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.
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!) http://www.shadowboxlive.com/ http://www.shadowboxlive.com/
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. http://www.naishsurfing.com/en/index.html
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:
>> 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. http://www.severnesails.com/2010/index3.html
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. http://www.exocet-original.com/
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...
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!!!
| Whitecap Windsurfing