SUP team turns heads at Battle of the Paddle

Hood River-based youth Stand Up Paddle team, Team Big Winds, capped a breakout summer season with the Battle of the Paddle last month at Dana Point, California’s Doheny Beach. The annual event consists of two big races — a course race on Saturday and a 10-mile distance race on Sunday. With well over 400 competitors, it is by far the largest SUP race in the world and attracts athletes from virtually all corners of the earth.

Team Big Winds coach Steve Gates gave the following report of the action, noting that the event “was a fitting close to an amazing season and was an incredible experience, especially for the kids. I was proud of the way they competed and the way they handled themselves in such an intense, pressure-packed environment. Watch out for these kids next year.

“After an amazing summer of training and racing, Team Big Winds was ready for some serious competition at the Battle of the Paddle. With 12 kids representing the Big Winds JET (Junior Elite Team) and four adults racing, we had one of the largest teams in the entire event. The kids had an incredible weekend, with the JET girls going 2-3-4-5 in the 18-and-under course race, led by Savannah Boersma and followed closely by Hanna Hill, Kelli Clarke and Sam Davies. The boys rocked as well, taking the top three spots in the boys 18-and-under category, with Ford Huntington taking home the win, followed closely by Sam Wiley and Tyler Tschritter.

“The following day’s distance race saw the JET kids continue to turn heads. Davies led the girls team with a fourth-place finish, followed by Boersma in fifth, Clarke in sixth, and Hill in seventh. Derek Fromm charged into a second-place podium finish for the boys, followed by Wiley in fifth, and Tschritter in sixth.

Veteran JET member Fiona Wylde (16), who has been having a breakout season on the SUP circuit, continued to establish herself as one of the top female paddlers on the planet, taking 11th in the Women’s Elite course race and fifth in the Elite distance race.”

Team Big Winds’ adults also did Hood River proud, with Jon Davies taking a fourth in the course race and seventh in the distance in his age group; Don Wiley finishing 16th in course and 11th in distance, MacRae Wylde finished 12st and 26th and, last but not least, Coach Gates taking fourth in the course and fifth in the distance in his age group.

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