Kevin Benhart Brown and his Strongwater Surf brand have pretty much blown the doors open on river surfing in Missoula, Montana, where the sport has become extremely popular. Brown’s efforts have been huge. But they’ve been amplified by the resources: Brennan’s Wave on the Clark Fork River, running through town, is a user-friendly set-up available to everyone in the spring and early summer. And Pipeline, on Idaho’s Lochsa River, just over Lolo Pass from Missoula, is one of the best natural river waves in the country. Then as the water goes down, waves in the nearby Alberton Gorge come out, providing surfers with resources nearly year-around (if one can bear the cold in the winter months).
With all the places to surf, it’s no wonder that Brown figured out how to shape river-specific boards. You can see his sticks, here. And thank him for bringing mainstream news outlets to Big Sky Country that use cringe-worthy surfing cliches to describe the sport like NBC (CNN’s Great Big Story also did a piece on him this spring). But for all his work, especially in getting youth into the game, Brown certainly deserves the recognition.