Parks and Rec., CGWA team up to offer youth windsurfing classes

By ADAM LAPIERRE

News staff writer

July 8, 2006

Windsurfing can be an expensive sport to get into. From lessons, wetsuits and safety equipment to sails, masts, booms and boards, the price of new equipment needed to get on the water can be a few thousand dollars when everything is added up.

And once one has all the necessary gear, there’s no telling how long it will take to learn how to use it. For many, especially local youngsters and their parents, the initial cost of the sport is enough to deter them from learning how to windsurf in one of the windsurfing capitals of the world.

To encourage more locals to get into the sport, many Hood River shops and schools offer lessons, with gear included, at reasonable rates. Cheaper, used gear is also available at many of the same shops.

Another option for kids, which is relatively new, is to learn to windsurf through the Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District and the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association. The two groups have teamed up to provide windsurfing lessons and sessions to Gorge kids (about 10-18 year olds) for an extremely low cost.

The HRVPRD program comes first, as anyone wanting to windsurf with the CGWA program must first complete the beginning level with Parks and Rec., or a comparative other program. Once participants have completed that level, they can join the CGWA’s every Tuesday windsurfing nights.

The HRVPRD program costs $40 for 12 hours of lesson and equipment. Each 12-hour lesson is broken up into three days, with sessions running from July 10-13, 17-20, 24-27, July 31-Aug. 3, Aug. 7-10 and 14-17. Morning classes will go from 9 a.m. to noon and the afternoon session will be from 1-4 p.m.

Lessons are given by certified instructors at the Hook, with beginning, intermediate and advanced courses available. Quality equipment, small class sizes and skilled instruction make the program a safe and fun way to learn how to shred the Columbia in style. Skills that will be taught will include the basics like understanding the equipment and uphauling to tacking, jibing, harness use and sailing in heavy winds.

After completing at least the beginning level of the HRVPRD program, or one similar to it, kids can then participate in the CGWA Tuesday night sessions at the Hook. Sessions will run from 4-6:30 p.m. every Tuesday, starting June 20 and lasting to Aug. 22.

According to the CGWA, the goal of the program is to help provide a safe and fun environment where youth can develop their windsurfing skills get in the mix with young rippers. Tuesday night sessions are not meant to teach windsurfing, but to provide kids the opportunity to practice and improve their skills. Participants should already be able to beach start, uphaul, sail out and return to the same place.

Due to donations from Ezzy, Sailworks, Naish Sails, Storm Warning/World Sails, Hi-Fly, Dakine, Chinook, Big Winds and the Port of Hood River, a shed full of sails, boards, wetsuits, harnesses, helmets, and booties is available for use.

How to join:

To sign up for the HRVPRD program, stop by the Hood River Aquatics Center (17th Street and May). Kids must take a free swim test, which consists of swimming 25 yards using the front crawl and treading water for two minutes. Once that is completed, participants can register for the above sessions.

The CGWA Tuesday evening sessions are simple: show up at the Hook around 4 p.m. on a Tuesday, find the CGWA/community windsurfing trailer and check out gear with one of the supervisors. For more info on the CGWA program, visit:

http://windsurf.gorge.net/cgwa/youthnights.htm

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