With everything you need to help you learn from the beginning or to improve your current skills, Vela and Big Winds will have just the right program for everyone in your group. A huge selection of high-performance rental and demo equipment, an outstanding Kids Camp, specialized clinics, and the most knowledgeable staff around, you can trust us to help you get to where you want to be with your sailing.
New to windsurfing? Not for long. Our two lesson program introduces the sport in a fun, safe environment. Lessons are two hours, but you’re up in sailing in minutes -- experiencing the power of the wind in your hands. Call or email to sign up. Classes include an extra hour of practice time following the lesson.
Level I: Get Riding
It’s your first time on board. And we’ll keep you on board with our specialized gear and expert instruction. Sailing stance and steering are the lesson’s focus, but the real surprise is the fun. That, and the fast pace of progression. All from a protected lagoon.
Level II: Fast Riding
You know the basics. Now it’s time for quicker turns, higher speeds and upwind sailing. Hang on!
First Timers' Package: Levels I and II
Sign up for both lessons and save! And don't worry: if you sign up for this package you aren't expected to take both lessons in the same day ... unless you want to! We encourage you to spread them out over a couple days, or over a long weekend. Plus, if you signed up for individual lessons, you can upgrade to the at any time.
Cost: You can take each lesson individually ($79 each) or combine both ($149).
Our Intermediate Lessons focus on teaching you how to waterstart, a skill that once mastered will unlock sailing locations across the entire Gorge! Each group lesson is 2 hours long and includes the use of our performance rental equipment during the lesson, plus an additional hour of practice immediately following the lesson.
Cost: $99 each or purchase 3 lessons as a package for only $259.
You and your expert instructor will plan an individualized curriculum based on your current windsurfing abilities and goals. Whether you're just getting started with the sport, or working on your loops, a private lesson could be just the boost your skills need! Whether you are just starting with windsurfing or are working on your loops, our expert instructors can tailor a lesson to your needs. What you learn is up to you; the possibilities are endless! Individualized instruction with one of our experienced instructors will accelerate your sailing to the next level.
Level III: Rock the Hook
No more learner rigs. You’ve graduated to larger sails and new techniques. Namely, beach starts and harness use.
Level IV: Wells Island Express
Bye bye protected lagoon. Hello Columbia River Gorge. This lesson takes place on a friendly shallow sandbar outside the Hook, and introduces water starts, rigging and river safety.
Level V: Conquer the Columbia
Deep water starts are your all-access pass to countless Columbia River Gorge windsurfing sites. This class dials dials them in so you can sail wherever the wind blows!
Gorge Rider Package -Levels III, IV, V
Sign up for all three lessons and save big.
Cost: $99 per lesson with 2 hours of instruction time including all gear during your lesson plus 1 hour rental to keep practicing. Take the 3 lesson package for only $259. Reservations required.
Looking to nail your jibes? Improve your stance? Chop hop? This full-day event, which combines on-the-water instruction, dry land simulation and tuning advice is the answer. Sessions begin at 9 am at Big Winds, then it’s off to wherever the day’s conditions are best. All you need to bring is a solid water start and a sack lunch. The location of these clinics will depend on daily wind conditions, but wherever you’re sailing, you will get first-rate instruction and an unforgettable experience.
Schedule: TBA. All clinics meet at 8:30 at Big Winds and run until 4:00 each afternoon.
Cost: $125 (does not include equipment) Space is limited, so call soon!
Her Turn: Women's Clinic
Come join us for a day of playing around on the water with just the girls! These clinics, lead by long time instructor Heidi Chapel, will change your sailing for ever and give you the opportunity to meet some new friends to sail with. Whether you are looking to learn how to jibe, jump or just get into the footstraps and harness these clinics will be a great starting point to take your sailing to the next level. With a small instructor to student ratio you will be guaranteed to receive individualized attention and instruction as you move at the pace that best suits you. With all day instruction you will receive rigging and sail tuning tips along with the opportunity to try some great new demo gear from Big Winds if you so desire.
Each clinic is comprised of two full days on the water. In the morning you will meet the instructors for coffee and bagels at the Big Winds shop (8:30 am) to see where the best place for wind is that day. The sailing locations used most for the women's clinics are the Event Site, Rowena or Viento because they offer easy beach access and a good variety of sailing conditions for the intermediate to advanced sailor. Once the sailing site has been established the group will carpool/caravan to the sailing location. Bring your lunch pail as you will be spending the whole day at the beach. Then at the end of your first day, take the time to share all your fun stories and what you learned as you receive complimentary wine and cheese supplied by Big Winds.
These clinics are a great way to improve your skills while having fun with the girls. Whether you are looking to cross the river for the first time or wanting to learn how to rip up the swell you can advance your skill level in this two day clinic. The only requirement to join in on the fun is to have a bombproof water start. If you do let us show you the rest!
Cost: 2 days, $250 (does not include equipment) Space is limited, so call soon!
"What? My kids can sail in THE GORGE?!?!" Yes, absolutely! Our Kids Camp by Big Winds is a 4-day program that is ideal for introducing kids to windsurfing in a fun and encouraging camp setting. Our camp is specially designed for children ages 7 to 13 and takes place at our private beach inside the Hook, a windy yet protected lagoon right here in Hood River.These camps will fill up quickly, so sign up soon!
Beginners and Intermediates
A great program ideal for introducing kids to windsurfing in a fun and encouraging camp setting. Our camp is specially designed for children ages 7 to 13 and takes place at our private beach inside the Hook, a windy yet protected lagoon in Hood River. A team of instructors have developed a fun and positive environment for teaching kids how to windsurf. We use the latest specialized, lightweight gear to guarantee success. The camp teaches all skill-levels, including basic sailing, harness use, footstraps and waterstarting. Prerequisites: Children must be at least 7 years of age, enjoy being in the water and be able to swim a minimum of twenty feet.
Available mid-May through early-September, each 4-Day camp runs Monday through Thursday. Choose either AM (10:00-1:00) or PM (2:00-5:00) session time. Kids will be provided with all gear, life vest, wetsuit, helmet, snacks, and a souvenir t-shirt.
Cost: $279 for 4 days
Advanced Junior Camp
Advanced Junior Camps are designed for kids at least 10 years old who have a significant windsurfing background already. Focus of these camps is on waterstarting and higher wind techniques such as harness use, footstrap use, and jibing. All equipment is included and these camps take place on the outside of the Hook in deeper, more open water. Are you ready for this camp? You must be 10 years or older, a strong swimmer, and an experienced windsurfer (are waterstarting or are close to it, and have experience using a harness).
Available July 1 through August 8, with 4-Days Camps Monday through Thursday from 2:00-5:00. Kids will be provided with all gear, life vest, wetsuit, helmet, snacks, and souvenir T-Shirt.
Cost: $349 for 4 days