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CGWA announces 2011 Windsurf awards

Sept. 2, 2011

The Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association announced its annual Gorge Windsurf Awards at an end-of-season party Wednesday night at the Ruins in Hood River.

Nominations for the five categories were submitted by and voted on by the Gorge windsurfing community. Winners were Nathan Mershon -- Gorge Windsurfer of the Year; Art Loh -- Most Stoked (awarded posthumously); Greg Crafts -- Most Selfless Windsurfer; Fiona Wylde -- Grom of the Year and Mike Van Sisseren -- Dale Cook Big Air Award.

The Gorge Windsurfer of the Year winner, Nathan Mershon, is known in the Gorge and Maui for his extremely high and technical aerial maneuvers. This year he surprised many by taking the lead in the renowned American Windsurfing Tour, above the likes of Kevin Pritchard and Josh Stone, Professional Windsurfing Association World Champions.

Art Loh's posthumous award was accepted by Tom Eshbaugh, a friend of Loh's, who helped arrange a local memorial for Loh after he passed away after windsurfing at Rowena earlier in the season.

"His family will be honored by this award and will really appreciate it," Eshbaugh said at the ceremony.

Fiona Wylde, a young and skilled athlete who won her division in this year's Gorge Cup Race Series and competes in the American Windsurfing Tour, graciously accepted her award while acknowledging her fellow nominee Ben Grodner.

"Ben is equally deserving of this award, and I'll be sure to share it with him," Wylde said.

In recognition of a lifetime of dedication to the Gorge and windsurfing, the CGWA Board of Directors awarded the Golden Shovel award to Fred Noble. This award is given to a person who willingly "digs in" and gets his or her hands dirty to support the Gorge. Last year's winner was Vel Budworth for her work hosting the CGWA Swap Meets, which have grown to be a main fundraising mechanism for the organization.

Noble was a founding member of CGWA in the early 1980s, and since then has been a critical driver for public beach development at Rowena and Viento, among others. He built the changing rooms at the Hook, and leads an inspired life of philanthropy.

Noble was diagnosed with terminal ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, and is pouring his energy into the inaugural Ski to Defeat ALS event at Meadows in April 2012. The award was presented by longtime CGWA board member Patrick Quigley, a close friend of Noble.

Steve Gates, CGWA president, wrapped up the ceremony with a group toast to another great Gorge season.

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