Big Winds Connecting Generations

Steve Gates of Big Winds in Hood River Oregon has a philosophy that resonates with Elder SUP, ” I am inspired by everyone who is trying to make our planet a better place for everybody.”

Connecting with the younger generation and providing them with skills and a community focused on those values is about the best way to insure a “better planet for everybody.”  Steve Gates enthusiastically shared his commitment to Team Big Winds in a recent phone conversation. There was no denying how cool he thinks the kids are and how impressed he is with their dedication to acquiring skills for their sport.

Team Big Winds showed up in force in early July at the Willamette SUP Cup in Lake Oswego, Oregon. The eighteen member team made up almost a third of the entire fleet! The challenging course had a nice variety of tight turns, long straights, current, breeze, showers and sunshine. Something for everyone!

Team BW placed 4 in the top ten in the men’s Elite, with Ben Grodner in 5th, MacRae Wylde in 6th, Rob Dies in 9th and Steve Gates in 10th (Steve is there in the center of the picture at left). Ford Huntington won the Rec Class in his first ever SUP race. Fiona Wylde just edged out teammate Alyson Fromm (a mere 5 seconds!) as the girls went 1-2 in the Women’s Elite. And, Team BW coach Steve Gates won the Men’s 50+ Class.

It was great fun for the whole team, with many participating in their first SUP race!

Now the training continues in preparation for the Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge, August 18 and 19, when Team Big Winds will try to defend its home turf as the best racers from all over world descend on Hood River for the spectacular paddling conditions of the Columbia Gorge.

I am both excited and a bit intimidated about participating in my first Paddle Challenge in Columbia Gorge. When my daughter and son-in-law eagerly made reservations to come watch me “swim with the sturgeon” my tummy did a flip flop. Seriously?

I am counting on a training run with Karen Wrenn and advice along with some great equipment from Steve and Big Winds to be a big part of my enjoying the event.  Steve has an extensive background in water sports, with over 30 years of windsurfing, kiting and SUPing. As he inquired about my skills, experience and goals for the race (safely completing it) he reinforced the need to have the right equipment. I am really looking forward to using the Naish 12’6″ Glide that is 30 inches wide (stable and easier to ride at my level).   It’s great to recognize the enormous spirit of sharing and support around the sport of standup paddling, and among the team at Big Winds.

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