Category Archives: Kiteboarding

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

Aftermarket Kitesurfing Fins: Thruster versus Quad

We offer a variety of kite specific surfboards here at Big Winds, some that run with three fins, some with four and some now with the choice of either, in a 5-fin box configuration. Over the years we have found some aftermarket fins working better than others for kitesurfing. With Futures Fins and FCS dominating the surf fin market, all of the kitesurf boards we sell accept one or the other. Fins are like the “tires on your car” (thanks Ben Skaggs for the analogy) and you can feel the difference in performance immediately. Understanding the nuances of fins can be complicated, so I’m hoping to simplify your choice to better your kitesurfing experience.

quad-v-thruster

With terms such as templates, foils, flex etc., there is a lot to consider when purchasing your next set of surf fins. Fortunately, enough surfboards have been utilizing fins since the mid 1930s (thanks Tom Blake) and evolved to the current three-fin “Thruster” design (thanks Simon Anderson) and four-fin “Quad” design. Although the debate on thruster versus quad has valid points on each side, we try to iron out the differences with a few common characteristics.

Quads offer more speed as the thruster’s center fin creates drag. A surfer on a thruster must generate his or her own speed, whereas a quad will naturally scream down the line. Thrusters, however, can pivot on the tail making for tight arcing turns. This allows for multiple bottom turns, face climbing and lip smacking, turn after turn after turn. Although both thrusters and quads will crank up wind better than any twin-tip, the quad may have a slight advantage due to two fins engaging on the rail, versus just one. We talk about a quad feeling looser or skatier due to the lack of the back fin, but the back fin allows for better tracking on the thruster. It comes down to personal preference, whether you want the speed and long arcing turn of the quad, or the control and tight pivot of the thruster (or the versatility of choosing either in the 5-fin box boards).

North Pacific, North, Cabrinha and Firewire (recently added to the Big Winds lineup) utilize Futures Fin boxes. There are many choices Futures Fins offer, but here are our favorites starting with the thrusters, then the quads, then the 5-fin:

John John Signature Thruster Fins: The John John fins are based on the best selling F4 Techflexfins and new for Big Winds this season. I’ve been riding the John Johns for five months now and love them. With added base, the new John Johns have more drive, helping maintain speed through the turn. A reduced tip area provides a quicker release, allowing the board to easily break free from the wave during turns. Plus, they look awesome with a blue side when viewed from the starboard side and yellow side when viewed from the port side.

John John

John John. Click to enlarge.

 


F4 Techflex Thruster Fins: This is our best selling thruster fin from Futures. They provide a comfortable feel in a variety of conditions. The F4 template has a medium base providing less drive in a tighter turning radius and a generous tip helping you stay on rail. The carbon base and carbon tip provide stiffness and prevent the board from sliding through the turn. This is great for kiters who put a lot of force on the fin.

F4 TechFlex

F4 TechFlex. Click to enlarge.


 

V2 Rasta Quad: Don’t get me wrong, these are my favorite quads from Futures and not just due to the looks and name. These V2 quads have been made with renewable bamboo and look awesome, but the thing I’ve noticed is they generate more drive, providing forward acceleration and helping maintain speed through the turn. Plus, when you purchase the V2 Rasta Quad set, a portion of the proceeds go to Dave Rastovich’s non-profit, “Surfers for Cetaceans.” I love whales and dolphins!

V2 Rasta Quad

V2 Rasta Quad. Click to enlarge.


 

F4 Quad Fins: Again, the F4 template is the most popular and available also as a quad setup. This fin is for the medium size riders looking for a fin that is a little looser that easily breaks free from the wave during turns. These fins release really well for a fun, skatier feel.

F4 Quad

F4 Quad. Click to enlarge.


Josh Mulcoy 5-Fin: Josh has been kitesurfing for over eight years and has helped put legitimacy into the kitesurfing world with his pure strapless style. He has worked in conjunction with Futures to design a fin that works great for him both with a kite and without. Josh’s 5-fin set-up is fast and turns a tight arc due to the sweep angle or “rake” of the fin being more upright then swept back. Riding the rear quads will add more hold preventing the board from sliding through turns and add more drive helping maintain speed through the turn.

Josh Mulcoy Thruster

Josh Mulcoy Thruster setup. Click to enlarge.

Josh Mulcoy Quad

Josh Mulcoy Quad setup. Click to enlarge.

 


All Naish kitesurf boards have been built with a proprietary fin box known as DFS. The DFS fin box accepts FCS fins and we carry FCS fins at Big Winds in case you want to upgrade your stock Naish fins. The FCS fins we stock and have ridden over the years are categorized by size. This allows you to make a choice based on your weight range, with sizes extra-small, small, medium and large. Here is a list of FCS fins we recommend:

Naish DFS fin box

Naish DFS fin box. Click to enlarge.

 

K2.1 Grom

K2.1 Grom

K2.1 Grom (XS) Thruster: The Kelley Slater Pro Model Grom works great for the smaller individuals, those weighing 145 pounds or less. For someone looking for characteristics of a looser, tighter turning fin, the KS.1 Grom is an excellent choice.

 

 

PC-3 Thruster

PC-3 Thruster

PC-3 (S) Thruster: We stock and sell more PC-3 fins than any other for kitesurfing due to the versatile nature of the size and feel. For riders weighing 150-175 pounds, the PC-3 is a great choice. It delivers a longer arcing turn through which it holds tight. The bamboo construction version is lightweight and provides a natural flex enhancing the directional flex of the fin. The carbon base on the bamboo version is perfect for the kiters who like to ride lit up.

 

PC-5 Thruster

PC-5 Thruster

PC-5 (M) Thruster: For the heavier riders, 175 pounds and up, the PC-5 will be the choice. This fin handles the power and force exerted when fully powered. There is no need to go much bigger than the PC-5s, as this fin is deep enough to handle choppy bouncy conditions. Again, offered in the bamboo construction, the carbon base creates a stiff platform with a naturally flex in the tip. This is a great choice for the big boys.

 

SA-1 Quad

SA-1 Quad

SA-1 Quad: Simon’s medium size quads are great for the medium sized kitesurfers looking for a quad set to give a little added drive and speed to their shorter boards. For the boards in the smaller (5′-5’8″) range, these fins will help maintain acceleration through the turns.

Find all these fins at Big Winds, in the shop, online or give us a call at 888-509-4210.

–TJ

2014 Cabrinha Overdrive 1X Control and Security System

overdrive4We’ve been receiving many questions regarding the new 2014 Cabrinha Control Bar, known as the Overdrive 1X. This 2014 bar is Cabrinha’s answer to the one-bar fits all question, simplifying and reducing the overall cost to your next quiver of various sized Cabrinha kites. The Overdrive has many new features and has brought up a number of questions regarding the use of it.

Can I use the new 2014 bar with my older Cabrinha kites? YES! The new 2014 Overdrive bar can not only be used to fly all IDS kites from 2009 to the current 2014 models, but also improves the overall characteristics and safety of the older models (we will dive into this at length).

Can I use my older IDS bars with the new kites? NO. The older bars may fly the new 2014 kites fine, but the security system will not work, so please do not use older model IDS bars to fly your new kite. It’s just not safe and you will be losing the overall benefits the new bar delivers to the new kites.

Here is an explanation of these benefits:

The newly improved 1X Bridle on the 2014 kites brings an upgrade in kite control and steering. There are fewer moving points on the bridle which equates to faster turning and better responsiveness. All bridles except for the Vector have only 2 pulleys in 2014.

Working in unison with the 1X bridle is the newly designed 1X Bar. Security is one of the biggest selling points for us at Big Winds, which is why we have felt so comfortable recommending the 5th Element bar for the North kites over the years, particularly the Rebel. The new 2014 1X security system is a complete shutdown system, the best we have seen yet for a 4 line system. Cabrinha OverdriveThis full blown shut down system relies on only one line to immediately shut down the power of the kite, in any condition. The 1X security line basically runs up one of the center lines, woven through a couple of loops and pulls way up that line close to the kite.

What if I have twists in my center lines, will the security system still engage? YES! The team at Cabrinha has tested the security system with up to 15 twists in the center lines, and the kite still shuts down when the quick release is pushed. So, if you are not reverting your kite loops, back rolls, or spins, my suggestion is to be a bit aware of your center line twists, and manually un-spin them when doing an upwind reach (located below the bar, same location as the Quicklink in years past).

Diving deeper into the new 2014 Overdrive bar technology, Cabrinha has lowered the front line connection to the CAS in order to provide a more direct and immediate response from your bar input. This “Low V” connection provides direct steering, increased responsiveness and faster turning, especially evident in the 2014 Switchblade and Drifter kites. The new Switchblade turns faster than the 2013, and retains the low end of the 2012 (best of both worlds!).

The adjustability of the new Overdrive 1X is slick, and can be adjusted from the shortest length (49cm) to the longest length (57cm) in a matter of seconds. We tested this on the water too, being able to adjust the bar on the fly in eight seconds. The 49cm length works great on the overdrive1smaller kites (4m-8m) and the 57cm length perfect for the larger sizes (9m-14m). These are only recommended settings as I personally love flying my new 8m Drifter in “Overdrive” mode for a faster turning, quicker responding feel. The Overdrive 49-57cm bar comes standard with 22m rear flying lines and 16m front flying lines. Note that the Overdrive 49-57cm bar should not be used with the Contra kites due to the length of the security line. The Contra must use the Overdrive 1XL to achieve the full function of the security system (57-65cm/24m line set). Cabrinha designed the Overdrive 1X Siren bar specifically for women riders, with a smaller loop and easy to reach Recoil trim adjusters. This bar comes when the Switchblade Siren is purchased kite complete, and has the same adjustability (49-57cm).

To sum it all up, the new 2014 Cabrinha Overdrive 1X control and security system is a huge improvement in safety, simplicity and performance. Upgrade your old kites with this control bar or upgrade your old kites with new ones and be sure to include the Overdrive control bar into your new quiver. Available from Big Winds: 888-509-4210, online or stop by!

–TJ