Category Archives: Boards

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


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!

Click to go to




Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031


Review: Imagine Connector SUP

When Hawaiian waterman Dave Kalama teamed up with Imagine Paddle Surf, we knew there was something in the works for the ultimate downwind SUP. Leave it to one of the guys who started it all to shape a fun, forgiving and fast downwind board. The 2014 Imagine Connector is a very worthy SUP and should be a winning shape for 2014.

Available in 2 sizes, the 14’x 27″ and 14’x 29.5″, the Imagine Connector looks different than any other downwind board we’ve carried here at Big Winds, with lots of volume up front and thinned out through the tail. This works so well in the swell and has been tested in some of the

Imagine Connector

Imagine Connector. Click to enlarge.

biggest swell the Gorge has to offer. No matter how deep the bow wants to penetrate, the high volume, sleek piercing nose prevents the board from pearling. It allows you to really want to punch into the bump ahead of the trough you are gliding in and keeps you committed with little to no worries of diving the nose deep. The thinned out tail makes sense, as there is nothing for the wind or side swell to push on laterally throwing you off balance from behind. Foot steering is also super responsive due to the low volume tail section. Once committed to the glide, the board really accelerates to the next bump and “connects” with ease.

The 2014 Imagine Connector is available in one construction, but relatively light for a non-carbon board. The 27″ wide comes in at 28 pounds and the 29.5″ wide comes in at 29 pounds. They are quite the value at only $1899 and worth every penny for the fun factor they provide. Come by the shop and check out the new 2014 Imagine Connector, or head down to the Big Winds Beach Center at the Event Site to sign up for a test drive!

Poly/PU versus Epoxy/EPS Kitesurf Boards

We discuss the differences between traditional “fiberglass” vs. epoxy kitesurf boards with our customers at Big Winds every time someone purchases a new kitesurf specific board. It’s important to understand your new board now that they are retailing for around $1000.

To understand the differences between Poly/PU vs Epoxy/EPS, let’s first understand the terms:

Epoxy: The type of hard resin used in the construction of epoxy surfboards with an EPS foam core.

EPS: The acronym for “Expanded Polystyrene”, a lightweight beaded foam used in the production of all epoxy surfboards.

Poly: The nickname for Polyester resin used in the production of the “traditional” polyurethane foam core surfboard.

PU: The acronym for a Polyurethane blank core glassed with polyester resin.

We sell both Poly/PU and Epoxy/EPS boards at the Big Winds. Each brand produces one or both types of boards based on customer demand. For example, North Pacific offers their shapes in both Poly/PU (standard) and Epoxy/EPS ($100 upgrade). Naish has added a Poly/PU board to their standard Epoxy/EPS lineup, as has Cabrinha. Both Firewire kitesurf boards and North kitesurf boards stick with Epoxy/EPS, but put a twist in the overall construction with the addition of veneers (wood/bamboo/cork) and carbon/Kevlar.

So, what is the advantage of choosing one over the other? Well, there are many, so let’s break it down by discussing both construction types.

North Pacific Poly/PU

North Pacific Poly/PU

First, the traditional “fiberglass” boards (Poly/PU) typically have adjectives attached to them like “lively, responsive and connected,” but also “heavy” and “not so environmentally friendly” — the latter being potentially the biggest negative. The weight of the board may come across as a negative when picking one up off the shelf, but due to the lack of air in the PU blank the board rides a bit lower in the water giving it that alive feel. When kitesurfing, wind is always a factor and there is such a thing as a board that is too light. Flex is another characteristic that is often overlooked and although the shape, profile and amount of fiberglass laid onto the board determines the amount of flex, the Poly/PU seems to hold and release from a turn a bit better. After time, the Poly/PU tends to dent on the top deck where your heel applies added pressure. Some companies will add extra fiberglass, carbon patches, or even wood reinforcement providing added durability. The pockets created in the dents can actually lead to a more custom feel and after riding a Poly/PU board over a season or two, it’s broken in like a worn in shoe.

Cabrinha Skillit Epoxy/EPS

Cabrinha Skillit Epoxy/EPS

Now, let’s review Epoxy/EPS. It is light, durable and widely available since the aftermath of the Clark Foam shutdown. I remember Epoxy/EPS as “Styro”, the beaded foam you find in your beer cooler. More air inside the foam means less weight, but the boards ride a bit higher on the water. It also means that the foam can soak up water like a sponge if the epoxy cracks so be sure to repair your board before putting it back in the water. Most Epoxy/EPS boards we sell at Big Winds are coupled with a bamboo/wood veneer, cork or both. This quiets down the chatter in the ride, increases the strength underfoot and dampens the feel when riding in chop and landing strapless airs. Cork was introduced to the Cabrinha lineup a couple of years ago and now North has added cork to their boards, too. Cork recovers up to 85% of its original thickness after impact (less heel denting) and adapts to curved surfaces better than wood. Cork, bamboo and wood add to the performance and durability of the board, but also increase the cost to produce them. The eco-friendliness of Epoxy/EPS resins and core, along with the wrapped wood, bamboo and cork add a lot to the advantages of Epoxy/EPS. Polystyrene foam cores sealed with epoxy resin lasts longer and emit fewer toxic gasses when built, whereas the polyurethane (PU) boards contain carcinogens and are essentially impossible to recycle.

So, the bottom line is to try before you buy. We have found the Epoxy/EPS boards riding better and better every year. They are great for kiteboarding in terms of strength and weight, they last longer and are easier to travel with. Although the Epoxy/EPS has made a lot of progress in design and materials, you will notice most pro surfers and pro kiters are still riding standard Poly/PU boards. Come by the shop this summer to try some of our demo kite surf boards and choose your new board based on how it rides for you.


2014 Inflatable SUP Review

The inflatable SUP market is booming. Every reputable manufacturer in the business seems to have their version of an inflatable. There are reasons for this: many stand up paddlers don’t mind a slight compromise in performance to offset the logistics and expenses of hauling around or traveling with a standard epoxy board. Just getting an SUP off the roof rack and to the water can be a hassle. And traveling by air with a 10’+ SUP? Forget about it. Allow me to introduce the 2014 line up of inflatable SUPs we offer at Big Winds, for wherever your next paddle adventure takes you.

Inflatable SUPs are divided into five categories: All Around, Touring, Wave, Race, and the emerging Whitewater class. Each of the brands we sell at Big Winds (Starboard, Naish, Tahoe, and Aquaglide), offer an inflatable in one or more of these categories.

The All Around inflatable SUPs are one of the more popular due to their overall versatility. Many All Around inflatables can be used in a variety of different water bodies, including flat water lakes and bays, moving water rivers and creeks, and even small ocean waves.

One of the most popular models we sell in the All Around category is the Starboard Astro Whopper Deluxe. The Whopper is one of Starboard’s best selling SUPs, so it makes sense that they offer this classic shape as an inflatable. Starboard regards the Astro Whopper as the “Swiss Army Knife” of all of their Astro Inflatables.whopper-yoga

At 10′ in length, 35″ wide and 6″ thick, the Astro Whopper is a great choice for exploring, longboard style surfing, fishing, yoga, and even whitewater. The Astro Whopper has a “whopping” 300 liters of volume, perfect for even the heavier weight paddlers. The Astro Whopper comes complete with the new high aspect pump, making it easier than ever to inflate to the recommended 18 PSI. It weighs in at 28 pounds, a bit heavy due to the EVA pad covering the entire top deck. (But your dog will appreciate this). The Astro fin boxes are built strong, thicker than the 2013 model assuring that they’ll hold up if paddled over rocks or reefs. With the choice of running a single center fin (6.75″) for cruising, or adding the 4. 5″ side bites for surf, the Astro Whopper has multiple options. The Astro Whopper is a great choice for the whole family.

Naish offers a number of inflatables. In the All Around category, the Mana Air 10’x 33″ is our favorite. If the Whopper is a bit too wide and heavy for you, consider the 2014 Mana Air 10′ as a super fun board for surf, cruising or even whitewater. The 2014 Mana Air has a bit less volume

Mana Air

Mana Air

than the Whopper Air at 230 liters, so it performs really well for the smaller to medium sized individuals. It features a 10″ slide-in fin, with two rubber side fins that are integrated to the bottom of the board. All Naish Airs are equipped with a new high aspect pump, allowing inflation to the recommended 14 psi to be much easier now than in the past. Naish also offers a slick electric pump that plugs onto the battery of your car that shuts off automatically at the desired PSI. Overall, the Mana Air 10′ is a comfortable and stable board that is fun in a variety of conditions.

Aquaglide offers a 10’6″ x 31″ inflatable SUP called the Cascade. The Aquaglide board is a great

Aquaglide Cascade 10'6

Aquaglide Cascade 10’6

price point option for those looking for a stable and stiff inflatable SUP for under $1000. The Cascade 10’6″ comes complete with a high volume pump and single center fin. It is maneuverable enough for surf and perfect for recreational paddling. With the 6″ thickness, the Cascade 10’6″ can work well for all levels of paddlers and heavier riders up to 300 pounds. This board packs down small, but not as small as the other above mentioned 10′ inflatables.


Next up are the Touring boards. Typically a touring board is 11′ or longer, has a pointed nose, plenty of volume for loading gear and is stable to paddle on both flat and bumpy waters. Our

Astro Touring

Astro Touring

favorite touring boards are the Starboard Astro Touring 14′ and 12’6. These boards are both 30″ wide and have over 300 liters of volume (the 14′ has 351 liters and the 12’6″ has 302 liters). They come in the standard Deluxe Blue model, which is 6″ thick with the Deluxe Back Pack and High Aspect Pump. The Astro Touring boards can be used for downwinding, too. It is fast enough to obtain the proper glide in small to medium size wind swell and stable enough to handle the bumpy water. This is a great board for traveling to non-wave destinations as it packs up small and is light: the 14′ is 26 pounds and the 12’6″ is 24 pounds.


Alpine Explorer

Alpine Explorer

Tahoe SUP has an 11′ Tour board called the Alpine Explorer (2013) which works well for loading gear and paddling distances. This board has two spots to stow gear, fore and aft, and can handle the heavy load without bowing out like a banana, due to a separate chamber running the length of the board. This chamber is inflated separately and acts as a stiffening beam and provides a slight ridge under the board for better tracking. Two side-by-side fins provide even more straight-line tracking.

Aquaglide Cascade

Aquaglide Cascade

Aquaglide comes in with a 12’6 Cascade Touring board under $1000. It is super stiff, 6″ thick and very stable at 31″ wide. Like the other touring boards, the Aquaglide 12’6 is ideal for adventure travel or recreational paddling. The weight comes in a bit heavier at 34 pounds but it’s still compact enough when deflated to fit into the provided backpack. The entire package is under the fifty pound mark for air travel.



For the ocean goers looking for a great inflatable for wave riding, we like the Naish lineup. These boards are designed by wave riders in true wave conditions.


Nalu Air

Nalu Air

For a good longboard style design, the 2014 Naish Nalu Air 11′ is stable and fast enough to catch waist-high to shoulder-high waves. The Nalu Air 11′ is narrower than the Mana 10′ at only 30″ and has less volume (210 liters), making it faster for catching waves and fun for cruising around between sets. Naish makes a smaller 4″ thick version for the smaller guys, the Nalu 10’2″ which is also 30″ wide” with even less volume (180 liters). The equivalent to this board for the ladies is the 2014 Alana Air 10’6, which is the same shape and design as the Nalu Air 10’2″, but with a great color scheme for the gals.

Starboard too, has a good offering to the inflatable surf SUPs. The Astro Wide Point is the Starboard Astroinflatable version of the 8’2″ x 32″ Wide Point. It’s the shortest inflatable we offer and is set up with a quad fin configuration. This board, even in the deluxe model, is 4″ thick with only 130 liters of volume, making it a great choice for small to medium riders. The new 2014 Astro Drive is based on one of our favorite crossover boards, the Starboard Drive 10’5″ x 30″. With a more narrow hull shape, this is a great choice for a crossover board (flat water to surf). Set up as a thruster, the Astro Drive comes with a 6. 75″ center fin, and two removable 4″ side fins.

The Race boards have become very popular and more events are including an “Inflatable Class” especially for those traveling by air. The Naish ONE 12’6 is a great choice for training and racing and Naish has dedicated a lot of energy to get the N1SCO events taking place world-wide. The Naish ONE provides a stable and economical racing class for those that don’t want to spend huge amounts of money on upgrading their equipment every year.

Naish One Racing

Naish One Racing

The ONE race formats are a blast to take part in and great for the spectators to see all of the action right up front. With the growth of these events springing up locally, regionally, nationally and internationally, other companies have started making Race shaped inflatable SUPs. The Starboard Astro Racers are the fastest in their class, offering both a 14′ x 26″ and 12’6 x 26″. Narrower than the Naish ONE, these boards are know to have won more events than any other inflatable board. The new 2014 Astro Racers are great to travel with, as they pack down smaller than any other inflatable and are the lightest weight: the 14′ is pounds and the 12’6″ is 21 pounds. I trained on my Astro Racer 14′ last summer, and found it surprisingly fast and stable for only 26″ wide.

The emerging whitewater class of inflatables, though young, is a personal favorite to me as we have a number of rivers surrounding Hood River that are perfect for Stand Up. Coming from a kayaking background, I’m finding Whitewater SUP the ticket to get back on the rivers including everything from meandering water to Class 3+ whitewater. My choice is the 2014 Starboard Astro Stream 9’6″. It is designed and built to take all the abuse a river can put on an SUP and going inflatable is my preferred choice as it’s lighter than plastic, compact enough to travel with and built to take hits.

Dan Gavere

Dan Gavere

Dan Gavere has put a lot of energy in growing the sport and with his new pro model Stream 9’6″, he’s made it easier for everyone from beginners to experts to navigate rivers standing up. This board is ultra stiff and super stable at 36″ wide. It has a three fin configuration. The new 2.5″ whitewater fins are short enough for running shallow rivers, yet just long enough to track well when ferrying across the currents, eddying out and peeling out around rocks and obstacles. Make stand-up paddling easier than ever on whitewater, and get the 2014 Starboard Stream 9’6!

— TJ

Review: 2014 Starboard Astro Stream 9’6 x 36″ Whitewater SUP

Big Winds is stoked to be representing one of the most highly anticipated whitewater inflatable SUPs on the market, the 2014 Starboard Astro Stream 9’6 x 36″. After a very successful season with the 2013 Astro Whopper, Starboard Team rider and three time whitewater champion, Dan Gavere helped design a board that is ultra-durable and super stable. At 36″ wide, the widest point of the Stream is in front of your feet yet it retains a generous width all the way back to the tail. This allows you to really get into an aggressive stance and maintain your balance when your back foot is nearing the tail. It’s great for punching through the holes and waves. With a volume of 387 liters, the new Astro Stream has nearly 100 liters more than the 2013 Whopper Deluxe and almost 200 liters more than the Whopper Fun 4″ thick version. The Stream has 6″ of thickness but is solid as an oak tree with a double layer of 1.8 mm PVC around the rail. Extra stiffness and extreme impact strength are a couple of new features we noticed right away. When you have this board inflated to 18 psi, the rail feels as solid as steel. The new Astro boxes have also been upgraded with a thicker wall and made to take a hit without cracking. The new Astro white water 2.5″ fins are soft and shallow, providing a little more traction than running the board without any fins (something we practiced quite a bit with last year’s Whopper). The front fin placement is right behind your feet, which is much better than the traditional “surfboard” thrusters that are so far back.


Dan Gavere on the Astro Stream

Dan Gavere on the Astro Stream

Here in the Northwest, the rivers flow year round. But the summer months can be pretty shallow on our local Hood and White Salmon rivers, so the short fins are really going to be nice to navigate the low volume rivers and creeks. Lastly, the addition of extra handles both at the nose of the board and on the sides are a nice new feature, especially for the rapids that may be a bit difficult to navigate standing up. Dropping down to your knees and having a place to grab is essential. The new Starboard Astro Stream 9’6″ is a great choice for beginner through advanced paddlers looking for the ultimate in compact whitewater performance. Please feel free to give us a call to place your order today, toll free: 1-888-509-4210.

Choosing Your New Stand Up Paddleboard

Choosing your next SUP can be a daunting task. For those of you new to the sport, the choices seem (and are) endless. At Big Winds, we have been into Stand Up Paddleboarding from the beginning, when the first production boards arrived in North America, eight years ago. Since then we have seen, and been a part of, the explosive growth of this great sport. We are fortunate to partner with the very best brands in SUP and have committed a ton of energy and resources to the sport. Where many shops have jumped on the bandwagon and are more than happy to sell you whatever they happen to have on the rack, here at Big Winds we want, first and foremost, to make sure you get the absolute right board. We want to make you smile every time you go out for a casual paddle, hard fitness workout, drop into a long point wave, or fly along on an exciting downwind run. We have a large staff (up to fifty in the summer and nine year round) most all of whom paddle and many of whom have gravitated to SUP as their primary sport. We do it all: race, surf, fitness, whitewater, and yes, even casual social paddling. We do downwinders every chance we get, which is often here in the Columbia River Gorge. We are confident we can steer you into a great board for your needs.

SUP LessonsBig Winds operates the largest Stand Up Paddleboard Lesson and Rental program on the west coast. We teach a ton of lessons each summer, from first timers to advanced stroke technique clinics. We have over seventy SUP boards of every variety at our exclusive, on-the-water location just five minutes from our shop in downtown Hood River, Oregon.

Big Winds JET Team

Big Winds JET Team

We also have proudly built the largest Junior SUP Race Program in the U.S., with Team Big Winds competing throughout the U.S., Mexico and Hawaii. At the recent 2013 Battle of the Paddle in California, the largest SUP race in the world, the Big Winds Junior Elite Team (JET) swept the podium in the 18 and under boys, taking 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. The JET girls matched the boys, going 2-3-4-5 in the 18 and under.

So, what does that mean for you, someone looking for a new (maybe your first) SUP board? Our depth of experience translates directly into our unique expertise in gear selection. We have a huge selection of SUP boards and paddles in stock. We know the gear because we use the gear. We test, analyze and criticize the choices so that we stock the correct variety of types, sizes and price levels of boards and paddles. We guarantee your satisfaction with the products we sell. If you are not 100% happy with whatever you buy from Big Winds, we’ll take it back and work to get you something else. We understand buying a new Stand Up Paddleboard is an investment and we will do whatever it takes to ensure you are totally stoked.

Here are some tips to help guide you into a smart buying decision:

Think of SUP boards in terms of two large categories: Round Nose boards and Pointed Nose boards. If you want to go surfing with your SUP, you need a round nose board. If you don’t intend to ride ocean waves, then we recommend you consider a pointed nose board. Round nose boards are more maneuverable and pointed nose boards glide better and paddle in a straight line (track) better.

What about Inflatable SUP Boards?

Inflatable SUPs

Inflatable SUPs

The quality and performance of Inflatable SUP Boards has improved dramatically in the past three years, and so have the choices. As a rule, rigid boards will still offer a bit better performance in terms of glide and efficiency. However, inflatables can be the right choice for certain situations. They pack down into a large duffel style bag. This makes them relatively easy to travel with and store in your garage or home. However, it is generally impractical to pump and deflate your SUP each time you want to go paddling! It takes a fair bit of effort to inflate them properly, unless you have one of the spiffy new electric pumps, which we sell at Big Winds. If you’re considering an inflatable SUP, give us a call and we can talk you through all the choices and help you decide if this is the right way to go for you.

Round Nose boards can further be broken down into:

Rounded Nose

Rounded Nose

1. All Around Boards. The All Around boards will generally be over 10’ long and at least 30” wide. They will paddle fairly well in flat water, gliding and tracking fine, and be quite stable. In this category we suggest you consider: Amundson Source, Amundson Cross, Starboard Drive, Starboard Blend, Starboard Atlas, Naish Nalu, and Surftech Generator.

2. Easy Surfing. These boards are designed for the novice and intermediate SUP surfer. They will be shorter than the All Around boards, usually between 9’ and 10’6”, and fairly wide (30”+) for stability. If Easy Surfing looks like your thing, consider the Naish Mana, Naish Nalu, Lopez Sweetie Pie, Starboard Whopper and the Starboard Wide Point.

3. Performance Surfing. If you want to crank off the bottom and smack the lip, these are for you. These boards are designed to perform. They will generally be under 9’6” and narrower than 30”. The Naish Hokua, Starboard Airborn and the Starboard Pro Series will satisfy the hard core SUP surfer.

4. Inflatables. The choices in quality inflatable SUP boards has increased exponentially in the past two years and at Big Winds we have stayed on top of it, relentlessly testing new models. Here are our favorites: Naish Mana Air 10’, Naish Nalu Air 11’, Naish Alana Air 10’6” (Women’s Specific), Starboard Astro Blend, Starboard Astro Whopper, Aqua Glide Cascade 10’ and 10’6”.

Pointed Nose Boards can further be broken down into:

Pointed Nose

Pointed Nose

 1. Touring. These are the cruisers that everyone will enjoy in smooth and bumpy water. They are user friendly, track and glide well and are suitable for distance, fitness and social paddling. They are usually over 10’6”, around 30” wide and stable. Lighter paddlers can have more fun on the smaller models in this category, while heavier paddlers should migrate towards the larger volume choices. Great choices for the lighter paddlers are the Tahoe SUP Bliss, Amundson 11’6” TR and TR-X, Starboard Freeride, Bark Appleby 11’ Cross and the Raven 10’6 and 11’6”. For heavier paddlers we recommend the Naish Glide 12’6”, Tahoe SUP Zephyr, Starboard Freeride XL, Amundson 12’6” TR and TR-X, Amundson 14’ TR-X and TR-T, SIC Bullet 12’6” and 14’ and the Odyssey.

2. Racing. If you want to experience really efficient gliding and tracking, you should consider a model from this category. Several of us here at Big Winds have been racing and coaching SUP for a number of years now and we pride ourselves on being up on the latest, fastest boards available. Some of these models are accessible to a fairly broad skill level and some require a significant level of expertise to enjoy. We break these down into two main sizes: 12’6” and 14’, since those are the two most popular race classes. We’ve personally tested almost every one of these boards, so please CALL US! Choosing the right race board requires more than just reading a website or a catalog. In season, we have a ton of demos available, so if you are in the Northwest, it’s worth a trip to our shop and Demo Center in Hood River.

Here are our favorite choices to consider:

  • In the 12’6” size, the Naish Javelin and Javelin LE. Starboard All Star, Bark Phantom and Bark Appleby.
  • In the 14’ size, the Naish Javelin and Javelin LE, Starboard All Star, Bark Dominator and Bark Phantom, and Amundson 14’0” TR-X.

3. Women Specific Touring. About half of the staff at Big Winds is female, so we are totally plugged in to the specific requirements many of our lady customers are looking for. Women's Specific SUPIn addition, Big Winds has offered our Ladies SUPer Club sessions for five years running, introducing literally hundreds of women to SUPing. We suggest that ladies look for boards that are sized for them, be it petit or larger. There are a few boards that really stand out as great choices for ladies due to their very lightweight and slightly smaller dimensions. These include the Amundson 11’6” TR and TR-X, the Tahoe Bliss, Bark Appleby and the Naish Alana series.

4. Downwind/Open Water. This is a category close to our hearts here at Big Winds. As mentioned previously, we are smack dab in the middle of the most consistent, windiest spot in North America.

Downwind / Open Water

Downwind / Open Water

Our prevailing summer 25-35 knot west winds oppose the current of the mighty Columbia River boosting the river swells to often overhead in size. I can say with confidence our staff has more experience paddling downwind and has tested more downwind, open water boards than any staff at any shop in North America. With our Guided Downwind Tours and Shuttle Service, we have a unique opportunity to see what boards work best for varying sizes and skill levels. We stock the very best of the boards in this category, including the Naish Glides, SIC Bullets and F-16, Kalama Connectors among others.

If you’re in the market for a Downwind board, call us! We are your downwind SUP experts!

5. Kids Specific. We are into kids. Kids specific boardsAt Big Winds we created the largest and most successful Junior SUP program in the country and we are proud to offer some high performance boards for the smaller kids. These include the Starboard Astro Jr. Racer (Inflatable), the Bark Challenger and Hero, and the Starboard All Star Jr. If you want to get a cool board for your kid, call us! We are your Kids SUP experts!

6. Inflatables. The choices in Pointed Nose inflatables have also gone through the roof in the past year. Now we offer high performance Touring and yes, even Race inflatable boards. If you are in the market for an inflatable Touring or Race board take a look at the following models: Naish ONE 12’6”, Starboard Astro Tour 12’6” and 14’, Starboard Astro Race 12’6” and 14’, Aqua Glide Cascade 12’6” Touring.

Inflatable SUPs

Inflatable SUPs have gained popularity over the past couple of years for a few reasons:

1) They are durable
2) They are light
3) They pack down to fit in the trunk of your car.

Starboard Whopper

For 2013, we are witnessing a stiffer construction due to 6″ wall thickness. At Big Winds, we offer a number of inflatable options, so we put a couple of our favorites to the stiffness test. In the first test, we pumped up the 2013 Starboard Inflatable Astro Whopper (10′ x 35″) to the manufacturer’s recommended 18 PSI. We placed the board on a couple of sawhorses and bounced on it to see how much the board deflects. The Deluxe construction offered by Starboard this year makes for a very stiff ride, with only 1″ deflection.

Naish Mana

We next tested the 2013 Naish Mana Air (10′ x 33″). We pumped it up to the manufacturer’s recommended 14 PSI and found it stiffer then any of our 4″ wall thickness offerings. With only 1.5″ deflection, the 2013 Naish Mana Air proved to be another great contender in our 2013 inflatable line-up.

All-around SUP boards

At Big Winds we’re often asked by customers looking to get into Stand Up, “What is a great choice for an all-around board?” They’re seeking something they can paddle around on lakes, rivers, take out in bays, and maybe even ride some small surf.  Another factor people often look for is something they can take their dogs on, or their kids. At Big Winds we have a full selection of outstanding All-around boards that really fit these needs.

Two size ranges I like to focus on when people are looking for all-around SUP boards are those in the 10’6” and 11’6” range. The Starboard Drive, the Naish Nalu 10’6.5”, the Surftech Generator 10’6” and the Amundson 10’6” are three great choices for small all rounders. They are all about 30” wide, glide reasonably well, are stable and lightweight. For the larger all rounders, the Starboard Blend (pictured), the Naish Nalu 11’6” and the Amundson 11’6” are all excellent boards, offering excellent glide, stability and are all very affordable. And for folks looking for even more stability, the Starboard Big Easy is the ticket, at 12’ X 32”.

The Starboard Blend is a beautiful and functional all-around SUP board.

Give us a call (888-509-4210 or 541-386-6086) and let us help guide you into the perfect all around board for you and your family!