An International Gathering.
The word mate rings out through the air. Followed by a bit of banter in that exotic accent. Before it ends. The rolling words of the french language strung together quickly but so soothing. As that fades off Portuguese and Spanish languages all come together. And lastly the many different dialects of the english language join in.
One would think with all these different languages spoke it would be at a meeting in a far off international destination. But 60 miles from Portland Oregon, in the town of Hood River. Is where the people who speak these languages come together.
The reason behind the gathering is just as interesting. A stand up paddleboard race. Where participants harness the power of the wind and surf up river.
Gorge Paddle Challenge.
Steve Gates and his colleagues from the Gorge Paddle Challenge have created an event that exemplifies the community experience. With many of the athletes, traveling from the far off lands of New Zealand, Australia, Tahiti, New Caledonia, France, Brazil, Mexico and the US. And spending many weeks in this watersports enthusiast paradise.
For weeks leading up to the event the river, trails and nearby race communities are filled with these athletes. Experiencing the outdoor paradise that the Pacific Northwest offers.
On the week of the race, the numbers increase and the Columbia River Gorge begins to look as busy as the 5. The Highway that runs the entire west coast.
On race weekend the events cater to every type of paddler. With the pros doing a double downwinder. Two runs, just under 8 miles each, for a total of 16 miles. And the amateurs running the same course just one time.
There also is a course race where the spectators can take in all the action. The highlight of this event is the kids. Young as 9 years all heading out on the water. Tackling a smaller yet just as technical course. All being cheered on by the pros and fans. Making it a fun experience for everyone.
A Destination Event.
This event is one that always appears on my calendar. As it always delivers a fun experience. Having the opportunity to see good friends from across the globe. Share the water with them and then talk stories later on.
And if it wasn’t for my dear friends, Ellen, Macrae and Fiona Wylde. Who open up their home, refrigerator and backyard to all of us. As well as provide numerous shuttle rides for us chasing the wind.
This event is as good as it sounds. And looks. It is the perfect place to get an introduction to downwinding and have a chance to learn from the best paddlers in the world.
I’m already booked for 2019. August 17th and 18th 2019. Hope to see you there.