I was encouraged to attend the American Wind & Water Sport Industry annual trade show in Hood River by our LPWA sponsor store Northline Sports. What an amazing event. I'd even put it in with some top 10 windsurfing adventures, like competing in the Aloha Classic, the Defi Wind, the HiHo races Windsurfing Magazine board tests and other great windsurfing events I've been to.
This was a new and unique adventure, as I am representing the Launch Pad Windsurf & Foil academy. Windsports instructors are suddenly in high demand and the sport of wingfoiling is exploding. It was so great to be back in the Columbia River Gorge, I haven't been there since 2006 after having been an annual visitor all through the 1990s.
Some of the highlights were:
-Learning more about the Duotone windsurf, wing and board lineups and the branding move from Fanatic to Duotone - that name change is quite logical and will make my life easier with just one set of social media links to tag!
-Duotone has a neat wing foil t-nut holder coming to market...
-Getting to know Toronto waterman Matt Aiken who leads the AWSI and North
-Catching up with old friends like Derek from North and Vicky from KT
-A private meeting with Svein Rasmussen, visionary founder of Starboard - I think his dedicated windfoiling board is the perfect beginner windfoiler
-Meeting other industry legends like Ken Winner and AWSI windsurfer of the year Mike Burns
-Getting back to the Gorge as my last time was in 2006 - an amazing place to visit even beyond wind activities
-Bumping into my brother-in-law!
-Seeing the amazing growth of wingfoiling and how it has reunited the windsurfing and kiteboarding communities
Some of the equipment I tried:
-Upon late arrival Tuesday... North 115 foilboard, 1230 foil and 4.8 m Aluula lightweight wing - perfect for my first ever wingfoil session in the gorge - lots of glide going downwind into the current.
-On the offical opening day, after the Duotone brand presentations
-Duotone Duke 5.8 and Freewave 115 - so comfortable for my first session at the Hatchery in 17 years
-Duotone Idol 4.8 and Skate 91 - too small but made it back to shore easily
-On second official day, after our meeting with Svein Rasmussen
-Duotone 6.0 D-Lab slick and 115 downwind board - very nice, interesting to try a downwind board, but wingfoil boards mostly feel the same when you are up on the foil - the D-Lab light construction is amazing, and I'm still convinced the slick with its boom is the most user friendly wing style
-North cam 6.8 then Duotone ePace 6.6 and Blast 117 - my highest top speed was on the larger North sail, most comfort at almost top speed goes to the Duotone ePace
-Starboard Go Fly 75 dedicated windfoil board with 2000cm foil, 90cm fuselage and 5.2 freestyle/foil sail - what an amazing setup and I was happy to share my GPS trail with Svein after my session which included a few duck jibes! Windfoiling is still super zen for me.
-Duotone 95 foilboard, 1100 foil and 4.5m wing - this was too small for me
-Duotone Duke 5.8 and Freewave 115 (again) - wonderful easy to use windsurf gear
I hope to attend the event again next year and share even more about how windsurf/foil schools can help grow all windsports. I had a good chat with Luc Moore from @winglifepodcast. I have some ideas for teaching that have really worked like my balance board simulator. I also learned about some more good ways others are using to teach. I will give the long pole off the side of the boat trick a try as it has worked for me for teaching waterskiiing and wakeboarding - it must work for foiling!
Special shout out to my housemates: thanks Chuck for all the driving and Steve for the idea! Also special thanks to Jason and the team at Duotone for letting me try so much gear and making me feel so welcome. The Fanatic to Duotone name change is a non-event, the boards still say true windsurf (riding) "Since '81" - just like me. STOKED!