Category Archives: Gear

2015 Cabrinha Secret Weapon

Secret Weapon at Big Winds

Pete Cabrinha on the Secret Weapon

The Cabrinha surfboard line up got a complete makeover for 2015. A great choice for Gorge conditions, or swell/small wave conditions elsewhere, is the Secret Weapon 5’2. The Secret Weapon is Pete Cabrinha’s take on the fish surfboard specific for kiteboarding in small waves and throwing directional freestyle tricks.

Being fairly wide (19.7″) makes it extremely stable and an easy platform to both stand on and land on. The tail keeps a lot of the width for early planing in light wind and high top-end speed. The fair amount of rocker and the rounded swallow tail allow for fairly nimble, precise turns.

Secret Weapon at Big WindsWhile billed as a great board for light wind, I have found the Secret Weapon to handle high wind conditions like a gem. The quad fin set up plays a big part in this, giving you great bite with the fins when you are flying at full speed on a reach. The nose is also scooped up for a board in this class, making it very forgiving in large chop and also preventing you from pearling (digging in the nose) when going down a steeper wave face.

Durability is a huge factor when considering a new surfboard and the Secret Weapon (as with all the 2015 Cabrinha surfboards) is bomber. After taking this board through the ringer, I can say that it is the strongest production board I have ridden in a long time. Over an EPS core is a bamboo sandwich for strength, with a layer of cork to help dampen rough water.

Secret Weapon at Big Winds

The Cabrinha Secret Weapon comes with front and rear pads and the hexagonal pods in between to keep weight down. Fins (Futures Fin compatible box) and straps are sold separately. I have experimented with different fin configurations, and highly recommend Futures Fin F4 Quads for a great blend of drive, hold and maneuverability.

–Jason

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Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

2015 Cabrinha Drifter

After several years of using this kite, I can personally attest that the 2015 Drifter is a kite that, first and foremost, DRIFTS! I define drift simply as a kite’s ability to travel downwind without being worked (stroked or looped). The big advantage of a kite drifting is keeping tension on the lines as you ride at the kite, helping prevent the kite from stalling and falling out of the sky. For a seasoned wave kiter, good drift allows you to charge down the line without having to worry about outrunning your kite, allowing you to focus on riding the wave. For a beginner through early advanced level kiter, good drift is super helpful in allowing you to perfect transitions, jumps and toe side riding without having to always be as focused on maintaining perfect line tension.

2015 Drifter at Big Winds

The Drifter is also a great kite due to its extremely easy re-launch. It has great wind range, nearly as much as the Cabrinha Switchblade, and more then almost any other kite on the market. Its Double Ripstop build is industry leading in durability and does not become silky over repeated uses. The Sprint inflation system, with its direct connect valve, also makes pumping it up a breeze.2015 Drifter at Big Winds

Now in its fourth generation, the structural design of the Drifter has stayed nearly identical since its inception. The only change was in 2014 (continuing on in 2015) when they reduced the number of pulleys in the bridle from six to two. Fewer pulleys create a more direct feel between the bar and the kite, and increasing overall turning speed. All in all, the Drifter is a must have for wave riders, and a great option for anybody looking for a top of the line, but forgiving, free ride kite.

Overdrive 1x Bar

The Cabrinha bar has gotten a big rework this year. The new Quickloop chicken loop/safety release system is extremely effective at killing power when pulled and it is insanely easy to put back together (even one-handed!) on the water. The floats have been expanded substantially and the trim adjustments have been brought seven cm closer to the bar, making adjustments easier for shorter riders, while still allowing easy, nearly 100% depower when sheeted out. The Overdrive system returns, allowing you to easily adjust the bar from 48-56 cm, as does the 1x single line flagging safety system.

–Jason

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Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

2015 Starboard Kode FreeWave 86

When the Kode FreeWave was pulled out of the bag at Rowena the other evening it turned heads on the beach. I received comments on what an amazing looking board it was, the graphics really pop and the wood showing slightly through the bottom paint was “so cool”. I agreed. Starboard took a board that looked pretty darn good in 2014 and made it look red hot with updated graphics for 2015. Pictures don’t do it justice, this board needs to be seen in person.Kode Freewave at Big Winds
Graphics aren’t the only improvements that Starboard made, this year’s Kode 81, 86 and 94 include a new thruster fin setup and the Kode 86, 94 and 103 models have a thicker tail rail release edge for more float out of a turn, quicker acceleration and more pop. I basically ran the board to the water in excitement (and in wanting to get some runs in before the wind dropped out).

Kode Freewave at Big WindsWhen I slid my feet into the Kode’s contour-shaped sponge pads for the first time, I thought I had put on my morning Ugg boots; they were the most comfy pad and strap combo I have ever experienced. It is amazing how much good straps and pads can contribute to your overall enjoyment of the board. And enjoy I did. This board is smooth and easy to ride and felt perfectly matched to the 5.3 I was using. Even in the dying winds, I was able to experience the main strength of this board: versatility. It felt like it was a jack-of-all-trades: great turner, quick to plane, fun to turn and easy to ride. I envision this board working really well for the intermediate/advanced sailor looking for one board to do it all. It could also be an awesome light wind or big guy wave board. Really, no matter who slips their feet into the Kode 86, it will definitely put a smile on their face, this board rips and is one comfy ride.

–Matt Morrow

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Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

2015 Quatro Sphere 80

Within half a reach I knew the Quatro crew had a great board with the Sphere 80. After a couple of reaches I was in love. Having never ridden a thruster set-up before, I wasn’t sure if the Sphere 80 would be something I would really like. Normally I like “fast” waveboards and I was expecting the thruster fin set up to feel a little slow for my taste. This was not the case at all. For a wave board, the Sphere had plenty of top end and it carried speed very well in the turns. Keith Taboul, Quatro’s shaper apparently designed it this way: “I stuck to a v-bottom for early planing and a double concave to soften the ride at high speeds and then worked meticulously on the rail foiling, ending up having the rails faster from nose to tail to making the board feel distinctly crisp and responsive.”

quatro3

The thruster set-up was noticeable when slashing a swell in that it was both loose and tracked exceptionally well; the board went exactly where I wanted it to, exactly when I wanted it to. I was powered on a 4.2 and in the gusts I was amazed and how in control I felt on the Sphere. It stuck to the water very well yet was easy to release when jumping. I was warned that sometimes thruster/quad set-ups can spin out easier due to the smaller fins and foot pressure adjustment is necessary for those with heavy rear pressure, but not with the Sphere. I felt like I could handle any gust, any bump and any swell. Due to how in control I felt on the Sphere, I went for maneuvers I might not normally try. It made me a better sailor, which makes windsurfing so much more fun.Quatro Sphere at Big Winds

I would highly recommend this board to anyone coming from a single fin background who might be hesitant to use a thruster setup. There is just no downside that I could find, the Sphere was fast, loose and easy to sail. I felt more in control on the Sphere than on any board in that size that I can remember. It felt like it was made for the chop and swell of the Gorge, I can’t wait to try it on an ocean wave.

–Matt Morrow

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Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

2015 Naish Sails Review: Part 2

2015 Naish Force Five 5.3

The wind started to drop a bit and it was time to rig up. The Naish Force Five is touted as “a 5-batten wave sail perfect for riders who demand acceleration power and control” which is right up my alley. Visually, it looks spectacular. The yellow/grey/black sail color combo that we had is definitely easy on the eyes (really, it is gorgeous) and the 2015 Naish wave sails look bomb proof. Rigging was quick and easy. I loved the loop-and-go downhaul pulley and the easy to use downhaul pocket for extra line. The “radial clew” is apparently one of the strongest in the industry and certainly looks the part.

Unfortunately, I only got a couple of reaches in before the wind shut off so I didn’t get to fully put the sail through the paces. However, I certainly got to experience the balanced power that the sail delivers as I found myself still planing and having fun even after everyone else went in. While the Force Five has great low end power, once planing it felt rock solid and very stable.

I have been fortunate to have tried many brand new sails right out of the bag but I have never been so impressed by the clarity of a sail window before. Somehow the 2015 Naish Wave Sails seem as if the window wasn’t there. Even with the X-Ply Laminate they have a clarity that is nicer than a monofilm-only window. It made the river seem more open and clear and would certainly be advantageous on a wave. I found out that this is a new feature and is called a Spectraview II Window. I can certainly attest to Naish’s claim of “improved visibility”. It is amazing.

2015 Naish Session 4.2

2015 Naish Session

2015 Naish Session

Wow wow WOW! Being 185 lbs, I have, in the past, preferred the more powerful Naish Force to the Session but this 2015 Session is another story. Right away the 2015 Session put a big smile on my face it felt as though I had been sailing it for years. The sail was perfectly balanced even in the gusty conditions that we were experiencing. The soft leech helped spill wind when needed and the draft forward shape provided plenty of power to get me planing in the lulls.

I loved how easy the sail was to handle when riding swell it was very quick to depower when needed. I felt confident in every maneuver; the Session was very responsive and just a pleasure to sail. “Fast,” as Mark said when we were comparing our testing notes, “that Session just does everything a great sail is supposed to”. This felt like the perfect all round Gorge sail for any weight of rider and I can’t wait to get another “session” on it.

Chinook Quick Harness Lines

Harness lines don’t often get a lot of mention even though they can make or break a session if they are misaligned or the wrong size. I got to try the Chinook Quick Harness Lines for the first time and they are a game changer. First, they can be EASILY attached without needing to remove the boom end and second, the mono point design makes it SO much easier to adjust the position on the boom when on the water. I felt like I could get my line position dialed in about a quarter of the time as double attachment point lines. If you haven’t tried them highly recommend a pair as they make a world of difference.

–Matt Morrow

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Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

2015 Naish Sails Review: Part 1

Late in September, Mark, our windsurfing manager, George, our rentals and lessons expert and I went out to Rowena to test some of the hottest new 2015 high wind gear. The wind was averaging 28 knots at Dougs according to iWindsurf and the water and air were still holding onto some lingering summer warmth.

Mark and I arrived to what appeared to be 3.7 to 4.2 conditions. George was already on the water tearing it up on the new Naish Global Wave S 78 and his Sailworks Revo 4.2. He was making it look good. We began our rigging frenzy.

2015 Naish Force Three 4.1

Having never sailed a three batten modern sail before I was excited to get the new Naish Force Three on the water. On the beach there were some slight wrinkles in the single Dacron luff panel that our Naish rep explained were necessary and would disappear on the water as the sail took shape. The Cross Batten certainly caught my eye as I was outhauling the tail edge of the batten is literally inches above the outhaul eyelet. This cross batten concept is thought to help increase power and give the sail a balanced feel. I was ready to find out.

Naish Force 3 at Big Winds

Naish Force 3

The walk down to the water was a pleasant one due to the light weight of the Force Three and the extra pair of flip flops Mark loaned me to negotiate the razor like Rowena Rocks. On the water the first thing I noticed was an incredible amount of low end power. This sail could PULL. I had it rigged fairly full but still never expected the amazing amount of grunt. Up and planing the sail had a very light feel which was especially evident during transitions. The sail was a pleasure to rotate and handle. I didn’t feel completely “dialed in” especially when pointing upwind during gusts and the sail could have probably used a little more outhaul. I would have loved to play around with the adjustments a little but that will have to wait for another day as it was time to try another sail — tough job but somebody has to do it!

— Matt Morrow
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Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

2015 North Rebel Review

2015 presents us with yet another polished product from North, the 2015 North Rebel. Big Winds received a Rebel 9m for the demo fleet, coupled with the new 2015 North Trust Bar 5th Element (24m lines). The first thing we noticed was the smaller bag. With the elimination of a wind-tip batten and the ability to roll the kite from both wingtips to center with the new and improved Airport inflation/deflation system, the new Rebels pack down smaller than ever.

Pumping up the kite is super easy with the Airport Valve’s big air passage. There is still a short hissing noise that comes from the valve’s interspace, but once it gets closed and capped, the kite is air tight. One thing to remember is to close the wing-tip valve before inflating, as out of the bag it is open.

2015 North Rebel at Big WindsWhen unwinding the new 5th Element, there is a noticeable difference in the line set where a “blue bullet” replaces a red stopper ball at the junction of the 5th line and center lines. Down at the bar itself, one must set the width when fresh out of the box, which is easier than ever with the new push pins on the flip-flop bar ends. Be sure to check all connections as you walk the lines up to the kite, as I noticed the red line attachment to the 5th line was a little loose from the factory.

When attaching the lines to the kite, North made it very easy on the adaptive tip and clearly states the differences on the wingtip between the “yellow” knot and “blue” knot setting. Out of the bag, the Rebel comes set on “yellow” for lighter bar pressure, but the heavier riders looking for more to lean back against might prefer the “blue” setting for increased bar pressure. I personally like the “yellow” setting, finding it not overly light, faster turning and offering a smooth pull in the loop.

2015 North Rebel at Big Winds

The first thing I did was test the turning speed with the wider bar setting (53cm). On the 24m lines, the 9m Rebel was faster than I’d experienced in previous models. I managed to bump the bar down to the narrower (46cm) length in flight with the easy new flip-flop mechanism and gave it a rip up wind. My first reach across the river was as smooth as it could get in the up and down, gusty winds. The Rebel once again proved itself here in the Gorge, depowering with a short stroke in the gusts and powering through the holes when keeping the kite actively moving. The 9m’s recommended wind range is 15-33 (not sure if North measures knots or mph, but I’ll assume knots) and that was about what was being served up. In the gusts, I pulled the trigger a few times and the Rebel soared with huge hangtime and soft landings. I’m not sure if we will have the new 18m “Airstyle” Rebel to demo here at Big Winds, as people might want to test jumping the barges and bridges!

All in all, the 2015 Rebel and Trust Bar are solid. Since introduced in 2006, the Rebel concept remains very much the same:

1. More Depower than a C Kite
2. More Power than a C Kite
3. Retain the safety, stability and relaunch of a 5-line kite
4. No pulleys on the bar or on the kite
5. Direct bar feel, ability to sense location of kite in the sky
6. Avoid the complexity of the bridles

Thanks Ken Winner for giving the sport of kiteboarding 10 years of easy, safe, plug and play fun!

— TJ

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Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

2015 Cabrinha Switchblade Review

2015 Cabrina Switchblade

Big Winds just received the 2015 Cabrinha Switchblade kites and we love them! The 2015 Switchblade, now in its 10th edition, is a kite that has had a significant influence on the sport since 2005. Kite designer Pat Goodman has developed another polished product this year and coupled with the new Overdrive 1X control and security system with Quickloop, it stands out as one of the most versatile performance kites on the market to date. Whether your style is freeride, freestyle, surf, or foil the new Switchblade will not disappoint you.

2015 Cabrinha Switchblade

TJ foils up on the new Switchblade.

The 2015 Switchblade is offered in sizes 4-14m (except 13m) and we’ve now flown every size from 5m to 10m and are blown away by the park and ride stability and direct steering. Even though the bar pressure may have gotten a bit lighter than what the Switchblade has been known for, Cabrinha offers two settings for soft or heavy bar pressure. The new Switchblade retains its ultra low end power, yet turns faster than ever. The turning speed comes from a minor bridle refinement and the low “V” from the Overdrive Bar (adjustable from 44-56 cm). The bridle refinement adds to the stability of the kite which is important in our strong, gusty winds here in the Gorge. This new bridle also allows the kite to climb up through the power zone with zero stalling. Some minor improvements include the new strut to leading edge connection and new rounded leading edge end closure at the wing tip.

2015 Cabrina Switchblade

The biggest improvement in the 2015 Cabrinha line is the new Quickloop chicken loop on the Overdrive 1X control system. The Quickloop has been two years in the making and was worth the wait as it’s the fastest and easiest reload we’ve ever tested on any other bar. The main QR is a push away release with a catch that holds the QR in the released position until you are ready to reconnect. To reconnect, you simply push the open end of the loop into place and the latch automatically engages the loop. Dropping the QR body back down secures the loop back into place. Gone are the days of the IDS and Quicklink, however, you can use the new 2015 Overdrive bar on any Cabrinha kites dating back to 2009 (which will increase the performance of any older IDS kite).

The new bar comes complete with a short leash, although the pro leash can still be purchased separately.

Big Winds is arranging demos of the new Switchblade and Overdrive 1X control system, so come on by the shop to check one out!

— TJ

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Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

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!

Review: Firewire Kiteboards

Over the past two weeks we have had the opportunity to try the Vanguard 5’0 and 5’2 FST, as well as the Hellfire 5’6 TimberTek. Testing has taken place in a wide range of conditions, including light wind and high wind, Gorge flat water and swell and overhead ocean surf. The testing has gone great and we are pleased to introduce the Firewire lineup now available at Big Winds.

The Vanguard is a complete redesign on the modern surfboard. Other brands have copied its innovative design, but there is nothing like the original. The shape was designed around modern freestyle surfing, which transfers seamlessly over to kiteboarding. The short shape is suited very well for Gorge swell riding and strapless jumping (this board does not have foot strap inserts), while the sustained width and dynamic bottom contour make the board have the stability and ease of planning of a board 8-10″ larger. All in all, it is a very efficient design that makes landing the latest strapless tricks a breeze. Its easy planing and stability also make it a great option for a wide range of abilities. While the board maintains much of its width from nose to tail, it is not super wide (17.5″ on the 5’2 and 17″ for the 5’0), meaning it is still very responsive from rail to rail. After comparing the 5’0 and the 5’2, I would recommend a 5’2 for most mid-sized folks looking for a great strapless board for both inland waters and small to medium sized ocean waves. The 5’0 is a great option for smaller riders, or as a Gorge, high-wind specific slayer. Larger sizes (5’4 and 5’6) will be available soon and should be more suited for larger folks, lighter winds and medium plus surf.

Firewire Hellfire

Hellfire. Click to enlarge.

The Hellfire is a performance hybrid. What this means is that the outline, length to width ratio and rocker profile blend elements of modern high performance surfboards with a more user friendly “hybrid” or fish style shape. The goal of this shape is to blend top end performance with ease of use. The Hellfire dialed this. The Hellfire 5’6 TimberTek was ridden in overhead surf at the Florence south jetty in gusty six meter conditions. Our first impression pulling it out of the box was “damn, this is a beautiful board!” The Hellfire is not just pretty to look at, but a real pleasure to ride as well. The board was very stable at 19″ wide, but the diamond tail and step down tail rail reduce volume and make the tail plenty loose for easy, controlled turns. A deep double concave created plenty of drive while charging down the line. The mellow entry rocker is still enough to let you get very vertical, while not compromising control and speed. All in all, a very well balanced board that will excel in small to larger surf and good swell days as well.

Both boards come deck only, meaning you will need to purchase pads, foot straps (for the Hellfire FST only) and fins. The boards both have a 5-fin box configuration, so you can choose if you would like to ride them as a thruster or a quad. We have found both boards work great as either a thruster or quad set up, so it really comes down to personal preference in that department.

Come check the boards out at our shop, or on our website. We have the Vanguard 5’0 and the Hellfire 5’6 available to demo now as well, so come try one out today!

Wells Island