What was the AWSI Event All About?

AWSI 2020 event


The AWSI Hosts The Biggest Trade and Industry Event Of The Year In Hood River

Words: Caroline Morris

Last week saw the celebrated annual Industry Board Sports Expo run by the Association of Wind and Watersports Industries (AWSI), where once again Hood River, USA set the stage for the action to unfold.

46 brands, their designers, industry legends and a huge list of pros spent the week together bonding, testings products, shaking up ideas and cracking craft beers as the show went down on the water.

The mountain gorge town also played host to the annual awards where even more beer flowed to a packed room hoping for their name to be called. Hood River local Brandon Scheid claimed yet another trophy for the best male rider, Moona Whyte for best female, and Slingshot bagged the coveted ‘brand of the year’ award.

Click the images below to enlarge: 

Awards photos by AWSI – Follow them on Facebook here. 

The lighter wind at the start of the week provided prime foiling conditions and the likes of Steven Akkersdijk and Olly Bridge were showing us how it’s done, inspiring everyone to get out there… and soon there were no demo foils left to grab!

People were also tripping over themselves to demo the selection of surf wings on offer and soon the event became wing-surf-mad. We had unique front row seats to some of the world’s best riders taking their fledgeling flight. If you took one of the demo wings for a spin you could even find yourself performing better than some of the pros. It made for a great show and brought everyone together sharing their humble beginnings and the stoke at trying something that felt so versatile and new.

Throughout the week the wind ramped up, gusting to 37 knots and despite the nightly parties, pub crawls and an action-packed programme of events, everyone made time to be on the water. Not just the riders but the kite designers, brand CEOs and their whole crew too. It was one big ‘family affair’.

As Ruben Lenten DJ’d a sunny setlist of funky house disco vibes that got us in the mood for another ‘happy hour’, we all watched Matchu Lopes and Camille Delannoy boost mega strapless airs across the bay. Old faces showed up to say ‘Hi’ and the waterside beers kept flowing until it was time to head to the next party, dance to some live music, eat tacos and drink more beer til it was time to hit the hay.

Throughout the week barriers seemed to be dropped across the board which was incredibly eye-opening. Pro riders were seen using the oppositions gear and encouraged to try out the competition no holds barred. Rivals were mixing as if the industry never experienced politics. There were even good-humoured games prompting event attendees to get photos of Dakine employees in ION T-shirts, or North staff in Duotone caps and it was great to see everyone embracing it and having fun together.

At one point Rich Sabo (Liquid Force) and Clinton Filen (Airush) were locked in deep conversation together discussing the future of kite design; technology involving ‘biomimicry’, single line kites and more, and it felt like industry events like this are perhaps crucial to the development of the sport. Conversations were really opening up throughout the week and it was as if everyone’s purpose was to use the event to come together to pave the way for the future of kiteboarding.

Collaboration is often the key to innovation and we look forward to what some of these conversations might bring us in the next 10 years. Great event guys – see you in 2020!

Kiteworld videos coming soon. 

Visit the AWSI site here. 

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