In 1948, Newman Darby, a 20 year old American, created a floating platform which looked more like a catamaran than a windsurfing board on which he mounted a sail. He did not patent his idea and in the mid-sixties, Jim Drake and Hoyle Schweitzer brainstormed the idea of the sail and the boom, along with the invention of the uphauling rope. First they called the board, “the skate,” then the “Baja board” and finally it was “the windsurfer.” The windsurfing craze started in the 1970s and was recognized as the catalyst for bringing hundreds of windsurfers (beginners to experts) from all over the world to the Gorge, which became known as the “windsurfing capital” of the world. The windsurfing industry boomed with start up companies such as Windsurfing Hawaii, Chinook, Slingshot, Sail works, Dynafiber Airtime and many more moving to the Gorge for product development. What better place for research and design than the very windy Columbia River! The windsurfing subculture is still present today with many “wind junkies” being the originals who moved here years ago who found a way to make a living so they can enjoy the lifestyle they love.

In 1989, kiteboarding was discovered when Cory Roeseler strapped his feet to stock water skis. With three rectangular colorful kites, he took off across the Columbia River into a crowd of surprised windsurfers. Today, kiteboarding is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. The sport of kiteboarding draws upon the daring side of the rider. It offers excitement which fulfills adrenaline junkies. The feeling of flight and high speed along with surf and swell has become very appealing to many water sports enthusiasts. Many windsurfers switched over to kiteboarding for the big air component and also it has been said that the dynamics of the pull of the kite verses the windsurfing sail was much easier on the body. Ease of travel also was a reason as there is less gear than windsurfing and lighter weight. Kiteboarders can play on the water in as low as 12 mph winds where windsurfers need at least 20 mph to get on a plane. After work sessions became easier for those wanting time on the water.

In 2015, Tony Logosz was locally testing and developing a hand-held wing that he found enabled him to be up and foiling instantly, allowing him to cut upwind, cruise downwind and ride swell for the first time without the aid of a windsurfing sail or kite. Four years later, and a couple of weeks after Robby Naish revealed his Wing Surfer, Slingshot’s Slingwing hit the market joining Ken Winner’s version of the hand-held wing, marking the beginning of a new wind sport and its continuing development. As you look out on the Columbia River this summer you will see the wing foilers surfing and smiling. It is the new addicting wind sport in the Columbia River Gorge. Foil boarding had gained popularity within the kiteboarding, windsurfing and stand up paddling communities over the years. The hydrofoil allows riders to ride in less than 10 knots while still having lots of fun. Riding above the surface of the water gives the rider the feeling of floating and you can reach speeds around 30 mph without much effort. Athletes who have been in the Gorge for over 30 years have watched the wind sports evolve. Windsurfing for 15 years— then onto kiteboarding for another 20 years, and then in the last two years discovering wing foiling. The main attraction for switching over to wing foiling is that you are riding the energy of the surf and swell. It’s about carving around and having fun, it’s not about jumping or going fast. Wing foiling is easier to rig up and takes pressure off your hands and your body. It is simple, quiet and as some say, it has a familiar feeling as skiing powder.