Sunday, June 23, 2013

Summertime Gorge ~ Windsport ~ Radar

Nick Allen, Casey Hauser, Tyson Poor, Ingrid Larouche
photo by Trudy Lary
Strong consistent wind, a unique opposing river current and a local support community that caters to a visitor's needs for gear, food and shelter are why the Columbia River Gorge is one of our national windsurfing treasures. In the Gorge it's easy to rent gear, feed your face, enjoy a post sesh beverage and find a place to spend the night. On mainland USA, there is no other place like it where the windsurfing industry is so well dug in and able to offer a cornucopia of gear. This year, the volume of Gorge reporting in social media seems elevated; or maybe it's just the summer revival that happens every year when the area swings back into full throttled action mode. If you're planning a visit or have moved in for the season, here's a guide of sorts to help you get connected.

Speaking of guides, your first stop for news should always be Temira Wagonfeld's The Gorge is my Gym. And what's the biggest story everyday? The wind. Temira does a daily forecast plus a full sports spectrum report of upcoming events, happenings, food reviews and gossip. You can subscribe to her daily reports via email.

The most active and engaged organization in American windsurfing is the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association. They actually pay their president a reasonable salary. Their signature event and major fundraising source is the Gorge Windfest which features gear demos, clinics, free beginner lessons, swap meet, food and drink, music, windsurfing glitterati and the Blow Out Race. This busy organization also puts on the goofy King of the Hook multiple swap meets, runs the Gorge Groms program and now offers a weekly board member notes blog.

After a 5 year hiatus, the Freestyle Frenzy is returning to the Hatchery thanks to the AWT, Xensr, and the CGWA.

Over here on the mainland, there is no other place with this density of retailers where you can see, touch, try on and demo the product before you buy it. One of the Gorge retailing ancients (started 1987), Big Winds, is fully engaged in teaching, renting and selling gear. Two ways they promote their business and the popular water sports of the area is with their blog and Facebook. Big Winds is a worthy business model to emulate because of their success at blending making a living and the passion for water sports. Below is an inside view of their richly appointed store.

Check out the Gorge Community Guide, a directory of all things windsurfing with 28 different listings.
Windsport  ~ The Photo Issue, a Special Collector's Edition, arrived in my mailbox a few days ago. Of all the categories of news items shared on DaNews FB, photos and their albums get the lowest traffic so I was a little concerned about a photo issue. But once I started thumbing through it, I found it full of how to technique, gear reviews, travel features and a few extra photos. The 98 pages of this issue also got me wondering about the impact of the closing of  Windsurfng magazine almost a year and a half ago. What happened to all those subscribers? Real subscription numbers are a closely guarded secret but Windsurfing probably had around 10,000 subscribers. Did they all abandon print media? Or did most of them subscribe to both? It would be nice to see Windsport expand its number of issues and or the number of pages per issue. But for that to happen, the Mag probably needs more advertisers and subscribers.
Radar ~ Good news from the PWA: they expect to be Live Streaming from Pozo, Gran Canaria, July 9 - 14. Pozo is only 4 hours ahead of the east coast US, so grab your coffee and link up. Just in case you've been off planet for a couple of decades, here's why Pozo deserves your attention. And for some exciting build up to the event, stay in touch with Ben Proffitt's brilliant video reports via his Training Diaries

At the recent US Kiteboard Nationals held in San Francisco, 7 of the top 10 finishers were riding Mikes Lab Boards. Out of the entire fleet of 75 competitors, 47 rode Mike Zajicek boards. Don't worry, Mike still makes windsurfing boards.

There is nothing conventional about Made Boards. The additive manufacturing process seems like  science fiction. Their promotional campaign has been more poetic than informational. Now they are raising capital for their business via the internet. Have a look at their latest video on Kickstarter.

Kuma Movie is shamelessly laser focused on freestyle. No one else comes close to their volume of video reporting They are currently on Bonaire, where else, completely engaged in what they do so well.

The Kona Worlds are set for June 28 - July 3 at Trois-Rivieres in Quebec. Visit the 2013 Kona Worlds Event Website for details.

Most of us think new gear means made in 2013 and we would be happy to have some. If you'd like to see some 2014 gear, check out the blog Freewide WebKeep paging down for the windsurfing stuff, he also likes bicycles and...   

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