Wanda Fuca Downwinder

Influenced by Bill Walker’s Da Fuca Downwinder, the Wanda Fuca Downwinder is the same course but named after a favorite (former) beer brewed near Port Angeles, WA. The Da Fuca Downwinder was a 13.5 mile race which started before the Elwha Dam removal and ran for a few years.

Post dam removal, the Elwha River mouth has since extended out several hundred more feet and the mouth is alive with rich marine wildlife.

The mouth is also known for having surf which may influence the race if the swell is firing. Check out Port Angeles marine scientist Ian Miller’s blog on the changing river delta during dam removal.

The race route starts from the Freshwater Bay boat ramp and goes down the Strait of Juan de Fuca to finish in downtown Port Angeles.  The course will be reversed if wind is going the opposite direction. West and East winds are both common on the Strait.

The Wanda Fuca Downwinder can be an epic run if swell and westerly wind are working together. The Strait’s tidal current runs fast like a river on larger exchanges.




Some proceeds donated to the Feiro Marine Life Center in Port Angeles. 
DISTANCE: 13.5 miles from the Freshwater Bay Boat ramp to Hollywood Beach in Port Angeles.
DATE: 2021 – TBA
WATERCRAFT – All human powered paddling and rowing craft. Must be able to finish the course under 3 hours.
PFD, leash for all craft, tethered VHF radio, dress for conditions, hi-vis clothing and downwind and open water skills. *Must have experience in open water and ocean conditions.

Start Protocol for Phase 2:

Following current WA State Outdoor Rec Phase 2 Guidelines, we are allowed to launch a wave of 10-15 racers every minute for 200 racers. But.. Since 200 racers will be nuts to properly distance in the parking lot we are sticking to 100 this year. Slowest craft start first.

VERY IMPORTANT – Covid-19 Safety Measures in Place.

  • Per State Guidelines we will have a Covid-19 sanitation and hand cleaning station at the start.
  • Masks will be required to be worn in the parking lot and shore areas and by safety crew on-water when in close contact with participants.
  • You will be assigned a start time for your heat.  Aside from the first (slower craft heat), all heats will be set by type of water craft.
  • Please follow our onsite guidelines to stay distanced on shore and when entering the water. Stay clear of the start area if your heat isn’t immediately.
  • Do not attend if you’re feeling sick and/or have a temp. No refund permitted if so.
  • Life jackets required to be worn by all participants. Leashes as well for SUPs.  Recommend a reliable communication device and hi-vis colors.

Who Should Attend

  • Open to all human powered paddling craft – Row, SUP, kayak, surf ski, outrigger, prone, peddle.
  • Advanced paddlers who are familiar paddling in tidal currents. *See Participant Requirements below.  Must know how to swim.
  • Must be able to finish course in 2 hours
  • Seeking experienced Safety Boaters (power or paddle) to be stationed along the course. Must know how to use a VHF and can rescue in rough water.
  • Per Phase 2 Guidelines, no spectators at the starting line area for distancing.
Get Downwind and Open Water Paddling Skills:

Skill Prerequisites: Advanced

You should have proven skills in ocean and open water paddling, surfing and rough water skills.  You should know how to swim. This is not a race for beginners. Ocean swell could range from 2′ to 10′.  We will not hold the race if the wind is over 30kts.  

Lifejackets and leashes required to participate as well as a VHF radio and hi-vis clothing. We recommend cold water clothing as the Strait runs colder than Puget Sound. 

Race Details:

Date: 2021 TBA

Number of Participants: 100 for Phase 2 with segmented 1 min separation between heats

Location: Freshwater Bay to Port Angeles

Distance: 13.5m

Cost: tba


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