Wildside Races Update…..
The Wildside Relay is a week away and the surfski and OC race is poised to be bigger & better than ever. Though the Columbia River level has been dropping from peak levels of last month, the downstream current remains strong providing for great downwind conditions this summer. New for this year are some slight changes of hand-off points for boat relay race and new is a ten mile solo downwind race on Sunday.
The Relay Course….
The four leg relay course has paddlers surfing upstream on the Columbia River from Stevenson, WA to Bingen, WA. Transfer points are always on the “Wildside”. This race is a point to point relay format and paddlers alternate legs with either racing 1&3 or 2&4. This year hand offs will be out of the water on dry land, thereby eliminating just starts and flybys.
Leg 1: Bob’s Beach – Home Valley Park
Typically the flattest leg of the race, this section has been pleasantly bigger then usual this year due to strong downstream current opposing swift winds at Stevenson. Largest waves tend to be in the middle of the river, questionable if trying to grab some back eddies on the Washington side will be better than shooting down the middle of the river.
Leg 2: Home Valley Park- Drano Beach Boat Ramp
The river bends around Dog Mountain on the Washington side and waves & current stack up against the Oregon side. Having raced this section twice in the past, it seems that there is good race strategy to tuck into the Washington shoreline past Dog Mountain and stay out of the bulk of the current during normal conditions. Due to continued higher than usual current, the fastest lines may be close to the Washington side, even maybe looking for upstream eddie current to take advantage of. The hand-off point was been changed to the Drano Beach Boat ramp, adding and little more distance onto this leg and easier access for the transition.
Leg 3: Drano Beach Boat Ramp – Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery
Potentially the biggest waves are in this section and the added distance with the end being moved upriver to the hatchery means competitors will have to run the gauntlet for the handoff. This section often starts out nice and moderate & builds closer to Swell City. Swell City (aka the gauntlet) can be thrilling to paddle through on big days due to large numbers of windsurfers and kite surfers crisscrossing as they take advantage of one of the best playgrounds for windsports. The largest waves tend to be in the middle, but due to the current, fastest lines may in close to the WA shoreline.
Leg 4: Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery – Bingen Sailboard Park
This section of the Wildside relay is probably the most technical section of the race. Amazing views of Mt Hood at the hatchery are to be had as paddlers head upriver against swift current. Usually mixed wave conditions with the biggest waves stacking against the WA shoreline created by a turn in the river prior to Hood River Bridge. Typically it seems the fastest line is to cross the river and head for the barge marker buoy, then just on the Oregon side of the river under of the bridge, then work back to the WA side towards the finish. It’s debatable this year if swinging closer to the Oregon side before the bridge will pay off, or if the sticking to the typical race line and bucking more current will be faster.
The Solo Race….
New for this year is the solo race on Sunday. Though the course will be wind dependent, it sounds like the race will be from Drano to Bingen. With not having to be on the Washington side at the hatchery for a transition, the faster lines may be to surf across the river early to the Oregon side stay out of the main flow and cross again after Hood River Bridge ??? Time will tell.
Race Website: Wildside Website
Hope to see you there!!!