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Scott Walsh on the Double Damned 2022

by David Schmidt 3 Aug 08:00 PDT August 6, 2022
Jack chases Rufless - 2015 Double Damned © Sparky the Whaler

When the conversation turns to breeze-on One Design and handicap racing on fresh water, it doesn't take long for someone in the know to mention the Double Damned. This now-classic Pacific Northwest event is hosted by the Hood River Yacht Club, in Hood River, Oregon, and unfurls on the mighty Columbia River. This year's event is set to unfurl on Saturday, August 6, and promises high-speed and big-breeze fun for all involved.

The event is open to all monohulls and multihulls with a valid PHRF rating. According to the NOR, the event will score One Design classes if they have a minimum of five boats entered.

The race begins on a stretch of river near the Cascade Locks and (quickly) takes the fleet to a finishing line off The Dalles. Racing begins at 1000 hours, and crews have until 2000 hours to cross the finishing line.

I checked in with Scott Walsh, race director of the Double Damned 2022 regatta, via email, to learn more about this classic big-breeze One Design regatta.

Can you please tell us a bit about the Double Damned 2022, how it got its colorful moniker, its history and culture, and the kinds of boats and sailors that one can expect to find here?

The Double Damned has been running since 2008, and its name comes from the racecourse, which starts at the Bonneville Damn, and races downwind up river to The Dalles Damn.

We generally get our thermal breeze that averages 25 knots that time of year, which attracts sailors and crews that are looking for a thrilling ride in some of the most beautiful Pacific Northwest landscapes you can find.

Boats range from 40-year-old [ultralight displacement boats] from the [San Francisco] Bay area all the way up to Grand Prix programs looking to take their shot blasting through the Gorge.

No matter the level of competition, everyone always has fun sharing their hero stories at our clubhouse after eating a few tacos and [nursing] their wounds with an ice-cold drink.

What kinds of numbers and interest levels are you seeing ahead of the 2022 event compared with previous editions?

This is our first year running this event since Covid, so we are expecting smaller numbers than previous editions.

How many boats are you expecting on the starting line(s) of this year's regatta? Also, how many classes do you and the other event organizers plan to score?

We currently have 11 boats registered primarily Moore 24's and J/70's, but are expecting quite a few more before race day.

Generally speaking, what kinds of conditions can sailors expect on the Columbia River in early August?

Conditions tend to be warm and windy. The Columbia River Gorge is known for its high winds and big waves, which is what attracts the numerous different windsports.

It's a pretty safe bet that there will be west winds ranging from [ballpark] 15 knots at the start, and most crews will experience 30-plus knots at some point.

Over the 10-plus editions of this race, we have only had to cancel due to no wind once (including a modified course in east wind one year).

Are there any new additions or changes to the 2022 regatta, compared to previous editions?

Again, being the first event since Covid, we are trying to keep it a bit low key.

Our main goal here is to get all of our buddies back to the Gorge, and for us to have a safe and fun rip up the river.

What about onshore entertainment? What can sailors look forward to once the finishing guns have gone silent each day?

After the boats are derigged, and everyone dries-out a bit, we will have one of our amazing local taquerias cater a fun party back at the Hood River Yacht Club (dressed-up garden shed).

There's probably going to be a keg and some mixed drinks along with some fun and cool awards.

Can you please tell us about any efforts that the club has made over the last year or two to further green-up the regatta and make it an even more sustainable event?

We have ordered reusable metal regatta printed cups for the event.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add, for the record?

We're excited to see the HRYC pop back onto people's calendars. In addition to this year's Double Damned, we're also running a Hood River Yacht Club One Design Regatta which will primarily be J/70's this year.

We are all working hard on growing our amazing sport in our area, and look forward to more people getting to experience it!

[Finally,] we are hosting our first ever Hood River One Design regatta on August 13-14: Starting in 2023, we are going to try kicking "Gorge Race Week" off with an OD regatta, followed by the Double Damned.

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