Team Big Winds was out in full force Sunday at the Willamette SUP Cup in Lake Oswego. The 18-member crew from Hood River made up close to a third of the entire pool of competitors and placed well against the Portland-area competition.
The World Paddle Association event was based out of George Rogers Park in Lake Oswego and featured short and long course categories broken up into different skill levels.
In the men’s elite class, Team Big Winds placed four in the top 10, with Ben Grodner in fifth, MacRae Wylde in sixth, Rob Dies in ninth and Steve Gates in 10th. In other divisions, Ford Huntington won the recreational class in his first ever SUP race; Fiona Wylde just edged out teammate Alyson Fromm by a mere five seconds to finish one-two in the women’s elite class; and Team Big Winds Coach Steve Gates won the men’s 50+ class.
“The challenging course had a nice variety of tight turns, long straights, current, breeze, showers and sunshine. Something for everyone,” Gates said after the race. “It was great fun for the whole team. Now our training will continue in preparation for the Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge, where we will try to defend our home turf against many of the best racers from all over the world.”