Monthly Archives: July 2013

Hangin’ with Heidi


Legendary Big Winds instructor, Heidi Chappel, will be at Rowena, Saturday, July 27th. She will be leading a short rigging clinic at 11:30 and then will be available for one or two hour private lessons from noon to 5PM. This event is wind dependent and will be called on or off that morning. You are encouraged to call ahead to book a lesson, but walk-ins will be accepted if space allows. The cost for a private lesson is $99 for one hour and $179 for two hours. Gear is not included but check with our rentals department for availability. Payments and waivers can be handled at Rowena.

Call our Lessons and Rentals Department at 888-509-4210 or 541-386-6086 to sign up.

Women's Clinics

Heidi will also be putting on one of her classic Women’s Clinics, August 10-11, 2013. The details are on our website.


2013 North Pacific Kiteboards

North Pacific

North Pacific has been shaping surfboards since 1995 right here in Hood River. For the past five years, I’ve had the privilege to ride a multitude of shapes and sizes, and have really narrowed it down to a couple of favorites: the Waterbug, and the Tuna.

North Pacific Kiteboards

The Waterbug is a great board that has the versatility for both the Gorge and ocean waves. It has become one of our best selling directionals in the shop due to a few immediately noticeable characteristics — smooth turning, lively feeling and it’s easy on the body. The Waterbug can be ridden thruster or quad (on the 5-fin custom), making it even more versatile in a variety of conditions. I personally love my Waterbug set up thruster for tight turning, lip smacking, down the line fun!

North Pacific Kiteboards

SUPs too!

The Tuna has been a Big Winds favorite in the Gorge. It’s shorter and wider and when set up as a quad, this little board rips. It’s super fun whether strapped in for boosting big air and laying down long arcing bottom turns, or strapless for executing the newest of strapless aerial maneuvers. The Tuna is a fun travel board as it can be shaped quite short for traveling in your golf bag.

In a perfect world, I would have one of each!

North Pacific Kiteboards

There is something that sets the North Pacific kitesurf boards apart from the competition. A standard surfboard may cost less, but just can’t handle the stresses kiters put on their boards. A standard surfboard foam core is much lighter than those used by North Pacific. The glassing on a standard surfboard is only 4 oz., two layers on top, one on the bottom, whereas North Pacific uses a double layer of 6 oz. S-Glass on both the top and bottom. North Pacific doubles the width of the stringer from 1/8″ to 1/4″, and puts carbon patches under the heel to prevent denting (which is inevitable on all polyurethane boards). All Futures fin boxes are installed in high density foam cassettes that also flex with the board, preventing any cracking around the fin box. Simply put, these boards are strong and last the test of time. It was best put by the late Donald Takayama: “Good boards aren’t cheap, cheap boards aren’t good”.

cheap board

A pricey CI surfboard brought into the North Pacific shop for major repair work

Come by Big Winds to demo North Pacific boards and find out for yourself what you’ve been missing! Custom orders taken at the shop, or over the phone.


Review: Naish Draft and DUB

The conditions were set for a test drive on the recently released Naish Draft kite. With winds gusting to 39 mph on the Event Site sensor, the 7m Draft was going to be a heavy one to hold down, but this test was to push its air time abilities.


Having just recently mounted the Naish dub with boots, I thought this might be the perfect board to hold down the power of the Draft 7 in these conditions. Up near the White Salmon Bridge on the Washington side, the wind was a bit more tame, and the riding conditions were great for boosting big air.

Draft - DUB

Shawn and Jessy Richman both have this kite dialed. It’s a timing thing, but once you figure it out, it has no limits for hang time. I saw Jessy jumping the length of football fields at Kitebeach in Maui last month, which immediately made me a believer in this kite.


Shawn was seen in a different orbit by Naish designer Damian Girardin, claiming Shawn may have hit the 100 ft. mark. Recently, the Richman brothers have been putting on a show at both Huck Fest and KB4C the past couple of weeks here in Hood River, and the Draft seems to be the kite of choice for both its light wind / race capabilities, and boost abilities.


The Draft 7m is a kite that you may never outgrow, one with hidden talents that may take time to unlock. If you are a kiter looking for a free ride kite that screams up wind, and boosts huge, look no further then the Naish Draft. Come by Big Winds to check one out for yourself!



KalamaKamp is coming to the Gorge

World class waterman, Dave Kalama, is bringing his downwind camp to the Gorge. The four day camp, starting August 12, precedes the Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge, allowing you to hone your skills for the Viento to Hood River downwind race.

Dave Kalama

Dave Kalama in the 2011 Gorge Paddle Challenge. Photo: Gorge-Us Photography.

Dave, and fellow instructors John Denney and Brody Welte will bring you up-to-date on the latest techniques, giving your paddling enjoyment a huge lift. Details and sign-up information are on the KalamaKamp website.

Dave Kalama

Dave Kalama in the 2011 Gorge Paddle Challenge. Photo: Gorge-Us Photography.

Children of the Wind

COTW posert

At Andrew’s Pizza Skylight Theater, July 18th, 7:30PM.

Children of the Wind tells the story of two brothers and a cousin who journey from poor fishing families on a tiny Caribbean island to become three of the best freestyle windsurfers in history.

Children of the WindThis event is being handled by Please help spread the word. 55 tickets must be sold by July 11th for the movie to be shown.

Don’t worry! If the threshold isn’t reached, the event will be called off and no one will be charged for their ticket purchase.

Here’s where to order.

Children of the WindSet against the backdrop of the 2011 Windsurfing World Cup on Bonaire, the film follows the boys over 15 years as they transform not only their island but the face of the sport worldwide.

Children of the WindThe film focuses on brothers Tonky and Taty Frans and their cousin Kiri who come from a poor fishing family and began windsurfing before the age of ten, using whatever broken or discarded equipment they could scrounge, and who are now, twenty years later, global superstars.

Children of the WindTonky, Taty and Kiri burst onto the international scene in 2001 when, along with thirty or so other Bonaire sailors, they attended windsurfing’s North American Championship in Florida. Given the island’s economic status, just getting to Florida was an achievement in itself. Once there, they caused a sensation, taking home twenty trophies between them. Given that Bonaire has a population of under 15,000 and had, at the time, no way to fund formal training facilities, provide equipment or pay for travel to events, this accomplishment was simply astonishing.

Children of the WindThe Frans brothers and Kiri are now among the top five freestyle windsurfers in the world and have become local heroes on their island. More remarkable: Bonaire continues to produce young champions at every age category of the ProKids World Championship, which started on the island. Set against the backdrop of the 2011 Freestyle Windsurfing World Cup on Bonaire, Children of the Wind is an exciting tale of kids who refused to be defined by the limits of their circumstance, and consequently transformed a sport.


Race the Lake of the Sky: Bobbie Gardner

Big Winds has a new power team rider: Bobbie Gardner. Bobbie checked in with this report from the 2013 Race the Lake of the Sky.

This was a great experience. I learned a lot and know what I need to work on. 14.4 miles is a long way — grueling.

Race the Lake of the Sky

Race the Lake of the Sky

The weather was perfect. The hardest part of the race was dealing with the boat chop. Since it was such a nice day all the boats where out in full force and, of course, Emerald Bay is the destination of choice, so there was a lot of mixed up water. I was chasing two women the entire race, determined to catch them. I caught them about 9 miles into the race. The boat chop was bad, but I think my downwinding experience from La Ventana helped in handling it. I paddled right through it and stayed up on my board.

Bobbie's rig

Bobbie’s rig

Beach setup

Beach setup

I also did my first buoy race . That was 2.8 miles of full-on sprint!  I would have come in first place in my age category but they put me in with the young ones — no age break, just board type! Not fair! But I did really well and I had a blast. I realized that I need to work on my starts and turns. My left turns were great, my right turns need help.

Course race

Course race

The race had 8 buoys with 3 laps around for a total of 2.8 miles. The 82 competitors in the race made for a crazy beach start. At times there was a head wind so I used your technique of squatting low and gripping down on the paddle. That worked great! I passed a few people with that tip. Now I am determined to get stronger and go faster.

See you on the water, amigo! Again, thanks for you great tips!  


podium photo bobbie2