I had the opportunity to try something new today, and boy was I impressed! The 2012 Naish Skater 4’8 I’ve ridden before, last summer, strapless. Naish is now offering an aftermarket front foot pad and jibe pad for the 2012 Skaters, along with straps. There’s something that builds confidence in my winter riding when riding with straps… I can jump, do most of my hooked in freestyle tricks (front roll, back roll, grabs, and kite loops), all without loosing my board and dunking into the frigid waters of the Columbia. The Naish Skater now allows me this option. Super fun in small surf and swell and with the twin-fin set-up, it still grinds up wind, and throws heaps of spray, but when you want to break the tail free from the water, it does so effortlessly. I’ve noticed one big difference between the small directional boards vs. a twin-tip. . .volume. The volume of a foam board sure makes riding in various wind conditions (gusts and lulls) so much easier, as it really adds to the kites low end range. The Skater has more volume than most directionals, and you can feel it carry you through the lulls, even at only 4’8. If I were to fly to a wind swell destination like La Ventana, or Los Barriles, I would consider putting a Naish 4’8 Skater into my golf bag along with a twin-tip. Until that day comes, this is going to be a go to board for me in the Gorge: strapped in the winter months, strap-less in the summer! We are demo-ing the Naish Skater 4’8 here at Big Winds, come give it a try!