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Huckfest kicks off summer kite events

Three events scheduled over the next month

Huckfest: June 25-29

With no judges, no scoring criteria and no extra points for style or steeze, the second annual Hood River Huckfest is truly a perfect kite contest for the Gorge, where high winds and rough water are less than ideal for the freestyle and flat water tricks most kiteboarding contests are judged by, but lend themselves perfectly to boosting the massive airs that Huckfest competitors are after.

The event, held at Rufus in partnership between the Columbia Gorge Kiteboarding Association and Xensr, is simple: Whoever jumps the highest wins. Using Xensor motion capture devices, competitors get a designated time on the water for each heat, during which time the goal is simply to jump as high as possible. Data from the devices is recorded and downloaded, and at the end of the day the riders who logged the highest jumps win the contest.

Registration for the event is up and running (see the Hood River Huckfest Facebook page for the link) and a wind window is set for June 25-29. Organizers will choose the best and windiest day of the window to hold the event, which will be announced on social media and the popular regional kite forum nwkite.com.

Last year’s inaugural event was a great success, despite lighter than desired winds leading to lower than desired winning heights. With 10-minute heats of four riders at a time, the elimination-format whittled the field of 45 down to final rounds of men, women and junior categories. On a 12-meter kite, Liquid Force team rider Brian Smith posted the highest jump of the finals, at 45.37 feet, to win the men’s heat. In the women’s division, Colleen Carol reached 39.05 feet for the win, and junior division winner Marcus Catlett just barely edged out the other two finalists with a 32.49 jump.

If wind patterns over the last few weeks hold for the event, those winning numbers will likely be considerably highest this year.

Kiteboarding4Cancer: July 11-13

The eighth-annual Kiteboarding 4 Cancer event will take place July 11-13, based out of the Hood River Event Site. The event is hailed as “a festival for all, that celebrates life through the healing powers of facing challenge in the elements, benefiting a cause that affects all of us: cancer.”

The cornerstone of the weekend-long fundraising festival is a six-hour endurance kiteboarding race in front of the Event Site, which will run all day Saturday, July 12. Live music, live auctions, raffles, food and beverages, kids art activities and other activities will supplement Saturday’s endurance kiting, and Sunday activities will include the fan-favorite Relay-on-the-Green kite race, along with other activities and entertainment.

KB4C was co-founded by Tonya Farman in honor of her brother, Scott, who passed away from leukemia in 2007. Since its inaugural year, the event and its many hundred participants have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer support organizations and charities. Currently, funds raised at KB4C go to benefit Athletes 4 Cancer’s Camp Koru – an outdoor adventure-therapy program for young adults with cancer.

New to the event this year is the Rider Auction, where, like horse racing, donors can bid on individual athletes and teams as their choice to win the kite derby. Bidding will be held at the event kick-off party, 9 p.m. at the British Pub in downtown Hood River.

For specific details, daily schedules, registration or volunteer info, see the event’s webpage at kb4c.wordpress.com.

Bridge of the Gods Kite Fest: July 25-27

Labeled the longest-running kite amateur kiteboarding contest in the nation, the 14th annual Bridge of the Gods Kite Fest is scheduled for July 25-27 in Stevenson, Wash. The event includes pro-division contest July 25, an amateur contest July 25 and a blowout race (from Stevenson to Hood River) July 27. No-wind backup days are set for the following weekend, Aug. 2-3.

This event has historically been a launching pad for amateur kiteboarders attempting to become professionals. The bracket-style contest features four categories of riders: men’s open, women’s open, masters and juniors (groms). The pro competition will feature team riders and winners of previous BOTG contests going against each other for cash prizes. Contestants will attempt to impress the judges with their freestyle maneuvers that will be judged on difficulty, style, height, variety, sportsmanship and overall impression.

The July 27 Pro-Am Blow-Out race will group participants into teams, mixing pros in with amateurs; awards will be given to the fastest individual and the fastest teams to finish the downwind race. For details, visit botgkitefest.com.

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