Are you up for the Rough Waters challenge at Hurley? Registration now open!

What is Rough Waters?

Think you know what paddle-boarding is? Prepare to be proved wrong. This event stands out from the rest and tests like no other. Rough waters’ challenge packed race is set out over a 1km course where your goal is to get around the multiple obstacles and transitions as quickly as possible…. Whether you just want to complete the course, beat your rivals, or top the podium, you’ll need all your skills and smarts to succeed.

Oh, and you’ll need £23 to enter. That’s right. Only £23 to enter!

Rough water paddleboard safari. #McConksMayhem

What is Hurley?

It all started in 1989 as a kayak freestyle competition and that makes the event one of the oldest of its type. It has developed from this first meeting between friends in the Hurley Village car park into one of the most significant freestyle water-sports events in the world.

The spirit of things at Hurley has always been about serious competition running alongside activity that encourages people of all ages into freestyle water sport.

Hurley is so much more than a freestyle boat festival

Hurley has been running elite and recreational SUP-cross events for a number of years, being one of the earliest boating festivals to take SUP to its heart.

This year, SUP is a core part of the lineup, with the SUP Cross having evolved into the most exciting event to hit the paddleboarding calendar for years. In fact, SUP has even made it onto the t-shirts and hoodies this year :-).

Tell me more about the Rough Waters SUP challenge?

This obstacle-packed race is set out over a 1km course where your goal is to conquer the mayhem and work out how to get round… For some, that will be as quick as you can go and for others, completing the course will be challenge enough. This is ‘Adventure Racing for SUP’. Think it will test all your skills?  Here’s a talk through the route…

Jump start

A bankside jump onto the board before heading with the flow to…

The launch party…

where you need to dance, duck, run and jump your way to success

The Grand National

Just like the horse race, this is tough, and only the best stay on their ride

To Hell and Back

You’ll know if you’ve made it when you get there!

Transition Trauma

This is the only land based obstacle, and prepare to get down and dirty – don’t wear your Sunday best 🙂

The bathing pool, swallows and amazons and swish slalom

Jump back in at the bathing pool, make your way through the backwaters, and then slalom your way through gates and back upcurrent to the daunting…

Ramp of Doom

Only once you’ve tagged the top will your challenge be over.

You’ll race in a wave of 6 riders, but this is an individual time trial event. Feel free to help your fallow riders if they’re stuck, but this will cost you time. How altruistic do you feel?

What kit do I need

A SUP board and paddle

Board length is maximum 11ft. Boards can be hard or inflatable, but inflatables are strongly recommended due to the nature of the event. Whitewater boards are not mandatory. McConks are sponsoring this event, and will have a few McConks Go Wild whitewater boards and McConks whitewater paddles available to try.


Quick release waist leashes are mandatory as are non-inflatable PFDs. Helmets are also required. If you don’t have the right gear, but you want to take part, JUST LET HURLEY KNOW WHEN YOU REGISTER. There is spare safety equipment, but there might not be not enough for everyone.

What to wear

You WILL get wet, you WILL get muddy, and the water WILL be cold. So a winter wetsuit or drysuit are strongly recommended, and a change of clothes is a must.

You don’t need to be a whitewater SUP expert

This is not a whitewater SUP event. OK, so it takes place just downstream of a flow control system that generates interesting flow features – but it’s not whitewater. You need to be reasonably comfortable on flowing water, but a full safety crew is on hand to keep everyone safe every step of the way.

When is it?

The Hurley30 festival takes place on 16/17 March 2019. The SUP race takes place on Sunday 17th. But we really recommend going for both days and being amazed by the skills on display and the atmosphere on the Saturday. You can even camp on the island – but it’s a walk from the car park so make sure you travel light!

Where is it?

At Hurley of course. Probably the most famous manmade freestyle wave in England. But for those of us not familiar with the world of freestyle, it’s on the Thames between Maidenhead and Marlow.

How do I enter?

You need to register for the event using the register button below.

Hurley30 and sustainability

Protecting our environment for all our tomorrows

“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.”– Sir David Attenborough

All too often, we find our once-beautiful waterways blighted by litter. That harms wildlife locally and, ultimately, in the oceans, where plastics especially can take centuries to break down.

There’s a strong sense amongst organisers, participants and spectators of Hurley30 that it’s not enough to simply enjoy our rivers and aquatic ecosystems; it’s time to give back.

That’s why we want to help free the Thames from litter and make our event as environmentally friendly as possible — starting now, so our enjoyment today leaves a legacy of a better tomorrow.

In 2018, we:

  • Carried out a ‘Live Environmental Audit’ — driven by everyone at the event, we identified areas where we can do better and put improvement actions in place.
  • Launched the ‘Pick up Two’ campaign where every person who gets on the water will be encouraged to get off with two pieces of litter.
  • Removed single-use plastics from our catering service.
  • Provided sorted waste-disposal facilities for recycling.
  • Encouraged (and facilitated) lift shares.
  • Promoted the positive environmental activities of our support companies
  • Together with Active 360 and their collaboration of water-sports partners, provided environmental guidance for you to take home and put into practice within your own community.

2019 is a year of embedding good practice and continuing the drive to do better.

If this is a goal you’re passionate about and you want to help us achieve it, please get in touch!

Not sure if you want to paddle?

Then come and watch. There’s public access to much of the riverbank overlooking the rough waters course. Come and join the fun

Can’t make it?

Why not support the great work that the Hurley Foundation do by buying an event T-shirt or Hoodie

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