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Hot, popular Flugtag gets cool reception from Coast Guard

UPDATE: Team 'I Dream of Jeannie' wins competition cut short by river traffic

TRIBUNE PHOTO: DIEGO DIAZ - Team Air Pug came in sixth.This is where we insert a variation of an old Johnny Carson “Tonight Show” joke: Portland’s Red Bull Flugtag event Saturday afternoon was very popular.

(This is where you say:) “How popular was it, Johnny?”

“It was soooo popular that the U.S. Coast Guard shut it down for blocking Willamette River traffic.”

No joke. The Coast Guard told organizers of the wacky Aug. 1 event at about 3 p.m. that they would have to stop for the day because commercial vessels couldn’t get past all the boats that had gathered near Tom McCall Waterfront Park to see the wild parade of “flying” machines launch from a ramp into the river at the RiverPlace Marina.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: DIEGO DIAZ - A hydroboard demonstration before the competition blasted around the river near the dozens of boats that jammed into the Willamette River to watch the event.Flugtag organizers estimated that about 86,000 people watched the event from the riverbank and from dozens of boats on the river near the Hawthorne Bridge. The boats, which were bunched together in a colorful party vibe, were the reason the Coast Guard shut the event down. The Portland Spirit cruise ship complained to the Coast Guard that its vessel could not get past the glob of spectator boats, so the event was cut short.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: DIEGO DIAZ - Team 503 Adventuremobile placed fifth.Before that happened, however, 41 teams from across the U.S. and Canada used their human-powered machines to “fly” off the ramp and make a spectacular belly flop into the river.

Team “I Dream of Jeannie” (Andy Frank, Bill Brownlee, Rich McDonald, Chris Sturges and Craig Anderson) won with a flight of 84 feet. Team McFly (Anthony Nguyen, Rob Hill, Chris Moore, Brandon Blair and Jason Hill) placed second. Rings of Fire (Dean Mingee, Laura Froelke, Katie Emery, Anton Emery, Tia Skerbeck, Mel and Tom Gildow, Charity Canaday, Jess Chang and Xia Xi) took third.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: DIEGO DIAZ - Team Kells tried to fly, but didn't go very far.The People’s Choice Award went to Los Angeles’s Team NghtBrnd.

“We had so many moving parts and a lot to coordinate, so I wasn’t sure if everything was going to work out as planned, but it actually did,” said Andy Frank, “I Dream of Jeannie” team captain. “Flying was my favorite part of the experience today.”

Judges for the event were Gregory Gourdet (executive chef at Departure), Ben Ferguson (2015 Transworld Snowboarding’s Rookie of the Year), Nate Herse (captain of the world record-holding team, the “Chicken Whisperers”), Will Claye (two-time Olympic medalist), Jesse Thomas (triathlete), local Trailblazers stunt team member Ashley and citizen judge Brandon Beaty.

It was the third time the Red Bull Flugtag has been in the Rose City.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: DIEGO DIAZ - Team Montucky also took a dive into the river.