• Matthew Chebatoris

Events Return as Summer Heats Up Across the West

Updated: Jul 15


Paddling events are returning throughout the West this summer after more than a year of cancellations due to the global pandemic. Vail, Colorado welcomed white water paddlers of all types to its renowned whitewater race series along Gore Creek in May - June where go with the flow was the enduring theme. PaddleXaminer's Michael Chebatoris was on hand as a participant for the series and had a blast mixing it up with competitors along the scenic section of the river running through the heart of Vail.


Here in Southern California, the OC-6 racing season began to sputter along with a limited number of events as the region opened in stages from the long COVID slumber in early May. The truncated Iron Season has concluded, but there is a chance one or two additional events may take place in the lead up to the Catalina Crossing the weekend of September 11 and 12, 2021.


Additional OC-6 racing opportunities throughout July and August are as follows:

  • Noah Kalama , Long Beach, CA - July 24th - Pending

  • Paopao, Oceanside, CA - August 21st - Pending

  • Whitey Harrison, Dana Point, CA - August 28th

Monday, July 12th marked the first day of the Gorge Downwind Champs along the famed Columbia River Gorge near Hood River, Oregon. The race day window runs from Thursday - Saturday. Until then, competitors have the option to get in as many downwind runs as they can stomach from dawn to dusk. The Gorge Downwind Champs were preceded by the Vortex Paddle Series, giving locals a few extra reps to hone their skills before the broader paddling community descended upon the iconic scenery of the Gorge.


Update - 19:40, July 14, 2021: Race Day at the Gorge Downwind Champs has been set for Thursday, July 15th. The forecast predicts winds in excess of 30mph.

The event won't fully resemble the layout of years past due to some ongoing limitations, but after last year's COVID-19 forced cancellation, you can be sure those who do make the trek will be having a good time. And if you arrive on location only to realize you forgot an item or two, visit our good friends at On the Water 360 to resupply. They are set up on site and ready to outfit you with all the essential gear you'll need to have a safe and enjoyable experience.



After the Gorge, our friends at Nor Cal SUP will be hosting the Paddle Splash Water Festival from July 22 - 25 at Lake Natoma. The event is open to all paddlers and features a special event for young paddlers, in addition to a community-wide beach clean up! Plan appropriately as it will likely be a hot one!


After the Nor Cal SUP event, there are a couple more events here on the West Coast you may wish to consider:


  • Ta-Hoe Nalu Paddle Event - August 7-8, 2021 at Kings Beach, Lake Tahoe, California: A family-friendly paddling event for paddle craft of all makes and models on beautiful Lake Tahoe.

  • The Gorge Paddle Challenge - August 13 - 15, 2021 in Hood River, Oregon: Not to be confused with the Gorge Downwind Champs, the Gorge Paddle Challenge is a stand alone event for Surfskis, OCs, prone paddleboards, SUPs and Wing surfers. There is an event for kids and a range of additional paddling events throughout the jam packed weekend.



That's a wrap for now. Stay tuned as additional events come online.

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