Windsurfing Nationals return to the Gorge

Top amateur and professional windsurfers from around the country will test their skills against one another when the United States Windsurfing Naÿtional Championships take place in Hood River Aug. 20-25.

Sanctioned by the U.S. Sailing Association and the U.S. Windÿsurfing Association, the national competition attracts the best windsurfers in the U.S. and serves as an Olympic qualifer every four years. The event is held in a different location each year and last appeared in Hood River in 1995.

This year's competition will feature 2000 windsurfing world champion Kevin Pritchard, who started sailing in the Columbia River Gorge with brother and fellow competitor, Matt. Other notable participants include Jimÿmy Diaz and Phil McGain, as well as top junior amateur sailors.

Contestants will compete in a series of course, slalom and long-distance races over the five-day period, and if the Gorge's world-famous wind lives up to its billÿing, spectators can expect an exÿciting and challenging race series.

In addition to daily racing, competitors will be treated to enÿtertainment throughout the week, including a Windwing "Flock" Party Wednesday, Aug. 22 at the River City Saloon and a fundÿraising block party Friday, Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. at the Gorge Surf Shop. Friday's event will feature the sounds of Shake n' Jake and the Live Wires and is open to the public.

"The Columbia Gorge Windÿsurfing Association welcomes the competitors, and their families and friends to the Gorge -- the windsurfing capital -- for an exÿciting week of competition," said CGWA president Dave Hmiel, who is helping organize the event.

"We will encourage the Nationÿals to return in a few years to our wonderful area."

Additional sponsors for the 2001 U.S. Windsurfing Nationals include Safeway, Full Sail Brewÿing Co., Da Kine, CGWA, Gorge Media, AHD, and Fiberspar.

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