This past weekend was the Canadian Downwind Championships in Squamish, BC. Location was absolutely gorgeous, the Squamish fjord winds back into a glacial valley north of the city of Vancouver and dead-ends with the huge Squamish Cheif rock mass looming over the water. The wind is funnelled through the fjord and builds as you get closer to the Chief.
Starboard Dream Team rider Fiona Wylde headed north to complete at this fun event and scores a first place in the women’s field and a second overall, behind only Lincoln Dews. Here’s Fiona recount of how the weekend of paddling in beautiful Canada went:
“My welcome to Vancouver was incredible! I hosted two clinics, one with adults and one with the Deep Cove DART Kids Paddle Team. It was an absolute blast to share the water and paddle knowledge with people who are so passionate about paddling. Even though I was the one teaching the clinics, I learned a lot as well.
Luckily for the race, we had wind! Little whitecaps dotted the glacial blue water and I knew it was going to be a fun race. It was a 21km Downwind race from Porteau Cove to the town of Squamish. All stand up paddlers started together and off the start, I was in the top pack of the men. We all headed out sideways to the wind to get ourselves into the wind line as fast as possible. Everybody started surfing bumps to the left. I caught a couple to the left, but then linked a few to the right and surfed away from the main pack and was on my own, which is tricky because you don’t know who is ahead. The bumps got picked and my focused improved- connecting one bump after another. There is one point called Watt’s Point which is about 17km into the race. At this point, Lincoln Dews was way out in front, but because I took a slightly more inside line, I rounded the point in second. I was so excited!! There was about 2km of flatwater paddling with side wind before the bumps line up again heading into the finish. I looked back and there was a pack of 6 boys chasing me down. I put my head down and kept paddling hard. I got back into the pumps and made the gap bigger again, finishing second overall.
It was a good race for me because it truly showed me how important technique is. I’m nowhere near as strong as some of the other guys, but being able to pay attention and read the water carried me far. I also really enjoyed this race and was having a lot of fun. That combination has been helping me in a lot of races this year, and I think it’s key to remember that I love this, and when I’m having the most fun, I do my best.
Directly after the race on Saturday, I ran up with Chief with a few friends. My legs were feeling it, but I felt it had to be done on my first visit to Squamish. The sunset was amazing. The following day we spent the whole day in the mountains, logging 16km, lots of vertical elevation and many smiles running through rivers, rocks, snow and rain!
It was a true outdoors weekend in Canada! Huge thanks to everybody involved, Deep Cove Kayak Center, Trident Sports, Tim, Shelly, Krista, Gordi, Leif and of course the organizers of the Canadian Downwind Champs!!
Heading home to Hood River now and I’ll be racing in the Gorge Downwind Champs this week.”