Gorge – Downwind heaven!

I just got home from one of the most fantastic weeks of paddling that I’ve had (and there have been a lot!). I had the privilege of spending a week down in the Hood River, OR area paddling the Columbia River Gorge.  This place is a downwind mecca! #wavesfordays Rick and I got down to Home Valley, WA just as the sun was going down on Sunday night. Got our tent set up and crashed. Monday morning started with a stroke clinic with the one and only Johnny Puakea. It was great to work with him again and hear his insights into technique and of course ideas of how to make me go faster. It’s still sinking in some of the points he shared that have evolved since I last worked with him in 2013.  After that, it was time for the downwind runs to start!

As the week went on, I got to paddle with lots of people from Vancouver Island, Vancouver, Seattle and all over. It was great to visit with old friends and make new ones as well. Sleeping in a tent for the first time in a lot of years worked out better than I could have hoped. Thank goodness for all my Diabetes supplies as an adhesive covering for my infusion sites/sensor sites worked as a great patch on my air mattress :)

The main reason I was at the Gorge was to paddle in the Gorge Paddling Festival’s North American Downwind Championships. The organizers had a wind window for the race and based on the forecasts moved the race ahead a day. So Thursday was the big day. Sadly the turnout for outriggers wasn’t near what it hopefully will be in the future but the surfskis started only a few minutes behind so there were lots of boats on the water to battle with.

by Stawicki Photography
by Stawicki Photography
by Stawicki Photography
by Stawicki Photography

I’m super stoked with my race, I changed my line from previous runs based on what I had learned and heard from others and managed to pass a few boats that way. I caught as many runs as I could but there was a stretch where it completely died out. But on the other hand, there were sections where I had some surfski guys doing double takes as I flew by.  I finished as the top woman and seventh overall in outrigger.

By Ernie Wong
By Ernie Wong

The next day was the Wildside Relay where I teamed up with Vancouver powerhouse, Rob Magus. Again, the wind was kicking and I had some of the best rides of my career coming through Swell City.  I didn’t want to pull in to the relay exchange as the rides were so much fun!  Rob and I were the top OC1 mixed team and 8th overall in OC1.

by Tran Luu
by Tran Luu

It was sad to leave on Sunday and go back to work but I will  get back down there next summer to defend my title and hopefully bring a ton of paddlers from Kelowna Paddle Centre with me!