If there is a better venue for sailboat racing than Hood River Oregon I’ve not sailed there yet. The most consistently windy place in our country with waves the size of VW buses, gusts that hit so hard your head whips back and some of the most amazing scenery you can imagine sailing in, all just off the beach of the happening little town of Hood River, Oregon. A sailboard mecca for a generation Hood River has become an epic spot for kite boarders as they swarm across the river from the Hatchery all the way down to the Hood River Bridge.
The well-known Columbia Gorge Racing Association, just 20 miles downriver in Cascade Locks, Oregon, is known for their beautiful park-like venue, welcoming attitude, and windy but smooth race area which sucks in the juniors, dinghy’s, Skiff’s and the like for some stadium style race courses – perfect for modern buoy race requirements. But just 20 miles upriver you find the Hood River Yacht Club with their small dry yard and clubhouse situated in the corner of the port. Hosting many a Wednesday night race, HRYC sailors are known for re-defining nukin’ conditions and showing you just how much excitement one crew of sailors can have on a simple day on the water.
This is the spot that 16 of the original ULDB’s designed way back in the day by George Olson and later modified by Ron Moore at Moore’s Reef gathered for fun little weekend on the water. The area of the Columbia off Hood River isn’t the large open area the Melges 24’s were enjoying for their well-attended Nationals just down river. No, this area, with its narrow channel and twisting turning river, is a nightmare if you want to set a square buoy race, but that’s not what the Moore fleet is always looking for.
Maybe it’s the Moore Dementia Syndrome (Google it), possibly it’s the asymmetrical hull shape the boat took on at Moore’s reef but probably it’s just the personalities of the owners that makes them enjoy the challenge of putting on a regatta in such a windy, wavy and off the beaten path venue (at least in the sailboat racing world). Setup a start area amongst hundreds of kite boarders, send the racers around a fixed mark surrounded by sailboarders jumping off the huge swell and do it over and over again in 20, 25, 30 knots of wind – good times in Moore speak. Read on.