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Who wants some swell surfing lessons in the Gorge?
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swchandler



Joined: 08 Nov 1993
Posts: 9988

PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to ask a question here. How many folks believe that the wind conditions in the Gorge are onshore?

I'll admit that the question deviates a bit from the central topic, swell riding, but it's the sideshore winds, current and underwater features that create the uniquely usable swell conditions in the Gorge.

While I realize that the typical sailable winds in the Gorge are generally coming from either the west or east (onshore or offshore to the larger Oregon/Washington coastline), one actually rides these winds at local launches perpendicular to the shoreline. Truly classic sideshore conditions off the beach. In straight onshore or offshore winds, one rides parallel to the launch or shoreline.
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scottwerden



Joined: 11 Jul 1999
Posts: 302

PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are comparing a deep water wave (gorge) with a surf zone wave. The two are very different of course. Deep water waves are dominated by the group velocity which causes the wave at the head of the train to disappear and the next wave behind it to jack up, and of course the waves are not as steep. Surf zone waves are dominated by the phase velocity so a single wave remains well formed throughout.

What matters for riding a surf-zone wave is the wind direction relative to the wave face, not the beach, although wind direction matters for just getting out to the line-up. For the gorge it is really a moot point because the waves owe their existence to the wind blowing parallel to the river. You can call it whatever you want, but other than a few degrees of shifting the wind will always be in the same direction as the group velocity of the wave train. But I think the gorge is more like an on-shore surf zone wave than a side-shore surf zone wave. They crumble from the top if they get anywhere near breaking.
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swchandler



Joined: 08 Nov 1993
Posts: 9988

PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, I wasn't trying to bring in ocean waves into the picture at all. My question pertains strictly with the wind direction at the launch. It could be any launch, even on a lake, which may see onshore, sideshore and offshore depending on where you launch from.

You're right though about the wind and swell moving in the same direction, but isn't that always true anywhere. Only at the ocean coastline do we find ground swell coming in independent of the local wind and the resulting chop or swell it creates. If you think that riding Gorge swell once you're in the thick of it is like riding purely wind driven onshore conditions at the coast, that's only true once you get out past the breaking surf zone. Often, it's getting out through the onshore breaking surf zone at the coast that separates the men from the boys. Still though, no matter how good you are, there are those days that prove impossible.

When you really come down to it, it's the sideshore wind conditions at the Gorge that allows such easily access to the swell zone. In a way, it's a very unusual setup. The only place I've sailed that offers a similar situation is the Sherman Island Delta conditions where wind and ebb tide can jack up the swell big enough for good jumps and Gorge-type swell riding.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 20085

PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

scottwerden wrote:
I think the gorge is more like an on-shore surf zone wave than a side-shore surf zone wave ... the wind will always be in the same direction as the group velocity of the wave train..

ONSHORE: wind and waves traveling in same direction.
SIDESHORE: Wind and wave direction differ by 90 degrees.
SIDE-OFF: wind hits wave faces at an angle.
And as you implied, shoreline orientation is essentially irrelevant.

As has been stated before, some turrist dood pronounced Gorge WSing as far more challenging than ocean sailing because it's all just onshore crap. His name was Josh Angulo.
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swchandler



Joined: 08 Nov 1993
Posts: 9988

PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"ONSHORE: wind and waves traveling in same direction.
SIDESHORE: Wind and wave direction differ by 90 degrees.
SIDE-OFF: wind hits wave faces at an angle.
And as you implied, shoreline orientation is essentially irrelevant."


Misinformation abounds, and that's exactly why I asked the question I did, particularly about the Gorge.
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scottwerden



Joined: 11 Jul 1999
Posts: 302

PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

swchandler wrote:
Actually, I wasn't trying to bring in ocean waves into the picture at all. My question pertains strictly with the wind direction at the launch.


I have never heard anyone talk about "on shore" or "side shore" except in regards to ocean waves, so you essentially brought it up. It is an irrelevant term in the gorge because the wind is always in the same direction as the swell. Call it whatever you want. It sounds like you like to talk about the launch, so call it side shore if it makes you happy. It is a silly argument in the gorge, to tell you the truth. In the ocean it is extremely relevant because a shift from side to side-off makes a big difference in what you can do on the wave.
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swchandler



Joined: 08 Nov 1993
Posts: 9988

PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2015 12:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I pointed out earlier, wind and wind driven swells are always from the same direction, regardless of location. The Gorge isn't unique in that respect. You wouldn't believe the size of the windswell at C Street on a frontal clearing wind in the total lack of a ground swell. It would put the Gorge to shame. Of course, the windswell does end up creating actual waves at the shoreline. With all that huge swell outside, do folks ride the windswell down the coastline like they do in the Gorge? Not at all, they'd rather focus on the breaking windswell waves generated at the shoreline. Why is that?

All windsurfing spots, good and bad, are the sum total of the conditions for the day. Believe it or not, in the lack of any real waves, the orientation of the wind to the launch site is a criticial key point. One would be a fool to brush it off, even at the Gorge, because we all know that every launch there isn't the same on any given day.
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brettn



Joined: 22 Nov 2000
Posts: 114

PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2015 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey swchandler, did you mean to ask for 15 pages of argument over which is better, gorge waves or coast waves? Because that's what you're going to get! Lol.
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boggsman1



Joined: 24 Jun 2002
Posts: 8520
Location: at a computer

PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I hit Pistol on a Friday, and then Hatchery on Saturday...do I have to decide which I liked better?
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 20085

PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

scottwerden wrote:
It is a silly argument in the gorge ...

I wouldn't call it an argument because the definitions are pretty clear-cut.

I wouldn't call it silly because it is a widely accepted means of describing the conditions on the water and each orientation behaves and is sailed differently.

I WOULD call it confusing, since its ocean-venue roots falsely imply that shoreline orientation to the wind is relevant to conditions out in the open water.

And I'd call the distinction useful because one word beats a paragraph as long as most readers/listeners understand the terms.

And while there's little point and a great deal of risk in debating which is better -- ocean or Gorge terrain -- it might be very enlightening to discuss their differences objectively ... differences in what can be done on them, how to sail them, their threats and opportunities, etc.

Way back in rec.w, an ocean sailor ripped into all the things he thought made ocean sailing vastly superior to Gorge sailing. For half a page he pointed out all the bad things about the Gorge, such as no sharks, warmer water, no sand or reefs or urchins, no shorepound and subsequent broken masts, the only threat is barges you can see coming from a mile away, and at least a dozen other reasons he considered Gorge sailing fit only for pussies. It was worded as a direct attack on lesser sailors' enjoyment of the Gorge and was clearly intended to start a pissing contest with me, but my honest response left him more or less speechless: "You're absolutely right on every account. Aren't those GOOD things about the Gorge?"

Better ... worse ... semantics ... preferences ... subjective and loaded terms. Objective differences? Might be useful, will be interesting, but warrants a new thread.
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