Red Letter Day: Fresh Vistas

Rider & Words: Nathan van Vuuren
Photos: James Leigh
Location: Hood River, Oregon
Date: Tuesday September 5th, 2023

Give or take a couple of measures of longitude, it was a flight halfway around the world that dropped Nathan van Vuuren into the unfamiliar realms of the legendary Hood River. But wind and water (and Mexican food) are pretty universal, so Nathan knew exactly how to have fun when he got there…

I had been anticipating the epic conditions of the legendary Hood River for months, so we organized the trip, and finally after 25+ hours of travel time from Cape Town, myself and my good friend James finally made it to Portland, Oregon. From there we had a short but highly jetlagged drive to Hood River and were immediately welcomed with a fresh breeze and warm weather! The following day after waking up at an unearthly hour, we eventually came to our senses and immediately began psyching to go and get in the water as the conditions were looking perfect for our first wingfoil session.

After a very strong coffee and a good breakfast, we set off with hopes of scoring some epic conditions for our first day. After a beautiful drive on the right side of the road through the unique Oregon landscape, we arrived at our destination to be met by some of the best conditions I have ever seen. It was earlier in the day and the wind was already blowing 25 knots and scheduled to increase throughout the day. I eagerly began setting up my foil gear along with many other riders who had arrived to have a session in this world-renowned location. I pumped up my fresh new Flysurfer 2.5m TAO wing, grabbed my foilboard setup and eagerly headed into the water.

There is something so special and exciting about a wing session at an unfamiliar location, so I was absolutely frothing to be in the warmer water and pumping wind! After waiting my turn to enter the water and enjoying a few more relaxed runs on the foil to get my bearings and settle the jetlag, my confidence began to build, so I began to start looking for a few ramps to boost off. Due to the strong current and howling wind, Hood River as a result boasts some of the craziest swells for riding on the foil and is an incredible opportunity to boost and get some height on the wingfoil. I lined up a few jumps and spent most of my session enjoying the incredible conditions while trying out a few new moves and using the opportunity to push my level of riding. One of the highlights from winging in Hood River was witnessing the sheer amount of wingfoilers and riders who are frothing to be out in the water, and as a result really makes you push your own limits!

Eventually after a full day out foiling in the water, a gnarly sunburn, and a touch of dehydration, we were satisfied and content with a successful first day.  We immediately realized that we were in serious need of some food and drink, so we decided to pay the Mexican restaurant a visit which was around the corner from our lodge. We collapsed into our seats and ordered the first item on the menu that caught our eye, and a very large jug of water. We were thrilled and even slightly stunned to be served the biggest and thickest burrito we had seen in our lives! After tackling the meal we headed back to our lodge with full stomachs and our happiness levels through the roof. That day and session will forever be a special moment in time, and will always be one to remember!

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