Video: Paddlers Bomb Monster Rapids

Forge Motion Pictures recently released this footage of the first-ever North Fork Championship, a rip-roaring contest that pitted 30 of the world's best paddlers against a mile-long stretch of rollicking, Class V+ whitewater on Idaho's North Fork Payette.

It was the second race of the 2012 Whitewater World Series, an international six-stage kayak racing series that was founded in 2010 by Canadian pro kayaker Patrick Camblin. The Series, in just its second year, is doing something remarkable: It's helping to grow and progress this hard-to-measure sport.

Unlike running, where new world records are set every season, or climbing, where guys like Chris Sharma and Alex Honnold invent new grades of climbing as they tackle ever-harder walls, whitewater kayaking has never had a clear measuring stick. Some boaters break waterfall records and others work on running harder whitewater with more style. There have long been big events in the various branches of kayaking—playboating, squirtboating, wildwater racing, slalom and creeking—but not until the WWS was a single world champion kayaker named. And champions help the public to identify with a sport. Last year, it was France's Eric Deguil. This year, with four events to go, and wild card locals beating the sport's biggest names (local Ryan Casey won the North Fork) it's still anybody's game.

Now climb inside the cockpit (well, slide into it, anyway), and plow through Idaho's wild water with the best of the best.