Local Hood River star Fiona Wylde took a resounding victory on both legs of the Double Downwinder today at the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge. Photo: Lorenzo Menendez/Flux Photography

Wylde and Roediger Sweep Downwinders at Gorge Paddle Challenge

Fiona Wylde and Bernd Roediger each took line honors today during both runs of the infamous Double Downwinder during day one of the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge.

Racers were greeted with good winds for the first day of competition here in Hood River, Oregon, though not quite as windy as the days preceding the event. That made for a more technical day of racing where competitors had to earn their bumps and work hard for their glides.

“The second run was more surfing but I felt like I had to sprint more,” Roediger told us. “I was just trying to rest as much as possible during glides so I could keep it up.”

Jeffrey Spencer takes off like a shot and lands a victory in the foil division ahead of his brother Finn and superstar Kai Lenny. Photo: Lorenzo Menendez/Flux Photography

Roediger has had a big year racing 14-foot boards, taking a stock win at Maui 2 Molokai earlier this year. However, his win here—against an extremely competitive field of the best downwind paddlers in the world—definitely marks his biggest victory to date.

Wylde’s local knowledge paid off for the second year in a row. She was over three minutes ahead on the first run and two on the second.

“(Both runs) were amazing,” Wylde said. “It’s just so amazing downwinding and downwinding here at home is incredible. I actually took two different lines on the two different runs. I’m definitely tired!”

Bernd Roediger put up his biggest win to date, proving that his downwind race game is just as sharp as his surfing. Photo: Lorenzo Menendez/Flux Photography

Some of the bigger surprises of the day were two young New Caledonian paddlers, Clement Colmas and Noic Garioud, both under 17, coming in fourth and sixth place overall, respectively. That two teens would show up at one of the biggest downwind events of the year and easily make the top ten just goes to show the depth of field that our sport is developing.

Two other youngsters making a big impact on the main stage were brothers Jeffrey and Finn Spencer, who took first and second in the foil division over foil pioneer and SUP superstar Kai Lenny, who would have to settle for third.

Over 310 racers hit the Viento Run today for the Gorge Paddle Challenge, making it one of the biggest downwind races of all time. Photo: Lorenzo Menendez/Flux Photography

Hopefully the racers saved some mojo for tomorrow’s competition on the course race, when the overall winners will be decided here in Hood River. Stay tuned to SUPthemag.com and our social handles (@supthemag) for results and more action from the Columbia River Gorge!