Monthly Archives: July 2011

What to expect from a Women’s Clinic

Heidi Chappel is a staple for Big Winds’ teaching program.  She’s been with us for 16 years (at least!), and has given countless women the skills to sail with confidence at our annual women’s clinics.  The next session is August 9-10; call or email to get signed up for these fun and effective clinics.

How long have you taught windsurfing?

[Heidi] A long time!  I’ve been teaching for Big Winds 16 years or so.

Do you have a teaching philosophy, or windsurfing philosophy, that drives these clinics?

I LOVE windsurfing!  It’s the absolute greatest sport in the world!  We want to bring  more women into windsurfing and make it more accessible by showing them how much fun they can have on the water.  We want them to see that it doesn’t have to be complicated and hard!

What is the daily schedule like during the women’s clinics?  A full day of sailing seems long and tiring!  How do you break it up?

The beauty of an all-day clinic is just that- it’s all day!  That means we get to take advantage of the entire day’s wind and if the wind takes a break, we do, too!  We spend as much time on the water as we can, and typically we have at least one instructor on the water and one on land so if you need a break from windsurfing, one of our isntructors is there on land to answer questions, give rig tuning advice, or teach a land lesson.

It’s a big day, but you’ll be happy-tired by the end!

What kind of skills can women expect to take away from these clinics?

We ask that participants have a bomb-proof waterstart so we are free to travel to whichever beach is likely to get the best wind for the day.  Our clinics are tailored specifically to the individual skill level of participants.  We can help you get into your harness and footstrapts to sail safely across the river, or we can help you smooth our your jibe so you’re not falling in every time you want to turn around.  After our clinics you’ll know how to rig and tune your own sail, you’ll understand the importance of “calf-awareness,” and you’ll confidently “pet-the-puppy” to improve your stance!

What beach is the clinic at?

The beach we choose is dependent on wind.  We pick it the morning of the clinic and make sure it’s suitable for all participants.

Anything else?

Come windsurf with us!  Not only will you improve your windsurfing skills, but you’ll meet some cool women who absolutely LOVE this sport!

Stand Up Paddling with the Jr. Big Winds Team

Junior SUP TeamSofia, Fiona and Alyson

I had just finished the Junior Gorge Blow Out windsurf race and was hanging out on the shore savoring my first day of summer vacation, when Steve Gates told me that the Big Winds Junior Team was going to train for Stand Up Paddle Board races this year. I knew right there that I was going to have an amazing summer with Sofia, Fiona and Ben, my teammates.

The first training, at 6:45 in the morning, was really enlightening because I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had so much to learn! Most importantly, I needed to learn how to use my whole body to do a proper stroke, reach, reach, reach with my paddle, turn around, ride the waves, and cut across the river. We’ve had five practices, each with an emphasis on something new. My favorite part of this training took place last Sunday, on June 30th, when we went on a four mile downwinder from the point right above the Hatchery. The wind was blowing about 25mph and I could have been windsurfing on my 4.2 meter sail, but this looked like it was going to be an amazing adventure.

The launch was pretty much jumping off the rocks and hoping that you didn’t hit anything. Safely on the water, the four of us juniors, in neon yellow, Big Winds shirts, followed Steve like little ducklings all in single file. Steve had told us that we were going to get wet and it wasn’t a question. I thought I was going to be able to stay on my board the whole way though. Little did I know! We paddled for 20 minutes before we went through Swell City and the Hatchery and I was still on my board! Now, though, the waves were huge and there were windsurfers and kiteboarders all around us. The wind and the waves were making it hard to stay on our boards. It was insane! I have to admit that I fell off about five times, but it was worth it. We were trying to catch the head high swells. We were all cheering each other on as we caught incredible rides and had spectacular falls. Then when the time came to cross back over to the Oregon side of the river, Steve wasn’t kidding when he said, “ Paddle on the left side until the cows come home.” And that’s pretty much all I did and man did my left side hurt. It was a relief to finally paddle on the right. By the time we got back to the Event Site I was really tired. I think the whole team was exhausted, but it didn’t show one bit because our smiles were huge.

I can’t wait to do it again because it was one of those once in a life time experiences that you don’t get to do every day. After doing that adventure, I definitely feel like a real watergirl. It’s different from windsurfing, but the adrenaline rush is the same. Tomorrow is the big Stand Up for Cancer race from Viento to the Event Site. It will be a true test of our new skills. However, if it’s blowing 50mph, like it is today….it could be one WILD RIDE on SUP’s!

–Alyson Fromm

Photo: Mike Godsey

Ladies SUP Club Updates from Daryl

Hi Everyone,

Happy Summer!

Thanks to all of you who participated in the “June Free Tuesday” Ladies Stand Up Paddle Nights. I hope to be able to offer a few more surprise sessions, but as of right now I don’t have any specific dates planned. Please stay tuned, if the opportunity arises I will fire out an email to invite you. Summer is now in full swing at Big Winds, and our event calendar is filling up!

Big Winds Ladies SUP Club

For those of you with your own boards, let’s continue to paddle on Tuesdays. This is not sponsored by the shop, so you will need to have all of your own gear. I would like to continue to meet at the Event Site at 5:30, and we will make a plan depending on the weather. I love to paddle around Wells Island, up the White Salmon, over to Bingen or to Koberg. If it is windy we can take some field trips to do downwinders, (super fun). Let me know if you are interested, by emailing me here at the shop:

Hopefully you have all enjoyed your introduction to Stand Up, and continue on to stay involved and enjoy this great sport. We have some incredible deals in the shop on boards, paddles and everything else you need to enjoy SUPing, to be safe and legal. Our Event Site Beach Center is open 11-6 daily and is stocked with over 30 SUPs for rent. We also offer a 5X punch card for 5 2-hour rental sessions for $145. That’s a $30 savings.

Big Winds Ladies SUP Club

We will continue to have some Advanced Clinics for you who are interested in taking your paddling to the next level. The women who participated in Steve’s clinics in June were super stoked on the results of their efforts. Please let me know via email if you’d like to be on this list for more information.

Have a great 4th of July and I hope to see you on the water!



Big Winds Ladies SUP Club