Our Pick of the TOP 3 Downwind and Flat Water must do Races around the World…. and if you haven’t done any on our List below well we suggest you do
Gorge Paddle Challenge - Hood River USA
Maui to Molokai - Hawaii
King of the Cut - Perth Australia
11 Cities Tour - Holland
Bilbao - Spain
Gla Gla - Lake Annecy France
So you want to get a bucket list of Fun races to get to? Not sure where to start or what ones to choose? We have done some work for you. As we have been to pretty much most of the major races and events around the world.
Now if it’s max fun and Downwind your after then you can’t go past the 3 on our list.
At number 3 we have King of the Cut - Perth Australia
Race Length - 25km (16 miles)
Race Conditions - Open Indian Ocean Swells
KOTC week will be close to the best week of your life downwinding. Clear Warm Ocean waters and the Seabreeze blows every single day, in fact after 4 days straight of wind and doing double downwind runs you need to take a break. This place will wreck you if you don’t pace yourself. Held in the coastal town Mandurah which is about 1 hour drive south of Perth and the Airport you will find yourself based here all week. It’s pretty cheap so if you are on a budget there are all types of accomodation to book. All week you will see all paddle crafts playing on the 12km run from Falcon bay to Mandurah. Know your limits with this place thou, remember this is the Indian Ocean and there is nothing between Perth and South Africa and it can be a wild section of open ocean. The Perth SUP crew are great and will welcome you with open arms. Mandurah On the Western Australia Coastline you will find nothing but amazing White sandy beaches with hardly anyone around, be warned the Sun here will Burn you. After your week here you will leave feeling Sun and wind Burnt and especially Salty. Enjoy!
It has a very easy put in and take out with very little swell ever being a problem. You will get some of the fastest runs of your life here and very well worth getting to!
At number 2 Downwind Race we have put Maui to Molokai - Hawaii
Race Length - 42km (26 miles)
Race Conditions - Inter Island Crossing between Maui to Molokai Ocean Swells
M2M has to be on very single Downwind Paddles Bucket List, it’s truly amazing and fun. Clear Waters and crossing between the 2 islands is something you will remember forever. The scenery is like nothing else when you get closer to Molokai, sort of makes you forget any pain you might be feeling at the halfway point. Keep in mind these crossing is bigger swells and you really have to have confidence in yourself before you even line up at the start line. The rewards is amazing once you finish at the tiny little boat shed and entrance to molokai boat harbour, you actually are hard pressed to see it and paddlers have been known to go straight passed it. Once finished you pretty much pack up and load up your boat ride back across the channel to maui. All done in 1 massive day. Or you can choose to stay overnight and do the Molokai race which is just the last half of the M2M which is also amazing. Good thing is you can choose to just do the big one M2M or make it huge weekend do the next day aswell.
A big bouns with this event is the lead up week or weeks if you are lucky enough as you will want to base your self on Maui and while here you can take advantage of the maliko run which in it's own right is one of the worlds best Down wind runs, If you are into any kind of downwinding then this is paradise.
Contact - https://www.facebook.com/maui2molokai/
At number 1 (Top Spot) you just can’t go past Gorge Paddle Challenge - Hood River USA
Race Length - Double DW 22km (13.5 miles) Elites or Single DW run for Opens
Race Conditions - Gorge with Current Against Wind situation
As far as races, community and conditions go you really can’t top Hood river. This amazing little town along the edge of the Columbia gorge is about 1 hour drive inland from Portland airport. Amazingly enough you can be driving out along the Columbia and there might not be a breath of wind but as you drive further into the amazing gorge you will start to see White Caps and then as you come up to Hood river you will see the most amazing site of a Sea of White Caps like nothing you have seen before. The Perfect Learners Spot right up to Elites races. There is a reason most of the World's Top Downwind Races spend at least 3 to 4 weeks in Hood River before the event, it’s FUN. If there is no wind (Rare) there is also a huge amount of hiking, white water or mountain biking fun to be had.
The Gorge can also have a serious side, so we must stress the fact to make sure you have all your safety equipment on whilst DW in Hood river or you might find yourself meeting the local water sheriff. On it’s day in the Gorge it will blow your mind, endless groomed bumps and you will surf left to right the whole way. The gorge is unique in the way the current runs towards the ocean but wind is a funnel effect, so you have wind against current. If there was ever a Downwind race you wanted to be apart of then this one has to be the top of your list asap.
Why have we put this at number 1? well it's just the ease of use for all levels, yes number 2 and 3 might be faster and bigger but just as a spot that is super freindly to all levels then Hood river comes out on top. Not to forget the awesome Brewery’s in town, there is nothing like having a Big Burger or Pizza and Beer at one of the many great Brewery’s in Town after a huge day Downwinding on the Columbia.
So Downwind isn’t your thing but you want to get to some top Flat water Grind races, well we have picked the top 3 we think represents a Good time and good racing.
At number 3 we have Gla Gla Race, Lake Annecy in France
Distance - Long and short Course options
Conditions - FREEZING COLD and Flat Water Lake
In the Freezing Cold 2018 they had 494 Paddlers!! Yes that’s right! Now this place is in Mid Winter and is snowing with Ice but yet there is something about this race that seems to get a lot paddlers including some of the World’s Elite. Well it could be the Scenery considering it is on a Lake surrounded by amazing mountains with Food and wine to Die for with warm fires in your accommodation. This race is crazy but amazing! The water is a huge 4c (39F) so you have to paddle in a Drysuit cos if you do fall in, well then it’s race over. With an expected 900 paddles on the start line for the 2019 race we think there is something about this race that seems to attract people, we should probably all go do it once.
Contact - www.glaglarace.com
Number 2 of our Flat water Races Bilbao - Spain
Distance - 14km (8.5miles)
Conditions - Summertime Spanish Heat, River water
Why? Well this race has been running a long time and also because it’s in one of the most wonderful old town Spanish cities on Earth. Inland race that runs right thru the centre of Old Town Bilbao, you will race between some of the oldest buildings in history and not to mention right past the Guggenheim museum. Spend a whole week here before the race exploring this amazing old town, eat of awesome spanish food, drink a coffee and watch it all unfold right in front of you. You fly straight into Bilbao airport and it’s an easy $15 Taxi ride to city centre where you will find the race is and there is plenty of Airbnb accommodations to book, or hotels. You won’t need a car as you can walk to everything. The FOOD well be ready to eat some and eat more!! The race itself normally get hundreds of people so what seems like a flat water race quickly turns into a wishwash bumpy river, so something to be ready for.
Number 1 and TOP of our List - 11 Cities Race - Holland
Distance - 220km (137 Miles)
Conditions - Weather could be anything, Flat Water Canals Circuit
Well as far Flat Water races go this crazy race is a must for just at least once. This race will grab you in a Love Hate relationship, most people go back every single year. Be ready it’s LONG!!! Approx 45 km per day running one way through the canals in North Holland following the famous Dutch Ice Skating 11 Cities Tour Route. Staying on big Boats with fellow paddlers, so be ready to share rooms but enjoy plenty of laughs all together after a big day of racing. The race grows in numbers each year so that is saying something. Even though it’s a Flat water race you have to prepare yourself to Grind and it gets WINDY!!! So windy in fact on some of the bigger open sections you will find people on their knees with head down battling against it. This races is hard core and something you have to train for, the distance everyday will wear you down! Trust us Day 1 and 2 you will feel like ok this seems pretty easy hahaha, be warned by day 3 and 4 you wake up hardly being able to move hahahaha, Day 5 will definitely break you in some way but for some reason everyone just keeps going. The last 10km of this race on the final day are BRUTAL, for what seems like it takes forever but once you see that finish line after 5 days and 220km the pain goes! You’ve Made it! It’s a race personally myself did once and never went back, more so cos i was frekin scared! It’s HARD and l don’t like to fail but this race will test you to your wits end. I could go on and on about this race but you really just have to go do it yourself, just do it once.
Contact - https://www.facebook.com/sup11citytour/
So the choice is yours to make. As l have experienced all but 1 of these races and i can highly recommend them all. All you have to now do is find one, train, commit to it and just go do it.
I hope you enjoy my Blog - Angela Jackson / One Ocean Sports