Category Archives: Instruction

Let’s Go Paddling!

An Introduction to Stand Up Paddleboard Technique

Stand Up Paddleboarding is taking off in all corners of the world for several reasons: it is relatively easy for just about everybody, it is pretty unintimidating, you don’t need waves, you don’t need wind and it is great for fitness! It’s the perfect complement to windsurfing, kiteboarding and surfing, which is why so many people are adding it to their list of water sports.

Even though it’s easy to get on a board and go, good technique allows you to paddle longer, faster and have way more fun! Here are some tips for getting started.

SUP boards are surprisingly light and easy to carry with a convenient handle. Keep the board on the downwind side of you, and also help stabilize it with the hand that’s holding your paddle.

 

Getting Underway

1) Wade out into knee-deep water and ease your way onto the board on your knees. Place your paddle across the board well in front of the carrying handle.

 

2) Stand up and place your feet on each side of the carrying handle, which is generally the balance point of most boards.

 

3) Bend your knees slightly and hold your paddle so that the angle of the blade is pointing forward.

 

Proper Forward Stroke Technique

The Reach: A good long reach is the foundation for an efficient and powerful forward stroke. The lower arm is straight and the lower shoulder and hip are rotated forward, knees and back are slightly bent, and the upper arm is also slightly bent with the upper hand over your forehead. This position allows you to achieve a nice long reach, setting up a great stroke.

 

The Catch: The catch is the act of plunging the blade into the water and is the beginning of the power phase. At the catch, try to plunge the entire blade into the water, creating maximum power right from the start. The upper body “collapses onto the blade”, with the upper arm straightening to push the handle forward, adding power to the blade. The lower arm stays straight. Engage your core as you exhale, protecting your lower back.

 

The Power Phase: The power phase should be short and smooth, with relatively little effort from any single muscle group. The key is to get your whole body working in sync with a compact, efficient motion. Here’s what’s happening in this image: the hips and shoulder that were rotated forward are now rotating back, adding power and allowing the lower arm to stay straight. The lower arm is drawing the blade backwards, allowing the board to glide by it (the blade travels only a few inches in each stroke, but the board moves 10’+). The upper arm continues to drive the paddle handle forward, also adding power.

 

The Release: When the blade reaches your feet, lift it out of the water with your lower hand, while you lower the top hand and move it away from the paddling side. The Power phase is over.

 

The Recovery: This phase is key to an efficient stroke. As the blade is pulled from the water, twist the paddle as if you are opening a door handle by turning your thumb forward, “feathering” the blade so it can move forward through the air with little resistance. The body has becomes more upright, as the hips and shoulders once again begin to rotate towards the blade and follow it as it moves forward. Both arms stay straight, and the upper arm stays high and swings slightly outward to allow the blade to be drawn forward again.

Those are the keys to an efficient and powerful stroke: A nice long reach, a deep and powerful catch, a smooth and short power phase using your entire body, a quick release and a fluid recovery with minimal motion.

 

Turning the Board

Now you have a nice forward stroke, but at some point you’ll need to turn around. Here are some basic turns.

Bow Sweep: With your legs bent low, point the blade at the bow of the board and draw it backwards, scribing a nice wide arc with the blade from tip to tail.

 

Cross Bow Sweep: From the same preparation position as the Bow Sweep, rotate your upper body across the board and begin to sweep towards the bow, then lift the blade over the bow and continue to sweep back to the stern.

IMG_8207

 

Pivot Turn: From a surf stance (with one foot behind the other) and both feet well back towards the tail of the board, use the sweep stroke to turn the board towards your backside. With your weight back, the front of the board is lifted out of the water and is free to turn quickly. As you complete the turn, move quickly back to your forward stroke position.

IMG_8208

 

Upwind Paddling Technique

Here in the Columbia River Gorge, many of us paddle in all conditions from calm and glassy to windy and bumpy. We’ve developed techniques, which allow us to be able to paddle successfully into strong headwinds and crosswinds, and are great for a killer workout!

The key is to choke down on the shaft and STAY LOW! A short, compact stroke is what many of us have found to be the most efficient when to working our way into a stiff 20+ mph headwind. Here are the images that demonstrate our Upwind Reach, Catch, Power, and Recovery.

Now that you have the basics to paddle efficiently in a range of conditions, get out there, get fit and have fun!

See you on the water!
– Steve

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 bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210 or 541-386-6086

www.bigwinds.com

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 bigwinds.com

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

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!

–TJ

www.bigwinds.com

Big Winds SUP Yoga

sup-yoga2-300
Using the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge as a backdrop we will be practicing gentle vinyasa style yoga designed to support your mind, body and soul wherever your Gorge day may take you. Whether you are new to standup paddle boarding or to yoga, we will start off slow and work our way into an asana class that will fill your heart. For our more advanced paddlers and Yogis, options will be given to further your practice. This class is designed for all skill levels.

 

 

 

 


Class Schedule:Big Winds SUP Yoga

Join us for a 45 minute Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga session followed by a 30 minute group paddle. Classes are offered on the following dates and times:

  • Monday and Wednesday: 5:00PM
  • Friday and Sunday: 10:00AM

All classes will meet at the Big Winds Event Site Beach Center.

Classes begin Friday, July 4th, 2014


BIg Winds SUP YogaClass Fees:

  • Drop-in:
    • $15 (must bring your own board and paddle)
    • $30 includes “yoga friendly” SUP board and paddle rental
  • 5 Time Pass:
    • $65 (must bring your own board and paddle)
    • $125 includes “yoga friendly” SUP board and paddle rental

How to Sign Up:

  • At the Big Winds Event Site Beach Center
  • Call Big Winds Rentals and Lessons Department at 541-386-6086

Meet Our Big Winds SUP Yoga Instructor:

Big Winds SUP Yoga

Rayna Morton, RYT 200, moved to the Gorge five years ago from California in search of the perfect place to be an outdoor parent and she hit the jackpot when she found Hood River. Through the SUP ladies nights put on by Daryl at Big Winds, she fell in love with Stand Up Paddleboarding. On most decent days you will find her down at the basin doing yoga on her board and heading out into the Columbia. As a Jaya Yoga trained and registered Yoga instructor who specializes in outdoor yoga, she is passionate about sharing an authentic yoga practice that is safe, sustainable, therapeutic and that resonates from the heart. Her classes are designed to support your mind, body and soul, wherever your Gorge Life takes you.


Questions?

SUP Downwind Safety Guidelines

SUP Downwinding Safety Guidelines

Steve Gates

(with help from my friends)

Big Winds

2014

Here in the Gorge, and elsewhere, SUP downwinding is on fire. Everyone wants to go. On a warm, sunny day in a 15-20 mph breeze, it’s a walk in the park for most skilled paddlers. On a 25-35 mph cranker with a ton of current, huge swells and cold water, it’s a whole different ball game. We’ve had both types of experiences and everything in between in the Gorge, on Maui, and the Oregon coast and have had a pile of truly memorable runs. However, we have also had scary things happen, hence this list of guidelines for downwinding in the Gorge (that you can apply anywhere) to help us all get home safely.

Big Winds Downwinder

Big Winds Downwinder

Assess the conditions. If it’s not safe don’t go. It may be safe for some and not for others, or you. Remember that the conditions change fast, and vary as you travel along — particularly on the river. Your friends might look out for you, but it’s a big place. You have to know that you’ll be able to handle everything you encounter, by yourself.

Comply with the law. When in the Gorge (or elsewhere in Oregon), Oregon law states must have a PFD, a whistle and an Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) permit. You may not agree with this, but the Marine Sheriff won’t care. The fines are stiff. Attach your whistle on the strap of your hydration pack so you can access it quickly and easily in case of an emergency. In other areas, be sure to know local laws.

downwinder8853p

Hydrate. The Viento Run can take an experienced, strong paddler almost two hours when the current is ripping. You most assuredly will become dehydrated without water. Wear a hydration pack. You won’t regret it. For any outing over an hour, I suggest hydration.tours-viento-2

Wear appropriate rubber. Assume you will break down, or someone else will and you’ll be in the water for some time. You can become hypothermic, even in relatively mild temperatures, so wear a wetsuit and accessories if needed.

Wear a BRIGHT rash guard or jersey! It’s hard to see you out there!

Mitchell Point

Heading to Mitchell Point on the way to Hood River.

Use leashes. When the current is strong and the wind is pushing your board upriver your board zooms away from you. You almost certainly can’t catch it by swimming after it. Make sure you have a STRONG leash! Make sure your leash tether is super strong and knotted so it will NOT come undone. Consider adding a second tether tied loosely, so if the first fails the second keeps you attached. If you fall in and your leash gets tangled, Do NOT take your leash off! Bad things will happen. This is the voice of experience talking.

east-dw-12

Finishing up the Blalock run.

Booties. Everyone hates booties till something weird happens and you are halfway between Viento and Hood River and you have to climb up the rip rap, through the blackberries, hauling your fourteen footer onto I-84. Booties look pretty good then.

PFDs. Know how to use your PFD, and if it’s inflatable, try it out. You don’t want to learn about problems in the middle Swell City.downwind-clinics-300

Helmets. Everyone hates helmets, too. However, when it’s blowing 25+ knots, a fourteen foot SUP becomes a lethal weapon in the air. I just barely missed being getting clobbered by one while in the middle of Malaaea Bay on a 30-40+ day. Getting knocked out by a flying board will most certainly ruin your day. On really windy days, a brain bucket is recommended.

Cell phone. Someone in the group should have a waterproof cell phone. An emergency is just that.

Look out for each other! This trumps all else. If you blast off and are a few hundred yards away, you may not see your paddling partner in distress, or be able to get there quickly to render aid. Establish a plan in advance on who’s looking out for whom; determine who’s paddling sweep.

steve-dw

The author riding the river swell.

Be aware of changing conditions. Is the wind increasing or dying? Is the current ripping or mellow? Ask someone in the know if you don’t. Allow plenty of time to complete the run before darkness sets in.

Have a bailout plan. Make sure the less skilled paddlers are aware of what to do (get to your knees) or where to go (next to the Oregon shore) if they are struggling in the swells and current.

Consider other players. Swell City and the Hatchery on windy days are high performance, crowded windsurfing and kiteboarding spots. Taking your SUP through there on a Sunday afternoon with 300 people ripping along at 30 mph ninety degrees to your path is asking for trouble. They probably won’t even see you before they take you completely out. If you want to ride big swells at the Hatch on your SUP, get out during dawn patrol.

jun3-12

The Hatchery.

Have fun, and be careful. The Columbia is an amazing resource for downwinding. Let’s keep it safe and sane. It’s challenging enough without adding unnecessary risks.

Big Winds SUP Lessons and Clinics

SUP School is in at Big Winds

Stand Up Paddleboarding is now one of the most popular watersports in the Gorge. What we love about SUP is that just about anyone can do it! And depending on your athletic ability, the sport has a variety of challenge levels. Big Winds has been active in paddling for over five years, and this fun sport has created a completely new way to get you out on the water. It has also opened up a whole new level of performance to the athletes in the area, so encourage your friends and family to get out there!

Big Winds SUP Lessons

Big Winds SUP Lessons

Big Winds’ instructors can teach basic and advanced Stand Up moves, including a variety of forward, backward and turning strokes to increase your maneuverability. You’ll also learn safety, proper paddle usage and board maneuvers including those speedy buoy turns the racers use.

You can find more information on our SUP Lessons page on our main website.

First-timers can benefit from our Intro to SUP class, and beginner/intermediates will take it further in our SUP Express. Private SUP Lessons are also available. Our Downwind Prep Class, Downwind SUP Clinics, or SUP Sailing classes will safely get paddlers into more high-performance Stand Up experiences.

Big Winds SUP Lessons

Online signups are available for Downwind SUP Clinics. Give us a call (888-509-4210) or shoot us an email to discuss further or to sign up SUP School.

SUP Rentals

Big Winds offers the area’s widest selection of SUP rental equipment at our Event Site Beach Center (open 10-6 daily). This equipment is available on a “first come / first served” policy. We also have two options for multipass rentals where you can save up to 20%.

Whether buying, renting or learning, Big Winds has all of your SUP needs covered. Call us, visit us online or stop by our shop at 207 Front St., Hood River. We hope to see you on the water soon!

Big Winds Downwinder

Big Winds Downwinder. Click to enlarge.

Big Winds Windsurfing Lessons, Clinics and Camps

Big Winds offers “Summer School”

We are proud and honored that Big Winds has ranked as a top windsurfing school (if not “the” top school) in the Gorge for over 25 years. We have teaching windsurfing down to a science, and in 2014 we have a menu of lessons, camps, and clinics for every level of student. We continue to get stoked when the wind picks up and we’re enthusiastic to share our expertise in getting people out and having fun on the water.

Big Winds windsurfing lessons

Big Winds windsurfing lessons.

Here’s a snapshot of our Windsurfing School line-up:

Full lesson descriptions and dates for Windsurf Lessons are available on our website.
To summarize, we offer Three-Day Introductory Lessons, a Learn to Windsurf Package, Intermediate and Advanced lessons. We have two Women’s Clinics scheduled for July 12-13 and August 2-3, and our ever-popular Kids Camps run Monday through Thursday throughout the season. We also have six weeks of Advanced Junior Camps.

Big Winds Women's Clinics

Big Winds Women’s Clinics. Click to enlarge.

Beginner lessons are held at our Adventure Center inside the Hook, which provides a sheltered, safe environment for learning. Intermediate lessons are usually at the Event Site Center and Advanced Lessons will take place where the wind and swell are optimal.

Online signups are available for Kids Camps and the Advanced Junior Camps. Give us a call (888-509-4210) or shoot us an email to discuss further or to sign up for any lesson option. In the meantime, enjoy this short clip about windsurfing lessons…

 

Rentals

If you are visiting without your gear, don’t have equipment or want to try something new, Big Winds offers a huge fleet of rental gear. Beginner equipment is available at the Hook and Intermediate/Advanced equipment can be rented at our Event Site Center (open 10-6 daily) or at our shop at 207 Front Street in Hood River. More information can be found on our main website.

Let us help guide you to the best lesson, camp or clinic for you and your family. We hope to see you out on the water soon!

Big Winds Kids Camps

Big Winds Kids Camps

Youth Paddle Days, May 16-19, 2014

paddle-days-banner-748

In celebration of the worldwide Youth Paddle Days scheduled for May 16-19, 2014, Big Winds will be offering complimentary youth introduction to Stand Up Paddle Boarding lessons on Sunday, May 18th, 2014 from 1-4 PM at the Big Winds Event Site Center.

Big Winds will be offering complimentary introduction to Stand Up Paddle Boarding lessons on Sunday, May 18th from 1-4 PM at the Big Winds Event Site Center. These free lessons are paddle-days1-300available to youths 7 to 14 years of age. Children must know how to swim and parents must be present during entire lesson. Big Winds will be providing complimentary wetsuits and PFDs for all children who participate. The Big Winds Junior Elite Team (JET) will also be onsite helping with lessons. Big Winds will also be offering discounted Stand Up Paddle Boarding rentals for parents who bring their children to this event.

Call us at 888-509-4210 or 541-386-6086 to reserve a spot!

paddle-days2-748

Kiteboarding Tricktionary

We have a few copies of the new Kiteboarding Tricktionary Book left in stock. These sold fast over the holidays, and if you haven’t picked up yours, now is the time! We are super impressed by this book by Julian Hosp and Thomas Burblies. At first, we thought it was just going to cover the advanced and professional tricks (which it does), but it also starts off with 135 pages of the “Superbasics” covering the following:

  • basic kiteboarding knowledge
  • equipment
  • pumping/packing a kite
  • safe kiteboarding
  • launching and landing
  • (quick) releasing
  • relaunch
  • kite steering
  • body drag
  • waterstart
  • stopping
  • stance
  • jibes
  • grabs
  • jumps

tricktionary1

Then, it’s onto the fun stuff: airstyle and newschool tricks!

 

Kiteboarding Tricktionary

Kiteboarding Tricktionary

The experienced professional athletes demonstrate simple to highly complete moves in a very precise and stylish manner. Learn from the best in the convenience of your own living room. Get the picture of your next move off the water before hitting the water. Every kiter should have a copy of Tricktionary on their coffee table. If twin-tip freestyle isn’t your style, the surfing edition is coming soon. This book retails for $79, and can be purchased at Big Winds. Call 888-509-4210 or order online.