Category Archives: Kiteboarding

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

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

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

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 Ladies Night

Tuesday, July 8, 5:30-7PM


Big Winds Ladies NightThis multi-sport event is designed to build camaraderie among women who are active in (or want to learn) stand up paddle boarding, windsurfing and kiteboarding. Bring your friends or make new friends!


  • Wine and refreshmentsBig Winds Ladies Night
  • Coupon goody bags
  • Door prizes
  • Special pricing on gear in each department!

Big Winds Ladies NightAttendees can hear from experts in their respective sports. There will be opportunities to join social media groups and sign up for email blasts about women-specific events and clinics. Yoga instructor Rayna Morton will share about Big Winds’ new SUP Yoga classes.

Hope to see you there!

Daryl


Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

 www.bigwinds.comladies-shop3

2014 Mother’s Day

Mother's Day

Click to enlarge.

This weekend:

Free SUP rentals for all moms on Mother’s Day from 11-4
at the Big Winds Event Site Center!

10% off all in stock Women’s Fullsuits and Springsuits

$100 off these SUP boards:

Bark Appleby Race
Bark Appleby Crossover
Amundson 11’6 TR-X
Amundson 11’6 TR
Naish Alana 10’6
Starboard 12’6 Turtle Bay
Boardworks Sirena 10’6
Tahoe Bliss 11’6

10% off these paddles:

Quickblade Flyweight All Carbon
Quickblade Flyweight FG / CA
Quickblade Super Fly All Carbon 92 Superfly

$100 off these kiteboarding products:

2014 Cabrinha Siren
2014 Cabrinha Siren Control System
2014 Cabrinha XO Siren Board
2014 Naish Alana
2014 Naish Alana Control System
2014 Naish Alana Twin-Tip

Discount applied after checkout and verified on your shipping confirmation.

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

Review: Dakine Maniac Spreader Bar

This past weekend was a great opportunity to try out a new harness product, the greatly improved 2014 Dakine Maniac sliding spreader bar. The 2014 Pyro Maniac waist harness comes complete with the Maniac spreader bar or you can purchase the bar alone in either 10″ (with 8″ of travel) or 12″ (with 10″ of travel) for $60. This spreader bar allows for more freedom of movement, most noticeable when riding toeside on a directional or twin-tip. The Maniac spreader bar will work great for those needing this freedom, especially when riding with a seat or shorts harness. It also works great with the grippy waist harnesses.

maniac spreader bar

After your first use, you should tighten the webbing as it will loosen up once it gets wet and stretches. This adjustment is done easily behind the bar itself. If the webbing ever needs replacing, Dakine offers the webbing to be purchased for only $7.

Pyro Maniac

Pyro Maniac. Click to enlarge.

–TJ

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

Review: 2014 Cabrinha Contra

We had a nice light westerly wind here in Hood River last weekend allowing for a perfect time to test the 2014 Cabrinha Contra 17m kite. The average wind was right around 12 mph, gusting to 15, lulls below 10. The Contra is a 3 strut kite, available in two sizes, 15m and 17m. The 2014 Overdrive Bar it is flown with is a 57-65cm adjustable control system, and the 17m test was flown on the 65cm setting.

2014 Cabrinha Contra

TJ under the Contra at the Event Site.

After watching the only other guy on the water come in on a 13m, having difficulties staying up wind, I launched the 17m and felt the immediate power this canopy provides. Within the first down stroke, I was moving, reaching forward to pull depower in the trim strap. The Contra is fast turning for its size, playful, easy to maneuver and quick to down loop. It may fit the freeride/freestyle category best — not a race kite — but a playful park and ride kite. There is plenty of power in this 17m. For that size canopy, it has a feather light feel due to the reduced diameter struts and light weight bladders.

2014 Cabrinha Contra

2014 Cabrinha Contra

Here in Hood River, it’s not essential to have a kite this big. The 15m Contra would be about as big as we need to go. For those outside of the Gorge, though, the Contra 17m is a great choice to get off the beach and out on the water. Coupled with a directional board, or light wind twin-tip, the Contra 17m will get you up and moving in the least amount of wind providing a fun filled session. If you’re taking a vacation to a lighter wind area of the world, the Contra 17m packs down small and light (15 lbs w/ bar and bag), offering a great guarantee to be on the water when many may be watching from the beach. It’s like buying wind insurance! Feel free to give us a call any time with questions regarding the 2014 Cabrinha Contra: 888-509-4210.

–TJ

www.bigwinds.com

A Secret to Strapless Airs

OK, let’s face it, some of the strapless airs we see kiters doing these days are mind boggling, as if they are attached to the board with Velcro. Well, there is a product out there that may come close: Sticky Bumps PUNT Wax. We love punt wax here in the Gorge and at Big Winds we simply can’t keep it in stock during the summer months. If you have ever waxed your kitesurf stick, you may already know the pros and cons. The cons are pretty simple: time consuming, messy, and, well, messy. But, if you know how to use the PUNT Wax, you will find the pros on the first punt!

We recommend not using PUNT Wax alone, use it sparingly on a primary coat of base wax. Rough up the base wax with a surf wax comb, and then apply the Punt Wax over the base coat. If you have pads on your board, you can apply the PUNT Wax directly onto the pad, but again, use it sparingly, as the wax can make for a messy disaster. With kiteboarding comes wind and with wind comes blowing sand. I’ve always taken my board to the water before applying the PUNT Wax on top of the base coat. This prevents any sand from adhering to the board and messing up your traction. After applying the PUNT wax, I keep it in a ziplock bag and put it in my board shorts. Within a half hour of booting strapless airs, you may find the PUNT Wax smears off to the edges of your board, and it may be time to reapply.

After a session of punting like Ian Alldridge, Patrick Rebstock or local favorites Matt Elsasser and Randy Orzeck, get used to packing your PUNT Wax away from the heat. Do not keep wax in your gear bag, nor on your car seat or dashboard. Use your PUNT Wax carefully and sparingly, and learn to love it like we do!

–TJ

888-509-4210
www.bigwinds.com

Poly/PU versus Epoxy/EPS Kitesurf Boards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Pacific Poly/PU

North Pacific Poly/PU

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

Cabrinha Skillit Epoxy/EPS

Cabrinha Skillit Epoxy/EPS

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

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

–TJ

www.bigwinds.com
888-509-4210