After a brutal build-up to the Molokai2Oahu paddleboard championships that saw him hospitalized twice before coming away with bronze, surf ironman Matt Poole deserved a break. But instead, he took the opportunity to head to mainland USA and test his skills against California’s best ocean men before taking on something a little more unique and charging some unforgiving river rapids and waterfalls up Oregon way.
RB: Pooley! You didn’t waste any time getting back in the water after Molokai. You cleaned up at Huntington Beach Waterman's Festival...
MP: Huntington was super fun! After such a big season, I partied a lot and paddled a little - which wasn't ideal preparation for the Quiksilver Waterman’s Festival but was all good in the end! It was such a cool event put on with the brain of Jamie Mitchell and I was psyched to pay off my bar tab and put some money in the bank for the trip to Oregon after winning the surf swim race, prone paddleboard race and the dash for cash. I came away with like $2k USD and a solid tan!
Hitting those Oregon rapids on your knees looked pretty gnarly. Any near-death moments?
I didn't realize how fun Oregon was going to be! Day one, we dropped some rapids without any river experience and no idea on the depths or power of the water. We had a ton of fun and some good stories but we broke two boards and put some solid speed holes in another! Haha. They were our race boards - fiberglass, not built for rocks and rapids! Day three, we teamed up with my Red Bull buddy from Mexico, Rafa Ortiz, and we bombed a category five waterfall called "Husum" in Washington. Of course, I was the test dummy and went first, but came away unscathed believe it or not. Haha. But as for Abby and Jonas, the crew I was with, they both got sketchy hold downs and got pushed real deep! Maybe like 20 second hold -downs and got pinned under water beneath a rock! We stopped doing Rapids after that…
You hit some pretty heavy white cap runs down the river, too...
The down-wind paddling in Oregon was the best in the world! The ice-melt from the mountain goes down stream and the heat from summer causes the wind to run through the mountains against the current of the river, which creates these CRAZY standing waves perfect for paddling downstream - eight miles of white cap runs! The camp fire stories around the fire pit at night were hilarious. We bought pellet guns from BASS pro shop and after a couple and some liquid confidence we had some funny wild west shoot-outs. I took a couple shots point blank just to leave a memory of the trip that was! Haha.
You did some skurfing, too. Behind a steamer?
That was insane! It's called a stern wheel boat and it’s a one-hour round trip. We got on the wake of the boat and literally surfed a wave for an hour up and down Hood River. On our left was Oregon and on the right side of the river is Washington. Legs were killing but it was so much fun!
Now it’s back to Aus to prep for another surf ironman season, yeah?
Yep, the party’s over. But, I might be coming back to the US at the end of September to race in the Pacific Paddle Games at Dana Point. It's a huge event on the SUP calendar and this year there’s some good coin on the prone races. Those USDs might be helpful in replacing those board I broke on the rapids..