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Board Member Notes: WHY WE WINDSURF – WHAT CGWA IS – AND HOW IT HELPS by Barb Ayers

Elvis nose riderIMG_0729SQUAREWhat is it about the sport of windsurfing that keeps us going, year after year, chasing wind throughout the Gorge and across the globe?

How changing and challenging it can be – from morning to afternoon, different times of year, at different beaches, in different conditions?

The kind of cool outdoor people it brings together?

The way it tests you and makes you grow?

How it thrills you with wild speed, big air, beautiful scenery and grand adventures?

How it connects you with nature, water, cliffs and Gorge river cultures?

How it infuses us with STOKE?

Yes to all of the above!


I’m involved in CGWA because it’s a non profit with the sole focus of helping my favorite sport – improving windsurfing access in the Gorge – improving beaches, educating youth – and hosting watersports events that bring us together to celebrate the Gorge lifestyle and our love of wind and waves.

CGWA has been a non-profit working to help windsurfers have more fun, and have better access to Gorge beaches, for 29 years. Next year, CGWA turns 30! We are a member-supported community benefit organization.

Examples of CGWA’s work:

  • Our latest project is the addition of steps at the middle launch of The Hatchery. The Hatch’s rocky launch is tricky on a good day and getting out with dignity when you’re spent from sailing is even harder.

Our project has been in permitting review with WA State Parks and the Army Corps of Engineers for more than a year and we’re committed to enhancing access at this epicenter of Gorge windsurfing. The goal is to make water entry easier and safer – for you and your gear.

  • CGWA also bought and maintains Swell City, a sailing spot on the Washington side just west of the Hatchery. We were able to do this, thanks to the real estate savvy of Sean Aiken, hard work by our staff and Board – and using BNSF mitigation dollars we manage for the windsurfing community after railway impacts changed Doug’s Beach.
  • CGWA’s Groms program for kids and our new A Team training program for teens is helping to bring young people up through the sport – which is essential to keep the sport healthy– and to give kids a healthy outdoor lifestyle boost.
  • We partnered with Hood River Port and Hood River Parks & Rec to add the new windsurf/SUP ramp access on the west side of The Hook. This launch adds new access for water sports and opens up sailing access to the corridor. We ponied up $70,000 to support this project.

The west Hook launch offers Windsurfers and SUPers an important next step after graduating from the Hook pond – this new launch gets you on the river, while staying away from barge traffic as you move up in the sport. It’s windier and more open than the Hook and it’s a nice step up. When you’re ready to hit the main Columbia, just head on out from the protected inside area between the Hook and Wells Island.

  • Events like Beach Bash (the event formerly known as WindFest,) Gear Swap Meets, King of the Hook, Pray for Wind Party, Freestyle Frenzy and End of Season Party and awards fan the windsurfing stoke.
  • Hosting work parties and sponsoring periodic improvements at Rowena, The Hatchery and other Gorge beaches.
  • Signage, maps, advocacy and education about local sailing sites and enhancing watersports access.

Hopefully we see you at CGWA events – but even if we don’t, your annual CGWA membership, gear or cash donations, business sponsorships – help CGWA continue its important work– as it has for 29 years – ensuring the viability of Gorge windsurfing, now and for future generations.

THANK YOU for your support of CGWA – here so that all of us – and all those to follow – can continue to sail away!

See ya on the water,

Barb Ayers and the Gorge surf dogs,, and CGWA Board Vice President

CGWA Business Partner Highlight


CGWA wants to thank Stonehedge Gardens Restaurant for being the annual sponsor and venue for our Pray for Wind Party, part of summer Beach Bash festivities in June.

Because Stonehedge hosts the Pray for Wind Party for us, we are able to fundraise even more support for the CGWA Grom program, which is teaching the next gen of windsurfers the love of our sport and the great outdoors.

Stonehedge is a killer venue- a beautiful historic home, great for fine dining with an amazing outdoor patio setting, perfect for special events. The patio creates a great mood with twinkle lights, outdoor fire pits, tiki torches, cobblestone floors, live music and of course, great food and drinks.

Also on property is an outdoor wedding venue, tucked into 7 acres of forest woodlands.

Stonehedge has a great happy hour, fantastic menu and wines – nice hospitality – we can’t say enough about these guys. They host weddings, catered events and the owners are very active in the Hood River community.

Special thanks to Mike and Shawna Caldwell for their support of CGWA. Mike’s a windsurfer and has been supportive of the Groms program, which is all about opening up windsurfing for more local youth.

Stonehedge is a perfect stop for your next date or outing – they’re located off Cascade Avenue on Hood River’s west side, near I-84 and Cascade Ave.

Please show Stonehedge your love – next time you are out and about, for happy hour, events or a fantastic meal.

Stonehedge Gardens

3405 Wine Country Avenue

Hood River, Oregon




I-84 to exit 62, right onto Cascade St., next right onto Wine Country Ave – up two blocks on the left – road winding up into the trees.


Written by Barb Ayers, CGWA Board Vice President

Board Member Notes by Tom Kosmalski


Jump!@I’ve always thought that one of the great things about windsurfing is that the learning curve goes on nearly forever. Not the kind of sport where you plateau after three seasons. Here’s my take on that:

1981: Browbeaten into taking longboard lessons by some co-workers. Three evenings of falling off the board, climbing back on, and falling off again. Fourth and final lesson, and…..things click. Actual sailing! Follow instructor back to shop and purchase first board, a Dufour Wing!

1982: Fun ensues, but can’t really make it work in high winds. Pivoting daggerboard and harness recommended and purchased, and they work! Suddenly kinda sorta planing to exhaustion in high(er) winds!

1983: F2 Strato purchased with retractable daggerboard which allows full-on planing for the first time, as well as the elusive foot-steering via real foot straps. Jibes are a blast, but no real full-planing “power jibes” with a near-twelve foot board.

1984: Waterstart? Sounds like make believe. Swell!Two hours of struggling and being blown slowly across a lake, and it actually starts to work (some of the time)!

Early 1985: Sailboard 295 purchased. First “short” board — thanks to Open Ocean’s Brian Hinde for the awesome design! Now we’re talking. Planing jibes. One evening of breakthrough jibing in an offshore wind on Lake Superior. Twenty knots and glass smooth water. No better way to get the hang of jibing.

August 1985 – 88: Move to Gorge. Get knackered. Meet so many great people. Slowly get the hang of things. Break SO MUCH stuff (1985!). Swim in SO MANY times. Buy glass board — wow. Start riding swells. Learn to duck jibe. Learn to jibe ON a swell. Do two jibes on a swell! Start learning to jump AND TO LAND!

Never look back. Still here trying to tear and turn it up 31 years later!!!!

CGWA Business Partner Highlight: A Kidz Dental Zone

dental zone 2Who can’t resist returning a bright, healthy smile? At A Kidz Dental Zone, the business at hand is growing and maintaining irresistible smiles with healthy teeth and gums. Patients and families receive oral care and education at cheerful clinics that are brightly decorated with murals created by artist Mark Nilsson. The art depicts outdoor lifestyle scenes from around the Columbia River Gorge that scream, “Go outside, get moving, enjoy the fresh air and beauty!”

A Kidz Dental Zone came to the Gorge in 1999 and currently operates out of two locations, one in Hood River and one in The Dalles. The clinics are specifically designed for children and create a positive, inviting and secure atmosphere. Pediatric dentistry is their specialty and the entire Oral Health Team reflects that purpose in specialty training and passion. Children and their health fuel Dr. Houses’ advocacy at local, state and national levels.

denatl zone 1

Although the offices are shiny, clean and beautiful, Dr. House and his staff don’t spend all their time in the office. They are involved with our local community in many different ways. These include partnerships with Head Start, WIC, and the Health Departments in both Washington and Oregon. Their tooth fairy visits local schools and preschools to teach the importance of oral hygiene in a non-threatening environment. The fun factor is bumped up with a free pool party and BBQ in July, giveaways at Families in the Park, and fun games with prizes at the Hood River County Fair. They sponsor the Gorge Kids’ Triathlon, the Apple Knockers’ Kids’ 3-D archery shoot, the Bed Pan Open, Mom Prom and FFA to name a zone 3

CGWA is proud to have A Kidz Dental Zone as a sponsor for our Gorge Groms Youth Program again this year and looks forward to seeing them at the Beach Bash in June. For all your oral pediatric and adolescent care, A Kidz Dental Zone has the most experienced Pediatric Oral Health Team in the Gorge by far. They care about kids, know how to make them smile and make smiles dazzle.

CGWA Business Partner Highlight: Director’s Mortgage

The CGWA is proud and honored to have so many business partners throughout the Gorge.  In a new web series, we are taking time to highlight and thank our local business members that support us.


The mighty Columbia River flows very near everyone 24/7-  but only a few dare to take on the challenge of harnessing  the power of the wind and swell with a sail and board-  somehow  our physical body, mind and soul occupies the area between the board and the sail – and we then become “one”  with the wind and the water. 

Director Mortgage's Steve Wolf is a Swell City regular

Director Mortgage’s Steve Wolf is a Swell City regular

Once this epic sensation is achieved – many realize that a life change is in order which oftentimes involves  a relocation to the Gorge and yes for some…. a home loan.

Directors Mortgage has been a  local Oregon based company since 1998 and for many years has been a supporter of CGWA. Directors Mortgage specializes in residential mortgage loans, purchases, refinances, constructions loans, reverse mortgages and debt consolidation. 

Directors Mortgage is an area lender well respected in the area because of its Team Members including Steve Wolf – a regular Swell City rider with 25 years of experience as a mortgage lender in the Gorge and as a Swell City user.  Steve is a CGWA member himself and has served on the Swell City Planning Committee in the more recent past and many may agree he is an approachable swell guy. 

On behalf of CGWA, I’d like to thank Directors Mortgage for its ongoing support of CGWA.

Steve Gibson

CGWA Board Member 

Board Member Notes: The Magnetic Gorge By John Heeren

Feb 18 2016The Gorge is a paradise to most windsurfers. It’s an exotic destination with breathtaking views, scenic launch sites, and ideal wind and conditions for every type of sailor. We travel from all over the world to create a chance to relax and push the stress out of our lives. El ScorchoWe escape the large cites, the traffic, and constant work responsibilities; busting our behinds to chase yet another euphoric summer trip to the Gorge. We love sailing the Gorge, but back home most find not so exotic sailing and a small tribe of sailors scouting wind and driving to their local mudhole (in my case) to get their sailing fix. Let’s face it, the sport is simply not growing in many areas, but these small clans across the nation are as dedicated as they ever were.

Jibe BouyI’m from Memphis and believe me when I tell you we have a micro scene in our area. We’re grateful to have anyone to sail with some days. At most, there are 6 sailors in Memphis who can get in the straps and harness. All are accomplished sailors and we’ve all spent time in the Gorge. During our IMG_3778sailing season, primarily from October to May, we’re tuned into local weather and water conditions like undercover operatives on a mission. It’s not unusual to see group texts start flying 3-4 days ahead of a projected wind event. Alarms are set and gear loaded for any potential 20 knot wind. When we get it, it’s pure gold and this El Nino winter has been the equivalent of the Comstock Lode. We sailed every month since September. Sometimes solo, at best, two to three other sailors on the water, with numerous 30-40 mph blows.
The fall typically brings warm, punchy southerlies across the south ahead of the rains. The north winds fill in behind the rains as the mercury plummets, but these canJH Big Sunday 2 be some of our strongest and most steady winds. We pull out the thick suits and go out with the wild ones, the pelicans and ducks. Its duck weather, after all. You know you want it bad when your fingers lose the strength to turn the key in the door lock when you get back to the car. You just want to warm your feet and hands so you can derig, only to find your hands won’t cooperate. We’d have kept sailing, but our feet felt like two dead fish on the deck. In times like these we’re so thankful for our fellow sailors. The best bros in our lives, huddling in the van hoping our feet thaw out, all the time wondering if we’ve sustained permanent damage this time. This is a scene playing out all winter across the nation. I’ve seen guys at Lake Champlain hiking their gear through snow to get to the water. Now that’s dedication!

Chocalate Ice Cream SundaeThere are dozens, if not hundreds of small windsurfing communities of die-hard sailors across the country. Summer in the Gorge is like a calling of the clans. JH Big Sunday 2It’s like someone throws the Electro-Magnetic switch to summon the vast, like-minded hearty souls spread across the world. If you’ve ever wondered where we all come from to fill the rental houses, restaurants, and parking lots of Gorge launch sites, it’s from hundreds of small localized tribes. We need it and live for it. We hone our skills during frosty weather and grey winter skies, and you can bet we’re hitting the gym in between, focused solely on ripping those magic Gorge waves. We want it and we are coming to get it again this summer.

Are you, too, from a microscopic sailing scene? We’d love to hear your local story!

VACASA, Vacation Rentals Made Easy

The CGWA is so grateful for all of our member’s suport.  A special sect of our membership are the local small businesses that support what we do.  We want to start thanking and highlighting these businesses in a new web series.  Our first installment comes from CGWA board member, Bart Vervloet.  Check out his great write up on Vacasa:


Did you know that one of the CGWA’s business members employs 15 people here in the Gorge, has business operations in 13 states as well as in Europe and Central and South America, and has been owned and operated in Oregon since 2009? More importantly, their growing business is all about providing accommodations in some of the most beautiful places in the world. Thankfully, the Gorge is one of those places. Vacasa manages destination vacation rentals and is a member of the CGWA because in their view, windsurfing is “the foundation part of the history” of the Gorge sports scene and is still completely connected to the communities on both sides of the river. Mary Creighton is the business development and operations manager for Vacasa here in the Gorge area and lives in White Salmon, and you will probably get a chance to meet her at the Beach Bash in June as they will have a booth there, but before then you should visit their website to see what they offer. Whether you need a house to rent here in the Gorge, at the Oregon Coast, or in Belize, Mexico, Spain or Chile, Vacasa has something for you. CGWA members can get discounts at many of their destinations (though not on every property) check out this link for more details, and don’t forget to inquire about 7 day stay discounts too. Once again CGWA membership has its benefits when you do some travelling. Vacasa rentals can be booked online or over the phone, Mary told me that right now it’s about 50/50, phone calls are welcomed if you have specific questions or needs when you are booking a place to stay. Because Vacasa has local staffs in all of their locations, they can also help with learning the ins and outs of each of their destinations, so you can get the most fun out of your precious vacation time.

“The Northwest loves the outdoors, and we specialize in destinations for the outdoor enthusiast, that’s why Vacasa started here in Oregon” Mary says, but their business is reaching out to people seeking out new adventures, so if you have travel plans to the Gorge or to any of their many destinations, look them up at and pull out your CGWA membership card when you do, because I see some travel in your future.

As a board member of the CGWA its nice to feature one of the many business who generously support us, and it was a real pleasure to speak with people who truly understand what it means to be a big business with local connections. Vacasa is involved with many local groups here and supports the local communities they serve, so I encourage you to check them out. After all the rain this winter, I’m leaning towards Spain myself.

Happy Travels,


Board Member Notes, Vol. 1, by Dave Nunn

Welcome to our first installment of the CGWA Board Member Notes.  We will be offering regular insight into the CGWA board on a variety of subjects from windsurfing, the Gorge, nonprofits, and more!  Please see bellow for Volume 1: Get Someone Planing by Dave Nunn.

Everyone remembers where they were the 1st photo 1time they got planing on a windsurfer. The board hopped up on top of the water and took off like a dragster. You probably didn’t sleep much that night because all you could think about was windsurfing.

I remember my 1st time.  Ashbridges Bay in Toronto. I was on 175 liter Mistral Malibu. I was 22.

Tom Kosmalski, CGWA board member says he was on a F2 Strato “with a retractable dagger-board. The first time I kicked that thing up and hit a full plane, I was hooked”

Tim Ortlieb, Ezzy Sails distributor, says he was at Harbor Springs, MI, on a Mistral One Design and a 7.4m2 sail. “Holy smokes, what a feelingPhoto 2
Our CGWA Director, Greg Stiegel, says he was at Klamus Beach, Cape Cod, MA.  He was about 13 and on his Dads Bic Electric Rock. (It was possibly the ugliest graphics yet on a windsurfer.)


Roxane McClure, CGWA board member says she was at Ruedi Reservoir in Colorado on a F2 Strato: “Never thought I would get both feet in the foot straps because they were so far back, however, once in the foot straps… zoom!”photo 3

John Heeren, CGWA board member says; “I was on an original Windsurfer and we used to take out the dagger-board  to see how high the water would jet up in the air out of the centerboard cavity, I was 15”

If everyone who is still windsurfing regularly just got one new person a year planing for their 1st time, well windsurfing would be back as big as it ever was.

Spend the time and effort to do this if you can. It’s simpler than you think. Let the victim spend a little time on the long board chugging around and then throw them into a high wind day. Personally I say forget the painfully boring weeks in a pond and get them to your high wind spot sooner than later. People want instant gratification these days. Plus if it’s the youth we are talking about here, they will figure it out way faster than you think.

Give them a brief “How to water-start” lesson. Get them a helmet, life jacket, wetsuit & a big board that can take a beating (little boards are too hard to use). Then chuck them into the deep end of the pool & be prepared to go downwind and pick them up. It won’t work for everyone but for those that do get planing it will be an incredibly rewarding day. You remember yours right?

Help our sport: get someone planing this summer!

Dave Nunn – CGWA board member since 2009,  Windance store owner & planing addict