Low Columbia River Level – October 24th, 2014

The Army Corps of Engineers lowered the Bonneville pool for maintenance on the Bonneville Dam. It wasn’t a great day for photography but we got some anyway.

Click on any image, except those in the sliders, to get the big version. To best view the sliders, maximize your browser window, then zoom in (Firefox on Mac: cmd +, Firefox PC: ctrl +).

There are a lot of images on the page, so it may take awhile to load. Please wait until the entire page has loaded before clicking on images.

Mosier, looking east

Mosier, looking east

Mosier, looking west

Mosier, looking west

Mosier, looking west from Highway 30

Mosier, looking west from Highway 30

Rowena

Rowena

Mayer State Park

Mayer State Park

Before and after of Rowena as seen from Rowena Crest:


 

Klickitat River.

Klickitat River.

Island of the Dead, from Memaloose Lookout:


The Hatchery

The Hatchery

Swell City.

Swell City.

The sandbar, from White Salmon:


 

Wells Island from White Salmon

Wells Island from White Salmon

The Hook from White Salmon

The Hook from White Salmon

The Marina, looking east:


 

The Marina, looking west:


 

The east side of the Event Site

The east side of the Event Site

The west side of the Event Site

The west side of the Event Site

The Waterfront Park:


The Hook looking east

The Hook, inside

The Hook, outside

The Hook, outside and Wells Island

Swell City and The Hatchery from the Columbia Gorge Hotel

Swell City and The Hatchery from the Columbia Gorge Hotel

Patagonia at Big Winds

The newly redesigned Patagonia wetsuits and newly introduced drysuit caught our attention this year and thought they would be a perfect fit to the Big Winds offering for Fall 2014 and Spring 2015. Patagonia has always stood by a mission that has inspired us: To build the best product, to cause no unnecessary harm and to use business to implement solutions to the environmental crisis. After hearing about the new upgrades from local Patagonia ambassador Jason Slezak, we thought there is no better time then now to offer our clientele a new wetsuit and drysuit option at Big Winds.

Patagonia wetsuits have a new exterior fabric this season. It is 88% recycled polyester, ultra durable and water-resistant. The wrists, ankles and knees are built with a very durable and long lasting Supratex material that overlaps well with gloves and booties. These updated suits are now 100% externally seam sealed, triple glued, blind stitched and internally taped on high stress areas.

Big Winds carries the new R2 and R3 back zip wetsuits. The R2 is rated for water temps of 55-60 degrees and has worked perfectly so far on the Columbia River this fall. The 3.5 mm neoprene is located in the torso and thighs and is reduced to 3 mm in the arms. The R2 is lined with a

Patagonia R2 wetsuit at Big Winds

Patagonia R2 wetsuit. Click to enlarge.

green interior fabric in the body. This fabric is 67% recycled polyester and very hydrophobic, allowing for minimal water uptake and quick drying. The arms and legs are lined with a blue lining, which is 100% recycled polyester and ultra stretchy. The easy-access center back zip entry has an internal gasket to prevent water from flushing down the back, maximizing comfort. The R2 suit is easily as warm as any other 4/3 mm suit out there and retails for $389.

Patagonia R3 wetsuit at Big Winds

Patagonia R3 wetsuit. Click to enlarge.

The R3 suit is rated for water temps of 48-55 degrees and will be our go to winter and early Spring suit. The thickness bumps out to 4.5 mm in the torso/thighs and is lined with a mid-weight chlorine-free merino wool. It’s the wool that makes this suit feel like you are inside a toaster oven, offering the warmth of a 5/4 mm suit, without the bulk and thickness of a 5/4 mm. The same green polyester lining used in the R2’s torso is used in the R3’s arms and legs for maximum stretch and warmth. The new R3 back-zip full suit retails for $489.

After watching Jason Slezak testing the drysuit in the Gorge last winter and hearing the positive feedback from our Alaska friends up north, we feel this is a good season to re-introduce a drysuit into the Big Winds offering. Patagonia has recently entered the kiteboarding market, hiring ambassadors like Jason and Julien from Liquid Force and Reo Stevens from Cabrinha.

Patagonia Drysuit at Big Winds

Patagonia Drysuit.

This new kiting suit is made with durable waterproof, breathable and windproof, 3-layer Gore-Tex. It’s rated for cold water and air temps of 48-55 degrees and can certainly be pushed into an even colder environment with proper layering underneath. It comes with a Gore-Tex waterproof hood that is stowable. Wear it up when rigging your kite to stay warm.  Then zip it down and out of the way just before hitting the water, so it doesn’t flap and fill with water. The neck gasket is a comfortable 2 mm neoprene and is easy to pull over. It is coupled with a front collar flap with snaps to prevent wind and water entry. The wrist and ankle gaskets are latex, which prevents any water entry (no more balloon legs!). Like most drysuits, the Patagonia drysuit is a rear zipper entry. The zipper used is a YKK/Aquaseal waterproof zipper that is easier than any other drysuit zipper I’ve used. There are a few other nice features, including a chest pocket, leg pocket, relief zipper and suspenders. Priced at only $699, this is the best built, highest quality drysuit we’ve seen for the price. If you want to make kiteboarding or windsurfing an all season sport, this is the ticket to challenge the coldest of water and air conditions.

Patagonia Drysuit at Big Winds

Patagonia Drysuit

Big Winds is one of the first retailers to offer the all new Patagonia wetsuits and drysuit and we feel confident that Patagonia has a quality product that they stand behind with an ironclad guarantee. Give us a call, stop in or order online.

–TJ

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

Autumn SUP Testing: Naish 2015

October 9th, 2014
Waterfront Park, Hood River, OR
Big Winds Naish Glide SUP Testing

Steve: We had a nice afternoon of testing here in the Gorge on a beautiful October afternoon. We were able to test five of the new Naish 2015 Glide series SUP boards. The first board was the 2015 Glide 11′ X 33″.

TJ: The board is stable! It’s got a really nice keel up near the nose that allows a short, wide board to actually track rather well. Typically, short, round boards want to pivot around like a saucer but this one goes right along in a straight line. You might try different fins, depending on your weight and style, that could improve directional stability even further.

Steve: Then we jumped onto the all new 2015 Glide 12’6″ X 30″.

TJ: This board really impressed me. It’s a huge upgrade from from the 2014 model. I really think that people will enjoy this for every day paddling, flat water to downwinding. It’s a good, stable board. It’s got a new recessed deck shape that allows water to flush out the back.

Steve: We tested out the 2015 Glide 14′ X 29″. This board is stable and has good downwind potential, aided by slightly uplifted nose. It will work great for touring, enjoying downwind ocean runs, recreational racing and fitness training.

Then, we tested the all new 2015 Glide 14′ X 30″. The extra inch of width adds a surprising amount of stability, making it a great touring board.

TJ: And again, it’s got that new recessed deck that reduces water accumulation to nothing.

Steve: Last, we tried the 2015 Javelin 14′ X 28″ GX. TJ, do you think this board is as fast as I do?

TJ: In a word, yes. With every stroke, it just wanted to accelerate. Drag was almost non-existent and yet it felt stable.

Steve: It will also serve well as a very high performance touring board for someone who doesn’t necessarily want to race but wants to feel the speed.

So, we’re excited about the Naish 2015 Glide line-up. Stop by, give us a call or visit us online and we’ll provide all the information you need.

Big Winds Naish Glide SUP TestingBig Winds Naish Glide SUP TestingBig Winds Naish Glide SUP Testing

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

2015 Naish Global

Next season Naish will be reintroducing the Global to its board offerings. Much like previous iterations, and the Naish Koncept that followed, the 2015 Global is designed as a do-it-all wave board, effective in conditions all over the world. However, in terms of design, the 2015 Global is a significant departure from its predecessors. While the name and the pitch are familiar, it is important to note that this is not the continued evolution of the boards that came before it, but a completely new shape, and a big step up in terms of performance. The 2015 Global is available in Small (78 liters), Medium (88L) and Large (98L).

Naish Global at Big WindsI am 175 pounds and I have been riding the Small Global as a high-wind board here in the Gorge in mostly 4.2 conditions. I have tried the board on good days and in some pretty funky up and down conditions. The board performed well in both powered up and more marginal conditions.

In terms of appearance, the most unique feature of the 2015 Global is the square tail. The increased tail volume helps the board plane up and coast through lulls. Combined with the board’s tri-fin setup, the square tail provides exceptional grip and drive as well as super stable feeling in carving turns and jibes.

Naish Global at Big WindsWith any new board I expect to have to make small adjustments to my sailing to get the most out of the board. The Global felt pretty good right off the bat. With its notably flat deck and wider tail, I had to loosen my back foot strap a little bit in order to make sure I could get over the centerline and apply pressure on the toe side rail to turn and trim the board. Once I got that dialed in, it was easy to adjust to the board and really put it through its paces.

At a diminutive 222 cm (under 7’4″!) the Small Global feels super compact and controllable. Like other stubby onshore and all-around wave boards, the Global carries speed on swells and through tight turns, planes early and is quick for a wave board. Where I think it sets itself apart the most is in the ride quality. While other boards have felt skittish, prone to spin outs or had an uncomfortable, pounding ride, the global manages to package all of the characteristics I liked in other similar boards with a ride that I’d be happy to live with full time. The new high density deck pads are super grippy and help with creating a super responsive feel.

Naish Global at Big WindsAll 2015 Naish boards come with high end G10 fins from Maui Fin Company. These fins are a significant upgrade from previous Naish stock fins and the fins that come with most other boards. With the stock fin set-up the board feels rock solid, and didn’t even hint at spinning out during the time I spent testing it. I’m looking forward to trying the board with a smaller center fin and seeing if I can slide it around a bit more. If you’re looking to try a multi fin board for the first time, or have had trouble with cavitation on other multi-fin set ups, this board is definitely one to try!

I think the 2015 Global is one of the best performing boards I’ve sailed in the past few years for the unique conditions we have here in the Gorge. I’m also looking forward to trying the larger sizes out on the Oregon coast as well.

— George

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

2015 Cabrinha Radar / Spectrum Package

We are offering a great kiteboarding package including the new Cabrinha Radar kite and Cabrinha Spectrum board. The Radar, coupled with the new 2015 Overdrive Control System, may be one of the most user friendly kites and bars to operate to date.

2015 Cabrinha Radar at Big WindsThe versatility of the Radar is amazing! Great for freeride, works in the waves, exceptional for foil, but more so, incredible for the beginner kiter. What makes this kite such a good entry level option is its incredible relaunch capabilities! Simply put a bit of tension on one of the outside lines, and the kite rocks onto its side and lifts off the water. Whether down on the water off to the edge of the window, or directly downwind, the Radar is the closest thing to an auto relaunch we’ve tested.

With a full bodied canopy, the Radar has exceptional low end power too. I have ridden the 10m Radar with a foil board in 9-14 mph winds and was amazed on how it stayed in the sky. The 3 strut simplicity adds to the light weight feel of the kite, giving it a very nimble and lively feel.

If you are looking for a great value in a new twin-tip kiteboard, the 2015 Cabrinha Spectrum is it. The new Spectrum board comes complete with bindings, fins, and handle for only $639, but when coupled with the Radar and Overdrive bar, the board comes out to only $240! It comes in a variety of sizes, 132/40, 136/41, 140/42, 144/43, and 148/44. It is made up with a very forgiving paulownia wood core for a very smooth ride, even in choppy conditions. The new textured top and bottom sheet adds to the overall durability and the new graphic is made up of the 3 colors the Radar kite is offered in: red, yellow, and teal.

2015 Cabrinha Radar - Spectrum Package

This 2015 Cabrinha package is the best price point entry level value we’ve seen, offering you a solid kite and board, along with the market’s easiest to operate control system. If you choose to upgrade to the Switchblade or Drifter for your second kite, the bar will work with any of the Cabrinha kites offered in the 2015 range. Give us a call to secure your Radar/Spectrum kiteboard package today, or check out our website for package pricing.

–TJ

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

2014 Starboard Air Born 7’10 x 31.5″

We’ve now had the opportunity to give the 2014 Starboard Air Born a run for its money, and the consensus is in: this board RIPS!

At sub-100 liters, it doesn’t have the float that a traditional SUP Surf shape may have, but this is all part of the evolution. We have riders from 160 to 190 pounds riding the 7’10 x 31.5″ and so far, the performance on the wave outshines the difficulties of paddling it out in less than calm conditions. With your feet basically in the water, staying in a semi-aggressive surf stance is a must and weighting down one rail with a little extra back foot pressure alleviates the wobble one might get when paddling in a side by side stance. The Air Born is designed for smaller, mushy waves, and makes less than ideal conditions fun to surf.

Starboard Air Born 7'10 at Big WindsThe first thing we noticed on the wave is that the Air Born is fast, especially for a wider outline. The 5-fin box option allows one to set it up thruster or quad, and when set up quad, the board flies! The acceleration is so much quicker than any other 30+ wide board we’ve ridden.

For maneuverability, once on the wave we noticed the board very playful for its width. Don’t let the 31.5″ get in the way of making the decision to pull the trigger on this board, it’s as playful as most sub 30″ wide boards we’ve tested.

The Air Born in brushed carbon construction comes in at only 13 pounds, super light weight, making the swing weight feel like a standard surfboard. No deck pad included, but we find it plenty grippy with the Startouch texture (and a little wax if needed), keeping it ultra light.

These boards go unchanged for 2015 in shape, and with 2014 coming to an end, we are offering our last Air Born 7’10” x 31.5″ brushed carbon boards at a steal! Give us a call here at Big Winds for your best price on one of our favorite little rippers!

–TJ
Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

2015 Cabrinha Secret Weapon

The Cabrinha surfboard line up got a complete makeover for 2015. A great choice for Gorge conditions, or swell/small wave conditions elsewhere, is the Secret Weapon 5’2. The Secret Weapon is Pete Cabrinha’s take on the fish surfboard specific for kiteboarding in small waves and throwing directional freestyle tricks.

Being fairly wide (19.7″) makes it extremely stable and an easy platform to both stand on and land on. The tail keeps a lot of the width for early planing in light wind and high top-end speed. The fair amount of rocker and the rounded swallow tail allow for fairly nimble, precise turns.

2015 Cabrinha Secret Weapon at Big WindsWhile billed as a great board for light wind, I have found the Secret Weapon to handle high wind conditions like a gem. The quad fin set up plays a big part in this, giving you great bite with the fins when you are flying at full speed on a reach. The nose is also scooped up for a board in this class, making it very forgiving in large chop and also preventing you from pearling (digging in the nose) when going down a steeper wave face.

Durability is a huge factor when considering a new surfboard and the Secret Weapon (as with all the 2015 Cabrinha surfboards) is bomber. After taking this board through the ringer, I can say that it is the strongest production board I have ridden in a long time. Over an EPS core is a bamboo sandwich for strength, with a layer of cork to help dampen rough water.

Secret Weapon at Big Winds

The Cabrinha Secret Weapon comes with front and rear pads and the hexagonal pods in between to keep weight down. Fins (Futures Fin compatible box) and straps are sold separately. I have experimented with different fin configurations, and highly recommend Futures Fin F4 Quads for a great blend of drive, hold and maneuverability.

–Jason

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

2015 Cabrinha Drifter

After several years of using this kite, I can personally attest that the 2015 Drifter is a kite that, first and foremost, DRIFTS! I define drift simply as a kite’s ability to travel downwind without being worked (stroked or looped). The big advantage of a kite drifting is keeping tension on the lines as you ride at the kite, helping prevent the kite from stalling and falling out of the sky. For a seasoned wave kiter, good drift allows you to charge down the line without having to worry about outrunning your kite, allowing you to focus on riding the wave. For a beginner through early advanced level kiter, good drift is super helpful in allowing you to perfect transitions, jumps and toe side riding without having to always be as focused on maintaining perfect line tension.

2015 Drifter at Big Winds

The Drifter is also a great kite due to its extremely easy re-launch. It has great wind range, nearly as much as the Cabrinha Switchblade, and more then almost any other kite on the market. Its Double Ripstop build is industry leading in durability and does not become silky over repeated uses. The Sprint inflation system, with its direct connect valve, also makes pumping it up a breeze.2015 Drifter at Big Winds

Now in its fourth generation, the structural design of the Drifter has stayed nearly identical since its inception. The only change was in 2014 (continuing on in 2015) when they reduced the number of pulleys in the bridle from six to two. Fewer pulleys create a more direct feel between the bar and the kite, and increasing overall turning speed. All in all, the Drifter is a must have for wave riders, and a great option for anybody looking for a top of the line, but forgiving, free ride kite.

Overdrive 1x Bar

The Cabrinha bar has gotten a big rework this year. The new Quickloop chicken loop/safety release system is extremely effective at killing power when pulled and it is insanely easy to put back together (even one-handed!) on the water. The floats have been expanded substantially and the trim adjustments have been brought seven cm closer to the bar, making adjustments easier for shorter riders, while still allowing easy, nearly 100% depower when sheeted out. The Overdrive system returns, allowing you to easily adjust the bar from 48-56 cm, as does the 1x single line flagging safety system.

–Jason

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

2015 Starboard Kode FreeWave 86

When the Kode FreeWave was pulled out of the bag at Rowena the other evening it turned heads on the beach. I received comments on what an amazing looking board it was, the graphics really pop and the wood showing slightly through the bottom paint was “so cool”. I agreed. Starboard took a board that looked pretty darn good in 2014 and made it look red hot with updated graphics for 2015. Pictures don’t do it justice, this board needs to be seen in person.Kode Freewave at Big Winds
Graphics aren’t the only improvements that Starboard made, this year’s Kode 81, 86 and 94 include a new thruster fin setup and the Kode 86, 94 and 103 models have a thicker tail rail release edge for more float out of a turn, quicker acceleration and more pop. I basically ran the board to the water in excitement (and in wanting to get some runs in before the wind dropped out).

Kode Freewave at Big WindsWhen I slid my feet into the Kode’s contour-shaped sponge pads for the first time, I thought I had put on my morning Ugg boots; they were the most comfy pad and strap combo I have ever experienced. It is amazing how much good straps and pads can contribute to your overall enjoyment of the board. And enjoy I did. This board is smooth and easy to ride and felt perfectly matched to the 5.3 I was using. Even in the dying winds, I was able to experience the main strength of this board: versatility. It felt like it was a jack-of-all-trades: great turner, quick to plane, fun to turn and easy to ride. I envision this board working really well for the intermediate/advanced sailor looking for one board to do it all. It could also be an awesome light wind or big guy wave board. Really, no matter who slips their feet into the Kode 86, it will definitely put a smile on their face, this board rips and is one comfy ride.

–Matt Morrow

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

2015 Quatro Sphere 80

Within half a reach I knew the Quatro crew had a great board with the Sphere 80. After a couple of reaches I was in love. Having never ridden a thruster set-up before, I wasn’t sure if the Sphere 80 would be something I would really like. Normally I like “fast” waveboards and I was expecting the thruster fin set up to feel a little slow for my taste. This was not the case at all. For a wave board, the Sphere had plenty of top end and it carried speed very well in the turns. Keith Taboul, Quatro’s shaper apparently designed it this way: “I stuck to a v-bottom for early planing and a double concave to soften the ride at high speeds and then worked meticulously on the rail foiling, ending up having the rails faster from nose to tail to making the board feel distinctly crisp and responsive.”

quatro3

The thruster set-up was noticeable when slashing a swell in that it was both loose and tracked exceptionally well; the board went exactly where I wanted it to, exactly when I wanted it to. I was powered on a 4.2 and in the gusts I was amazed and how in control I felt on the Sphere. It stuck to the water very well yet was easy to release when jumping. I was warned that sometimes thruster/quad set-ups can spin out easier due to the smaller fins and foot pressure adjustment is necessary for those with heavy rear pressure, but not with the Sphere. I felt like I could handle any gust, any bump and any swell. Due to how in control I felt on the Sphere, I went for maneuvers I might not normally try. It made me a better sailor, which makes windsurfing so much more fun.Quatro Sphere at Big Winds

I would highly recommend this board to anyone coming from a single fin background who might be hesitant to use a thruster setup. There is just no downside that I could find, the Sphere was fast, loose and easy to sail. I felt more in control on the Sphere than on any board in that size that I can remember. It felt like it was made for the chop and swell of the Gorge, I can’t wait to try it on an ocean wave.

–Matt Morrow

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com