Animas River Days Re-Cap

Nestled in the southwest corner of Colorado is the Ponderosa wave, one of the rowdiest waves in the state. Ponderosa kicks up into a wall of water as the swollen Animas River rages through the Santa Rita Park on the edge of historic downtown Durango. The town may be remote and the drive far but the surf and people continue to inspire us to come back each year for the Animas River Days.

Mike Tavares surfing Pondorosa Wave


The entire event is held in a single day which makes it a full on sprint for the stand up paddlers and kayakers competing. The carbon innegra holeshot was the board of choice for the men’s downriver sprint with Spencer Lacy landing first place and Mike Tavares in second. Amongst the women the inflatable Holeshot shined as Natali won first place and Lauretta Boychuck and Brittany Parker tied for second getting the exact same time of 8 minutes and 4 seconds.

We traded our race boards for 6’11” River Surfers and lined up in the eddy for the surf comp. The female competitors focused on finesse and flow. Team rider and Durango local Vanessa Taylor had impossibly smooth rides on such a bouncy wave. Not many women dared to use the entire face of the wave but Vanessa showed no fear and glided from river right to left showing no hesitation earning her first place. Tracy Sage came in close second and team rider Claire Chappell landed third.

Local Vanessa Taylor scoring her first place ride. Photo: Shannon Thomas

Each male competitor showed different styles and tactics to score the winning ride. Spencer Lacy displayed control with aggressive carves using the entire face of the wave. While other rides he would focus mainly on spins and smears. His wid-range of abilities landed him a first place score. Miles Harvey came in close second and Mike Tavares followed with third place.

The recent changes to the park has made Pondorosa more of a challenging wave than years previous. Local surfer Wu Wallace calls it an opportunists wave, you’ve got to stay aware and take advantage of the bowls and walls that form for a split second. The locals are holding down a super strong surf culture in Durango and we were pumped to be a part of it for the weekend. Huge thanks to all the event organizers and volunteers for all their hard work last week. 

Check out this highlight video of the event filmed and edited by team rider Miles Harvey 

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Daily Stoke

badfish, stand, up, paddle, SUP, paddleboard, rivers, whitewater, MVP, runningBadfish Co-Owner Mike Harvey paddling the 2016 9′ MVP on the Salt River Canyon in Arizona.