Matt walks us through the new Quatro windsurf board line.
Benefits of the Shape:
These boards give you the following benefits: Superior upwind capability – The MPH design is a planing hull, designed to create more lift than a standard direction board which technically function as a displacement hull similar to a boat that sits down into the water. The MPH planing hull provides a ride that feels like your gliding as the board continually wants to accelerate giving the experience of forward drive which is being produced by this hull design. This forward drive translates to getting you upwind much easier than traditional boards which is beneficial for all riders, but particularly great for larger riders who used to have to sit on the sidelines on light wind days. Even in flat water riders enjoy how easy it is to get upwind and the board outline is great for practicing transitions, tricks and airs on this board.High Performance ride – These are high performance boards ridden by some of the top surfers in the world. You get the exact same shape with the Kiteboard build of the Vanguard or Vader so you know it will carve and turn incredibly well.Predictable stability – The Vanguard has proven to be a very versatile board. The parallel outline from nose to tail provides more overall surface area and make it a very stable platform. You will feel asmoother ride through the chop and inadvertent weight shifts won’t send you toppling off the board like a standard surf shape. This makes learning on a Vanguard a snap! We recommend the Vanguard for beginner and intermediate riders or people who are new to strapless. But don’t worry, it will absolutely keep up as you progress and advance.Durability – The MPH boards are made from our Future Shapes Technology (FST) that offers superior durability yet is still very light. You will get years of use out of the FST construction, much more so than a standard polyurethane board.Environmentally conscious – Did you know that every FireWire board is Eco certified by Sustainable Surf.org? FireWire is committed to making the most environmentally friendly board on the market with new building materials such as Entropy bio-resin and Paulownia wood deck skins featured in our TimberTek models.
Rider suggestions regarding board setupBoard sizing:
The parallel outline of the MPH design places more rail line in the water than traditional shapes. This means the there’s similar amount of rail in the water at any given time on a much smaller overall board size. We use 185lb/84kg as a general guideline for sizing the Vanguard. For larger riders over 185lb/84kg the 5’6” or 5’4” is recommended and for medium/smaller riders under the 185lb/84kg mark, the 5’2” or 5’0” is suggested. Of course wind and other factors can be taken into consideration. More wind look towards the shorter side, less wind the longer side. The Vader is intended to be ridden 1”–2” or 2cm-5cm shorter than your preferred Vanguard size.
Small miracles – The parallel rail outline and MPH design allows you to ride a very small board size. Don’t be intimidated by the smaller sized models. We have a lot of customers that won’t believe they can kite a board as small as the Vanguard and will purchase a 5’6” only to come back and buy a 5’2”. Smaller in this case can be better. You can get a skateboard feel with tons of control. Felix and some of our other riders report that they ride 5’2” in triple overhead surf with no problem. In fact the board feels more stable in large surf than a traditional 6’+ board! And don’t forget, the Vader should be ridden even smaller and will get you the same dependable hold in any type of surf.
V vs.V – Vader vs. Vanguard Comparison – At first glance these boards look very similar with the tail the only noticeable difference from afar. Our endless hours of testing these two models revealed that the Vanguard is really stable and works well for the beginner/intermediate kiter. While the Vader is pure adrenaline and caters well to the intermediate/advanced riders. The reason behind this is the Vader has a bit more tail and entry rocker which translates to tighter, quicker turns. In comparison, the Vanguard will tend to draw out these same turns making it feel stable and slightly more predictable. The Vader’s bottom has deep channels allowing it to hold and grip on big turns so again, it can be ridden even smaller than the Vanguard. Both boards will want to drive forward and race quickly down the line but the Vader will offer a bit more vertical attack and tighter carves. Either board will allow you to experience the fluid feel of the latest planning hull designs and get you back upwind instantly!
Traction pad placement – The rear foot placement should be very far back towards the tail. When using a tail pad we recommend that you position the back edge of the pad approximately 1” or 2cm in front of the deck plug. These boards ride really well when even weight is provided on both feet. Or for an immediate rapid turning response, weight you rear foot further back on the board. Big Winds offers front pads if you choose to go pad vs. wax.
Fin suggestions: Big Winds has stocked the Vanguards in the past with Futures Fins, and have found success with the following Thrusters from Futures: John John & F4 Tech Flex. Quad Sets: F4 Quad and V2 Rasta Quad. 5-Fin: Mulcoy. This summer we had FireWire build our Vanguards with FCS II’s, and the Performer Thrusters in PC or Neo Glass are our go-to! Sold as a thruster, with optional Quad rears, check out the FCS II Performer Fins. Have a look at our fin options here:
For any other questions regarding FireWire kite surfboards, feel free to give us a call at Big Winds 1-888-509-4210, or come by the shop to take a FireWire kite surfboard for demo!
Test the newest race and tour boards in Hood River this weekend!
No registration required.
Just show up!
When: Sunday, 4/19, 1-3pm
Where: Hood River, Event Site
Will will have various performance paddles for you to try as well as some, if not all, of the following boards:
TR-12’6 x 29
TR-12’6 x 27
TR -X 14′
Reflecting back to Christmas Day, 2013, on the Oregon Coast, it was my introduction to what has become one of my favorite SUPs in the surf, the 2014 Naish Mana 8’10. In 2015 the Mana 8’10 will have only a graphics change so Big Winds nabbed some of the remaining 2014s to offer our customers at a screaming deal.
The 2014 Mana 8’10 GT (wood construction) is a beauty both on the water and off. With the exposed wood veneer on the top deck, it is arguably one of the cleanest looking boards on the showroom floor. This full wood sandwich deck offers more than a naturally pleasing look, it allows for the board to flex more naturally and freely too. A wood veneer laminate optimizes strength, and reduces weight to only 20.7 pounds, including the 3/4 deck pad.
The 2014 Mana 8’10 is also available in the GS construction (standard glass matrix w/ wood standing area). This is a great option for the same shape at a price point value. The GS construction only weighs 2 pounds more, but is $200 less!
The 8’10 Mana is one of the most forgiving boards I’ve ridden, not too wide, and not too narrow. I really enjoy the 30.5″ width and at 133L, it’s super stable for riders up to 200 pounds. The compact design works really well for us here in Oregon where conditions can get challenging. When you’re on the wave, the exaggerated tail rocker and V bottom shape makes it easy to turn and carve down the line, too.
Now is the time to secure a great surf SUP for “real world conditions” at a discount of $400 off the retail price! Big Winds offers 10% discounts for any accessory with the purchase of a new 2014 Mana 8’10 GT, so if you need a board bag, an upgraded fin set, paddle, leash etc, now’s the time to grab one!
207 Front Street
Hood River, OR 97031
Of the many disciplines one can pursue in Stand Up Paddling, the Touring Inflatable category has become an increasingly popular one. Using an inflatable SUP for touring has many advantages: easy to travel with, light weight, very durable and stow-able. Starboard has been offering two different touring sizes in their Astro line up, a 14′ and 12’6. These boards are stable and fast, allowing one to show up at any flat body of water, pump up, and go for a casual paddle or more.
The Astro Touring boards are a great choice for people who don’t have the space to store a long SUP or don’t have a rig to transport one. They’re for folks who are vacationing to far away places, where wave riding isn’t the primary goal. They’re for the adventurer who is hiking into a remote area for the solitude of paddling where people are few in numbers.
These boards are stiff enough to paddle with little to no bounce, when inflated to the recommended pressure of 18 psi. They have enough volume to accommodate any paddler weight, including your favorite SUP buddy or gear for self-support overnighters. I keep a couple of boards on hand in the RV at all times and forget they are even there. We have a 12’6 for my wife and a 14′ for me. We’ll stumble upon places we hadn’t even thought about paddling at and be ready at the drop of the hat. The idea of packing away a 12’6 board and 14′ board and completely forgetting that they are with you is great! They travel by air easily, too! Taking the 12’6 to the Caribbean for touring and snorkeling was one of the best trips I can remember.
The 2014 Starboard Inflatables are still in stock, and we are closing out the 14′ and 12’6 models. When considering size, don’t let the 14′ fool you, it packs down almost as light and as small as the 12’6 and paddles faster, too. Give us a call if you are in the market for a new Touring board, as the inflatable options are better than ever.
207 Front Street
Hood River, OR 97031
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 is a steal at only $1599.
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
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 is relatively light for a non-carbon board. The 27″ wide model weights 28 pounds and the 29.5″ wide model comes in at 29 pounds. When the 2015 Connector launches, it will only be available in a custom carbon/wood construction, and will retail for close to $1000 more! Now’s the time to grab a 2014 Connector at a steal of a deal!
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.
207 Front Street
Hood River, OR 97031
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.
The 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!
207 Front Street
Hood River, OR 97031
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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 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.
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 inflatable 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.
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 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!