Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Gorge Games Race: And the SUP Winners Were . . .

The 2008 Gorge Games Outrigger Canoe race was a big event. This July 18th, 19th and 20th the race included a Stand Up Paddle division. Read our earlier post with event details. Because this was the first year for Standups, and really an experiment for the Gorge Game organizers, events altered with the circumstances.

Randall Barna attended the race and sent back this report:
I had a blast paddling for three days in the glorious Gorge! All and all this is an event that can't be missed next year and in my opinion should be considered a Northwest Championship Standup Paddle Race!

The first day I teamed up with Michael Carpenter for the unofficial down-wind event. This isn't a race, but a gathering, where everyone arranges their own shuttle back and watches out for each other in case of emergency. I guess there's safety in numbers, and when you calculate all the risks in The Gorge you need to plan for anything: Wind, waves, current, barges, boats and obstacles. We went from Stevenson to Home Valley (about five miles). Winds were 20 mph and waves around waist high, what a blast! As first timers paddling in Gorge conditions we had no trouble, but definitely got schooled. The main thing I learned is how to judge the huge bends in the river. The one mile long bend around Wind Mountain is deceiving and kept pushing us to the northern shore. We had to paddle on the left side (without switching) for at least a half hour.

The next day (Saturday) Michael Carpenter, Al Paterson and I went out to test the race course and make sure we could handle the upwind legs. We had a great view of the 6 man outriggers racing and enjoyed the workout. We committed to do the race on Sunday.

Sunday, race day, was sunny and warmer with lighter winds in the 15mph range. It was exciting to line up at the start with all the outriggers and only seven Standups. We were doing one lap on the approximately three mile course and the outriggers were doing two. The two upwind legs (one at the start and one at the finish) seemed endless with a short break in between for the downwind. The fact that the current was going our way didn't seem to help much. This race is a true test of paddling technique and endurance. Also board design is a big factor in these conditions. The only Standup Paddler on a true race board was Dan Gavere and he finished in only 37:26 minutes a full sixteen minutes ahead of me! Everyone finished in less than an hour except for Michael Carpenter who had to drop out when his arms cramped.

The whole weekend was great for many reasons. The people are number one. The whole outrigger community is friendly and welcomed us standups with aloha! The venue at the Skamania Fairgrounds couldn't be better and the entry fee included free camping for the whole weekend. JD Davies ran the event, races and awards with skill and grace.

The 2008 Gorge Games Stand Up Paddle Race Winners:

Women: 1st Gold - Karen Wrenn (3rd overall! There were no other women.)

1st Dan Gavere; 2nd -Rick Graves; 3rd - Randall Barna;
4th - Al Paterson; 5th - Troy Butcher; dnf - Michael Carpenter
Dan Gavere, 1st Gold
Rick Graves, 2nd Silver
Randall Barna, 3rd Bronze

Thanks to Randall Barna for the photos and to the Gorge Games for the course map and event.

Buy your Gorge racing gear from Randall at

No comments:

Post a Comment