Wind power: It’s not just for turbines anymore. You can harness the summer winds blowing through Oregon and learn to kiteboard. If you are willing to commit to a technical sport, kiteboarding offers a thrilling payoff.
Kiteboarding has been described as a combination of wakeboarding, surfing and paragliding. Wearing a harness, a rider is attached to a large nylon kite and propelled across the water on a board. (Think wakeboarding, with the kite as the speedboat, and you are the boat driver too.)
What you’ll need: Lessons, lessons, lessons! Safety is key in this sport and should not be taken lightly. As for equipment, you’ll need a kite, bar and lines, harness, PFD, helmet, wetsuit and board. Equipment is usually included in lessons.
Where and when: Take lessons in the Columbia River Gorge, on the Coast and near Portland. Kite schools include Cascade Kiteboarding (Hood River), Floras Lake Windsurfing (near Langlois), Cleanline Surf Shop (Seaside) and Air Pirates Kiteboarding (Clatskanie), and Kite the Gorge (Hood River). Prime season is May through Sept.
What you’ll get: Introductory lessons include sessions on land (which cover safety, rigging, launching and self-rescue) and water, which teach body-dragging, water starting and skills practice. Some schools offer further advanced classes and jumping lessons too.
What’s the payoff: The reward for figuring out all this gear? Zipping across the water, surfing waves, catching big air and doing fun downwind trips with your friends. Next time the wind comes up, head down to the water and take a look!