Fiona Wylde & Connor Baxter Win 2023 Gorge Challenge

Connor Baxter, winner of the 2023 Gorge Challenge. | Photo courtesy: Starboard Connor Baxter, winner of the 2023 Gorge Challenge. | Photo courtesy: Starboard

HOOD RIVER, Oregon - The 2023 Gorge Paddle Challenge in Hood River, Oregon, witnessed an exhilarating display of skill and determination as professional stand-up paddleboard athletes, Connor Baxter and Fiona Wylde, dominated the event, leaving a lasting impression on the competitive racing scene and celebrating the vibrant community spirit of the sport.

Connor Baxter's Dominance at the 2023 Gorge Paddle Challenge

Connor Baxter, renowned for his exceptional stand-up paddling skills, achieved remarkable success at the Gorge Paddle Challenge. The weekend commenced with the famous Viento Road, an 8-mile downwind up-river race that presented a unique challenge with varying wind conditions. Undeterred, Connor skillfully maneuvered his 2023 All Star board, equipped with a large Lima blade, and secured an early lead ahead of the talented field.

Connor Baxter Wins 2023 Gorge Paddle Challenge SUP Downwind Technical Race IMG 6578Baxter (left) and Arutkin (right) battling it out. | Photo courtesy: Starboard

With unwavering determination, Connor held on to his advantage, catching each available bump to maintain his momentum. The absence of drafting allowed each paddler to choose their own path, and Connor expertly navigated the course, claiming a comfortable lead ahead of Arthur Arutkin by the midway point. Despite the wind lightening up and swells diminishing, Connor's strategic approach ensured he finished strong, victorious in the downwind race, earning yet another Gorge Paddle Challenge victory.

The following day, the course race unfolded in gusty conditions, demanding a strategic approach and unwavering focus. Connor showcased his tactical prowess, conserving energy while battling for the top spot alongside his competitors. With relentless determination, he sprinted towards the finish line, securing the overall title at the 2023 Gorge Paddle Challenge, reaffirming his position as a stand-up paddleboarding legend.

Fiona Wylde's Triumphs and Community Spirit

Fiona Wylde Wins 7th Gorge Paddle Challenge Title 1193Fiona Wylde on her way to her 7th Gorge victory. | Photo courtesy: Starboard

As the Gorge Paddle Challenge celebrated its 12th year, Fiona Wylde, another standout athlete, demonstrated a profound commitment to the event's values - competitive racing, community engagement, youth progression, and celebrating the exceptional conditions of Hood River.

Fiona's journey at the Gorge Paddle Challenge began with the Downwinder race, where she exhibited her remarkable paddling prowess. Surging ahead of a stacked elite women's fleet, including world champions like Candice Appleby and Seychelle Webster, Fiona caught each bump with precision and earned a substantial lead. However, it was her involvement with the community that set her performance apart. Encouraging and cheering on her fellow Wylde Wind & Water JET Team paddlers and parents, Fiona showcased the essence of camaraderie that embodies the event.

The Technical Course race unfolded as a gripping showdown, with Fiona leading the pack for a significant portion of the first lap. Navigating the course's challenging sections, she exhibited strategic decision-making and determination, finishing with a commendable second place. Fiona's stellar performance across both races secured her the overall title at the Gorge Paddle Challenge for an impressive 7th time, a testament to her dedication and exceptional skills.

2023 Gorge Wylde Wind Water Kids Clinic 95Wylde Wind & Water Clinic. | Photo courtesy: Starboard

Celebrating the Sport and the Community

The 2023 Gorge Paddle Challenge celebrated not only exceptional athletic achievements but also the vibrant community spirit that thrives within the paddling world. Connor Baxter and Fiona Wylde's remarkable performances embodied the core values of the event - perseverance, sportsmanship, and unity among athletes and fans alike.

Both athletes expressed their gratitude to the community and their sponsors for their unwavering support, contributing to their success and inspiring future generations of stand-up paddlers.

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Last modified onFriday, 28 July 2023 12:23

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