August 20, 2014
by Christopher Parker (@wheresbossman)

Quickblade Presents LIVE COVERAGE Of The Gorge Paddle Challenge (One Of The Biggest Races Of The Year)


UPDATE #2: The Gorge Paddle Challenge LIVE BLOG has started… Head on over and follow the racing in the Gorge as it happens.

UPDATE #1: Hey competitors, just a heads up – the Double Downwinder has officially moved to Sunday, with the Course Race now on Saturday. Winds are looking very light for Saturday and organisers want to give everyone the best chance of a great downwind experience.

So here’s the updated schedule. If you’re planning to follow our LIVE BLOG, these are all on Oregon time (Pacific Time – same as California).

10:00am – Grom Race
11:00am – Open Women’s/Juniors
12:00pm – Open Men’s/Juniors
1:00pm – Elite Women
2:00pm – Elite Men
3:00pm – Team Relay

11:30am – Women’s Double Downwinder #1
12:00pm – Men’s Double Downwinder #1
2:00pm – Women’s Double Downwinder #2
2:30pm – Men’s Double Downwinder #2

The Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge (or just the Gorge race) is happening this weekend in Hood River, Oregon. And it’s going to be one of the biggest races of the year…

Awesome lineup of competitors. Awesome race conditions. Awesome race format. Awesome event. Almost every big name in the sport will be at the Gorge this weekend to enjoy the trademark downwind conditions and feel good vibe. It’s going to be an event to remember.

And now, thanks to the support of Quickblade Paddles and the all star organising team behind the event, you can follow the Gorge Paddle Challenge all weekend with our LIVE BLOG.

That includes regular updates, behind the scenes insights, results as they happen and of course our signature play-by-play commentary during the racing itself.

If you followed our coverage of Molokai or the Showdown, you’ll know what to expect. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I’m a much faster typer than paddler, so during the races I’ll be hammering out updates every 15 or 20 seconds telling you what’s happening in the water – who’s leading, who’s losing and who’s making a move. We’ll even throw in some pics so that you can really get a feel for the action in the Gorge.

It’s next best thing to being there.

Our LIVE COVERAGE will start on Friday afternoon, as we take in the pre-race buzz (including Kai Lenny’s Positively Kai grom fest) and will really ramp up on Saturday and Sunday during the races.

And what races they’re going to be… Behind only the Battle of the Paddle, the Gorge will most likely be the #2 race of the year in terms of level of competition.

The Gorge Paddle Challenge is one of those grand events that has risen from grassroots support and excellent organisation to become one of the world’s premiere SUP races. It’s where the sport’s best athletes rub shoulders with the weekend warriors in a true celebration of the stand up paddling culture.

It’s comparable to the Carolina Cup on the East Coast or the Lost Mills over in Europe. The Gorge is one of those events you just want to be a part of. And this year it seems everyone is going to be a part of it.

We’ll release the start list tomorrow but take my word for it now: This Gorge race is seriously, seriously, seriously popular this year.

Both the elite and amateur paddlers will enjoy some unique new racing this year. The Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge has introduced a twist to their traditional format: The Double Downwinder. As the name suggests, paddlers will do two downwinders back to back. Those two times will be combined with times from the course race to produce the overall event standings.

The Gorge is famous for its downwind conditions and that’s what attracts paddlers from far and wide, so this Double Downwinder will be a very welcomed addition. It’ll also add some fun and intrigue to the racing: It’s almost like a mini Tour de France, where you find out your position in the rankings after the first stage and then have to make up time on the second run.

All the big names are in town this weekend. It’ll actually be the first reunion of the “Big Five” in years: Georges Cronsteadt, Danny Ching, Kai Lenny, Travis Grant and Connor Baxter will all be on show.

Don’t be surprised if these guys fill the top five spots.

However they’ll have a virtual who’s who of the SUP racing world chasing their tails, so whoever wins this event will have thoroughly deserved it.

Same goes for the women. Look for Annabel, Jenny, Candice, Sonni, Fiona, Andrea and Angie to fight for line honours in the downwinder, before trying to hold their lead (or make up time) in Sunday’s course race.

Carolina was big. Lost Mills was big. The Showdown was big. But in terms of who’s actually there, I think the Gorge is going to set a new benchmark that only the Battle will be able to match.

The GPC’s Double Downwinder is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, with the Course Race on Sunday. But fortunately organisers are flexible and will decide on Friday which day will have the best downwind conditions.

So tune in Friday afternoon for the start of our LIVE BLOG presented by Quickblade. That’s when we’ll give you the full starting lineup, the exact schedule for the races on Saturday and Sunday, an insight into the vibe in Hood River plus maybe a couple of bold predictions thrown in for good measure…

It’s gonna be a big weekend in the Gorge.