Wing Surfing The Gorge
Written by REAL Team Rider Brandon Scheid
The strong winds and rolling swell of the Hood River Gorge are the ideal conditions for the budding new sport of wing surfing. With lots of wind to get going, deep fresh water, long rolling waist high river swell, and easy access, The Gorge is becoming a hot spot for wing surfing.
Best Spots for Wing Surfing The Gorge:
There are several areas in and around Hood River to get in the water winging. The Hook is the best spot for the absolute beginner. The water is shallow enough to walk out, but deep enough to practice. Wells Island also provides some shelter from the choppy waters of the Columbia River. There is no charge for parking, and there is a great spot to rig and access the water. Riders can easily practice small riding circles while staying in the shelter of the island and hook. If you end up downwind at the Event Site, you can walk the bike path back up to The Hook.
Once you have gotten your skills wired, you can easily ride away from The Hook area and into the main channel of the Columbia river. Entering the river ups the exposure level due to river traffic(other kiters, as well as boats), choppy/wavy water that can make starting hard, and current. Riders should attempt to stay upwind or slowly work their way downwind to the Event Site.
The Event Site:
The Event Site is also a great spot to practice wing foiling. Parking is paid, but close to the wonderful grassy waterfront launch. There are some small food trucks there and a killer apres session hang out. Often the wind is gusty at the Event Site, so riders should do their best to get out into the river to keep upwind of the sand bar. The water is deep immediately off the beach so no issues with hitting your foil.
There are plenty of other launch spots up and down the Gorge. Most require the ability to stay upwind, and often have small restrictive launching conditions or really tumultuous river conditions. Make sure you do not get outside your ability level and ride with in your capabilities. With the currents found in the various stretches of the river, it is really easy to get far away from your launch if you aren’t careful.
The Gorge Was Made For Wing Surfing:
Winging is a great sport to know how to do in The Gorge. It makes the most of the really gusty strong days we get in summer. Wind graphs will often read 18-35, and kiting is not really that much fun in those gusty crazy conditions. The wing seems to not be as affected by the decrease in quality of the winds.
The wing gives you the ability to foil surf the rolling river swell created by such strong winds. Riding swell for minutes at a time and handling the gusty Gorge conditions makes winging the ideal strong wind gear choice for a lot of Gorge locals. It is so easy to jump in the river at a spot you could not safely kite from and get five plus minute long swell rides. Winging The Gorge is SOOOO FUN!!!
REAL Team Rider and 5x Triple-S Invitational winner, Brandon Scheid, is a Hood River resident that can been seen shredding the park on a kite, maching the dirt on his moutain bike, skimming tree tops with his speed wing and now wing surfing into minute long rides all in the same day. Follow Brandon on Instagram @brandonscheid and check out some mind bending action.
For more info on wing surfing contact at REALpro by calling 252.987.6000 or email us at REALpro@realwatersports.com.