Gorge Paddle Challenge ‘shockingly good’

Results, photos, videos: gorgepaddlechallenge.com

“Off the charts,” is how Steve Gates describes the second-annual 2012 Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge.

With perfect wind and weather conditions, an outpouring of community support and a showing of hundreds of participants, the stand-up paddle (SUP) event wrapped up Sunday afternoon with a buzz of excitement and the hailing of the Gorge as a world-class destination for yet another action sport.

“It was shockingly good,” said Gates, co-organizer of the event and owner of Big Winds. “The field was huge. We had so many of the top men and women in the sport, and we saw a great increase in open class competitors. And the weather was pretty much perfect, which gave people a true sense of the classic conditions that make the Gorge such an epic location for the sport.”

A step above the rest of the competition, 19-year-old Hawaii waterman Kai Lenny took top honors in the elite division of Saturday’s course racing based at the Hood River Waterfront Park and Sunday’s downwind race from Viento to Hood River. In the second-highest paying SUP event in the U.S., competitors were vying for $18,000 in cash prizes.

“Kai is on his game right now,” Gates said. “There was a core group of very experienced guys; any of whom could have won, but Kai raced simply outstanding.”

In Sunday’s 8-mile downwinder from Viento to Hood River, Lenny finished in 55:57, a pace of 6:35 per mile, to edge out last year’s winner, 17-year-old Connor Baxter, by about 90 seconds. More than 150 competitors were behind the top paddlers, all of whom were aided by strong west winds and large rolling swell.

Saturday’s racing featured laps around a course west of the waterfront park. Calmer conditions that day were ideal for the format and rewarded paddlers for smart racing and superior conditioning. Lenny again led the pack of elite racers, followed closely by Jamie Mitchell, Chase Kosterlitz and Slater Trout, all of whom finished within 30 seconds of one another.

Representing the elite women’s field, Candice Appleby finished first in both days of competition, including a 1:14:20 performance Sunday that bettered the times of almost half of the elite men’s field.

New to the Paddle Challenge and also hailed as an astonishing success was a free kids event Friday called Positively Kai, which featured free SUP clinics from Lenny and a race series using boards provided by supporting companies and manufacturers.

“We had about 200 kids show up, which blew our minds,” Gates said. “Most of the kids were local. The participation from the community was very cool to see. One thing I really want convey is the support we had from the community and local government. Without it, the event wouldn’t happen.”

In promoting the event, Lenny said his goal is to use it as a template for other similar events that can help spread a positive example for the youth and inspire kids to realize that the sky is the limit.

“Dream big, work hard, never give up and always keep it fun,” Lenny said.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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