Rogue River Race & Gold Beach Adventure

Posted Jun 19, 2012 in Blog

Four standup paddleboards on our roof and every inch of my Suburban filled up with family and toys we headed South on Interstate 5… destination Gold Beach, Oregon.  Gold Beach is about a 5 ½ hour drive from Portland and is almost to the California border.  My family was excited to see as much as we could along the way and hopefully catch some waves.  We were headed to Gold Beach for a Standup Paddle race on the Rogue River that was starting at the mouth of the Rogue from the Pacific Ocean.  We have learned when taking the kids along for a race it is key to include fun kids activities into the trip.














We surprised the kids when we were about 45 minutes away from Gold Beach.  We pulled into the West Coast Game Park and petting zoo.  As we parked the car we laughed when we saw a car we recognized with boards on top.  It was Cyril Burguiere and his family who were also headed to the race and doing the same thing we were… keeping the kids happy.  Unfortunately for us, the zoo was closing in five minutes meaning we would have to come back the next day.  We knew the kids wouldn’t stop talking about it until we did.  Disappointment set in until we let them choose something from the gift shop with a promise that we would drive back the next day.
















On the road again and so much to see.  The coastline is gorgeous and we kept making photo stops.   We couldn’t pass by an enormous sign painted on the street with an arrow saying “Ocean view”.  We laughed saying, “which way to the beach?”  It was a great photo op.  Cyril and his family were passing by on hwy 101 and joined in.













Heading south again with a few more photo stops until we decided we couldn’t stop anymore.  But, next we were passing a huge T-Rex on the side of the road. Well you can’t just pass by a giant dinosaur… or can you?  Well, not if the kids have spotted it.  At this point we really wanted to get to the hotel and check out the beach so another promise that we would stop again to see the Prehistoric Gardens in Oregon’s rain forest before the trip was over.

Finally, we were in Gold Beach and driving into the parking lot of the Beachcomber Inn.  The Beachcomber was the event hotel and also the organizer of the event.    Ted Eady,  the owner of the hotel was on his way back from Southern California with Zane Schweitzer and Daniel Hughes in his car. Ted was giving them a ride up for the Rogue River race, sup surf contest and Zane would also be competing in the windsurfing wave bash.




















“When can we go to the West Coast Game Park?” were the first words out of the kids when we woke up on Saturday morning.  The event wasn’t until Sunday so we had the whole day to explore. It looks like we will be driving 45 minutes back to the North.  We knew that would be the case so we just laughed and said, “right after breakfast!” Off to the zoo we go!

Have you seen the movie “We Bought a Zoo?” This zoo was exactly like the movie.  The park is owned by a private family and is the closest you will ever get to animals like tigers, lions and bears.  You are face to face with them through a cyclone fence. The zoo is known for their unique opportunity to hold baby animals.  We held a baby bear, baby cougar and baby bobcat.  It was an amazing experience for all of us.  We walked through the game park with deer, goats, rams, llamas, peacocks and donkeys roaming around with us.  We saw every type of wild animal you would want to see and even rode a Camel.  The kids were having the time of their life and I have to admit I was too.





Now that we had the Game Park out of the way our next mission was to surf.  We headed South again in search of waves.  Unfortunately, it was really windy and we were questioning why we didn’t throw our windsurfing and kite boarding gear in the car as well.  We drove to Cape Sebastian and watched the wind surfers wave riding. The wind was strong and the waves were big.  It was fun to watch but it would have been more fun to be out there.  It was so windy that we watched from the shelter of a cave.

Back at the hotel now, it was fun to see our friends that had been arriving while we had been out exploring.  We quickly made the parking lot our living room and spent time talking, skateboarding, playing football and even hula hooping.   None of us  knew what the course would be like but that was also the good news because we would all be clueless together.  We would all have the same disadvantage.

The next morning, I was awoken by a tap on the shoulder and my daughter Naya telling me, “good news mom, it’s sunny out!”  She also suggested that I get up and get ready for the race.  Ha, ha…she was right.  It was time to get up, eat and get ready to race.  In the breakfast room of the hotel most of the racers gathered to fuel up.

The start of the race was at the mouth of the Rogue River where it enters the Pacific Ocean.  We met at a boat marina to unload our boards and get ready to paddle to the start.  The start was staged on a sand bar. A strong wind came up and it was difficult to even get to the start. We lined up for a beach start and we were off.

The start of the race challenged us with a strong side wind coming over our left shoulder.  It was hard to get out fast and establish your position in the race.  It was time to set into a rhythm whatever that might be, and at this point in the race it meant paddling on your right side and keeping the left rail of your board down because of the side chop from the wind.

The first point to shoot for was a large bridge.  We were told to go under the second pillar of the bridge.  After the bridge it was time to start heading to the right bank of the river. There was an island that we needed to be on the right side of.  The current was ripping by the island and it was very shallow.

















I was following where Zane Schweitzer, Daniel Hughes, Cyril Burguiere and Matt Spencer had gone.   My plan was to follow the guys line and hope everyone else would follow me.  I watched in front of me and I could see they weren’t making any ground.  They kept getting pushed backwards. As I was watching this happen I started to wonder if it was even possible for us to continue the race.  If the lead guys couldn’t make it pass this point how was anyone going to make it?

As I continued to watch the guys… they were now off their boards and carrying them. They had reached a point that was too shallow to keep paddling.  I could see what was coming but was so preoccupied watching them and struggling to go forward that I didn’t notice that Kerri Stewart and a few others were making up distance on me.   They were on the other side of the channel and had found a spot where the current wasn’t running as strong.  I was paying so much attention to what was going on ahead of me that I didn’t notice that they had taken another line.  Their line was proving to be faster.  Usually I say, don’t look back because the race is in front of you, but in this case, I learned it was important to see if the racers behind me were on a better line.

I had reached the point where we had to portage and run with the boards across sharp and slippery river rocks.  I have bruises on the bottom of my feet to prove it.  Once it was deep enough to paddle again I needed to start cranking to establish a lead again.  The lead pack of guys had split up, some were on the left and some were on the right side of the river and I couldn’t tell which line was better.  I stayed to the left and everyone behind me did too.  The current was still ripping.

The turn around buoy was in sight now but it didn’t seem like I was ever going to make it there.  Finally, I made the turn and what a relief.  It was all done stream from here.  It was a fast and fun ride down.  It took us about an hour and twenty minutes up and about 15 minutes down.  That tells you have fast the current was moving.

I was happy to ride my board up onto the sand bar and run across the finish to a first place finish in the Women’s division and not too far behind the men’s lead pack.  We had a good laugh about how challenging the race was.   When it’s all over a challenging race makes it more fun…more fun to talk about, anyways.


We headed back to the hotel and packed up.  We would be heading back to Portland and didn’t care how late we got home.  Our goal was to surf on the way home.  Unfortunately, the swell had died and we didn’t find any surf.   Making good on our earlier promise to the kid, we headed to the Prehistoric Gardens.  We were now walking through Oregon’s rainforest full of life size dinosaurs.  It was a fun stop and the kids were happy.

We made one more stop at the beach to play before our long drive home.   We found a beautiful beach full of driftwood and the kids had a blast.  It was nice to sit on the beach and relax after a fun, successful and challenging race.  We ate a nice dinner and didn’t leave until 8 pm.  We arrived home about one in the morning.  We were happily tired after our fun weekend adventure.



Judy Shasek
June 21, 2012 3:06 pm

Hope to make that race next year – and maybe the river will be deeper and the waves steeper!

June 27, 2012 9:14 pm

Great photos! What a challenging race.

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