Kites, kayaks and paddles galore

Three watersport events promise to bring large crowds to Hood River

Taiko drummers perform Saturday at the Kiteboard 4 Cancer event. See page A8 for more photos. More river sports events ensue at the waterfront.

Photo by RJ Chavez
Taiko drummers perform Saturday at the Kiteboard 4 Cancer event. See page A8 for more photos. More river sports events ensue at the waterfront.

Got wind of all that’s happening on the Columbia over the next two weeks?

Three watersports events, entailing competition as well as fundraising, converge on Hood River this week, starting with the Gorge Downwinder.

By Monday night, numerous vehicles towing or carrying kayaks and SUPs in many forms had already arrived en masse at Waterfront Park, with rack-laden vehicles lining Portway Avenue and Second Street, as well as downtown.

This means that with increased traffic in the Gorge, getting to and from the waterfront zones will be more of a challenge. Avoid the parking crunch by taking the weekend Pink Trolley, which runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from the Heights, through downtown and to the waterfront and back, Saturday and Sunday. It’s free to ride, though donations are accepted for the Hood River Shelter Services non-profit.

Here’s what’s coming up at the waterfront and on the Columbia River:

July 16-21 — Maui Jim’s Gorge Downwinder festival this weekend at Waterfront Park and west up the Columbia River. The entire eastern half of the park is now filled with kayaks and boards along with event tents, demo areas, kayaks and the Full Sail beer tent. The port’s new Jensen parking lot has been reserved for Downwinder participants.

The main Downwinder events are Stevenson-to-Hood River races for outriggers, SUPs and surfskis, Thursday through Saturday, weather dependent; from 11 a.m., to 4 p.m. daily. See for daily updates.

The event is a fundraiser for Rivers for Change, a nonprofit comprised of river enthusiasts “dedicated to changing the way people think about and interact with water,” states its website. “Through adventure, conservation and education, we work to connect individuals and communities to rivers and promote source to sea literacy”.

Clinics with pros and other events are part of the draw with Gorge Downwinder, whose website states, “Consistent summer winds, simple fast shuttles, variable terrain from insane to beginner, hot temps and fresh water make it one of the top downwind locations on the planet.”

July 21-28 — The fourth annual Patagonia HoodJam, part of the nation-wide Kite Park League series, takes place at another waterfront venue, the Spit and Marina Beach.

The registration party and “meet the pros” event happens at Big Winds downtown 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, with competition starting — wind dependent — July 23 at the marina and running through July 28. (See more details in the July 25 edition.)

It all culminates with the finals and “Best Trick” contest from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on July 28, followed by the awards party and Slide Project “funraiser” from 6 to 11 p.m. at Kickstand Coffee, featuring music by Vitamin D. The event is open to the public and raises funds to support maintenance of the “sliders” – the ramps and structures kiters use to launch and do tricks. The sliders are visible just offshore on the Spit and Sandbar.

July 27-29 — the Bridge of the Gods Kitefest, featuring the 17-mile “Blowout” race from Stevenson to Hood River. (This updates an incorrect date published in the July 14 edition.)

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