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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