Washougal draws top paddleboard racers

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Some of the best standup paddleboard racers from this region and beyond are expected in Washougal on Sunday for the SUP Salmon Classic.

The first-time event at Cottonwood Beach will feature 8- and 4-mile races on the Columbia River. For elite-level racers, the event's 8-mile course is sanctioned by the World Paddleboard Association, which means participants can earn points toward a national championship. The fastest man and fastest woman will each earn $2,000.

The 8-mile race for top-flight paddleboarders kicks off the competition at 10 a.m. The course will take competitors west to Steamboat Landing before they paddle back upriver to finish at Cottonwood Park.

"With the current and the wind, the coarse will provide a variety of conditions," race director Terry Click said.

The 4-mile race starts at 10:45 a.m. so that participants in both races will reach the finish line at about the same time. The 2-mile course for novice and youth paddleboarders is at noon.

An offshoot of surfing, paddleboard racing has gained poularity over the past decade, according to Click.

Sunday's event will include paddleboard demonstrations and clinics after the competition. There is no charge for spectators. In addition to the racing, the event includes music, food vendors and paddleboard industry vendors.

Click said he expects a number of professionals to participate, including paddle boarders from around the country. Many of them competed in the Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge last weekend in Hood River, Ore.

Those who wish to race can register during a pre-race party from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday at Reflection Plaza in Washougal. The cost to race is $75 for the long course and $50 for the short course. Those who register Sunday morning will pay $10 more.

The event website is www.supsalmonclassic.com.