Hooked on the worst addiction ever - windsurfing - Back in 1988 sold my sailboats, and started buying windsurfing gear, figuring I'd never do sit down sailing again, then went on an endless search for high wind for about 10 years. Windsurfed from the late 80s till the late 90s, from 1988 till 1997 - just about every weekend and every vacation taking family and friends, and taking Andy our Newfoundland Chow cross along to watch the kids playing on the beach. For one five + year stretch from '90 - '96 George Merritts and I windsurfed every week, every holiday, every storm and usually at least four days a week.
Kathy Jo Merritts, Willie Price and a few others windsurfed with us mostly on the north side of Hood Canal Bridge, with our second favorite spot to windsurf being Kline Split, inside of Dungeness Spit, followed by Fort Flagler Marrowstone Island, Purdy Spit, South Point Hood Canal, Seal Rock Hood Canal, and Silverdale Waterfront Park. But like most PNW Windsurfers, made regular summer pilgrimages to the Columbia River Gorge.
However driving all that way to get there, didn't want to get skunked for wind - which meant hanging and sometimes camping at Avery or Avery X just downriver from Maryhill Bridge and Peach Beach on the Washington Side was a 85%+ good chance of good planning winds, if it was cloudy on the coast or lower river, while warm and sunny upriver - but we also sailed most everywhere else too, including Swell City and the Hatchery, or Doug's Beach even swells, or the washboard of Celilo Falls. Hang out in Hood River at night sleeping in the cheap hotel on the east side exit going to I-84 - unless my wife Linda went along, then we stayed in on of the nicer Hotels up river in "The Dalles, OR". https://cgw2.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/VisitorMag_WindSurfing_LowRes.pdf
If you hung out in the gorge in the 80’s , then you probably saw the Ultronz with Moe Dixon and 5 x winner Windsurfing World Champion Robbie Naish playing at River City Saloon in Hood River. Moe And Robbie would shred the waters up and down the river by day, and play in their band in the evenings till the late 80s, when Robbie started hooking up with Katie Lipp, as I recall they married in '91. By the 90s Moe stilled played, but played on Sunday nights only.
There was another hot sing and dance tavern across the river in White Salmon/Bingen, which I don't recall the name, would pull in even bigger crowds then the dance tavern in Hood River, that we went to for a few years after. But for us, north of 35 years old at that time, would rather get our rest at night, rather then bar hop and made a point of staying away from rambunctious bar scenes for the most part by 90 to 92ish.
Driving down from the West Side of Puget Sound basin, I made do in the 80s with my 70 El Camino, and a 85 Chevy Half Ton in the 90s. Two of us George Merritts and myself most the time, carry four boards, half a dozen masts, at least another half dozen base mast extensions, at least a couple 18" tip extension for the biggest sails, and a dozen booms, usually over 20 rolled sails in their bags, another half dozen fins, harnesses and spare harness line.
The feeling of "missing it," drove the quest searching for good high winds. I worked days in '88 building the Westlake Park, then Metro's Seattle International Station, then the Hylebos Waterway bridge in Tacoma, then by '89 two years of days, and four years of nights in those days for Mowat doing the Seattle I-5 HOV widening of seven miles of bridges and freeway going south out of downtown. Monday through Thursday nights getting off work at 0530 hrs on Friday.
Take the ferry home and load my windsurf gear, then drive to whichever destination, for a day of windsurfing and usually to bed early on Friday evening before 2000 hrs. Then up early for breakfast or if in a hurry, donuts or not in Hood River, then windsurf all day Saturday, on which nights we may or may not hit the usual watering holes. Up early on Sunday for a day of shredding, then the drive home and to bed, early on Sunday night, then up Monday for a morning windsurf session, followed by a nap before catching the ferry and returning to work at 1900 hrs on Monday night. The first few years going down, we'd arrive in Hood River and sleep in our vehicles at the Hook, then windsurf all weekend from that location, often venturing cross and downriver to the Hatchery, Cheap Beach or Swell City, for a day of shredding and occasionally returning to the Hook for a cup of coffee or a bite to eat.
By 1990 we started expanding our horizons, more often upriver then downriver. By 92 wondering what kind of speeds we were doing - started doing speedchecks at the spit at the mouth of the Klickitat, and in 93 set a record of 36mph for a plastic O'brien Pro-Am in the 39-49 year old age group, which was published in the July issue of Windsurf Magazine. The PNW Windsurfing Association did various speed checks, and when they did speed checks at one of our all time favorite windsurfing locations at Kline Spit inside of Dungeness Spit. - We did a few runs, doing 47.18 and 49.48 MPH runs on a F2 270 Sputnik. After that George and I stopped doing the speed checks, because we now had an idea how fast we were going. Also at 6'3" and 6'4" we were much taller and heavier for more leverage and much faster then the average 5'9" to 6' 2" windsurfers, and sailed to the far side of Dungeness for even faster speeds in the smooth water, where they should have held the Speed Checks at Dungeness.
By 1989 or 1990, we looked forward to storms and their high winds and gnarly conditions. In fact most that I windsurfed with skipped work to windsurf the fronts of storms all day long. The most memorable being the Inaugural Day Storm of 93, it blew over 60 knots north of the Hood Canal Bridge, however because the bridge might be possibly opened for wind and current relief in the high winds, we chose to venture out from Point Julia in Port Gamble Bay, where it was blowing a mostly steady 45 knots with gust to 50. I had a couple high wind boards a fiberglass 8'4" bump and jump square tail, a 8'6" Hypertech, and my 85 liter F2-270. However I'd just bought one of the new generation convertibles with a bit of rocker, a wide ass and a pointy nose with a lot of scoop. So Rigged a 3.5 Combat Wave on that wide-ass convertible 270 with a 107 liters of volume, and road that baby all day. George rigged a 3.7 Gaastra on a 125 liter Alpha. We windsurfed one hour sessions, with 10-15 minute breaks in my truck with the heater on hot. Finally about an hour from losing daylight, derigged and loaded out, because we wanted some daylight to get home, to watch and avoid any falling branches as it was still blowing hard.
In '97 bought may first Ranger and returned to sit down sailing.
"Screaming Waters". This is a classic gorge windsurfing video with great footage from 1988-1989. (The most classic gorge video was "Hard Winds a Blowin", but I can't seem to find the full-length video for that online). I still love the soundtrack for Screaming Waters - it includes a lot of great songs by The Ultronz. They were a local band that played at River City and The Northshore. All of their songs were about windsurfing, waiting for wind, or getting hassled by the HRPD. Randy Naish (Robby's brother) was in the band.
In the intro sailor credits you'll notice people like...
Doug Campbell (Doug's Beach & Doug's Sports)
Bruce Peterson (Sailworks)
Brian Carlstrom (Windance)
Mike Kitts (Mike's Ice Cream)
Tony Logosz (Slingshot)
Pete Duck Jibe Wagner (still a regular at Hatch/Dougs/Wall)
Dave Henderson (still a regular at Hatch/Dougs/Wall)
And lots of other legends!
"Air Time" (Ultronz) starts at 29:15
"Living on the Edge of a Hurricane" (Ultronz/Moe Dixon) 17:34
Are you getting into wing-riding? I recently got two Robbie Naish wings; a 7 meter and 5 meter wing. I have mostly been riding them with my Snakeboard to build my chops, all of the touchstones of regular sailing are there, but with the added dimension of being able to essentially rotate the mast, which are your arms holding the wing.
I haven't even touched my kites since I got the wings, because now I can ride upwind and I can 100% depower, neither of which I could do with the kites. Next season I hope to add a foil board, but for now I hope to have decent control of the wings for the snowy season with a powder surfer.
It would be neat to have some fellow SA wing riders to talk shop. My son and I are heading to Pocatello in August for the 2022 StreetWing Trials.
Most awesome board! Once I dialed it in - OMG! Needed head-high + and it came alive. Very light 9’4”, paddled well, turned like a shortboard (it’s a 2+1). Many good memories. Bought it off the used rack at Harbour in ‘96. It’s lightly glassed ( @ Moonlight) so in winter I had to be careful around Bolsa with this. Finally got mashed getting out of the nearshore trench @ #17 and busted off the nose. Got it repaired and was real careful about paddling it out after that.