The 2016 Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge concluded in no better fashion with the wind gods giving all of the competitors some of the best downwind conditions that Hood River has to offer along with the top athletes tired and smiling after given double downwind conditions of 22-30mph. With Saturday being 100+ degrees with little or no wind during the course races, competitors welcomed the windy conditions that Hood River, OR.
True to form, Conner Baxter won all three Elite races and the overall title while the local favorite Fiona Wylde bested arguably the best paddler in the world in Annabel Anderson taking the Women’s overall Elite title winning both downwind races and finishing 3rd in the course race. With over 350 paddlers competing at this years event and attracting one of the top Elite fields of the year with a total of 70 Men and 30 Women, everyone showed up to compete against the best including the Open, Juniors and Grom categories.
The 2016 Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge will go down as the best and hardest paddling conditions since 2010. The event directors made great decisions with the race schedule with allowing them to put the paddlers in the water at the times that met the ability of the paddlers. All of the course races were switched to Saturday given the wind forecast and then the downwind races moved to Sunday. The main event site at Water Front Park allows for great spectator viewing for all of the course races and then the finish of the downwind races.
The Gorge Paddle Challenge is an event to not be missed as one of the best run and most unique locations to spend your weekend competing and enjoying all of the activity that Hood River has to offer from Mountain biking, hiking, rafting, all wind sports to skiing and snowboarding on Mt. Hood (yes, open all year). Congratulations to Steve Fields staff at Big Winds along with Nick Stuart, Doug Hopkins, Charlie Burwell and the great support from the vendors and title sponsor of the event Naish.
See full results for all of the races including the Elite double downwind overall and course race.
Photos courtesy of Gorge-Us Photography and the Gorge Paddle Challenge