Ross Island WPA Race

Posted Jun 08, 2012 in Blog

Last weekend I raced in the Ross Island race in Portland, Oregon.  I was excited to be racing on my home turf where I train most of the time. It’s not very often that I get to race there or even paddle with anyone. It was a record turn out for the race of 70 paddlers.  That is a lot for Oregon.  Racers showed up from Seattle, Bend, Hood River and the Portland area.  There was an open class 4 miles around Ross Island or an elite 8 miles clockwise around Ross Island around a buoy and then counterclockwise.  You experienced the currents going both directions.  There was also a short course grom race.

It was nice to wake up in my own bed, make breakfast, and get ready at home.  Since the race was at home it also meant that the whole family would be involved.  I even talked my brother Kevin into racing in the Open class.  John, my husband, would be racing in the open class as well and Cooper my 9 year old in the grom race.  Naya would be our paddle caddy and cheerleader.  My dad came along to watch the kids while we were all out racing which was huge for John because he normally can’t enter races when the kids are along.

The race was staged out of Oaks Amusement Park, which is known as the Coney Island of the Northwest and opened May 30, 1905. It is one of the 10 oldest amusement parks in the country. This also meant that the kids were going to ask if we could stay after the race to go on the rides.  The amusement park sits on the edge of the Willamette River.  I can hear people screaming on the rides when I’m out training.

It was time to get lined up for the race.  We had the elite and open race starting at the same time so the elite lined up in front of the open class.  The water was nice and calm until about 5 minutes before the horn sounded and the wind picked up.  It is a great race course and I know the area well.  There can be a lot of boat traffic some times but it was super mellow which was nice not dealing with boat wakes.  The tourist jet boat did come flying by at one point throwing off some big wakes for people to manage.

There was a lot of drafting going on in the men’s 14’ division. The new drafting rules from the WPA (World Paddle Association) are that you can draft within your board class and within your gender.  There weren’t any other girls up front with me so I paddled alone with long drafting trains of guys with me.  I was paddling as hard as I could while listening to guys in the train talking, laughing and cruising along.  It was hard because their wakes would push me off to the side and I couldn’t keep a clean straight line.  I talked to them about not cutting me off at the turning buoy as we were getting close and they were cool about that… so all was good.

I finished first Women overall and first in the 14’ division.  It was my first time racing my new Naish 14’ Javelin MC-14 which I was most excited about.  The board is fast and light and I was stoked with how it performed.  I was happy to hear that my husband finished 2nd in the Open division and my brother did great too.  Cooper got first in the grom race.  He made a come back from behind.  He did an amazing buoy turn and put on a sprint to the finish.

At the award ceremony there were some great raffle prizes with people winning board bags, paddles, paddle bags, etc…  It started pouring down rain right as the awards started so we were all packed under a few tents.  If you finished in the top 3 in your division you also won a 6 pack of Kona Brewing beer.  If you were under 21 your parents or in Fiona’s case… her coach Steve Gates got to keep the beer.  They were happy to accept that prize.

With the rain upon us… John and I were thinking that was our out from spending the rest of the afternoon at the amusement park.  Sure enough it cleared up right in time for the kids to tell us it wasn’t raining anymore.  We spent the rest of the day on rides with names like “the screamin’ eagle”.  I have to admit I had a fun too.  I went on every ride they did and was grinning from ear to ear just like them.



Katie E-P
June 8, 2012 5:15 pm

Cool! I love the idea of a race coming and going from an amusement park. It’s fun to read about what other communities are doing!

Chris Vincent
June 8, 2012 5:56 pm

It sounds like a great day. I wish I had been able to participate. I’m glad there were enough groms to make their event fun.

June 8, 2012 7:17 pm

That was a great recounting of a really fun race, over what is also my home training course. I saw you go by alongside the “train”. Restricting drafting by gender is stupid, and that seems to be a universal opinion shared by everyone outside the WPA rule makers. Makes your performance that much more impressive.

Bob Rueter
June 8, 2012 7:57 pm

A great re-cap. Thats so awesome that you could make it a family event.

Judy Shasek
June 9, 2012 2:26 pm

Great article about the race, I plan to do it next year (ouch, I’ll be 64 then. slow and smiling) We plan to buy the Naish 14’ Javelin MC-14 to use on flatwater training for next year’s Ho’olaule’a on Maui. Glad to hear how it glides. Is there anything you’d like to share with our Elder SUP readers about the versatility of options in SUP races (whole family dividision choices – something for everyone). It is so cool for a novice to be able to “play the game” with the pros – share the water, the fun and the after party.

Chuck Patterson
June 15, 2012 7:53 pm

Awesome job. stoked to see the whole family killing it on race day.

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