Ways of the wind: Alas, summer is officially over

Sept. 22 marked the autumn equinox and the technical end of the summer season. It is hard to believe that another Gorge summer is down in the books; and what a windy season it was.

A drier than usual spring brought big west winds early in the season. April was filled with big days in the Eastern Gorge, and May saw its fair share of high winds in the Corridor. This set the tone for the summer, with June following suit nicely and July hitting a home run.

“July 2013 will go down in the boardhead record books as one of the windiest months the Gorge has seen since the invention of epoxy resin and neoprene,” said by Adam Lapierre in an earlier Hood River News article summarizing the economic benefits of a Gorge summer full of wind and sunshine.

To add to the buzz, specifically in the windsurfing realm, the 2013 summer saw the resurgence of a couple classic Gorge Events. First was the Blowout, a 17-mile downwind race from Stevenson to Hood River. This year it was organized by the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association and held in conjunction with Windfest. Almost 50 windsurfer and SUP athletes signed up for the grueling race, and although conditions were challenging, there was a good vibe from the participants and spectators alike. The Blowout truly is a key part of a successful wind season in the Gorge.

The second event revival occurred in mid-July. The CGWA was stoked to team up with the American Windsurfing Tour to organize the Freestyle Frenzy, an event that had not happened since 2008. Xensr, a 3D GPS sports tracking device, stepped up to sponsor the event and provide their technology to hold a Jump-Off portion of the event, in which competitors push the limits of how high they can jump while being precisely tracked by Xensr devices.

The Freestyle Frenzy was a huge success. The local pros were set to defend their home turf from a talented group that traveled to the event from six different countries. This event brought a noticeable buzz around town and the greater windsurfing community. People from all walks of the Gorge showed up at the Hatchery to check out the elite action. In the end, Gorge locals prevailed with Bryan Metcaf-Perez, Ingrid Larouche, Mitch Gingrich, and Dale Cook standing at the top of the podium in their respective divisions.

The CGWA’s annual fun, goofy, old-school, freestyle windsurfing event, King of the Hook, wrapped-up the summer nicely. A great group of sailors and spectators turned up to make for a fun evening. Some King of the Hook legends such as Brian Schurton, Jon Davies and Jacquie Barone showed up in full force. Thanks to the generous support of Andrew’s Pizza, Mike’s Ice Cream, Dakine, and Chinook, everyone at the event, competitors and spectators alike, were able to walk away with at least one prize.

The combination of spectacular conditions and fun events has helped carry the great history of windsurfing in the Gorge through another season. It is hard to calculate exactly how many windsurfers were here, but there seemed to be a resurgence of the sport this season.

Dave Nunn, owner of Windance Boardshop (which recently won AWSI windsurf retailer of the year), says this: “A classic indicator is the parking situation on windy days; the lots are always full at the Hatch and Doug’s. My favorite, though, was in late July when a customer just walked in and turned their blistered hands palms up on the counter and said, ‘I can’t take it anymore!”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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