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Smooth sailing for inaugural Commissioner’s Cup

YOUTH sailors head out of Hood River marina for the start of the Commissioner’s Cup regatta Sunday. Cole Newbrook, 7, and Stella Waag, 12, are in Bics, Leif Bergstrom, 15, and Erika Anderson, 13, are in the larger 420 boat.

Kass Bergstrom
YOUTH sailors head out of Hood River marina for the start of the Commissioner’s Cup regatta Sunday. Cole Newbrook, 7, and Stella Waag, 12, are in Bics, Leif Bergstrom, 15, and Erika Anderson, 13, are in the larger 420 boat.

By LARS BERGSTROM

Coach, Gorge Sailing Team

Sunday saw the beginning of what many hope will become an annual event in Hood River. Supported by the Port of Hood River and Zepher Inc., the Commissioner’s Cup Regatta was the first local youth sailing race to be held in Hood River.

With 20 local kids between the ages of 7 and 16 competing in the inaugural event, organizers and sponsors both considered the event to be a wonderful success.

Half of the youth competing in the Commissioner’s Cup Regatta were racing sailboats for the first time. Keep in mind that it is no small feat to be doing this out in the wild winds of the Columbia. Still, these young sailors were brave to get out there and at the end of the day, had a great time trying their hand at real racing.

Commissioner’s Cup RESULTS

Results for the 420 sailboat fleet

1st Charlie Sutherland/Marelie Vorster

2nd Leif Bergstrom/Hannah Hills and Erika Anderson split crew position

3rd Colin Howe/Pelle Bergstrom

4th Pierce McAlpine/Oskar Anderson

5th Trey Roeseler/TC Mixon

6th Erin Sutherland/Ruben Blaine

Results for the Bic fleet

1st Cael Price

2nd Cole Newbrook

3rd Stella Waag

4th Jon Erickson

5th Josephine Dickinson

6th Cam Amer

7th Myles Lee

8th Lyle Lofgren (Opti)

Results for the Commissioner’s Slalom race

1st Jon Davies/Erin Sutherland and Sarah Davies

2nd Michael McElwee/Leif Bergstrom and Lyle Lofgren

3rd Rich McBride/Oskar Anderson

4th Anne Medenbach/Charlie Sutherland

5th Fred Kowell/ Colin Howe

It wasn’t only the kids bravely attacking the conditions, though. An amazing group of volunteers with a long history of experience of running and racing in regattas all over the world volunteered their sunny late August Sunday to run a fantastic event that was enjoyed by parents and kids alike.

Often, as summer days go on, winds build into the afternoon. Organizers expected that this would lead to sailors getting tired and the fleets spreading out. Instead, the athletes on the water became more focused and the fleet finishes got even closer. Larry McClollum, principal race organizer, noted this in his closing speech, exclaiming at how this group of kids just sailed stronger and stronger as the day progressed.

Safety was something that race organizers took very seriously at the Commissioner’ Cup Regatta. With sailors braving what could have been the heavy conditions that the Columbia Gorge is known for around the world, organizers had safety boats staffed with both Olympic-level and professional sailors.

Not everything was serious, though. During the lunch break, Port Commissioners Jon Davies and Rich McBride, Port Executive Director Michael McElwee, Port Property Manager Anne Medenbach, and Port CFO Fred Kowell all took to the boats for a slalom race. Each boat had a port member at the helm and a high school sailor as crew and coach. There were several capsizes, many laughs, and lots of improvement as this race went along. “These kids really know what they are doing. And they stay so calm when things go wrong!” said a happy and not entirely dry McElwee.

Race organizers Jaime Mack and Kassen Bergstrom were excited to use this fun race to bring attention to the joint efforts between the Port of Hood River, Gorge Junior Sailing and the high school sailing program. “Our hope is to show a fun collaboration between Gorge Sailing Team, Gorge Junior Sailing, the Hood River Yacht Club and the Port of Hood River as youth sailing programs grow in the Gorge,” said Gorge Sailing Team President, Kassen Bergstrom. Mission accomplished.

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