2011 Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge



The Waterfront Park in Hood River, Oregon hosted the first annual Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge on the weekend of August 20/21. Elite athletes from across the U.S. including Naish’s own Dave Kalama, Kai Lenny, Chuck Patterson, Jerry Bess, Michi Schweiger, Jenny Kalmbach and Karen Wrenn plus members of the Hood River community came out for this two-day festival that boasted 250 entrants in four events including a course race, an 8-mile downwinder, a team relay race and a non-competitive Paddle for the Park fundraiser. The festival also had an SUP expo with demos and clinics running in-between races as well as nightly entertainment.


The weather couldn’t have been better for the weekend. Saturday’s open and elite class course race had the first “windless” day in 3 weeks and proofed to be perfect for the 6-mile elite buoy race. “We had an exciting battle between five racers for the Men’s Elite race,” said race director Dan Gavere, a Hood River local. “Connor Baxter, Kai Lenny, Chase Kosterlitz, Anthony Vela and Jay Wild all battled it out for an hour and finished really tight. It was a great race for spectators.” Hawaiians Connor Baxter and Kai Lenny (on a Naish Glide 14’0″ Javelin) snagged the top two spots in the Men’s Elite race with Chase Kosterlitz finishing close behind in third. The Women’s Elite race saw Candice Appleby take the win closely followed by Annabel Anderson and Brandi Baksic in third.

karen_wrennOn the final day of the festival, conditions changed drastically, meeting the standards for the 8-mile Downwind Race. Competitors saw howling winds gusting between 15-20 knots. Team Naish was all out for this prestigious run on the river that has some of the longest and fastest glides. Once again it was Hawaiian young guns Connor Baxter and Kai Lenny (Naish Glide 14’0″ Javelin), who took the top two spots ahead of Kalama (Naish Glide 14’0″) overall, finishing first and second for the second day in a row. The first three women to finish were Candice Appleby, Naish’s Jenny Kalmbach (Naish Glide 14’0″ Javelin”), and Annabel Anderson. The rest of the Naish team delivered great overall results taking a total of 5 spots in the top 10 of the long distance race – Men’s: 2. Kai Lenny, 3. Dave Kalama, 5. Jerry Bess, 6. Michi Schweiger 9. Chuck Patterson. Jenny Kalmbach and Karen Wrenn counted for a high density of the Naish riders in the women’s fleet placing 2nd and 4th in the long distance.

Sunday also hosted the fun relay race where 3 recreational paddlers were teamed up with one Elite paddler by a random drawing. Naish’s Chuck Patterson and his team had a very strong start to finish race and took the title for relay team winner 2011.

In the overall ranking between the long distance and course race Kai Lenny placed 2nd and Jerry Bess 4th – with Michi Schweiger and Chuck Patterson also completing a good overall team finish in the top 10.

First place finisher in the long distance Connor Baxter donated his price including air fare to Oahu/ entry and accomodation for the Turtle Bay Race – courtesy of the Watermen League – to Chase Kosterlitz taking into consideration that all top 3 finishers are Hawaii residents.


The event went off the charts for the first year thanks to Naish USA’s Charlie Burwell and Nick Stuart and Big WInds Steve Gates who realized an idea into a great happening. The Naish Gorge paddle challenge should see a bright future and all racers and hopefully many more will look toward to a bigger event in 2012.



Course Race

Elite – Men
1. Connor Baxter – Maui
2. Kai Lenny – Maui
3. Chase Kosterlitz

Elite Women
1. Candice Appleby – San Clemente, CA
2. Annabel Anderson
3. Brandi Baksic – San Clemente, CA

Open 14′
1. Ben Grodner – Salt Lake City, UT
2. Gary Parsons
3. Steve Gates, Hood River, OR

Open 12’6″
1. Doug Hopkins – White Salmon, WA
2. Jeff Bigler
3. Rob Dies – Portland, OR

Downwinder Overall
1. Connor Baxter
2. Kai Lenny
3. Dave Kalama

Downwinder Women
1. Candice Appleby
2. Jenny Kalmbach
3. Annabel Anderson

Photos: Julia Schweiger



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