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Competition Council

The Competition Council Board is an advisory group to the Board of Directors of the ACA and meets twice a calendar year. This council is made up of volunteers who possess broad experience in the various disciplines of competitive paddling and who are passionate about the sport. All ACA Competition Individual members are defacto members of the council but the Competition Council Board is the actual group of elected individuals who do the committee work, make decisions for the different disciplines, and report to the ACA Board of Directors.


Mission Statement


The Competition Council (CC) is committed to developing and promoting athletic competition in paddle sports at the local, regional, national, and international levels.  The CC shall enable United States athletes to achieve sustained competitive excellence in Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American, Parapan American Games and other international competition; and to promote and grow recreational paddlesports competition in the United States.  The CC Board shall represent the interests of athletes, coaches and officials to the ACA National Board of Directors. 


The Council is coordinated by an Executive Committee:

  • Chair: Marsh Jones - Sprint 
  • Vice Chair: vacant
  • Secretary: Risa Shimoda - Freestyle
  • Past Chair: 

Council Resources:

  • Council Operating Procedures (PDF) (2-7-2018)
  • Organizational Structure: Board - Councils - Committees - Staff (PDF)
  • Competition Council Intranet
    • this is a password protected portion of the website for members of the Competition Council

Council Contact Info:

  • Competition Department (staff) 
  • Council & Discipline Committee Rosters (PDF)

Upcoming Competition Council & Committee Meetings:

  • Spring 2019                 TBD
  • Summer 2019               TBD
  • October 11, 2019          Freeport, ME

Council Meeting Minutes:


Athlete Grievance Process:

If you would like to file a grievance, please complete and submit the form (online)



Reporting Abuse or Misconduct:

To report forms of misconduct or abuse, such as sexual, emotional or physical misconduct, bullying, hazing or harassment, please report via: 


Historical Timeline:

  • October 13, 2017:    USOC Board approved the ACA's NGB Application pending final ratification by ACA membership
  • October 14, 2017:    ACA emails all Competition Committee Chairs details of upcoming formative Competition Council meeting
  • October 15, 2017:    ACA begins hiring process for High Performance Director, High Performance Managers, and Coaches 
  • October 22, 2017:    ACA membership voting on Bylaw revisions conclude 
  • October 22, 2017:    ACA Board of Directors votes on Competition Council Operating Procedures
  • November 2017:       Initial email communications with all current Competition Committee Chairs 
  • Dec. 2-3, 2017:        Formative meeting of the Competition Council - Arlington, VA
  • January 4-19, 2018:  Nominations for Competition Council Discipline Committees occur online, self-nominate here
  • Jan. 29-Feb 9, 2018: Elections for Competition Council Discipline Committees occur online
  • Feb. 16-23, 2018:       Competition Council Discipline Committees elect their respective Chairs, Vice-Chairs and Secretaries
  • May 2018:                The Competition Council Board is seated and conducts election for Chair, Vice-Chair and Secretary
  • March 3-4, 2018:       ACA Board of Directors meeting - Fredericksburg, Va
  • Spring 2018:             Teleconference meeting of the new Competition Council 
  • November 10, 2018:   Competition Council meeting in Isle of Palms,SC


Additional Information:

  • Committee Nomination and Voting Information (online)


Past Chairs:


2018 - present: Marsh Jones 


Marsh started paddling in the Boy Scouts, and paddled recreationally through the years. He has competed in domestic marathon paddling, multisport, surfski, and SUP, and has paddled whitewater and ICF boats for fun. For the past 10 years, Marsh has directed youth paddlesports programs in Minnesota, introducing young paddlers to both marathon and sprint disciplines.  In addition to paddling, Marsh has an extensive background in event management, officiating and competing in sailboat, bicycle and cross-country ski racing,  In addition to his 'day job' in information technology, Marsh is currently the co-founder and head coach for Twin Cities Paddlesports, a paddling club in St Paul, Minnesota.  TCP currently has 35 youth and adult members paddling sprint canoes and kayaks, and continues to grow its program offerings.  In addition to coaching his club, Marsh has been an active leader in the sport, as a Team USA regatta coach and development camp coach.  As chair of the coaching education committee, Marsh helped bring the ICF coaching ed program to the US, and is currently one of the Master Coach Instructors certified by the ICF.  He is the vice-chair of the Sprint Coaches Association, and Chair of the Sprint Competition Committee.  




2008 - 2012: Tom Pitt


After serving as ACA Board Secretary and Treasurer, Tom lead the ACA's Competition Council.  He graduated from Albion College in Michigan and serves as Controller for a manufacturing company.  Tom competed in numerous ACA Whitewater Open Canoe Downriver Nationals and is a supporter of the ACA's Collegiate Race Series.




1998 - 2007: Dr. Kirk Havens 


Kirk Havens

Kirk was tossed into a canoe at the tender age of 3 as part of his family's long standing involvement with paddling. His great uncle, grandfather, uncle, and father were all Olympic paddlers. He enjoys all forms of paddling from outrigger to whitewater and in the late 1980's founded the Mid Atlantic Paddlers Association. He served on the ACA Board of Directors as chair of the National Competition Council and later as Vice President of the ACA. In 2005 he became President and Board chair and was elected to two terms during a period of difficult financial times for both the nation and the ACA. During his tenure as ACA President, Havens facilitated the relocation of the headquarters of the ACA from a landlocked industrial complex to the vibrant riverfront community of Fredericksburg, Virginia along the banks of the Rappahannock River. He expanded the ACA's presence nationally by negotiating with the federal government to allow placement of an ACA safety and instructor information message on US Geological Survey stream gage websites nationwide (over 7,000 sites) and on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tide gage website. He facilitated the ACA's connection to NOAA's Marine Debris Program that formed the foundation of the ACA's "Stream to Sea” stewardship effort in river and coastal cleanups. He initiated the ACA's effort to increase paddling access by advocating for transportation departments to consider providing pull-off parking access when constructing or repairing bridges. Havens was a strong advocate for increasing the ACA's involvement with youth, particularly with colleges, and initiated the ACA National Collegiate Downriver Canoe & Kayak Championship series. He formed a partnership with disabled veterans and children groups and started the Power of Paddling Initiative (POPI) which teams skilled disabled veterans as instructors in paddling to serve as teachers and role models for children with similar disabilities which laid the groundwork for the first National Adaptive Paddling Summit.  In an effort to bring together all forms of paddling, he facilitated the initial meetings between the ACA, the US Olympic Committee, and USA Canoe/Kayak to re-engage a partnership to promote paddling from local recreational clubs to elite performance athletes and he continues to work on the ACA PaddleStar Initiative. He championed the ACA presence on the international stage by facilitating the ACA's involvement with the famous Hawaiian navigator, Nainoa, and the Worldwide Voyage (WWV) of the double-hulled sailing canoe Hōkūle‘a'. The Worldwide Voyage of the Hōkūle‘a' will last approximately 36 months; travel more than 45,000 nautical miles; and visit at least 26 countries, with 62 stops. During the WWV, crews will connect with classrooms and educators and with community and indigenous groups who share the Hawaiian Mālama Honua (care for island Earth) values and the vision of navigating toward a healthy and sustainable future. Havens' passion, however, is with the history of the ACA from its roots in New York and Sugar Island to the banks of the Rappahannock River. He promotes the importance of the ACA's rich heritage and stresses the significance of historian Daniel Boorstin's quote "trying to plan for the future without a sense of the past is like trying to plant cut flowers”. Havens holds a PhD in Environmental Science and Public Policy and donates his time on various national, regional, and local boards. He lives in rural King & Queen County in Virginia with his wife Karla and son Kade, two dogs, two cats, and a bunch of bantam chickens where he faithfully holds to the ACA's original mission of paddling comradery and exploration. The Havens family can often be found entertaining paddlers of all abilities on the back creeks of their property.


1995-1997: Don Sorenson


After serving as President of the ACA Board of Directors, Don lead the ACA's Competition Council.


more Event Calendar

The 40th Great Rappahannock Whitewater Canoe Race

ACA Mission

Founded in 1880, The American Canoe Association (ACA) is a national nonprofit organization serving the broader paddling public by providing education related to all aspects of paddling, stewardship support to help protect paddling environments, and sanctioning of programs and events to promote paddlesport competition, exploration, and recreation.

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