California’s cold and wet winter transitioned into a cool and frequently overcast spring. Here in coastal Southern California the heavy marine layer known as May Gray and June Gloom lingered into July. While July 4th traditionally marks summer’s mid-point for many around North America, I’ve come to think of it as the beginning of summer as our seasons are slightly offset from the rest of the United States. So far it’s shaping up to be a cool summer along the coast and the water, never particularly warm – this isn’t Florida after all – is just starting to lose it’s cold edge.
The Gorge Downwind Champs kicks off up in Hood River, Oregon this week and run from July 15 to the 20th. For the uninitiated, the Gorge Downwind Champs is one of the most prestigious downwind paddling festivals in the world for surfskis, outrigger canoes, and SUPs. Located an hour east of Portland, the main event has a window from Thursday – Saturday to accommodate the best wind conditions.
If you’re inspired and looking to attend, sorry, the Gorge Downwind Champs sold out months ago! If you’re in the area, however, it may be worth paying the event site a visit as cancellations are possible. Along with the racing, one of the highlights is the popular shuttle service, complimentary for all registered racers. The shuttle service runs every 15 minutes and can carry approximately 12 paddlers and 12 boats.
I’d love to say I’ll see you there, but alas, us folks at PaddleXaminer have day jobs to manage. Maybe next year…
Training and Demo Opportunities
If you are one of the lucky ones who will be at the Gorge next week, there are a few training and demo opportunities you may wish to indulge in. Danny Ching will be in town offering outrigger lessons in an OC-2. Message Danny via Instagram for availability.
Kai Bartlett and his posse will also be on hand with Kai’s newest creation, the Vega surfski. The word via social media indicates there will be demo models available to try out.
And on the East Coast
The 12th annual Cape Cod Bay Challenge, benefitting Christopher’s Haven (a home for kids when cancer hits home), takes place on Sunday, July 27th. The 22-mile standup paddleboard race will start at either Scusset Beach in Sagamore or Nantasket Beach in Hull (depending on the weather) and will end at Duxbury Beach.
After the participants land on Duxbury Beach, there will be a family-friendly celebration and fundraiser for participants and community members at Blakeman’s restaurant, adjacent to the beach, which will go from 4:00 – 10:00 p.m. There will be food, beverages, raffles, a silent auction and live music beginning at 7 p.m. by reggae band, the Elovators. 100 percent of the proceeds raised from paddleboard registration and post-event festivities will go to Christopher’s Haven to provide free and comfortable housing for the families of children undergoing cancer treatment in Boston-area hospitals.
To register for the event, please visit the Christopher’s Haven website.
Paddling Doesn’t Have to Be High End
We spend a fair amount of time talking about the top end performance of various paddle craft, but getting out on the water and having fun isn’t limited to elite performance or high priced paddle craft. A number of manufacturers produce quality entry level products designed to get paddlers on the water at an affordable price.
One such paddle craft is the Excursion Pro Kayak from Intex Recreation Corp. The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak is made with features like adjustable seats and built-in footrests to keep you comfortable. Not only that, it comes with fishing rod holders on each side for hands-free fishing. Since it’s inflatable, it’s easy to stow away on a car or in the back of a truck. Even when it is inflated, handles on the front and back give you an easy way to carry it over land or onto a beach. All that at a $299.99 price point. Perfect for an evening jaunt around your local lake!
Ta-Hoe Nalu, aka Race Around the Big Blue Lake
Ta-Hoe Nalu started in 2007 with just nine folks paddling on Lake Tahoe. The TaHoe Nalu was one of the first formal standup paddling events in the United States and is considered to have been a catalyst for flat water standup paddling. This year’s edition will take place August 10-11 at Kings Beach on the California side of the lake. For more information or to register, visit the event’s official website at: www.tahoenalu.com. Our good friends from Infinity SUP will be there – you should be too!