AWSI overall view from water
Yo! ... from the American Windsports Industry demo/meeting at the Columbia River Gorge in Hood River, Oregon.

This is the annual gathering of dealers across the continent to see, feel, taste, and ride the full range of next year's windsurfing, standup paddleboarding, and kiteboard gear. (Yes, they even let the sheep in.)  Most of the major lines were on hand with most everything they got, laid out and ready to ride. And to recover and unwind from the stress of doing all that exhausting test riding all day long, we have quaint parties at night sponsored by Monster Energy Drinks, Liquid Force, Red Bull  and other sponsors.   All this at the legendary Gorge...  I mean, somebody's got to do it.
  Danny strokes an SUP at mid river I'm here - well, I was but not now -- along with Danny Johnson.  Three days at the Event Site. We've had a perfect weather trifecta:
    Thursday:  15 to 22mph for excellent mid-range windsurfing.  I rode 5.5 to 6.0's for test purposes; but, late in the day, I took a shot at defending the honor of the windsurfing tribe vs. the kiteboarding hoard of vandals.   A new company, Shawdowbox, has a new 3-D technology  for measuring not only the precise speed and  location of your board in the space/time continuum, but the software will also display the exact trim, rocker, and  sway of your board down to the micro-inch. I mean, Steven Spielberg and the Pentagon doesn't know about this stuff yet. Not just a GPS; It has gyros, barometric pressure sensors, altimeters and other secret-agent stuff in the little cigarette pack- size device. ...   Anyway - I grabbed a 120 liter Starboard FUTURA -finned for recreational sailing -- and a 7.5 Severne NCX twin-cam and went out -- well-overpowered -- in the choppy Columbia, wondering if my 155 lbs would get creamed or not.  I hit 30mph top speed in maximum wind speed of 22mph.  OK, I guess. Not blazing speed but put me ahead of any kiter on the board, so there!  (Bunch of sheep!)   
everybody SUP's on a beautiful Hood River day
  not a puff! But who cares?! Skunks do not live in my world!  It was perfect azure skies, 85 degrees, for the best flatwater SUP test conditions one could imagine. Danny and I paddled from Oregon to Washington and  tested approximately 30 boards and a dozen paddles.  Boards from 9' to 17'.  No waves, obviously, but we got the flatwater vibe on every one.   Starboard has an impressive line as measured by willingness to innovate, but the consensus is Naish. Top marks in user-friendliness, high-performance, and straight-on surf feel and simplicity. A great mix of venue-specific shapes as well as all sizes and constructions in all-rounders. 

    Saturday:  A good 5.0 to 6.0 day. We had a blast despite my 30 mph 1st place position on the windsurfing side of the Shadowbox chart falling to a distant 2nd. A full-on 40 mph run by somebody who knew what they were doing won the prize.  Impressive in the lake-like chop of the Event Site. Oh yeah, that guy's name was Bruce Peterson.
Here's my overall impressions on the 2010 gear:  mid-river windy view

 >> Windsurfing: Amazing vitality in the latest designs in sails - wow! - the craftsmanship, technical detail,  and just plain out COOL appearance is very impressive.  The 3 to 4  year old sails in my own quiver still work  -- just like my '02 Durango truck still does a workmanlike job  - but the dollar spent on current gear is getting you into noticeably higher overall quality.   Not just a surface thing.  Everybody's sails seem tougher yet lighter.  
The Severne line of sails continues to impress with not only their visual pop, but a high-performance realization that they some how make accessible to the regular Joe or Jane windsurfer in every model. Bomber detail on the construction. Not a weak link in the line.
On boards, EXOCET is what we walked away with in our minds. The line is familiar to Danny and I so we weren't looking for any startling revelations when we tested the range of boards.  We were more just surprised at how each time we compared impressions - and keep in mind we are 2 very different body types - we found the EXOCET's so much more comfortable...and faster.  (Both of those don't always go together, you know.) Eventually we noticed we kept referring every other ride  back to the EXOCET's.  Both of us.  Tells you something for 2 southeastern sailors in conditions very like what we have back home.            
   No point in trying to review specific models here in either boards or sails. Just be sure to call your local/regional dealer when you're thinking of new gear and know that we do all we can to ride and test all we can.  Like I said, somebody has got to do it...
wind patrol captain at the AWSI party

The Captain of the Wind Patrol keeps order at the Monster/Liquid Shredder party. We were not arrested -- but we wanted to be.    


Hope to see you soon... on the water.  Bring on the cold fronts!!!

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