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Possibly controversial-should schools teach in the HR?
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tgautier

Since 22 Oct 2016
25 Posts

 



PostThu Aug 15, 19 4:32 pm    Possibly controversial-should schools teach in the HR? Reply with quote

First off - I know this is a topic that is likely to generate a lot of controversy. I would ask that if you don't agree with me - please keep it civil.

I'm asking this question because I'm curious what others think. I don't want or need negativity, I'm honestly interested in a) whether anyone else thinks this is an issue b) what are the opinions on both sides and finally c) is there any need to find a solution?

I've noticed that it seems in this year more so than in years past, there's a lot of beginner activity happening in the Hood River just east of the sandbar where it's shallow and lighter wind. I can totally understand why schools would go here - but.

This area is one of the only offshore wind spots with calm flat water where a person can try freestyle hooked in and unhooked tricks. Go slightly down wind of this area, and you're blocking the lineup for the slider park. There's a narrow sweet spot between the sandbar and the slider park. Beyond the slider park the wind is garbage it's not worth kiting.

With beginners lining up along the E part of the sandbar, this narrow zone is made more narrow, and as the beginners inevitably make their way downwind, it now becomes somewhat challenging to avoid them safely. Keep in mind that when I kite this area, I'm hyper aware of the beginners and their uncomfortableness with my kite skills and abilities because they have none and don't understand how kites interact. This means they need a super large buffer zone - much larger than an intermediate or expert kiter would ever need. And that's a big contributor to the problem - beginners in this area just take up way more space than anyone else and so you can't pack them in very tightly, and the space is already not that big. Navigating around them safely is not at all like navigating around any other kiter on the water.

Which brings me to the controversial part. Here's my Q:

Should kite schools be teaching here?

Is it fair to other users of the river? I believe strongly that we ALL share the river, and no single group has claim over any one part or another - strictly speaking. At the same time, for the benefit of all, there are places that are generally considered to be useful for one group or another, e.g. the windsurf launch at the waterfront and the zone in front of it, the windsurf launch on the W part of the Event Site, the "kitefoil only" zone just W of the Event Site Jetty (aka Fred's playground), and the beginner zone W of the sandbar and of course the beginner zone W of Wells Island.

Now here's where I am going to make a suggestion - based on my experience in Squamish recently where there was a LOT of beginner/lesson activity going on, and YET unlike here in Hood River, there was absolutely no contention with intermediate/advanced kiters. That is because absolutely every single school had a ski, and took their students well upwind of any interesting kite spots for intermediate/advanced kiters. The offshore wind at Squamish is entirely free of beginners for this reason.

Could we do the same in Hood River? The W part of the sandbar is ALREADY a beginner zone. The E part of the sandbar (in the actual Hood River) is a pretty special place. Is it fair that it's taken over by beginners, considering it's the only offshore wind spot? Wells Island is a great place to take beginners - schools simply need a ski. And I would argue they kinda do anyway.

One last thought - come to think of it - I've kited quite a few places in the world. I've never ever seen one where beginning kiteboarders are taught in offshore conditions. This seems kinda weird - from a safety perspective beginners are usually given very strong warnings about only kiting onshore winds, and yet here we are sticking them in offshore conditions?!? I know it's not like a true offshore situation, but still, that's just kinda not in line with most places I've experienced.

So like I said. Please keep it civil. Curious your thoughts and opinions.

Thanks and peace!

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user124

Since 02 Aug 2012
289 Posts
Portland
Obsessed



PostThu Aug 15, 19 9:51 pm     Reply with quote

Whenever I am asked about where to take kite lessons in the gorge, I always tell people to make sure you go with a school that has a jet ski. I think it's lunacy to try and learn to kite in the chaos around the Hood River sand bar.

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McLovin

Since 11 Sep 2017
73 Posts
Corbett
 



PostThu Aug 15, 19 10:55 pm    Re: Possibly controversial-should schools teach in the HR? Reply with quote

tgautier wrote:

Here's my Q:

Should kite schools be teaching here?

Is it fair to other users of the river? I believe strongly that we ALL share the river, and no single group has claim over any one part or another - strictly speaking.


Disclaimer: I am not connected to ANY kiting school or business

That said I can say that in my experience learning with the Good Folks at Cascade (Hi Tonia) I really appreciated the separation afforded me having a Jet-Ski follow with radio comms - full discloser I did accidentally end up in the trick pool on my 1st unaided day after launching on the west side of the sandbar. Hindsight, I had no business in "the trick pool" and really didn't want to be there myself - just a belated THANK YOU to the few people that put up with me that one time.

I can see the value of having DAY#1 learn to fly, launch, land - self rescue stuff from standing in knee deep water but usually that a very small spot with short lines so NOT an issue. When I was first learning the last thing I'd ever want, would be kooking up a better kiters path - BAD KARMA! Shocked

Not sure if that helps or what the other stakeholders might have to say... I do think we all have to share, but some self imposed considerations don't seem too off base IMHO. Exclusive access doesn't quite seem fair either - maybe a nod to the Hawaiians who share the water for certain uses by time of day. I'm sure you could think up a schedule that would allow for some lesson time for those who dare to learn there and some ADULT SWIM expression session time Just for Tricks???

It's such a BIG river - would love to see more people get serious about developing new launches - if we had 100 spots none of these issues would persist IMHO

Mc


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oliver19

Since 25 Jun 2019
17 Posts

 



PostFri Aug 16, 19 12:24 am     Reply with quote

Fair question. The flip side would be: isn’t it better in some ways to have all the beginners in one area where you know where they are instead of jet ski lessons going on all over the river?

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shred_da_gorge

Since 12 Nov 2008
821 Posts

Opinionated



PostFri Aug 16, 19 12:04 pm     Reply with quote

I kited a little in the "trick pool" yesterday for the first time. I noticed the wind shadows and gusts from the upwind obstructions would be non-ideal for beginners anyway, and varying river levels would probably make it essential for 'local knowledge' to avoid running aground.

It was fun to play in the 'butter' a little, but it's a place I'd leave to the jibbers and booters just out of respect. (Most of us pay taxes to help maintain roads but I don't know of written laws preventing us from picnicking in the middle of them... just something we know better to avoid).

IMHO having experienced teachers on skis all around the river would be preferable to teachers trying to use a small hazardous area because they didn't invest in rescue support. It's a pretty big river once you get skilled at going upwind anyway, and teachers should be licensed and equipped properly to operate on any public property.

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user124

Since 02 Aug 2012
289 Posts
Portland
Obsessed



PostFri Aug 16, 19 12:48 pm     Reply with quote

oliver19 wrote:
Fair question. The flip side would be: isn’t it better in some ways to have all the beginners in one area where you know where they are instead of jet ski lessons going on all over the river?


I would say no, especially if that area also happens to be just downwind from where hundreds of kiters launch and land on a busy summer day. As others have said, it's a big river and with a jet ski it's easy to avoid the crowds. The HR jet ski enabled schools seem to prefer to go above wells island and it's really easy to spot the lessons - just look for the jet-ski following the tomahawking kite!

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wannabekiter

Since 14 May 2015
214 Posts
Hood river
Stoked



PostFri Aug 16, 19 1:56 pm    wave runner Reply with quote

The problem may be the cost of wave runners, maintenance, insurance etc.
A new Yamaha on trailer is about 11k, Insurance for private use is about 350. for a year. I suspect a school would pay more.
Oil changes and other repairs are not cheap. Oil and filter is about 50 for our wave runner. Plus labor.
Boat drivers in Oregon need a boater license - I think its 30 dollars
So the cost of wave runners might be too expensive for some.
Yes they are priceless on a busy summer day...

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Pepi

Since 16 Jun 2006
1733 Posts
Hood River's local kite
Shop Owner

CGKA Member


PostFri Aug 16, 19 9:43 pm     Reply with quote

2 things to be aware of:
1) The west side of Well's Island has to be shallow enough for instructors to anchor jetskis and set up kites safely. Too deep and it's not do able. Added liability issues are if an injury occurs.
2) The Sandbar is vaguely the jurisdiction of DSL (Dept of State Lands) or The Coast Guard, which prevents anyone from setting any specific rules or guidelines that can be broken or enforced.
For almost 20yrs now the kite schools have worked together, with the Port, the Sheriffs dept, the Slider Project and the (former) CGKA to talk through how best they can locate themselves so that all entities can share the shoreline and still allow the schools to offer safe and effective lessons.

Being that this is the Gorge, probably one of the gustiest and most challenging learning spots in the entire world, it's a tough call to make in finding ways to improve life and space for all unless we were able to one day reshape the sandspit to offer better spacing of the user groups.

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consumer

Since 28 Nov 2010
397 Posts
banned
Obsessed



PostSat Aug 17, 19 4:09 am     Reply with quote

Here are some threads on this topic going as far back as 2006. This list is not exhaustive.

Must you ride so close to my student
"Must you kite so close to my student?”
Where shall a newbie Kite then?
Schools crowding the HR sandbar
KID Cluster at the Spit today! Just a vent.
Let me ask a stupid question
Launch & Leave from the sandbar
It's a big river - More space please.
Lessons in the ponds/ shallows.....

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tgautier

Since 22 Oct 2016
25 Posts

 



PostSat Aug 17, 19 8:05 am     Reply with quote

consumer wrote:
Here are some threads on this topic going as far back as 2006. This list is not exhaustive.


Thank you so much for pointing to these.

So - one thing I learned - this isn't a new issue it's as old as the sandbar.

A lot of people in those past threads were complaining of beginners on the W side of the sandbar. That seems to be a settled issue now. There were some threads where the same complaint was issued for those kiting on the E side in the kiddie pool as it seems to be called (the area I highlighted).

It's not clear what if any resolution there is to this issue. As I even noted, clearly the river is there for all to use. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to provide guidelines that help organize its use for the benefit of all.

Forrest brought up an interesting point about the legality of use considering that the schools are concessionaires and are not allowed to block the public's use. I'm not sure the issue I brought up could technically be considered blocking, and therefore I may follow up with him in person just to get more details on this issue since he always has tons of good context.

Thanks so much (again) for pointing these out. For reference, I turned them into links here because I had to go search them to read them:

Must you ride so close to my student - http://www.nwkite.com/forums/t-5187-0-asc-34.html
"Must you kite so close to my student?”
Where shall a newbie Kite then? - http://nwkite.com/forums/t-8739.html
Schools crowding the HR sandbar - http://nwkite.com/forums/t-8723-0.html
KID Cluster at the Spit today! Just a vent. - http://nwkite.com/forums/post-65049.php
Let me ask a stupid question
Launch & Leave from the sandbar
It's a big river - More space please. - http://www.nwkite.com/forums/t-23193-0-asc-17.html
Lessons in the ponds/ shallows..... - http://www.nwkite.com/forums/t-32513-0.html

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tgautier

Since 22 Oct 2016
25 Posts

 



PostSat Aug 17, 19 8:17 am     Reply with quote

Good points Pepi thanks!

Pepi wrote:
2 things to be aware of:
1) The west side of Well's Island has to be shallow enough for instructors to anchor jetskis and set up kites safely. Too deep and it's not do able. Added liability issues are if an injury occurs.


Wouldn't that coincide with when it's desirable to kite in the kiddie pool though?

Regarding liability - I would think liability for kiting is just liability. I can't believe that insurance companies could possibly distinguish the difference between "W of Wells Island Injury" and "E of sandbar" injury. I could imagine they would distinguish "has ski and teaches with ski" vs "does not use ski" but I would be pretty shocked if the former has *higher* not *lower* liability vs. the latter.

Besides I would argue attempting to teach kiters to kite in ankle deep water with rocks, stumps, and the slider park downwind is at LEAST as dangerous as attempting it at Wells?

Quote:

2) The Sandbar is vaguely the jurisdiction of DSL (Dept of State Lands) or The Coast Guard, which prevents anyone from setting any specific rules or guidelines that can be broken or enforced.

Of course...I wasn't suggesting an official rule, but more informal as you point out next...

Quote:

For almost 20yrs now the kite schools have worked together, with the Port, the Sheriffs dept, the Slider Project and the (former) CGKA to talk through how best they can locate themselves so that all entities can share the shoreline and still allow the schools to offer safe and effective lessons.


Exactly, and my point here is to just ask - is the E part of the sandbar - the kiddie pool - abiding by that agreement? And if it is when did everyone get together and agree that teaching there is the best use? Is there a chance of reviewing that "decision"? Reading past forum posts that seems far from a settled issue.

Quote:

Being that this is the Gorge, probably one of the gustiest and most challenging learning spots in the entire world, it's a tough call to make in finding ways to improve life and space for all unless we were able to one day reshape the sandspit to offer better spacing of the user groups.


Totally agreed - nothing in life's easy man Smile I will note though that a lot of people make the point that skis make a big difference. It's hard for me not to notice a stark difference between skis and not skis wrt to schools.

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forrest

Since 21 Jun 2005
4329 Posts
Hood River
Hick

CGKA Member


PostSat Aug 17, 19 9:03 am     Reply with quote

A long time ago on a sandbar far, far away...

tgautier wrote:
Forrest brought up an interesting point about the legality of use considering that the schools are concessionaires and are not allowed to block the public's use. I'm not sure the issue I brought up could technically be considered blocking, and therefore I may follow up with him in person just to get more details on this issue since he always has tons of good context.

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navi

Since 23 Aug 2014
48 Posts

 



PostSat Aug 17, 19 11:45 am     Reply with quote

Many of those learning at the end of the sandbar (where wind is often sh*itty) are being taught by friends / unofficial instructors. They are abjectly unaware of how long their lines/other people's lines are; this awareness is not stressed in general but should be.
Recently started foiling - so thrust back into relative newbie situation, ended down towards the red buoy a few times. I was painfully aware that I now posed a risk to others so tried to steer clear with a margin for error. Thankfully out of that jungle now. Not trying to sound holy here, just aware that that there are a lot of near misses down there.

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Singlemalt

Since 21 Jun 2015
204 Posts
White Salmon
Stoked



PostSat Aug 17, 19 3:45 pm     Reply with quote

Just leave the sandbar to the beginners. That’s where they are going to be. Schools or no schools, that’s where people are cutting their teeth, paying dues. Doing the laps with the walk of shame. They’ll fly the nest as soon as they are able.

Lots of folks don’t have a hundred bucks an hour for a jet ski baby sitter. Lots of lessons don’t need jet ski support, that would be overkill.

Launch and go seek glory elsewhere. But while on the sand bar, lend a hand. Catch some kites. Give a wide eyed beginner a good launch and some stoke.

“It’s the best butter!” You are killing me, Smalls!

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tgautier

Since 22 Oct 2016
25 Posts

 



PostSun Aug 18, 19 5:37 pm     Reply with quote

Singlemalt wrote:
Just leave the sandbar to the beginners. That’s where they are going to be. Schools or no schools, that’s where people are cutting their teeth, paying dues. Doing the laps with the walk of shame. They’ll fly the nest as soon as they are able.

Lots of folks don’t have a hundred bucks an hour for a jet ski baby sitter. Lots of lessons don’t need jet ski support, that would be overkill.

Launch and go seek glory elsewhere. But while on the sand bar, lend a hand. Catch some kites. Give a wide eyed beginner a good launch and some stoke.

“It’s the best butter!” You are killing me, Smalls!


I always help anybody and everybody on the beach. I’ve even yelled encouragement at a beginner in the kiddie pool.

Do you have a suggestion on where to find comparable flat water that isn’t the kiddie pool though?

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Singlemalt

Since 21 Jun 2015
204 Posts
White Salmon
Stoked



PostSun Aug 18, 19 7:19 pm     Reply with quote

East side of the Lyle sandbar, the mouth of the Klickitat. Yeah, I know, it scares the fish. But seems like all bets are off with Lyle access, so why not try the butter there?


Outer banks, NC? Florida?

Top shelf of the fridge?

I hit the sandbar today, so I see what you are saying. It’s a mighty nice butter slice. But beginners abound and lessons were going on.

You can’t always get what you want...

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pdxmonkeyboy

Since 16 May 2006
6073 Posts
forever labled as the
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PostThu Aug 22, 19 1:59 pm     Reply with quote

What you need is the official sand bar kiting map, circa 2011

   kooks.jpg 

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