualified will receive the number of racers plus one. The person with the lowest total score at the end of the season, out of four total races, will win. Racers who take part in more than four races will have the option of throwing out their worst scores.

In this system, racers won’t be penalized for missing races, as long as they race at least 4 times.

Races will include several classes for both men and women: High performance kayak, kayak, solo canoe, SUP 14’ and SUP 12’6” & under. If at any race there are not at least 3 racers in a particular class, then that race class will not count for the series.


Race lengths will be defined as Ultra Distance (22+ miles), Long (5 - 22 miles) and short (2-4+ miles). Because of the limited participation in ultra distance and whitewater races, the point system deductions will work on a 1/2 - 1 point scale.

We’re so excited to host the Kentucky Waterman Series, a project that we believe will not only give Kentucky paddlers more options when it comes to racing and engaging with other members of the communities, but will also allow the community to grow — we want to spark a passion for paddlesports in members of the general public, in kids, in conservationists, in those who love Kentucky’s outdoors but haven’t yet found their way onto the water.

Click through to head to the Kentucky Waterman Website.