Fred Noble Interview

Fred Noble

If you like what we do here at the CGWA you owe some degree of gratitude to Fred Noble.  Fred was among the earliest windsurfers in the Gorge and with his cowboy-get-it-done attitude, led the charge in site access, creation, and maintenance.  His recent diagnosis with ALS has turned his focus away from windsurfing.  The same attitude he had with windsurfing in the 1980s and 1990s, he has applied to ALS research.  On April 13th Fred is helping to organize the Ski To Defeat ALS event at Mt. Hood Meadows.  Check out their website here.

We recently got the chance to chat with Fred about his involvement in Gorge Windsurfing and what he is up to now.  Check out what he had to say below.


How long have you been living in the Gorge? I live in Portland but have been recreating in the Gorge since 1960. I worked bridge construction on Interstate 84 back in 1957. I used to curse the wind and got my first taste of the power of wind trying to carry a 4×8 sheet of plywood on the bridge deck.

When did you first start Windsurfing?  1983.  I carried my board to out of state construction sites and sailed local lakes after work

Where was your favorite sailing sight when you first started windsurfing in the Gorge? Wherever the wind was blowing and away from the crowds.  That’s how I discovered some of the sites we now use

What was your earliest involvement with the CGWA?  1984.  Back then I think it was Columbia Gorge Boardsailing Association.  I lasted one meeting as it was focused on racing and I wanted to do some development for the people. Nobody listened to me or my friend Marcia Buser, so we never returned.

I decided I did not want to join a club and go to meetings, so I struck out on my own cutting grass at Home Valley and cleaning up the beach. We wandered around and discovered other areas and started doing the same thing.. Mosier, Rowena, Viento, Event Site, Celilo, Rufus and Arlington are just a part of the big picture

What were the largest hurdles the CGWA had to get over in the early days?  Whenever I had an idea I was told we can’t do that or that won’t work.  No one was willing to work with us and the locals said windsurfing is only a fad and we should all pack up and go away. Agencies had no money, so I took it upon myself and with the help of CGWA, Peg Lawler and Ross Gardner we implemented a plan to accomplish many things.  Of course I never asked for permission and just did whatever I wanted to do with the help of friends. I am sure that today we would be breaking a few laws.

What was your largest accomplishment with the CGWA? Inspiring many people to get involved

Where did you envision the CGWA going when you were first involved?  I never gave it a thought, just wanted a place to sail.

Where do you see the CGWA going in the next 10 years? Don’t know, I left because for me there was a lot of politics involved and we reverted back to we can’t do this and we need permission to do that and we have to be careful so we don’t alienate people. Some people did not want improvements at their favorite site because it attracted more people. I figured I put in some 20 plus years and needed to move on

When were you diagnosed with ALS? December 2010

Tell us about how you’re involved with ALS awareness and research? It is in my DNA to help others.  ALS (Lou Gehrigs Disease) is a terrible disease on average, end of life is two to five years. There is no cure and we strive every day to build awareness, and raise funds. The ALS Association also supports us by walking us through all the battles we are facing, loaning us adaptive equipment, helping out with insurance issues and having monthly support group meetings.

In one year 67 of my fellow Oregon ALS patients died and the same amount was diagnosed. Every time I go to support group I wonder who is next ?

To see how you can get involved visit

In addition two dedicated CGWA board members will be leading the charge, skiing laps all day long on April 13th.  If you would like to donate directly to these two you can do so by clicking on their names bellow.

Patrick Quigley – Team Fredinator

David Ojala – Team CGWA