Jeff Albright broke through to the top of the podium in Baja California this August, taking first place in both the masters and amateur divisions at the Punta San Carlos competition of the American Windsurfing Tour. Albright, a ski racing dad and orthopedic surgeon, is a top-flight windsurfer who moved to Oregon after his medical training for the wind, waves and mountains. He has been competing on the AWT for five years now, and hisvictories in Baja mark his best results after several near misses.
“I’ve had a string of seconds and thirds, but never a first, so it was nice to win,” Albright said in a recent phone interview. “It’s fun to be on top of the podium.”
The Baja competition was held in Punta San Carlos, 275 miles south of San Diego in a secluded desert setting. Albright made the trip down with his 13-year-old daughter Quinn, the two of them flying down from Tijuana in a Cessna 6-seater to a remote camp spot on the beach filled with professional and amateur windsurfers. As a south-facing beach, Punta receives a steady supply of swells originating in the Southern Hemisphere, and Albright said conditions were ideal for three days of lively competition on the water, with 5-8 foot waves and relatively warm water.
“It’s one of the iconic windsurfing spots in the world, certainly in North America,” said Albright. “People come from all over to compete there. We had competitors from Italy, France, Japan, Canada and Morocco.”
The Baja AWT competitors went out in small groups for 18-minute sessions of wave riding, with each ride scored by judges for style and flow and the top two wave scores adding up to an overall score. Albright’s strategy was to be patient and resist the temptation to ride mediocre waves, rather to wait for the ideal break and make the most of it. It probably helped that he has deep local knowledge of the spot after more than a dozen trips to Punta over the years, including three competitions.
In the finals of the amateur division Albright beat out a field of three promising youngsters whose combined ages added up to his 50 years: a 15-year-old from Japan, a 17-year-old from Maui and an 18-year-old from the U.S. He said his experience was one key to his victory over the youngsters, but he also benefited from the fact that the AWT judges value wave-riding over air time: “I’m not much of a jumper. I take care of the jumpers after they get injured, that’s my experience.”
Albright has done surgeries on numerous top athletes including pro windsurfers as part of Advantage Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Clinic in Gresham, and he is also a regular Wednesday night medical volunteer at the Meadows clinic in winter. He and his Advantage clinic partners Marc Davidson and Bret Dales handle everything from bunions to hip replacement surgeries, and they have been solid sponsors of Shred Hood since 2013. Anyone heading into the 2016-17 snow season with knee, foot, ankle, shoulder or hip issues can call them at 503-661-5388 to schedule an appointment. The double win in Baja leaves Albright sitting in first place for the year in the masters division and second place for the amateurs