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Beginner/intermediate gear for the Gorge & Portland
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rhorton1



Joined: 19 Aug 2010
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 1:47 pm    Post subject: Beginner/intermediate gear for the Gorge & Portland Reply with quote

So I'm getting a blessing from the windsurfing gods and moving to Portland this summer from San Diego. Not looking forward to the change in the weather, but am definitely excited about the windsurfing!!

I was bitten by the windsurfing bug pretty badly a couple of years ago, and have been dealing with the San Diego light winds pretty well. I'm sure that the gear needed in the Great Northwest is quite different than what I have now, and would like some input on what to look for at the swap meets Smile.

I'm 6'3", 195lbs, and can do non-planing jibes and tacks. I can plane in the footstraps (usually just the front, sometimes both), beach start, and am comfortable using a harness. Learning to waterstart will be priority #1 this summer.

My current boards are 1) 160L, 80 cm wide Naish Icon freewide board, which I figure won't been too Gorge-friendly, and 2) a 1997 F2 Phoenix 340 longboard (197L and 66cm wide)- which is absolutely awesome for cruising around in light winds, but may not be a great board in Gorge conditions.

Can anyone let me know if either of these would be okay for sailing on the Columbia? What kind of board should I be looking for as my first Gorge board? I'll eventually get a second board suited to high-wind, but am looking for a good all-around board with good flotation, and thats going to last with me for a while, and will help me learn to progress in the sport.

I have acquired a number of smaller sails (4.7 - 6.6) and masts that I'll be bringing up, so I think I'm all set from the u-joint up. Right now I'm just looking at board options (as well as finding a deal on a 4/3 wetsuit!)

I really appreciate any suggestions and input you can give!

P.S. - this may be a subject for a different post, but are there any windsurfing launches close to Portland? I'll be living in Beaverton and would like a place to get in some after-work sessions, without an hour+ drive. I heard some people launch from Sauvie Island... any thoughts?
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cgoudie1



Joined: 10 Apr 2006
Posts: 2018
Location: Killer Sturgeon Cove

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 9:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Beginner/intermediate gear for the Gorge & Portland Reply with quote

You can always find someplace to ride those boards if you drive
far enough, but if there's much wind (and there usually is if the wind is
blowing), you're going to want something shorter, and "wavier".
At your weight and experience, maybe something in the 100-110ltr
range, with soft rails up front, and pretty rounded planform. Some
freeride board with as much nose kick as you can get should be good,
or a "freestyle wave board". You're not going to want to stay with
a board that big for very long though. Once you get comfortable
with something like that at Stevenson (less than an hour drive
from Beaverton) and can waterstart, something in the 85 ltr
range about 8'4" should do you right, just make sure it's not a
slalom board.

I'm 6'3" and weigh about a 180 lbs, and my "light wind" gorge board
is maybe 100 ltrs (an RRD freeride). It gets ridden in desperation 6.7
conditions, and when it's really holey 5.5. Otherwise I'm on something
80 ltrs or smaller.

From Portland, you can go to the Coast, or the Gorge. Rooster Rock
is close to Portland (really close to Beaverton), but it really only
works on an Easterly, so early Spring and late Fall.

You'll love the Gorge, it's a windy place with incredible beauty.

-Craig


rhorton1 wrote:
My current boards are 1) 160L, 80 cm wide Naish Icon freewide board, which I figure won't been too Gorge-friendly, and 2) a 1997 F2 Phoenix 340 longboard (197L and 66cm wide)- which is absolutely awesome for cruising around in light winds, but may not be a great board in Gorge conditions.

Can anyone let me know if either of these would be okay for sailing on the Columbia? What kind of board should I be looking for as my first Gorge board? I'll eventually get a second board suited to high-wind, but am looking for a good all-around board with good flotation, and thats going to last with me for a while, and will help me learn to progress in the sport.

P.S. - but are there any windsurfing launches close to Portland? I'll be living in Beaverton and would like a place to get in some after-work sessions, without an hour+ drive. I heard some people launch from Sauvie Island... any thoughts?


Last edited by cgoudie1 on Mon Mar 26, 2012 11:43 pm; edited 1 time in total
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johnl



Joined: 05 Jun 1994
Posts: 1324
Location: Hood River OR

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My answer is a little different. The wind in the Gorge really varies from site to site, and day to day, and the sites you would be visiting would be lighter. My 107l freestyle board is my go-to board on lighter days or intermediate spots. Once it gets windy or I go to one of the more advanced places, then I use my 87, 77 or 68 liter boards. Although I have sailed my 107l at the hatch and was planing when 90% of the others were slogging. But it was a light day Smile With your qualifications, I would stay away from those places at first.

I agree with Stevenson but I sail my 107 more there than other places. Not to say I haven't sailed smaller there, but my experience (and I have gone there a lot) is lighter. So 95 - 105 would be a good range. Also you can look at Viento (when it's blowing), I tend to sail my 107 or 86 there depending on what is going on. It's about 8 miles past the Bridge of the Gods, so not really much farther than Stevenson since there is no bridge involved. BUT you pay to sail there. The next stop would be the Event site in Hood River. Those are the sites you should be looking at first till you get more comfortable, then pick and choose your own spot.

You will not be uphauling in the gorge 99% of the time. I have from time to time, but sail in real margainal wind with the freestyle board. So a water start is real important. A shameless plug here would be to take a class (or 2 or 3) from Big Winds in Hood River.

Also you have 20 pounds on me and a lot less experience so most likely you will be on larger not smaller gear...

Hmm, another shameless plug, I do have a 95l Fanatic Freestyle Wave I'll put putting up on Consignment at Windance in a month or so.... Smile
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tweeky



Joined: 19 Sep 2004
Posts: 256

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 11:39 pm    Post subject: Re: Beginner/intermediate gear for the Gorge & Portland Reply with quote

rhorton1 wrote:

P.S. - this may be a subject for a different post, but are there any windsurfing launches close to Portland? I'll be living in Beaverton and would like a place to get in some after-work sessions, without an hour+ drive. I heard some people launch from Sauvie Island... any thoughts?


We lived in Beaverton for about 6 years, and finally made the move over to the East Side, which really improved our access to the Gorge. Sauvie's is really more of a kite spot... not that you'll get any attitude for wanting to windsurf there, but it tends to be light winds.. guys on 12m-14m kites is pretty normal. The reach isn't very far across, and the beach access isn't really ideal for windsurfing... not too bad, but you have to walk up & over the steep embankment of the dike to get to the water... its that, or park further away and hike through the trees and down the river back to the beach.

My advice if you're going to live in Beaverton is (move to the East Side?) to leave well before noon on any day you're heading into the Gorge. After that, even on a weekend, you'll likely find 26 east bound super slow as they go through the tunnel. Speaking of which, there is a trick to that... if its really bad, stay in the center lane, go through the tunnel, take your first right and then look for the sign right back on 26 East again... you bypass that huge slow down in the right lane. Still, to get to Hood River you're looking at about an hour and a half, IF you don't run into any traffic. Keep in mind that just as long of a drive, but a totally different venue is Jones Beach... again, more of a kite spot, and really, more of an off-road ATV/dirt bike area, but you're light wind gear would probably work well there most of the time. Don't sweat the weather too much... you'll get used to it... and remember.. cloudy, cool & rainy in Portland during the spring/summer/fall usually means good sailing in the Gorge!
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rhorton1



Joined: 19 Aug 2010
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 1:13 pm    Post subject: Re: Beginner/intermediate gear for the Gorge & Portland Reply with quote

cgoudie1 wrote:

I'm 6'3" and weigh about a 180 lbs, and my "light wind" gorge board
is maybe 100 ltrs (an RRD freeride). It gets ridden in desperation 6.7
conditions, and when it's really holey 5.5. Otherwise I'm on something
80 ltrs or smaller.


6.7 is your desperation sail??? We had a storm roll through San Diego this weekend and I was happy being able to switch down from my 9.8 to my 6.6 for once! I'm going to need to adjust my idea of what "windy" is Very Happy

Thanks for the good suggestions about board style and size. I'll keep an eye out at the swap meets (and Windance's used gear section johnl!) for something fitting. I'll be coming up in mid-July. Looking at the CGWA website, there look to be a couple of swap meets left in the season. Any ideas of how well these are attended? Are there any other good resources for gear besides swap meets and the board shops in Hood River? I've looked on Portland's craigslist, and usually don't find much.

johnl - I'll be sure to check out Big Winds. I took a lesson there on my visit last summer and had some 16-year-old pro teach me how to pivot jibe and get in the straps. He literally sailed circles around me while I was in the drink - trying to uphaul.

Tweeky - I've got too good a deal on a house (free!) to not live out in Beaverton, but I'll be looking to move after a year or so. I'll look at the East Side. That Hwy 26 tunnel is a real pita. I'll try your trick! Maybe even try Jone's Beach...
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cgoudie1



Joined: 10 Apr 2006
Posts: 2018
Location: Killer Sturgeon Cove

PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:27 pm    Post subject: Re: Beginner/intermediate gear for the Gorge & Portland Reply with quote

You will have to redefine what windy is, and you're gonna love it, but it does take a little while to get used to it. The mid year swap meets have
a truck load of boards, but most of them are smaller. There will still be
plenty big enough for what you're after. The later you wait in the year,
the cheaper they get. The other resource for gear (and it's really the best
way to get a deal) is at the beach. Watch for boards laying out with for
sale signs, or look at the gear lists in vehicle windows, or tacked to the
information signs.

-Craig

p.s Gresham is pretty close and I "hear" housing is cheap there for when
you decide to move to the East side.




rhorton1 wrote:


6.7 is your desperation sail??? We had a storm roll through San Diego this weekend and I was happy being able to switch down from my 9.8 to my 6.6 for once! I'm going to need to adjust my idea of what "windy" is Very Happy

Thanks for the good suggestions about board style and size. I'll keep an eye out at the swap meets (and Windance's used gear section johnl!) for something fitting. I'll be coming up in mid-July. Looking at the CGWA website, there look to be a couple of swap meets left in the season. Any ideas of how well these are attended? Are there any other good resources for gear besides swap meets and the board shops in Hood River? I've looked on Portland's craigslist, and usually don't find much.

Tweeky - I've got too good a deal on a house (free!) to not live out in Beaverton, but I'll be looking to move after a year or so. I'll look at the East Side. That Hwy 26 tunnel is a real pita. I'll try your trick! Maybe even try Jone's Beach...
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 18331

PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Keep in mind that on many days and at many sites, the Gorge is less windy than Mission Bay. i.e, one Gorge day and spot can average 30 mph all day while a spot 20 minutes away can require that 9.8 all day. Second in importance only to a solid water start is wind knowledge, including forecasts and current conditions.

On MANY summer days the entire Gorge is un or barely sailable on ANY gear. On many of those days, Jones Beach, which may be closer to Beaverton than Hood River is, will rock your socks. It often blows 4.7 to 3.2 6-8 hours a day for a week in late summer when Portland and Hood River are baking near or in triple digit doldrums. The place has some problems, but late summer winds are seldom one of them when the Gorge is lame. I've sat there for 10 straight days of strong (by Gorge standards) very steady (by any standards) in several Augusts. The best part, for a working stiff, is that the wind there just keeps getting stronger as dusk and total darkness approach; you could fairly often sail until past 9:00 PM, drive home, and even get some sleep before going to work the next morning.

I hope you're not a surgeon.

Of each summer's swap meets, the only one not big enough to get excited about is in April. Any of the other 4 or 5 can produce some great deals on a wide range of boards, as can Windance and Big Winds any time. Google Windance and CGWA swap meets for their schedules. Don't try to find ideal boards right away; your skills and preferences will change too fast to validate that goal.

I don't know how many times I've subtly suggested this solution to avid WSers complaining about their home turf winds:
freaking MOVE! .
You're ahead of me. GOOD boy!

BTW ... my desperation sail and board, at 190+, have long been a 6.2 and 115 liters, I haven't owned a cam since the mid 90s, and I am free to sail 365 days a year ... but you'll still find many scores of days each year that your Icon will be just the ticket.

Mike \m/
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johnl



Joined: 05 Jun 1994
Posts: 1324
Location: Hood River OR

PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rhorton,

Another thought that will probably get voices on both sides of the fence is board size and sail size combos. As a beg-int, I would STRONGLY recommend a larger board/smaller sail combo. Keep im mind this is a relative term, but some are going with the small board/larger sail combo. Both sail and have fun, and it could be argued till the cows come home which is better.

However with your ability and the gusty quality of gorge winds, you will be happier. The larger board is easier to slog, easier to get on a plane, easier to carry speed through the jibes (when you get to that point), and easier to get though the lulls. This is one of the reasons why I sail my 107 freestyle board alot (besides working on old school freestyle moves). The board gets on a plane very quickly, and carries it's lower speed longer. It also allows me to carry a smaller sail (compared to using a smaller board) which is easier to manipulate. So until I'm wound up on my 4.7 this is my go-to board. At that point, I grab my 86.

So I would suggest not to get tempted by the smaller boards at first, but go with something that will float you and stick with a freestyle wave or freestyle type board. That way you can have your feet over the center of the board which is better for the Gorge type qualities (unless you are really into slalom type blasting) and it will still be something you will use when you start getting a smaller board.
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westender



Joined: 02 Aug 2007
Posts: 996
Location: Portland / Gorge

PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:20 pm    Post subject: Re: Beginner/intermediate gear for the Gorge & Portland Reply with quote

To make the trip from Beaverton to Sauvies or Stevenson in one hour,, I suggest a fast motorcycle and no heavy traffic. I live in Milwaukie and it takes about the same time to get to Stevenson or Sauvies Isl. 1 hour.

There are a few days in the summer when you could sail the Willamette river in Portland with less than an hour drive but the boat traffic can be hazardous.

Your gear should be fine for Sauvies Island on the nice days when the wind blows there and your small board would work for Stevenson.


rhorton1 wrote:




P.S. - this may be a subject for a different post, but are there any windsurfing launches close to Portland? I'll be living in Beaverton and would like a place to get in some after-work sessions, without an hour+ drive. I heard some people launch from Sauvie Island... any thoughts?
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rhorton1



Joined: 19 Aug 2010
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You guys are awesome for giving all these recommendations and tips. Thanks for all the great input here, gents. Iíll put it all to good use to get in as much WSing as I can before winter sets in.

Iso Ė I canít say that windsurfing was the ONLY reason I decided on the move to Portland, but it certainly helped. Iíve decided to go back to school for another degree (engineering this time), and when the acceptance letter came from PSU, I had to jump on it! Definitely more windsurfing (and good beer!) in Portland than Phoenix (better beer in San Diego, but the schools are too crowded to let in anyone who already has a degree)!

I am a big fan of the large board / small sail combo Ė especially when learning. I know that I have some pretty clumsy footwork, and Iím sure a big board will help mitigate that. One day Iíll switch down to a true sinker, but Iíll start with something a little more user friendly.

On a different note Ė how many sailors do you know that use a PFD/impact vest for flotation? I have attempted to waterstart a few times, and have always found it pretty difficult to get the sail up and out of the water. I know a lesson will help, but do many of you use a little extra flotation for assistance?

Westender Ė A motorcycle?? Maybe with a trailer for my gear and a Plexiglas bubble to keep the rain off me Cool!
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