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Windsurfing the Columbia River Gorge

I started windsurfing last year, just like I start many other outdoor sports- first I bought cheap used gear from Craigslist, and then tried to figure out how to use it. After learning how to rig a sailboard and taking a few lessons I was physced to go on my own. The only problem - wind conditions in and around Seattle suck. Most of the time. That's why the most dedicated windsurfers ( those who don't mind a 3 hour drive ) travel from Washington all the way to Hood River in Oregon.

Hood River is a big name in the world of windsurfing and kite boarding. In fact, some call Hood River the windsurfing capital of the world, thanks to the incredible gorge winds that blow along the Columbia River. On an average breezy day, it's typical to see dozens (if not hundreds) of colorful sails dancing across the wide river.

Being frustrated with wind conditions back in Washington, I was looking forward to strong, consistent winds that the Columbia River has to offer. What I didn't expect was the wind conditions to be THAT strong...

If you are a beginner with crappy 15 year old windsurfing equipment, you have absolutely no business on or near the Columbia River.

With ice cold waters, strong fast currents, gusty winds, and heavy shipping traffic, the Gorge is no place for beginners to cut their windsurfing teeth.

I'm not saying "don't go there". I'm saying find an experienced, knowledgeable sailor familiar with windsurfing on the Columbia River.

There are a number of different access points to the river. Unlike other windsurfing spots, the difference of only a few miles can mean huge differences in the wind, water and atmospheric conditions. Speak with the locals to find areas that are most appropriate to your windsurfing skills.

Comparing to kiteboarding, windsurfing is "old school" which means cheaper classes and rentals. The equipment that many local schools have for rent is more advanced and easier to use.

If you feel like you are loosing interest in windsurfing, donate that old worthless p.o.s O'Brien you have, and come to Hood River. Windsurfing on the Columbia River will rejuvenate your passion.



Anonymous said...

Great blog- thanks for talking about Hood River and giving insight to people who don't know how AWESOME the Windsurfing and Kiteboarding is here. Also of note is high-on-the-rise Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP), that I just tried last night, for when the wind isn't blowing (which isn't too often). Next time your out give it a try; rentals are affordable and it's a great Ab/core workout.

ExtraHyperActive said...

I've noticed more people on SUP's...It's definitely easier to learn than kiteboarding or windsurfing, but at the same time on the Columbia it's more challenging than , let's say, on Puget Sound or a lake....