Category Archives: Events

Meet the pros/Movie Premiere

Meet the Pros at Big Winds, and Movie Premiere at Big Horse Brew Pub!

Free beer served at the shop from 5:30 to 7, then the party moves to Big Horse Brew Pub for food and beer, with movie premiere at 9 o’clock.

We are offering a 2 hr., in store only, deal on all in stock Cabrinha kite gear (kites and boards) from 5 o’clock to 7 o’clock.  Biggest savings of the year!







Women’s Clinics


The Decision

Anyone who windsurfs knows firsthand the dedication and tenacity it takes to learn and develop windsurfing skills. It’s the favorite sport for many — not only for the thrill — but the sheer sense of empowerment and accomplishment.


I’m always inspired to see talented windsurfers on the water. The truth is, sometimes we feel stuck, reaching for the next level and not making it as quickly as we’d like. And let’s face it: women are a minority in this sport. We push ourselves for the love of it, and benefit from inspiration in women around us.

When one of my friends recovered from a bad skiing injury and felt timid about getting back on her board, I thought the best thing I could do to help was sign us up for Big Winds’ Women’s Clinic. There might have been a smidge of self-interest, but it was a great excuse. (Plus a pretty simple task — a single phone call or website click.)

BW.WC.Heidi.Rigging BW.hookingin

We are students!

The first morning, eight women abuzz with nerves met (goddess) Heidi Chappel and her assistant Milena. Introductory conversations outside Big Winds helped us get to know each other, where each was in her windsurfing journey, and even share any fears we had. (Why not throw in some group therapy too?) Experience levels varied. Some sought confidence in the footstraps and harness, while others strived to jibe, or finesse a bomb-proof jibe.

After checking wind reports, Heidi announced we’d caravan to Viento, where the wind was promising and people sparse.

There we watched Heidi on the dryland simulator while she imparted her wisdom. (In “real” life, Heidi teaches high school English — no doubt the kids love her!) Then she distilled what most women were there to work on: the carving step jibe. Everyone had a turn on the simulator to practice Heidi’s stages for the “set-up,” “the carve,” and “the transition. Each part of the jibe had several steps yet within a short amount of time we had them drilled in our heads. It was obvious many ladies learned new pieces that might hold keys to their success.

Preparing our own equipment, Heidi imparted some excellent rigging tips, and key things to look for in a properly (or poorly) rigged sail.

On the water, one instructor sailed with us and the other stood hip-deep near shore, calling out feedback as warranted, and offering heavy doses of praise and encouragement. It’s hard to describe the sensations, surrounded by women sailors in a wave of camaraderie. All of us with the same chant in our heads: “slide, release, mast, boom, boom.”


Day Two – We Want More!

The next day, pumped for more fun, the wind called for another day at Viento, which excited us all.

Two solid days of practice with the right guidance works wonders. It was amazing how each person’s skills improved. Some relearning jibe steps in line with Heidi’s methods. Some who never jibed in their lives occasionally nailed them, gifted by hoots and hollers from camp mates.

At the end, none wanted it to be over. We exchanged email addresses and promises to sail together again. And we hung out with our picnics well past the end of the camp.

For those who have thought about trying Big Winds’ Women’s Clinic, I heartily recommend it. You’ll learn from amazing teachers. You’ll have fun. You’ll make new friends. Most of all, you’ll be empowered, all in the company of inspiring females.


Senator Ron Wyden stops in at Big Winds to celebrate the 4th!

Senator Ron Wyden stops in at Big Winds to celebrate the 4th! We talked with him about paddlboarding and why The Columbia River is such a special playground – all part of his 7 Wonders Oregon tour.



Click to go to




Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031


Free Stand Up 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-T 14′
TR -X 14′
TR- 11’6″ 

X-Pro 14′


Elite Tour 12’6
All-Star 12’6 x 24

Elite Tour 11’6
Javelin 14′ X 26 LE


Downwind 14’
Contender 12’6
Appleby Race 12’6

Glide 12’6 x 30 GS


Fiona Wylde: First Woman to Qualify for Men’s Sunset Beach Pro

Big Winds favorite waterwoman, Fiona Wylde, checks in from Turtle Bay:

fiona1Hi All,
The Men’s Stand Up World Tour Sunset Beach Pro holding period started directly after the completion of the Women’s Turtle Bay Pro. Myself and one other girl, Izzi Gomez, last year’s World Champion, received the opportunity to enter the Trails to see if we could make it into the main event. When I was put in the brackets, I wasn’t concerned about making it to the main event, I was concerned about making it out of the shore break. On Thursday, Sunset was stormy and surging between 10-15ft Hawaiian, so I put on an impact vest and paddled out. Once I got out there, I caught the best, most exhilarating waves of my life! I placed second in my first heat of the trials and advanced to the Quarter Finals. If I made it out of the Quarters, I would have a place in the main event. I didn’t think of it like that, I concentrated on staying safe and not getting caught inside, but also to catch good waves. I got second in the Quarter Final heat and qualified for the Men’s main event! Unfortunately Izzi did not qualify. This makes me the first woman to ever make it to the Men’s Main event!!! They did not continue the trials to get a winner, but stopped after the Quarter Finals so they could begin round one of the main event and save some time. fiona3

The following day, Friday, conditions calmed down and we had fun 6-8ft Sunset to enjoy, but not without tricky Kona winds for round one and two of the Main event! In round one, I got fourth in my heat, but still got some fun waves and started to figure out Sunset more. In round two, I placed second in the heat and scored a 5.67 backed up by a 2.93! I only caught two waves because I broke one of my boards and it took me a while to get back out to my caddy who had my second board. However, only the first place in the repechage heats move on along with the two highest second place heat scores out of the round. I had the third highest heat score out of the repechage and missed out on round three by only 1 point!
This has been such an amazing experience and I have learned so much about my surfing and my personal levels. I was not necessarily competing against the guys, but against myself and seeing how much I would push myself. What I am most excited about is that I didn’t back down when it was big and gnarly, but I went out and actually had fun.
My good friend and amazing cinematographer, Forrest Ladkin, is making an edit of the event for me and I will send it out once it’s complete. In the mean time, here are a couple photos from Brian Bielmann, some screen shots and the video recaps of Day one and two where you can see me surfing and doing some interviews. Thank you all so much for your support!

Talk to you soon,

~Fiona Wylde

Free Lessons and Happy Hours at Big Winds

Check out our August calendar and join Big Winds for some August windsport fun!

At-A-Glance (more details below)

  • 8/5 Ladies Downwind Prep Class
  • 8/7 Ladies Learn to Kite Happy Hour
  • 8/8 Ladies Free Intro to Windsurfing
  • 8/12 Ladies Downwind Prep Class
  • 8/19 Shop Talk with Dave Kalama and Imagine SUP
  • 8/21 Meet and Greet with SIC International Team
  • 8/22 Positively Kai Event
  • 8/23 and 24 Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge

Daily: Big Winds Downwind ShuttlesBig Winds Downwind Shuttle

Leaves Event Site Center at 1:30. Just $12.

(Additional shuttle times available as demand warrants.)


Daily: Big Winds Downwind Prep Class

Get ready to tackle the Viento run with great tips on rough water techniques, catching swell, cross wind paddling, upwind paddling and more.

Big Winds Downwind Prep Course

Tuesdays, August 5 and August 12: Big Winds Ladies Downwind Prep Class

For those who want to do a downwinder but aren’t quite ready for one, this is the class for you. This is not an advanced class, it is an introduction to paddling in windy conditions. You should already have a good strong paddle stroke on flat water. This is NOT FOR BEGINNER paddlers. You’ll get all the great info as our regular Downwind Prep Class, with a focus on girl power and at a special price — $55 (reg. $69). Call us to sign up at 888-509-4210 or 541-386-6086.

Thursday, August 7: Ladies Learn to Kite Happy Hour

Ladies Learn to Kite Happy Hour


Here’s a FREE event from 5-6 PM at the Big Winds shop to familiarize ladies looking to get into kiteboarding.
There will be in-shop discussions, demonstrations and specials on beginner equipment, lessons and tools.  We will offer discounts on Trainer Kites and Progression DVD’s. Refreshments too!




Friday, August 8: Ladies Free Intro to WindsurfingLadies Free Intro to Windsurfing



This class will take place between 9:00 and 10:30 AM at the Big Winds Adventure Center at The Hook, led by our awesome female instructors, Heidi and Ondine. All gear is included. This is a great way to get acquainted with this fun Gorge sport! All participants will be offered a discount on signing up for our Learn to Windsurf, Three Lesson Package. Please call to register as this class is limited to 20 students. 888-509-4210 or 541-386-6086.




Sunday, August 10: Free Intro to SUP

Big Winds Free Intro to SUP

Learn the basics in no time with on-land and on-water instruction! We’ll meet from 9 to10 AM at the Big Winds Event Site SUP Center.

  • Site and weather orientation
  • Introduction to equipment
  • Safety
  • Proper paddle usage
  • Getting started: launching
  • Knee paddling
  • Stand up paddling
  • Board maneuvers
  • Deep water restart

This is for anyone 12 years and over with swimming ability. Call us to sign up at 888-509-4210 or 541-386-6086. Limited to 30 students.

Tuesday, August 19: Shop Talk with Dave Kalama and Imagine SUPShop Talk with Dave Kalama

This is a meet and greet with surfing legend Dave Kalama. You’ll hear about his extensive paddling background, a new line of SUP boards by Imagine and he’ll answer your questions. This will take place at the Big Winds shop from 5 to 6 PM.


Thursday, August 21: Meet and Greet the SIC International Team

SIC SUP TeamThe SIC International Team will be at the shop to socialize, sign posters, talk board shapes, etc. SIC has one of the most successful and talented SUP Open water, Downwind race teams on the planet and they’re all here for the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge. 5 PM at the shop.


Friday, August 22: Positively Kai

Positively Kai

Big Winds presents the most popular kids SUP event on the planet! Meet multiple World Champion Kai Lenny, Gerry Lopez and Chuck Patterson. Instruction by Big Winds Junior Elite Team, with equipment provided. This is a free event at the Hood River Waterfront Park from 4 to 6 PM.

Sponsored by:

Saturday and Sunday, August 23 and 24: Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge

Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge

One of the year’s top SUP events returns to Hood River for its fourth year. Exciting races will fill the weekend, featuring the world’s elite paddlers, men’s and women’s open classes and groms, too!

Join us for all the fun!

Click to go to




Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210 or 541-386-6086

August is Downwind Month in the Gorge!

The water is warm, the sun is shining, the current has backed off and the wind…

well the wind is cranking! It must be August in the Gorge, prime time to take advantage of some of the best SUP downwind conditions on the planet!

And Big Winds has plenty of downwind activity to fill the entire month:

dwmonth-shuttleBig Winds Daily Downwind Shuttle: Leaves from the Big Winds Event Site Center daily at 1:30. Additional shuttle times available depending on demand. Just $12.

Big Winds Downwind Prep Class: Offered daily . This is the best way to get ready to tackle the Viento Run!

bigwinds clinics and prep class

Big Winds Downwind Clinics: If you’re about ready for your first Viento Run or want great tips on how to do it faster, join us on August 3 or August 10 for a Downwind Clinic, which includes instruction, the Big Winds Shuttle and a Viento Run.

Positively Kai, August 22:Positively Kai

The most popular kids SUP on the planet returns to Hood River! Hosted by Big Winds and featuring Kai Lenny, multiple World Champion, this event is for the whole family.




Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge, August 23 & 24: This is THE BIG ONE! One of the top SUP events of the year comes back to Hood River for the fourth year. The best paddlers from across the globe descend on Hood River for a weekend packed with exciting racing. This event offers something for everyone so come join us!

Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge

Click on any image to enlarge.
Click to go to

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031


Big Winds SUP Team in the Molokai to Oahu (M2O)

Rob Dies, Gregg Leion and Big Winds GM, Steve Gates, are on Molokai gearing up to compete in the Molokai to Oahu (M2O) race on Sunday as a three person SUP team. The link below will show their progress in realtime on Sunday as they cross the Ka’iwi Channel or the ‘Channel of Bones’ between the islands of Molokai and Oahu – a 32 mile crossing! They have a support boat and take turns paddling. Their race begins 8 AM Hawaiian time (11 AM Pacific Time) and will take about 6 to 7 hours, depending on wind and swell (the windier & bigger the better). They flew over the channel yesterday on their way from Oahu to Molokai and the scale of the crossing is impressive — it isn’t your typical Viento downwinder!

Ka'iwi Channel

Ka’iwi Channel

The team number is #309. This website will track their progress — it takes a few moments to update.

Here’s the event website.


Big Winds hosts “Kite with the Pros”

Big Winds is hosting Kite with the Pros this Saturday, July 19th at the Spit on the Hood River sandbar. The action begins at 11:30 AM and will continue until about 2:30 PM. (The forecast looks good, but just in case, Sunday, July 20th is an alternate day if there’s no wind on Saturday.) The event is free.

Jason Watts

Jason Watts. Photo: Gorge-Us Photography.

Expert kiteboarders will be on hand from Cabrinha, Naish, and North to answer questions and demonstrate specific riding styles and techniques. Matt Elsasser and Jason Watts will cover strapless surf and freestyle riding for Cabrinha. The Richman Brothers — Shawn and Jesse — from Naish, will focus on big air and freestyle. Craig Cunningham and Colleen Carroll from North will cover wake style tricks and sliders.

Jesse Richman

Shawn Richman. Photo: Gorge-Us Photography.

This will be a fun and informative event for kiters of any level and it promises to be a dynamic scene for spectators as well. With so many accomplished and progressing riders right here in the Gorge, we decided to bring the pros to them.

Matt Elsasser

Matt Elsasser

Kite with the Pros is a free event hosted by Big Winds and partners from North, Naish and Cabrinha. For more information feel free to call the shop at 541-386-6086.

Colleen Carroll

Colleen Carroll

Hope to see you there!