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Hood River Beginner Sites
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windsurf_FI



Joined: 26 Jun 2006
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 8:22 pm    Post subject: Hood River Beginner Sites Reply with quote

Where is a good place for beginners at Hood River? My 16 year old son and I are planning a road trip to Hood River next weekend. We are ďadvanced beginnersĒ. We have about 10 sessions in. Havenít made the effort to learn to water start yet but have developed fair amount of windsurfing ability. Where is a good site for us to windsurf? I spent a few hours looking around Hood River last summer. I saw beginners in the area behind the hook; it looked disgusting, like windsurfing in a mud puddle. The hook didn't look like a dirty rocky place to rig up. The event site seemed intimidating, lots of people and everyone is water starting.

What about just east of the Best Western? Is that a good beginner site? Is the access open to the public? I saw a windsurf lesson business there and donít know if they own the site.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 14226

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very few Gorge spots are suitable for non-waterstarters to "go windsurfing", for one simple reason: it can land you in jail or even kill you. The barges have right of way, you cannot avoid them if you can't waterstart in rough water, and they cannot always avoid you (you will pay dearly if you interfere with them). Add to that the quickness with which the wind can burst -- and that's the right word -- from 10 to 30 mph, and you just aren't safe there, IMO. A lesson is OK because they don't take you out into the main channels. Of course, you could just putz back and forth 50 feet from shore . . . then 75 feet, then 100 . . . and all of a sudden you're out in the Columbia and at its mercy.

I'd guess your least likely spots to get in trouble away from the Hook would be Home Valley, 15 or so miles west of Bingen, and at the nice park in the middle of The Dalles. Anyone can direct you to those spots, and both are far nicer than the Hook.

\m/
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bobgatpdx1



Joined: 13 Oct 2002
Posts: 384

PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 12:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hood River WaterPlay runs the lessons at the beach by the Best Western. Their office is at the Marina. They have a roped off area so you can't drift off into the main river. If you haven't sailed at the Gorge before, I'd recommend taking a lesson from them. They give you 10 free hours use of their beginner gear if you take a lesson.

http://www.hoodriverwaterplay.com/

Then you should take a waterstart lesson. These are usually held at the Event Site or The Hook. The outside part of The Hook is shallow and not as gnarly as the inside part.

Good luck!
bobg
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jse



Joined: 17 Apr 1995
Posts: 1298
Location: Marin

PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 1:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not knowledgeable about the gorge, having just completed my 1st trip there, but this year I took on an exchange student and started teaching him in Feb. He got many days OTW in and around S.F. Bay before this trip. The turning point was spring break in Maui. He took a 1 1/2 hour water start lesson and since then I don't have to pay as much attention to him. Spent 3 days in Rowena (I know, the water is flat there) in 3.7 conditions. When the wind moved west I took him to the Hatchery. At first he didn't want to try it but that lasted about 5 minutes. Ended up handling the swell like a champ. He was pretty stoked, and me too.

I would say get your water starts in both directions. And consistent. Most important is you have to be able to get back in. That means being able to waterstart in Underpowered as well as Overpowered conditions, and in swell or chop too. With that under your belt, you should be able to handle enough sites in the Gorge to have a good time.

Steve
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windsurf_FI



Joined: 26 Jun 2006
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So uphauling in the middle of the river is a bad idea?
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 14226

PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

windsurf_FI wrote:
So uphauling in the middle of the river is a bad idea?


It's not possible for mortals. How quickly and reliably can you waterstart in waist-high chopswell, with a barge bearing down on you? And if the wind picks up suddenly, so does the chopswell.

\m/
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hilton08



Joined: 02 Apr 2000
Posts: 397

PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 10:01 pm    Post subject: Uphauling Reply with quote

If the wind dies to the point where waterstarting isn't possible, then the river should settle down to the point where you can uphaul a floaty board in the Gorge. In typical (4.5) Gorge conditions, you would exhaust and frustrate yourself trying to uphaul in the main river channel. Waterstarting is much easier, provided you know how to waterstart, in the Gorge. If you don't have a strong waterstart, I wouldn't venture out into the barge lanes. Stick to the upwind side of the Hook (inside Well's Island) or the new sandbar at the Event Site (in the midst of all the kiters).
The Gorge is a great place to take a lesson and master the waterstart.
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sirround



Joined: 06 Jul 2005
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 11:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had to join in as I was just where you were at the beginning of last year. i figured I didnt have to waterstart cause I was good at uphauling and the people I talked to about waterstarting said it took them forever to learn how. Well i didnt sail inside the hook I sailed on the outside of the hook but on the inside of the island where the chop wasnt so bad. The good thing about that area is the sand from the shore tapers out nicely so you can be 50 feet out and still touch bottom. Long story short I got cocky and went past the wind shadow the island creates and I was in the main channel. I biffed about a quarter of the way to the washington side, turned my rig around and tried to get back by uphauling. half hour later I was beat and ,for not being a religious man, I was having an intimate conversation with god telling him/her id never be so stupid again. I eventaully got it up and got back in one reach, packed my stuff up and ran off seriously humbled. I learned how to waterstart the very next time i was up. It actually took 2 days and I was dialed. i still dream of that feeling now, being pulled out of the water by the wind. its really not that hard and worth the time cause you feel so much more confident.
For me, the best place to learn was at the hook where i described before and at the marina because its similiar, the sand just goes on forever. just dont go to far east cause there is a pretty steep dropoff and too far west cause you will be in the current created by the hood river entering the columbia. If you stay within the boundries of the marina beach you will be fine. There are tons of beginners there. i still go there cause my family likes hanging on the beach and its a lot less intimidating than the other sites. Again, be careful of that hood river current, me and a friend had to save 5(!) people there last year at once when 3 children got swept into it and their non swimming guardians ran in to get them.
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advgeek



Joined: 30 Jun 2000
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 3:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The west side of the hook between the island and the hook is where you want to be. Even though the hook itself isn't too appealing being just a gravel parking lot, it is the best place for water start practice. The wind there is onshore to the hook so you just get blown back to shore while learning to waterstart. The downside is the area is only about 200 feet long, so you don't get many long rides in, but it's great for waterstart practice. You'll be there with many other water start learners which makes it even more comfortable. Just don't go past the end of the hook! There's a big wind shadow and then open river swells.

The other alternative is the event site now that it has a huge sand bar. The downside is all the kiters and other sailors.

Learn to waterstart and the whole river will open up to you. Check out the ABC's of Waterstarting DVD by Dasher, which did the trick for my G.F.
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updraft



Joined: 30 Aug 2000
Posts: 67

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Last edited by updraft on Thu Sep 17, 2009 2:30 am; edited 1 time in total
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