RESULTS: Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge – Annabel Anderson, Connor Baxter Sweep An All-Star Field In Hood River

Gorge Paddle Challenge results 2014 day 2

We’ve just wrapped up the second and final day of the 2014 Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge, with Connor Baxter and Annabel Anderson dominating an all-star field in what will surely be remembered as one of 2014’s best events.

After their respective victories in Saturday’s Course Race, the Starboard duo made it a clean sweep by claiming today’s unique “Double Downwind” event. With the winds lighter than usual for the Gorge (but much better than we’d feared last night), the elite field battled their way up the Columbia Gorge in back-to-back downwind runs.

The majority of the world’s top athletes were on show today, which gave us some intense racing and a great spectacle (especially from my vantage point out on the media boat).


SKIP TO RESULTS: Elite Men – Overall Event Standings | Elite Women – Overall Event Standings | Elite Men’s Double Downwinder | Elite Women’s Double Downwinder | Open Downwinder | Elite Men’s Course Race | Elite Women’s Course Race | Open Men’s Course Race | Open Women’s Course Race | Grom Race – Boys | Grom Race – Girls


Annabel faced stiff competition from the likes of Angie Jackson and Fiona Wylde, however the Kiwi was too strong on both runs to show there’s no conditions she can’t win in. With two wins today and one yesterday, that’s Annabel’s fourth straight major victory in the span of seven days.

Angie was very impressive and finished second overall, despite a course error on the first run costing her valuable minutes and left her with all the work to do on the second run. Local girl (and defending overall event champion) Fiona Wylde was strong and at times kept pace with Annabel, but couldn’t keep up the heroics for the full 8 mile course.

women's stand up paddle race gorge paddle challenge

Annabel Anderson leading the women’s field, with Angie, Fiona and Candice chasing her tail

Sonni, Candice and Andrea were all up there at one point, but couldn’t crack the top three spots in the combined times from both runs.

Also Morgan Hoesterey gets special mention for doing almost the entire second run without her fin… Fighting Spirit Award.

In the men’s race it was all Connor. Despite being up against the powerhouse trio of Georges Cronsteadt, Travis Grant and Danny Ching, Connor used every last bit of energy to claim both of today’s downwind runs.


RELIVE THE ACTION WITH OUR GORGE PADDLE CHALLENGE LIVE BLOG


Travis, Georges, Danny and Jake were the only ones able to get anywhere near Connor, but the Maui superstar managed to pull away each time he was attacked to win comfortably on both runs. Connor looked absolutely exhausted this afternoon but he can now proudly say he’s won four major races in the past seven days.

Connor also took the overall “Waterman Champion” trophy (along with Annabel taking the title of “Waterwoman Champion”), which was based on combined times from the Course Race + Double Downwinder, yet required absolutely zero calculation because nobody passed this guy all weekend.

Gorge Paddle Challenge ants

All the big names are in there… somewhere

Travis and Georges had a great duel all day, with the Tahitian eventually overpowering the Aussie to claim the runner-up position. Danny Ching was in contention in both downwinders but struggled to hold the pace of the top three during the middle parts of the run. Jake Jensen fell back to 5th on the first leg but came home strongly on the second run to leapfrog Danny into 4th place overall.

One of the pre-event contenders, Kai Lenny pulled out from the event this morning citing exhaustion from his hectic travel schedule (as well as perhaps from babysitting 200+ kids on Friday afternoon at the Positively Kai event).

Thomas Maximus charging

The start of the first men’s downwinder, before they got out into the bumpy water of the Gorge

Particularly impressive was Bruno Tauhiro, the unheralded Tahitian who came out of nowhere to claim over a dozen big scalps this weekend. Bruno has spent the past eight years racing with the almight Shell Va’a team (the undisputed kings of six-man outrigger racing) and is now transitioning into SUP, similar to the path taken by Georges Cronsteadt. It’s quite a scary prospect to think there’s probably another 100 guys like Georges and Bruno waiting in Tahiti…

That also means that Tahiti had two of the top six men today, along with Australia and the USA. This could be a sign of a tri-nations dominance emerging on the men’s side of the sport…

The racing has literally just finished and we’ve got an SIC after party to get to, so full recap, results and pics coming soon.


RELIVE THE ACTION WITH OUR GORGE PADDLE CHALLENGE LIVE BLOG


ELITE WOMEN’S DOUBLE DOWNWINDER

Course: 7.7 miles
Conditions: Moderate wind. Not an all-time downwinder but very contestable
Boards: 12’6

#
Name
Downwind 1
Downwind 2
Overall
1Annabel Anderson1:15:011:20:482:35:49
2Angela Jackson1:17:251:22:022:39:27
3Fiona Wylde1:16:291:23:392:40:08
4Candice Appleby1:16:361:25:012:41:37
5Sonni Hönscheid1:19:341:23:122:42:46
6Andrea Moller1:17:421:28:012:45:43
7Lina Augaitis1:21:411:25:072:46:48
8Shae Foudy1:21:581:29:282:51:26
9Shannon Bell1:23:151:28:132:51:28
10Devin Blish1:22:111:29:182:51:29
11Talia Decoite1:22:341:31:012:53:35
12Jennifer Lee1:23:481:29:542:53:42
13Alyson Fromm1:25:361:34:423:00:18
14Morgan Hoesterey1:21:241:43:243:04:48
15Kelsa Gabeheart1:27:06DNS3:30:30

ELITE MEN’S DOUBLE DOWNWINDER

Course: 7.7 miles
Conditions: Moderate wind
Boards: 14′

#
Name
Downwind 1
Downwind 2
Overall
1Connor Baxter1:02:391:09:032:11:42
2Georges Cronsteadt1:03:321:09:412:13:13
3Travis Grant1:03:361:10:162:13:52
4Jake Jensen1:04:551:11:262:16:21
5Danny Ching1:04:231:12:072:16:30
6Bruno Tauhiro1:05:371:13:142:18:51
7Andrew Logreco1:06:001:14:442:20:44
8Chase Kosterlitz1:07:231:13:492:21:12
9Travis Baptiste1:06:451:15:182:22:03
10Slater Trout1:07:491:16:012:23:50
11Kody Kerbox1:07:301:18:362:26:06
12Arthur Daniel1:09:331:17:502:27:23
13Paul Jackson1:07:051:21:412:28:46
14Riggs Napoleon1:06:341:22:272:29:01
15Belar Diaz1:10:401:20:452:31:25
16Javier Jimenez1:12:311:19:202:31:51
17Fernando Stalla1:11:101:22:402:33:50
18Ingo Rademacher1:12:081:23:072:35:15
19Thomas Maximus1:12:581:23:582:36:56
20Noa Ginella1:13:261:24:312:37:57
21Jan Boersma1:12:101:25:502:38:00
22James Casey1:12:521:25:522:38:44
23Jerry Bess1:13:421:25:582:39:40
24Derek Fromm1:16:101:23:372:39:47
25James Donovan1:15:011:25:302:40:31
26Chuck Patterson1:14:351:26:062:40:41
27Matt Parker1:14:031:26:542:40:57
28Jarkko Simonen1:13:521:27:432:41:35
29Livio Menelau1:13:391:28:392:42:18
30Billy Miller1:16:591:27:152:44:14
31Mike Tavares1:15:341:28:562:44:30
32Art Aquino1:14:201:31:522:46:12
33Anthony Vela1:15:101:32:372:47:47
34Brendan Light1:17:291:30:422:48:11
35Gary Parsons1:18:361:29:532:48:29
36Mike Darbyshire1:16:321:32:022:48:34
37E.J. Johnson1:19:161:29:312:48:47
38Macrae Wylde1:18:171:31:322:49:49
39Jason Bennett1:18:431:32:122:50:55
40Scott Vande Vusse1:19:291:34:112:53:40
41Gregg Leion1:17:381:36:042:53:42
42Jake Clement1:20:311:33:222:53:53
43Ford Huntington1:18:531:35:232:54:16
44Brett Saguid1:20:081:34:112:54:19
45Seth Springer1:20:001:34:352:54:35
46Tyler Tschritter1:19:561:34:502:54:46
47Dave Boehne1:17:511:38:082:55:59
48Rob Dies1:20:351:37:052:57:40
49Garrett Fletcher1:24:121:34:192:58:31
50Lance Leasure1:21:311:37:112:58:42
51Kelvin Humenny1:23:081:36:362:59:44
52Matt Campbell1:26:271:47:183:13:45
53Matt Lennert1:28:031:49:213:17:24
54Josh Riccio1:08:21DNS3:30:30
55John Beausang1:27:41no time?3:30:30
56Chance Fielder1:13:49DNS3:30:30
57Justin Langlais1:24:59DNS3:30:30
58Joshua Schiffer1:28:20DNS3:30:30
59Spencer Slaven1:21:50DNS3:30:30
60Timothy SmithDNS1:25:413:30:30

OPEN DOWNWINDER

Course: 7.7 miles
Conditions: Moderate wind
Click “Class” to show results from 12’6, 14 and Unlimited

#
Name
Time
Class
#
Age
1Scott Trudon1:10:26Unlimited155
2Braly Joy1:16:02Unlimited243
3Alain Teurquetil1:17:0714152
4Kristian Mulholland1:18:2214240
5Jon Davies1:18:3214348
6Matt Spencer1:18:5014431
7Corey Lotnick1:19:4514545
8Doug Hopkins1:20:0614653
9Adam Cole1:20:0914733
10Tj Gulizia1:21:2714838
11Brody Welte1:21:2714938
12Dwayne Lotnick1:21:36141053
13Ryan Knysh1:21:40141127
14Bob Rueter1:21:48141255
15Tim Quarles1:21:53141355
16Ben Wright1:21:58141434
17Bruce Barry1:22:0512'6163
18Mariano Rossini1:22:13141540
19Leif Bergstrom1:22:33141617
20Jeff Bigler1:23:06141737
21Dave Billenness1:23:1112'6245
22Sofia Dewolfe1:23:57F14119
23Christopher Van Tilburg1:24:26141848
24Lucas Hansen1:24:42141934
25Anthony Scaturo1:24:53Unlimited344
26James Thesiger1:25:3712'6334
27Evan Derdowski1:25:47142026
28Kelly Bockins1:26:02142152
29Pablo Bori1:26:18142238
30Brian Tracy1:26:21142331
31Scott Lakusiak1:26:59142441
32Nick Stuart1:27:11142533
33Nakoa Decoite1:27:23142626
34Sean Thomas1:27:30142737
35Richard Gadoury1:27:43142840
36Forrest Wells1:27:46142934
37Ian Light1:27:5812'6415
38Brook Staples1:28:36143046
39Layne Stambaugh1:28:53143131
40Scott Burton1:29:09143238
41Jim Moore1:29:34Men's Surf156
42Jeff Parker1:29:41143352
43Bonnie Fromm1:30:10F14252
44Eric Nordstrom1:30:13143447
45Kim Rueter1:30:21F14344
46Vetea Boersma1:30:5612'6513
47Jason Lexa1:31:0112'6639
48Andrew Cropley1:31:08143531
49Corey Dolan1:31:22143632
50Steve Petersen1:31:3612'6753
51Grant Begley1:31:42143733
52Luke Allen1:31:5312'6813
53Nick Ogilvie1:32:01143830
54Oscar Maciel1:32:17143944
55Randall Barna1:32:24144064
56Daniel Fischer1:32:28144116
57Aj Kitt1:32:32144245
58Larry Phillips1:33:43144345
59Bill Babcock1:34:00Unlimited467
61Jason Wegrzyniak1:34:06144433
60Amy Staples1:34:06F14444
62Andrew Mcelderry1:34:28144548
63Savannah Boersma1:34:30F12'6117
64Eli Fischbuch1:34:3812'6916
65Glenn Haupt1:34:43144648
66Pelle Bergstrom1:34:4812'61013
67Jerry Ohlson1:34:51144752
68Hannah Hill1:35:0212'61114
69Matt Knysh1:35:1012'61223
70Rhys Staples1:35:1112'61312
71Sam Davies1:35:17F12'6216
72Thomas Burke1:35:44144857
73Mitch Billets1:35:51144921
74Rafael Kolic1:35:52145038
75Diego Tron1:37:02145122
76Clay Halverson1:37:0712'61449
77Burch Ault1:37:11145219
78Erin Mayer1:37:16F12'6316
79Tyler Staggs1:37:30145335
80Alison Wood1:37:50F14545
81D Pedersen1:37:57145447
82Liam Cursley1:38:1512'61514
83Dave Larkman1:38:22145571
84John Allen1:38:26145653
85Rose Appel1:38:41F12'6434
86Dean Brewer1:39:05145748
87Coby Howell1:39:1312'61640
88Adam Jossem1:39:27145835
89Victoria Hopkins1:40:26F12'6541
90Joseph Morgan1:40:49Men's Surf257
91Matix Springer1:41:0612'61712
92Maria Randle1:41:40F14649
93Brad Wilkins1:41:5812'61843
94Bernard Boglioli1:42:04145961
95Judy Shasek1:42:53F14765
96Sonny Schierl1:42:55146045
97Jessica Cichra1:43:15F12'6632
98Scott Thomas1:43:28146139
99Benjamin Russell1:43:4012'61940
100Travis Ronk1:44:0612'62047
101Charlie Sutherland1:44:11Prone116
102Erin Sutherland1:44:22F12'6714
103Mike Dawley1:44:32146244
104Kaden Sponhauer1:44:4012'62113
105Mia Wheatley-Maltais1:44:51F12'6813
106Tatiana Bigler1:45:40F12'6933
107Rhona Lotnick1:45:45F12'61045
108Richard Fernand1:45:5712'62245
109Ashlee Redfern1:47:14F12'61132
110Jane Staples1:47:57F12'61212
111Alexandru Pricope1:48:44146347
112Buck Schrey1:49:08146442
113Susie Inkpen1:51:30F12'61332
114Edward Shasek1:52:04146564
115Steven Baldwin1:52:14146657
116Jared Power1:52:25146753
117Mike Billets1:53:0212'62357
118Sean Couvreux1:53:09Men's Surf335
119Lars Bergstrom1:53:16Prone645
120Marcus Ashby1:53:30Unlimited530
121Tinker Hatfield1:53:50146855
122Estani Bori1:54:4812'62410
123Taegen Campbell1:54:5712'62512
124Jude Russell1:55:00F12'61470
125Sam Fitz-James1:55:1212'62612
126Daisy Dolan1:58:22F12'61515
127Rayna Morton2:00:33Women's Surf132
128Sage Heyer2:02:00F12'61611
129Graison Poledxia2:02:5312'62710
130Trevor Bozina2:05:39Men's Surf430
131Ashley Orr2:05:55Women's Surf240
132Tee Wolf2:07:44F14858
133Jim Aproberts2:08:2012'62867
134Kathy Brewer2:13:59F12'61749

ELITE WOMEN’S OVERALL

Combined times from the Course Race + Double Downwinder
CT Points = Champions Tour Ranking Points

#
Name
DW 1
DW 2
DW Total
Course
OVERALL
CT Points
1Annabel Anderson1:15:011:20:482:35:491:01:533:37:42100
2Angela Jackson1:17:251:22:022:39:271:04:213:43:4875
3Candice Appleby1:16:361:25:012:41:371:03:203:44:5760
4Fiona Wylde1:16:291:23:392:40:081:05:473:45:5550
5Sonni Hönscheid1:19:341:23:122:42:461:04:183:47:0442.5
6Lina Augaitis1:21:411:25:072:46:481:02:213:49:0935
7Shae Foudy1:21:581:29:282:51:261:05:003:56:2630
8Shannon Bell1:23:151:28:132:51:281:05:543:57:2225
9Jennifer Lee1:23:481:29:542:53:421:08:084:01:5022.5
10Alyson Fromm1:25:361:34:423:00:181:08:014:08:1920
11Kelsa Gabeheart1:27:06DNSNA1:08:25NA18
12Andrea Moller1:17:421:28:012:45:43DNSNA16
13Devin Blish1:22:111:29:182:51:29DNSNA15
14Talia Decoite1:22:341:31:012:53:35DNSNA14
15Morgan Hoesterey1:21:241:43:243:04:48DNSNA13

ELITE MEN’S OVERALL

Combined times from the Course Race + Double Downwinder
CT Points = Champions Tour Ranking Points

#
Name
DW1
DW2
DW Total
Course
OVERALL
CT Points
1Connor Baxter1:02:391:09:032:11:420:56:023:07:44100
2Georges Cronsteadt1:03:321:09:412:13:130:56:223:09:3575
3Travis Grant1:03:361:10:162:13:520:56:113:10:0360
4Danny Ching1:04:231:12:072:16:300:56:153:12:4550
5Jake Jensen1:04:551:11:262:16:210:57:103:13:3142.5
6Bruno Tauhiro1:05:371:13:142:18:510:58:283:17:1935
7Chase Kosterlitz1:07:231:13:492:21:120:58:033:19:1530
8Andrew Logreco1:06:001:14:442:20:441:00:203:21:0425
9Slater Trout1:07:491:16:012:23:500:58:163:22:0622.5
10Kody Kerbox1:07:301:18:362:26:060:56:313:22:3720
11Travis Baptiste1:06:451:15:182:22:031:01:253:23:2818
12Arthur Daniel1:09:331:17:502:27:230:57:223:24:4516
13Paul Jackson1:07:051:21:412:28:460:58:223:27:0815
14Riggs Napoleon1:06:341:22:272:29:011:01:133:30:1414
15Javier Jimenez1:12:311:19:202:31:510:59:533:31:4413
16Fernando Stalla1:11:101:22:402:33:500:58:423:32:3212
17Belar Diaz1:10:401:20:452:31:251:02:343:33:5911
18Thomas Maximus1:12:581:23:582:36:561:00:083:37:0410
19Ingo Rademacher1:12:081:23:072:35:151:01:553:37:109
20James Casey1:12:521:25:522:38:441:01:073:39:518
21Jerry Bess1:13:421:25:582:39:401:01:303:41:107.5
22Derek Fromm1:16:101:23:372:39:471:01:323:41:197
23James Donovan1:15:011:25:302:40:311:01:303:42:016.5
24Jan Boersma1:12:101:25:502:38:001:04:173:42:176
25Chuck Patterson1:14:351:26:062:40:411:01:443:42:255.5
26Jarkko Simonen1:13:521:27:432:41:351:01:413:43:165.2
27Matt Parker1:14:031:26:542:40:571:02:443:43:414.9
28Billy Miller1:16:591:27:152:44:141:01:283:45:424.6
29Mike Tavares1:15:341:28:562:44:301:01:213:45:514.3
30Mike Darbyshire1:16:321:32:022:48:341:01:353:50:094
31Brendan Light1:17:291:30:422:48:111:02:293:50:403.8
32E.J. Johnson1:19:161:29:312:48:471:02:533:51:403.6
33Gary Parsons1:18:361:29:532:48:291:03:263:51:553.4
34Jason Bennett1:18:431:32:122:50:551:03:273:54:223.2
35Brett Saguid1:20:081:34:112:54:191:01:423:56:013
36Jake Clement1:20:311:33:222:53:531:02:403:56:332.8
37Ford Huntington1:18:531:35:232:54:161:03:123:57:282.6
38Scott Vande Vusse1:19:291:34:112:53:401:04:523:58:322.4
39Tyler Tschritter1:19:561:34:502:54:461:04:473:59:332.2
40Garrett Fletcher1:24:121:34:192:58:311:02:134:00:442
41Kelvin Humenny1:23:081:36:362:59:441:05:014:04:451.9
42Josh Riccio1:08:21DNS3:30:301:01:214:31:511.8
43Chance Fielder1:13:49DNS3:30:301:01:594:32:291.7
44Spencer Slaven1:21:50DNS3:30:301:02:014:32:311.6
45Kai LennyDNSDNSNA0:58:18NA1.5
46Adam JossemDNSDNSNA1:12:06NA1.4
47Brian FrostDNSDNSNA1:15:21NA1.3
48Noa Ginella1:13:261:24:312:37:57DNFNA1.2
49Livio Menelau1:13:391:28:392:42:18DNSNA1.1
50Art Aquino1:14:201:31:522:46:12DNSNA1
51Anthony Vela1:15:101:32:372:47:47DNSNA0
52Macrae Wylde1:18:171:31:322:49:49DNSNA0
53Gregg Leion1:17:381:36:042:53:42DNSNA0
54Seth Springer1:20:001:34:352:54:35DNSNA0
55Dave Boehne1:17:511:38:082:55:59DNSNA0
56Rob Dies1:20:351:37:052:57:40DNSNA0
57Lance Leasure1:21:311:37:112:58:42DNSNA0
58Matt Campbell1:26:271:47:183:13:45DNSNA0
59Matt Lennert1:28:031:49:213:17:24DNSNA0
60John Beausang1:27:41no time?3:30:30DNSNA0
61Justin Langlais1:24:59DNS3:30:30DNSNA0
62Joshua Schiffer1:28:20DNS3:30:30DNSNA0
63Timothy SmithDNS1:25:413:30:30DNSNA0


DAY 1 UPDATE…

RESULTS Gorge paddle Challenge

>>> FOLLOW THE ACTION ON DAY TWO WITH OUR GORGE PADDLE CHALLENGE LIVE BLOG

Day One of the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge is over and it was a familiar sight on the podium this afternoon, with Annabel Anderson and Connor Baxter winning the women’s and men’s Elite Course Races respectively.

On a sunny, hot, windless day here in Hood River, Oregon, most of the world’s best paddlers lined up at the start for the 5-lap, 5-mile course race. After first the Super Groms and then the Junior and Open Women and Men had entertained the crowd, after lunch it was time for the big guns to take over.

This event will probably go down as the single most competitive race ever held outside of Dana Point, with a virtual who’s who of the paddling world in town for the 4th annual Gorge Paddle Challenge.

Gorge Paddle Challenge stand up paddle race Hood River

Set against a beautiful backdrop of a wide open river and beautiful mountains, the Gorge race lived up to its pre-event hype by delivering an absolute cracker of a contest between all-star athletes such as Annabel Anderson, Candice Appleby, Lina Augaitis, Danny Ching, Connor Baxter, Travis Grant, Georges Cronsteadt and Kai Lenny.

Pretty much all the big names were in town and the assembled crowd down here at the Hood River Waterfront Park were treated to quite a show. Flat water racing isn’t always the most interesting affair, however this year’s Gorge Course Race won’t soon be forgotten. The very cool “Athlete Introductions” that kicked off proceedings (where each entrant was introduced one-by-one) were a novel touch and a good sign of the entertainment that was to come out on the water.

Candice Appleby and Annabel Anderson

First up it was the women’s race, where Candice Appleby flew out of the gates to set the pace on the opening lap. Going with her was Lina Augaitis and Annabel Anderson, while Fiona Wylde, Angie Jackson, Sonni Hönscheid, Shae Foudy and Shannon Bell were dropped towards the end of the first round.

>>> FOLLOW THE ACTION ON DAY TWO WITH OUR GORGE PADDLE CHALLENGE LIVE BLOG

Candice pushed hard early and clearly had a point to prove, however it was almost inevitable that Annabel would take over at some point. That happened about one third into the race, when the hard-training, no-fuss Kiwi put the hammer down to first pass, then gap the former BOP Queen Candice. Lina Augaitis had been bravely hanging on to the lead two – losing ground at each buoy turn (not Lina’s strong point) before sprinting to get back on their tail in the flat stretches – but didn’t have the speed or stamina to go with Annabel.

By the mid way part of the race the result was clear: Annabel had established a strong gap and didn’t look back. The lead was around 30 seconds by the start of the fourth lap and would stay that way until the end. Candice and Lina were locked in a close tussle for second, however Candice’s fast pace early eventually caught up with her: Candice started tiring, Lina started surging and the first three positions were decided halfway through the final lap.

It was an all-star performance from Annabel Anderson, cementing her position as the undisputed #1 woman in the world, just six days after she showed her class at Waikiki to win the big Showdown event.

Angie and Sonni worked hard to try and close the gap, while Shae bravely held on to their tails for much of the race. It was a long, hot, grinding affair out there today, so hats off to everyone that zipped around the course with so much determination.

Scroll down for FULL RESULTS…

Behind the leading trio it was a great battle for 4th: Molokai champ Sonni Hönscheid was going back and forth with Aussie star Angie Jackson, while young up-and-comer Shae Foudy bravely hung on to their tails. Eventually the older duo dropped the youngster, before sprinting to the line where Sonni just pipped Angie for the 4th step on the five-woman podium.

Coming home in 7th place was local hero and defending event champion Fiona Wylde, with Canada’s Shannon Bell in 8th and Alyson Fromm, Jen Lee and Kelsa Gabeheart rounding out the elite field.

After the women had finished it was straight into the men’s race. This was always going to be an epic battle, with at least two dozen world-class contenders on the start line.

As the horn went it was Danny Ching taking the early lead, rounding the first buoy ahead of Jake Jensen and Kai Lenny. Pre-race favourite Connor Baxter had a shocking start, relegating himself to 15th or 20th in the opening seconds and having to quickly fight his way back through the pack.

Within the first kilometre the lead 20-30 guys had started forming into a train. Danny looked strong out front, Jake Jensen was holding his wash while Travis Grant moved up into a safe third position. One of the other big favourites, Tahiti’s Georges Cronsteadt, was sitting comfortable in 4th or 5th for much of the opening stanza.

Gorge Paddle Challenge men's elite race

However the big surprise early was the performance (or lack of) from Kai Lenny. Definitely one of the pre-race contenders, Kai was perhaps feeling the effects of babysitting 200+ kids the night before (courtesy of his Positively Kai event), falling from third to fourth to fifth to sixth to seventh to eight… Before eventually being dropped by the lead group of seven guys.

It was quite a sight to see this young superstar hitting the wall so early. I’m not quite sure what happened but Kai looked absolutely spent by the end of the first lap. Amazingly, he fought back over the next 45 minutes to hold his position inside the Top 10 – it was almost as if he ran out of gas early before gaining a second wind.

>>> FOLLOW THE ACTION ON DAY TWO WITH OUR GORGE PADDLE CHALLENGE LIVE BLOG

So after the first of five laps the race was set: There were seven guys in the lead pack (Danny, Jake, Travis, Connor, Georges, Kody Kerbox and Arthur Daniel), with another six guys chasing (Kai Lenny, Slater Trout, Paul Jackson, Chase Kosterlitz, the #1 Dark Horse – Bruno Tauhito from Tahiti and Fernando Stalla, who had to fight hard to connect with the second group after a horror start put him well down the order).

Gorge Paddle Challenge stand up paddleboard race

Behind those top 13 there was a 20-man battle for the minor placings inside the top 20. Such was the depth of this field that at one point we were calling big names such as Riggs Napoleon as sitting outside the top two dozen.

It was a huge effort from the four big guns (Connor, Danny, Travis and Georges – I’d usually throw Kai in there as well but he was having an uncharacteristic race today), while Jake Jensen showed his potential in the first four laps, Kody showed he’s the defending champ for a reason and Frenchman Arthur Daniel surprised everyone (except for everyone in France) by sticking with the leaders for 90% of the race.

During the middle stretch of the battle little changed: The top seven guys held their form while the next group of six chasers tried everything but couldn’t close the gap at all. The distance was at a good minute by the time they hit the final round and that’s where it got interesting.

Gorge Paddle Challenge elite stand up paddle race

There was a crazy snake quite literally filling the entire course, with the leaders eventually lapping some of the backmarkers and paddlers spread out all around the 1 mile, 7-buoy course. They were even spread out onto the sidelines, with Noa Ginella unfortunately retiring hurt on the second lap, though as a consolation he had one of the best possible views of the race, opting to stay out on the course, sitting on his board and watching his mates go flying by each lap.

As the paddlers rounded the inside buoys on this unique flat water course here in the Gorge, to signal the start of the final lap, everything went haywire. Groups started splintering, train drivers started getting overtaken by their passengers and the whole rhythm was suddenly broken.

Scroll down for FULL RESULTS…

In the front group it was still Danny Ching setting a mean pace, however on the back straight of the final lap we saw Connor Baxter and then Travis Grant make attacking moves.

Connor eventually wrestled control of the lead from Danny and Trav with about 600 metres to go. At this point we saw Arthur get dropped, the Frenchman’s brave campaign finally coming to end. Shortly thereafter young Jake Jensen from Australia lost contact with the leaders, whittling the lead pack down to five guys (Connor, Danny, Travis, Georges and Kody).

Kody Kerbox was supremely impressive out there today. He won the overall Gorge Paddle Challenge title twelve months ago but that was against a much shallower field. I don’t think many pundits had given Kody a chance going into this weekend, however I for one was stoked to see the Maui youngster going toe-to-toe with the worlds’ best.

As the lead five rounded the fourth last buoy of the race, Danny Ching was hit from behind by Georges Cronsteadt, throwing the fluro green-hatted man into the water and allowing Connor to make a fast break. Travis Grant went around the outside of the carnage while Kody went up the inside. At one point Kody actually sprinted into second position, however he may have made his move too soon, eventually tiring and being passed by Travis, Danny and Georges.

>>> FOLLOW THE ACTION ON DAY TWO WITH OUR GORGE PADDLE CHALLENGE LIVE BLOG

But Connor didn’t tire and he never looked back, making the most of his slight gap to sprint away from the field over the final few hundred metres. For the second time in six days, he would stand atop the podium with his Starboard teammate Annabel Anderson to share a hard-fought victory over the world’s best paddlers.

Behind Connor there was a sprint for second: Travis and Danny were side by side with 100 metres to go, however Travis milked the tiniest of bumps on the ride home to claim the runner-up spot by a single board length. Georges Cronsteadt was right behind those two in 4th spot, showing he deserves his spot among the Big Five, while Kody Kerbox came home for a well deserved 5th place.

Jake Jensen held onto 6th while Arthur Daniel remained in 7th, with a fast-finishing Chase Kosterlitz breaking the second pack on the final lap to take 8th.

Kai Lenny and Slater Trout had gone back and forth over the second half of the race, with the two locked in a sprint to the line. Eventually it was Slater who edged ahead, with Kai crossing in 10th place and perhaps feeling the effects of his incredible, rockstar-like travel schedule this past year or two.

Coming home 11th was Paul Jackson, who had an excellent race and finished well ahead of several of his close rivals. Jacko puts more effort into his paddling than just about anyone, so it was good to see him rewarded with a finish close to the front groups. Behind Jacko it was the absolute dark horse of the event, Tahiti’s Bruno Tauhiro. Bruno is a complete unknown in the stand up paddling world, however he’s a borderline god in the world of outrigger, being one of the lead paddlers for the almighty Shell Va’a team (basically the dream team in the world of six-man outrigger racing).

Bruno did show his freshness to the world of SUP racing though: He was slow around the buoys and didn’t seem to enjoy wash riding (drafting), instead sitting off to the side in his own clean water. But the fact he did most of the race on his own and still held the pace of the big guns, without drafting, showed us just how scary it’s going to be when the Tahitian outrigger paddling machines decide to cross over into stand up.

Connor Baxter gorge paddle challenge hood river

In 13th it was Fernando Stalla, who’d fought hard on the opening two laps to connect with the second pack but had clearly spent too much in doing so. Not far behind was Fernando’s Sayulita comrade, Javier ‘Bicho’ Jimenez, who’d been locked in a no-mans-land battle with Thomas Maximus and Andrew Logreco for much of the race. Behind that trio were another 15 guys battling for the final few spots inside the top 20.

Scroll down for FULL RESULTS…

This really was a massively stacked field: Making the top 10 was a huge achievement; hell even making the top 20 deserved a medal. Outside of the Battle of the Paddle, I’d say this was the most competitive men’s SUP race ever seen.

And this was only half of it…

Actually not even half of it: The Course Race represented just one-third of the overall Gorge Paddle Challenge event, with tomorrow’s unique ‘Double Downwinder’ helping decide the overall event standings.

However if the wind is as light tomorrow as it is today, there will be an inevitable change to the format. The Columbia Gorge here in Hood River, Oregon is famous for its winds but it was dead flat out there today. Hopefully the wind starts macking in the morning, but if not the organisers are in for a tough decision: The Double Downwinder will be no fun if it’s 2x races up-stream against the current (downwinders here in the Gorge quite literally go up-stream).

While we’ll all be crossing our fingers the forecast is 50/50 at best, so I guess we’ll wake up in the morning and see how it looks. My call is we’ll see a single downwinder run in the early afternoon when the winds pick up somewhat.

Until then our big congratulations go out to Connor Baxter and Annael Anderson, who once again showed they’re virtually unstoppable.

But it’s not all over: Times from all three races will be combined, so the guys and girls currently filling the minor placings still have a chance to make up the ground. So if you wanna see how it all unfolds tomorrow (Sunday), then tune in for our LIVE BLOG presented by Quickblade Paddles at around 11am local time (Pacific Time).

Until then, here’s a pic of a guy (Matt) and his dog (Hunter), who didn’t go anywhere near winning the race today but probably got a bigger cheer than 99% of the other competitors. Awesome to see:

 

>>> FOLLOW THE ACTION ON DAY TWO WITH OUR GORGE PADDLE CHALLENGE LIVE BLOG


2014 Gorge Paddle Challenge RESULTS

ELITE WOMEN’S COURSE RACE

Course: Approximately 5 miles
Conditions: Dead flat and glassy
Boards: 12’6

#
Name
Time
Age
1Annabel Anderson1:01:5333
2Lina Augaitis1:02:2133
3Candice Appleby1:03:2028
4Sonni Hönscheid1:04:1833
5Angela Jackson1:04:2138
6Shae Foudy1:05:0015
7Fiona Wylde1:05:4717
8Shannon Bell1:05:5440
9Alyson Fromm1:08:0120
10Jennifer Lee1:08:0833
11Kelsa Gabehart1:08:2534

ELITE MEN’S COURSE RACE

Course: Approximately 5 miles
Conditions: Dead flat and glassy
Boards: 14′

#
Name
Time
Age
1Connor Baxter0:56:0219
2Travis Grant0:56:1131
3Danny Ching0:56:1531
4Georges Cronsteadt0:56:2234
5Kody Kerbox0:56:3120
6Jake Jensen0:57:1019
7Arthur Daniel0:57:2218
8Chase Kosterlitz0:58:0328
9Slater Trout0:58:1619
10Kai Lenny0:58:1821
11Paul Jackson0:58:2238
12Bruno Tauhiro0:58:2832
13Fernando Stalla0:58:4227
14Javier 'Bicho' Jimenez0:59:5319
15Thomas Maximus1:00:0845
16Andrew Logreco1:00:2030
17James Casey1:01:0722
18Riggs Napoleon1:01:1316
19Josh Riccio1:01:2125
20Michael Tavares1:01:2131
21Travis Baptiste1:01:2540
22Billy Miller1:01:2829
23James Donovan1:01:3023
24Jerry Bess1:01:3049
25Derek Fromm1:01:3217
26Mike Darbyshire1:01:3527
27Jarkko Simonen1:01:4135
28Brett Saguid1:01:4237
29Chuck Patterson1:01:4445
30Ingo Rademacher1:01:5542
31Chance Fielder1:01:5942
32Spencer Slaven-Lazzar1:02:0126
33Garrett Fletcher1:02:1323
34Brendan Light1:02:2919
35Belar Diaz1:02:3437
36Jake Clement1:02:4020
37Matt Parker1:02:4435
38E.J. Johnson1:02:5351
39Ford Huntington1:03:1218
40Gary Parsons1:03:2654
41Jason Bennett1:03:2728
42Jan Boersma1:04:1745
43Tyler Tschritter1:04:4718
44Scott Vande Vusse1:04:5235
45Kelvin Humenny1:05:0146
46Adam Jossem1:12:0635
47Brian Frost1:15:2138

SUPER GROMS – GIRLS RACE

Course: Approximately 1 mile
Conditions: Dead flat and glassy

#
Name
Time
Age
1Rhys Staples0:13:4110
2William Dewolfe0:13:5011
3Matix Springer0:13:5710
4Estani Bori0:14:5610
5Nathaniel Meyer0:14:5911
6Sam Fitz-James0:15:2111
7Owen Wright0:15:3510
8Diesel Henderson0:15:4011
9Wyatt Duce0:16:1710
10Graison Poledxia0:16:4210
11Mattox Daley0:17:2710
12Austen Abel0:18:0211

SUPER GROMS – BOYS RACE

Course: Approximately 1 mile
Conditions: Dead flat and glassy

#
Name
Time
Age
1Pelle Bergstrom0:13:1513
2Luke Allen0:13:2513
3Vetea Boersma0:13:2713
4Kaden Sponhauer0:13:3013
5Rhys Staples0:13:4110
6William Dewolfe0:13:5011
7Matix Springer0:13:5710
8Marcus Dunn0:14:1813
9Christopher Riviello0:14:3613
10Taegen Campbell0:14:4512
11Estani Bori0:14:5610
12Nathaniel Meyer0:14:5911
13Sam Fitz-James0:15:2111
14Owen Wright0:15:3510
15Diesel Henderson0:15:4011
16Wyatt Duce0:16:1710
17Graison Poledxia0:16:4210
18Joshua Nardone0:16:5612
19Logan Rueter0:17:1512
20Mattox Daley0:17:2710
21Austen Abel0:18:0211

OPEN RACE – MENS

Course: Approximately 4 miles
Conditions: Dead flat and glassy

#
Name
Time
Class
#
Age
1Seth Springer0:50:3714137
2Jon Davies0:50:5714248
3Evan Derdowski0:51:1414326
4Ryan Knysh0:51:3214427
5Tj Gulizia0:51:3514538
6Adam Cole0:51:3814633
7Braly Joy0:51:4714743
8Gregg Gilbert0:51:5014847
9Yannick Michaud0:51:5414939
10Kristian Mulholland0:51:58141042
11Macrae Wylde0:52:04141150
12Tim Quarles0:52:12141255
13Daniel Fischer0:52:16141318
14Mariano Rossini0:52:38141440
15Leif Bergstrom0:52:48141518
16Dwayne Lotnick0:52:53141640
17Alain Teurquetil0:53:08141752
18Ben Wright0:53:14141834
19Rob Dies0:53:21141938
20Pablo Bori0:53:35142038
21Gregg Leion0:53:53142156
1Dave Billenness0:53:5412'6145
22Bob Rueter0:54:12142259
2James Thesiger0:54:5512'6234
23Matt Lennert0:54:55142342
3Ian Light0:55:0112'6315
24Layne Stambaugh0:55:06142431
25Nick Ogilvie0:55:09142530
26Glenn Haupt0:55:14142648
27Scott Burton0:55:20142738
28Nils Engbersen0:55:28142817
29Darian Hildreth0:55:47142941
30John Allen0:55:53143053
31Brook Staples0:55:57143146
32Scott Lakusiak0:56:03143241
33Eric Nordstrom0:56:08143347
34Rick Weaver0:56:11143453
35Richard Gadoury0:56:16143540
36Doug Hopkins0:56:23143653
37Jason Wegrzyniak0:56:24143733
38D Pedersen0:56:33143847
39Jerry Ohlson0:56:52143952
40Grant Begley0:57:10144033
41Oscar Maciel0:57:25144144
42Zack Schwartz0:57:31144229
43Thomas Burke0:57:33144357
4Jason Lexa0:57:3712'6439
44Russel Peart0:57:41144440
5Liam Cursley0:57:4612'6514
45Rafael Kolic0:58:55144538
46Randall Barna0:59:04144664
47Mitch Billets0:59:11144721
48Tyler Staggs0:59:13144835
6Richard Fernand0:59:5412'6645
7Eli Fischbuch1:00:2112'6716
49Tim Mckenne1:02:21144948
50Scott Thomas1:02:50145039
51Dean Edleston1:04:41145150
52Matt Willett1:06:24145242
8Bill Babcock1:06:5212'6867
9Bruno Forsterer1:09:0112'6953
10Pascual Torres1:10:2112'61026

OPEN RACE – WOMENS

Course: Approximately 4 miles
Conditions: Dead flat and glassy

#
Name
Time
Age
1Alison Wood (* 14' board)0:55:5445
2Hannah Hill0:57:3217
3Kim Rueter0:57:4444
4Erin Mayer0:57:5616
5Sarah Sandstrom0:58:1435
6Sam Davies0:58:5316
7Amy Staples0:59:2044
8Savannah Boersma0:59:3917
9Erin Sutherland1:01:0714
10Jessica Cichra1:01:5432
11Victoria Hopkins1:02:0041
12Lindsay Lambert1:02:0330
13Maria Randle1:02:0849
14Rose Appel1:03:1334
15Mia Wheatley-Maltais1:04:0514
16Daisy Dolan1:04:2015
17Nicolette Paulus1:04:5114
18Michelle Black1:05:0945
19Valerie Fischer1:05:1114
20Susie Inkpen1:07:1332
21Tonya Schrey1:08:1140
22Claire Davies1:08:5014

 


 

 


 

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