Hood River Watersports Pioneer Steve Gates

Big Winds founder Steve Gates loses Battle with Cancer

Last week, the paddling and windsurfing community lost a giant. If you have ever been to Hood River, you have probably been into Big Winds, the big shop just a stone’s throw from the end of the Viento downwind run. Big Winds is the place for paddle or windsurfing gear, rentals, or lessons. But founder Steve Gates’ shop was more than just a retail spot.  Gates was a major influence on the watersports community that is now synonymous with Hood River. His vision lead to the development of a culture, the training of countless young paddlers like Fiona Wylde and Hannah Hill, the success of downwind races in the Gorge and the growth of downwinding as SUP speciality, culminating in his support for the Stoke on the Water downwind guiding service.

Gates passed away on November 20 after fighting cancer for five years. On Sunday, he was honored with a Paddle Out in the old Nichols Boat Basin.

He will be missed.

Photo by John Laptad