By Randy Robbins

Special to the Pilot

Last weekend Gold Beach hosted the fifth stop on the Cal-Ore River Racers-My Circle-K/Colvin Oil hydroplane series: the Lower Rogue Challenge.

The tour’s previous stop at Rogue River was canceled earlier this year.

While the sun played peekaboo with the clouds, the sometimes obnoxious Gold Beach wind chilled out long enough to give all 13 drivers a fighting chance. Not that it mattered much as top racer Roger Sanderson of Hoopa, California, took the first-place once again.

Jesse Rinehart and Matt Richardson of Grants Pass finished second and third respectively.

The course started at Lex’s Landing near the mouth of the Rogue and concluded at Huntley Park seven miles up river.

As Sanderson finished knifing his sleek hydroplane through the water he successfully completed the three-lap, six-leg race faster than everyone else to nab the checkered flag and notch his 52nd career victory in an impressive hydroplane career. Sanderson is squarely in the driver’s seat for his third consecutive Cal-Ore High Point Championship.

Some guys make it look easy.

Sanderson has long had the reputation as the driver to beat among the Cal-Ore crowd. Points don’t lie and the Hoopa speedster owns more of them than anyone else, sitting atop the competition with 2,406 going into this race. The Gold Beach win also gives Sanderson a trifecta of sorts after winning his last two outings, the previous one to this one coming at the Hoopa Hydro Heritage over Fathers Day in Hoopa California.

Sanderson won the 2016 Lower Rogue Challenge, but was forced out of last years contest after hitting a misplaced rock. Recapturing his mojo, the 2016 Lower Rogue River champion got his crown back by beating second place finisher Justin Hood. Hood had a huge race in his own right coming from out of the middle of the pack in Cal-Ore total points to be a contender.

The tour’s next stop will be in Klamath, California Aug. 18-19 and the tour will conclude with a Labor Day race in Grants Pass.

This article was written with information provided by Jay Reese of Corra Media.