By BEN MCCARTY
News staff writer
February 24, 2007
One month into her job as Executive director of the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association, Katie Crafts is still setting up her office, but is already dealing with several challenges and starting work on her vision of the Gorge windsurfing community.
The University California Santa Barbara graduate who returned from traveling around South America just two days before starting the job last month is working with various groups to address the most pressing problem facing Hood River windsurfing: the large sand bar delta that built up at the mouth of the Hood River thanks to winter flooding.
The delta is blocking off roughly half of the launchable area at the event site, and could cause significant congestion when windsurfing season gets into full swing.
“It will be more congested,” Crafts said, noting that the usual amount of windsurfers and kite boarders will have to find room to share with only half the space. “I would like to see people work it out successfully.”
The delta does not appear to be going anywhere anytime soon – so Crafts is trying to look on the bright side.
“It could be a good buffer (between advanced and beginning windsurfers),” she said. “It could be the intermediary beach we’ve been needing.”
In addition to trying to work out a solution for the delta, Crafts would like to see windsurfing in the Gorge reach back to its community roots.
“There used to be a community of windsurfers and this community came back year after year,” Crafts said. “It was a community of people that looked forward to coming back to the Gorge, and I want to bring that back. I want people to ask ‘How can I miss this trip?’”
She would also like to see the sport grow among children, a demographic that has been tough for the sport to reach because of the cost of equipment.
One of her goals is to get gear that is easy to get up available for kids to use and expand on teaching programs that are already in place.
“There is a slew of children learning this sport,” she said. “Six-year olds can get the gear up now.”
Even with the challenges that have come in taking over the job, Crafts cannot think of anything else she would rather be doing.
“Its been perfect…a dream job,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll get bored anytime soon.”