The 2015 Hood River Huckfest kicked off at Rufus beach on the Columbia River Gorge today with 58 competitors vying for the highest jump of the day. There’s a number of different ways to score a big air contest, but the use of WOO tracking devices helped event organizers measure the precise height of each attempt.
The day started with hot temperatures and light wind, which may have deterred some contestants, but with Huckfest bragging rights and $500 in prize money on the line, stoked pros and locals alike rigged up their biggest kites on the rocky pebbles of Rufus beach. Contending with lighter conditions than desired, contest organizer and Naish Rep, Mike Duhaime started the initial rounds with the base rule that at least one competitor in each heat would have to clear 10 vertical feet for the heat to be scored. Although the conditions were challenging, competitors were able to make the 10 foot minimum in the early heats and kept the contest running until later in the afternoon when the wind finally turned on.
At the beginning of each 10 minute heat, competitors attached a WOO tracker to their board before hitting the water. With little concern for smooth landings, each competitor tried to find the strongest gust of wind to score the biggest air, frequently positioning the board over their head to get the tracker device as high as possible. At the end of each heat, riders would come off the water and WOO technicians would load the heat’s data into WOO’s servers where contestants could instantly see the standings of each rider from the WOO app on their cell phones.
The atmosphere on the water among competitors was vibrant. Men’s finalist Alex Bloechinger stopped mid-heat to help another kiter reconnect with a board while event MC Grom Gormley joked, “Unfortunately, the WOO does not pick up on sportsmanship.” Event Organizers Mike Duhaime and Ken Lucas awarded the “Flaming Toilet Seat” to Walter “Wally the Gator” Young for losing his kite twice in one heat.
This year a few riders chose to compete on foilboards and foil kites. In the lighter winds of the earlier heats many competitors commented on the superior heights that the foilers could achieve, and worried that foiling was an unfair advantage. However, the wind increased during the final heats and it was the conventional inflatibles that took both men’s and women’s podiums.
[two_third_last]Men’s Super Final
1) Ewan Jaspan (45 feet, 6 inches)
2) Cosmon “DJ Guacamole” Noonan (45 feet, 2 inches) (Foilboard/Kite)
3) Adam Withington (40 feet)[/two_third_last]