CGWA Board Member Notes, Vol. II

CGWA Board Member Notes

Vol. II by Mike Schock

A weekly column from CGWA board members to you.

  • Event site June 9, 2013.  Sensor is on the Oregon shore, wind is significantly stronger on the river, especially on the Washington side.  Source, iWindsurf.

I’ve been living in or visiting the Gorge for the past 30 years and I can honestly say that I’m as passionate about the wind and the Gorge as I was on my very first visit.  That first trip to the Gorge was in 1983, when I drove up from Portland with a friend.  He’d heard stories of this great place with strong and steady wind.  Arriving in Hood River, we went straight to the Marina Beach.  Neither one of us sailed that day; instead we sat on the beach mesmerized by what we saw.  Coming from a big board, up-haul background, there was a sense of speed and freedom I’d never witnessed.  Enhancing the experience was the incredible beauty of the area with twin snow covered peaks and sun sparkling off the water.  I didn’t sail that day but I was hooked…

In the spring of 1984, I drove I-84 from Portland back to the Gorge, my big board and single (equally big) sail ready to shred.  Way over-powered and in a light wetsuit, I struggled for hours just to get out of the middle of the cold, challenging river, eventually washing in on the west side of the Hood River (no foot bridge) and thumbing a ride back to the Marina.  At that moment, I could have quit windsurfing.  Instead, I do what I still do; I went out and bought new equipment – sails and a board.

For a couple of years the Marina was “the” beach, back before it filled in with sand.  The next launch I remember was Swell City, then Doug’s Beach, Home Valley and Roosevelt.   Equipment has changed rapidly, technology improved wind forecasting and Hood River has become a very cool town.  For 17 years, I commuted from Portland to the Gorge, weekends and weekdays – whenever the wind was blowing.

I’ve been lucky enough to be a Gorge resident since 2000 and now my commute is to Portland and back home to the Gorge – a much better drive.  I sail Cascade custom boards, 2012 Northwave sails, Chinook booms, Nolimitz masts and wear Promotion wetsuits – all Gorge companies.  And when I’m not working or windsurfing, hanging out in Hood River is awesome, with its plethora of local brew pubs and wineries.  There’s no shortage of things to do here.  Thirty years have brought huge changes to Hood River, but what hasn’t changed is the wind.

Just this morning, the wind was howling, the house was shaking and the trees were singing.  Our bedroom was a swirling breeze and I was, of course, up at first light.  Thirty years and I’m still possessed by the wind.  It digs deep into me and gets me giggly excited, just like it did years ago when I was camping in the back of a pick-up.  Today was the one of the better days.  I sailed my 3.7 fully powered for almost three hours – right from the waterfront park.  Jibed on big swell, clocked airtime and was stoked the whole time.  Afterwards, my lovely wife came by with the dog and we had lunch at the Sandbar, beer and fish tacos.  From a beach 30 years ago to the Sandbar café today, it’s been a fun and enjoyable ride.

If you too are possessed by the wind and find sanctuary for your addiction in the Gorge, look for me and let’s share a little shred time.