Wednesday, July 13, 2016
An increasingly popular big-air kiteboarding competition located near Rufus for the past three summers will not be held this season as organizers take time off to assess the future of the event.
Normally held in mid- or late July, Hood River Huck Fest is on hiatus, according to event organizer Mike Duhaime. The grassroots competition was started by local kiteboarders in 2013 as a way to lend credence to the “fish stories” told by kiteboarders about how much air they got off a jump. Huck Fest riders would be outfitted with telemetry devices that would record jump height, hang time, G-force, and other data — all integrated with a smartphone app. That information would then be relayed to judges, who would keep track of the data to determine a winner. Last year’s event drew nearly 60 competitors.
The problem, Duhaime said, is that manufacturers “are still working out the kinks,” on their devices’ technology, and there were difficulties in confirming some of the data from the sensors, making it too difficult to have a competition.
“Well, having only a certain amount of devices allowed us to run heats of five riders, then have one heat on deck while we got the readings from the previous heats,” he explained. “Not having the capability to put a second device or have some way to double check and confirm the reading left us just having to trust this new technology.”
Duhaime also said there was some other uncertainty as to whether foilboards — a newcomer to Huck Fest last year — were getting the same reading as traditional-style kiteboards, because foilboards sit higher above the water and have smoother take-offs and landings.
Duhaime added that he approached some of the device manufacturers, as well as other locals to see if they would take on the event, but nobody was interested. As a result, Duhaime consulted with the Columbia Gorge Kiteboarding Association about the event — CGKA sponsors the insurance and entry fees go toward prize money and a CGKA membership, he explained. Both parties agreed it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take a year off from the event to gauge the interest of continuing it and to see what directions the devices go in.
“Hopefully, people aren’t too bummed about it and we can come back in 2017,” Duhaime said.