Gorge Challenge Cancelled for 2024

The news crossed the wire on Friday Morning: The Gorge (formerly Paddle) Challenge in Hood River has been cancelled for 2024 and the organizers are looking bring the event back in 2025.

Hood River, located in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, is a renowned destination for water sports enthusiasts. The town’s unique geographical location, where the Columbia River narrows and winds between the Cascade Mountains, creates consistent and powerful winds, making it a paradise for windsurfers, kiteboarders, and stand-up paddleboarders (SUP).

The Gorge (Paddle) Challenge, held annually in Hood River was a legacy event from the earliest days of SUP. This event attracted top paddlers from around the world, thanks to its challenging courses, stunning scenery, and vibrant community atmosphere. The Gorge Challenge featured several races, including a downwind race that takes full advantage of the Gorge’s famous winds and currents, and a technical course race that tests paddler and foilers agility and endurance.

In the statement from Friday the organizers blame financial problems have force them to this very unfortunate decision.

In our opinion the key words here are “low registration” and “low sponsor ship”. It is no secret that the SUP industry is going through a recession and we may assume that many industry participants including SIC did not have the funds to fully carry the event. The part of the “low registration” might be a bit of a self inflicted wound as the event overlapped with the popular Maui2Molokai race and the M2O. Many athletes were already disappointed last year when one half of the community went to Hood River and the other stayed on Maui. Maybe the organizers kept the date this year so they can while piggy back on the Canoe Races held the week before?

The Hood River event was for years in August which did not cause a conflict in scheduling. This year the M2M sold out out in less than one hour and there are 100 SUP Foilers listed. The growing demand in Foiling has forced the organizers of the M2O to make foiling a separate event. As far as Hawaii goes there is no lack of demand and we are sure this demand could have been carried over to Hood River with the right date and marketing.

In Europe festival style events such as the World SUP Fest in Barcelona or the Lake Rocks in Villach (Austria) draw hundreds of people. Their business model is pretty clear: Involve local authorities, all local business, make the event part of a tour where pros participate an market the event toward the community as a participation for all race. The event is becomes more than just a race, it is a festival that highlights the destination as a whole.

We were last in Hood River in 2019 and it was an amazing experience, it was also the last Hood River event before the foiling took over.


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Official announcement could not be embedded in this post so we copy and past it:


To the Paddle and Downwind Community,

After many incredible Gorge events, it is with a heavy heart that we announce the postponement of this year’s Gorge Paddle Challenge to 2025. Despite our best efforts and substantial financial commitment, we have been compelled to make this decision due to unforeseen financial challenges.

We are grateful to our competitors, supporters, and title sponsor, SIC Maui, who graciously stepped up again this year. However, the economics of producing such a great event, combined with low sponsorship and registration turnout, have resulted in us having to make this tough decision.

As we look to the future, we are committed to improving our race events, sponsors, and brand collaborations. Our goal is to ensure the financial stability of this event and to return in 2025 with a bigger and stronger Gorge Paddle Challenge that we can all be proud of.

We want to express our deepest gratitude to our past sponsors, SIC, all competitors, the safety team, and volunteers. Your unwavering support and service have been instrumental in making the Gorge Challenge one of the top North American watersports events. We deeply appreciate your understanding.


The Management of Gorge Challenge

If you have questions or would like be involved with the Gorge Paddle Challenge in 2025, please contact our team at info.gorgechallenge@gmail.com.