Richland Airport Overview
Richland is one of the TriCities, on the Columbia River in eastern
Washington. The three towns comprise a very nice small city (150,000) with great amenities and water everywhere but lousy sailing.
Summer is dead -- as in wakeboard heaven -- but spring and fall can bring wind. However, the riverbed geometry, prevailing wind directions, and natural and urban terrain combine to produce very gusty winds, usually with the current or sometimes directly across the river. Occasional south winds against the strong southerly current in the northern fringes of the TriCities can generate decent slalom conditions or even rare good bump and jump conditions.
The beneficiaries are the few but growing handful of locals who 1) have the equipment to sail light to moderate winds (most locals sail only sinkers because the Gorge starts as close as 30 minutes away); 2) have neither the time, the pride, nor the brains to drive further (can you tell one of them wrote this?); 3) are desperate; and 4) are packed and ready to go on a
moment's notice. That's where real time iWindsurf data, especially pagers, help considerably, because good sailing in the TriCities is fleeting.
Nice public parks line much of the Columbia in the TriCities, so if you're
stuck there and the wind comes up, get a city map, follow your nose to a
shoreline with an acceptable wind direction, and don't forget the generally southeasterly current will be strong in the main channel. Launch sites include most of the Richland waterfront, which is one big, long, nice, public, free, groomed park for miles. But most of the park sees offshore winds and downwind currents 98% of the time it blows. Pasco has two long
shoreline public parks across the river from Richland, but its winds are
side-on with the current. Experts with serious racing gear and unusually steady wind can stay upwind; anyone else is likely to take some significant hikes. At least in northern Richland, those rare south winds oppose the current and the hike is on groomed park grass.
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