Category Archives: Kiteboards

2015 Cabrinha Tronic and Ace Twin-Tips

Big Winds offers a number of really fun twin tips for 2015, a couple of stand out boards from Cabrinha are the updated Tronic and new Ace.

The 2015 Tronic is a really fun twin tip for boosting and riding in surf and swell. Its updated shape this year is quite noticeable from the years past with the new Parabolic Rail offering a stiffer feel under foot, allowing for a very responsive tip and tail. If choppy waters are an issue in your riding venue, the new Tronic provides one of the smoothest rides with the deep V and quad concave bottom contour. 2015 Cabrinha Tronic at Big WindsThe softer curved tips and rounded rail means no more tip spit in your eyes and allows you to turn on a dime! Available in 3 sizes, my preference is the mid size at 141/42cm (I’m 5’10” and 165 lbs).

Cabrinha offers a completely new design with the new Ace twin-tip. A combination of the ever popular Custom and X-Caliber, the new Ace implements the same Parabolic Rails as the Tronic, but has a quad concave to quad V bottom. 2015 Cabrinha Ace at Big WindsWith slightly less rocker than the Custom, but a bit more than the X-Caliber, the new Ace gets up on a plane quickly, and provides a very fast and smooth ride. This Freestyle/Freeride twin-tip is certainly going to be a big hit for people riding in a variety of water conditions and experimenting with a variety of riding styles.

Both the Tronic and ACE are built from a vertically laminated Paulownia wood core with a new volcanic basalt laminate offering both vibration resistance and added durability. The new Hex Flow fins are another unique addition to the 2015 line-up, with a dimpled pattern over the surface of the fin comparable to that of a golf ball. The hex pattern helps to create a boundary layer assisting in the laminar flow over the fin. New rails, new construction and new fins all add to a very new feel in the twin-tip category for 2015.


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Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031


2015 Cabrinha Radar / Spectrum Package

We are offering a great kiteboarding package including the new Cabrinha Radar kite and Cabrinha Spectrum board. The Radar, coupled with the new 2015 Overdrive Control System, may be one of the most user friendly kites and bars to operate to date.

2015 Cabrinha Radar at Big WindsThe versatility of the Radar is amazing! Great for freeride, works in the waves, exceptional for foil, but more so, incredible for the beginner kiter. What makes this kite such a good entry level option is its incredible relaunch capabilities! Simply put a bit of tension on one of the outside lines, and the kite rocks onto its side and lifts off the water. Whether down on the water off to the edge of the window, or directly downwind, the Radar is the closest thing to an auto relaunch we’ve tested.

With a full bodied canopy, the Radar has exceptional low end power too. I have ridden the 10m Radar with a foil board in 9-14 mph winds and was amazed on how it stayed in the sky. The 3 strut simplicity adds to the light weight feel of the kite, giving it a very nimble and lively feel.

If you are looking for a great value in a new twin-tip kiteboard, the 2015 Cabrinha Spectrum is it. The new Spectrum board comes complete with bindings, fins, and handle for only $639, but when coupled with the Radar and Overdrive bar, the board comes out to only $240! It comes in a variety of sizes, 132/40, 136/41, 140/42, 144/43, and 148/44. It is made up with a very forgiving paulownia wood core for a very smooth ride, even in choppy conditions. The new textured top and bottom sheet adds to the overall durability and the new graphic is made up of the 3 colors the Radar kite is offered in: red, yellow, and teal.

2015 Cabrinha Radar - Spectrum Package

This 2015 Cabrinha package is the best price point entry level value we’ve seen, offering you a solid kite and board, along with the market’s easiest to operate control system. If you choose to upgrade to the Switchblade or Drifter for your second kite, the bar will work with any of the Cabrinha kites offered in the 2015 range. Give us a call to secure your Radar/Spectrum kiteboard package today, or check out our website for package pricing.


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Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031


2015 Cabrinha 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.

2015 Cabrinha 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.


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Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031


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

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.


2014 North Directionals Are In!

Big Winds just received the first shipment of 2014 North kitesurf directional boards, including the new Pro Series 5’11, the new WAM 5’8, and the new Whip 5’5. With the introduction of a cork “shock absorbing” laminate incorporated with the bamboo veneer, the 2014 North directionals feel livelier, and smoother than ever.

north lineup

The 2014 North Whip, WAM and Pro Series. Click to enlarge.

The Pro Series has been redesigned with a fuller nose, wider “thumb-tail”, and straighter rail. With the North pro riders input on this board, the new 2014 Pro Series has been tweaked to offer more control and handle a variety of conditions. The overall aesthetics of the 2014 Pro Series is a huge upgrade over last year’s model .

The WAM remains North’s go to performance all rounder board, but underwent a major overhaul for 2014. Sky Solbach: “I wanted to add more snap and liveliness to improve performance in small waves without sacrificing too much control and drive in bigger surf. In order to achieve this, I pushed more width into the tail and increased the overall rocker to loosen it up and tighten the turning radius. Then, to compensate and keep it all under control, I flattened out the curve in the rocker between the zero point and the tail. The result is a board that is fast and loose, yet very positive and predictable.” The 2014 WAM will continue to be one of Big Winds’ best sellers due to the versatility of the board’s tri/quad fin set up.

For the small wave and river swell rippers out there, North reshaped the our ever-loved Whip into a completely new design. With a tri-fin set up, the new Whip is looser and livelier than the older models, great for generating speed and absolutely perfect for punting strapless airs! Once again, it is a completely new shape, new construction, with great looks for 2014!

With all 2014 North directional kitesurf boards, the price includes the board, fin-set, and rear pad only. With a rise in strapless riding popularity, North now makes it an option to purchase the surfstraps and front surf pads separately. This has brought the price down on the boards a bit for those of you who have never used the straps and pads supplied with the board in the years past. If you’re interested in trying a new 2014 North kitesurf board, our rental/demo program will be up and running come Spring 2014. Give us a call if you are interested in purchasing or have any questions regarding 2014 North kitesurf boards.    888-509-4210    541-386-6086

2013 North Pacific Kiteboards

North Pacific

North Pacific has been shaping surfboards since 1995 right here in Hood River. For the past five years, I’ve had the privilege to ride a multitude of shapes and sizes, and have really narrowed it down to a couple of favorites: the Waterbug, and the Tuna.

North Pacific Kiteboards

The Waterbug is a great board that has the versatility for both the Gorge and ocean waves. It has become one of our best selling directionals in the shop due to a few immediately noticeable characteristics — smooth turning, lively feeling and it’s easy on the body. The Waterbug can be ridden thruster or quad (on the 5-fin custom), making it even more versatile in a variety of conditions. I personally love my Waterbug set up thruster for tight turning, lip smacking, down the line fun!

North Pacific Kiteboards

SUPs too!

The Tuna has been a Big Winds favorite in the Gorge. It’s shorter and wider and when set up as a quad, this little board rips. It’s super fun whether strapped in for boosting big air and laying down long arcing bottom turns, or strapless for executing the newest of strapless aerial maneuvers. The Tuna is a fun travel board as it can be shaped quite short for traveling in your golf bag.

In a perfect world, I would have one of each!

North Pacific Kiteboards

There is something that sets the North Pacific kitesurf boards apart from the competition. A standard surfboard may cost less, but just can’t handle the stresses kiters put on their boards. A standard surfboard foam core is much lighter than those used by North Pacific. The glassing on a standard surfboard is only 4 oz., two layers on top, one on the bottom, whereas North Pacific uses a double layer of 6 oz. S-Glass on both the top and bottom. North Pacific doubles the width of the stringer from 1/8″ to 1/4″, and puts carbon patches under the heel to prevent denting (which is inevitable on all polyurethane boards). All Futures fin boxes are installed in high density foam cassettes that also flex with the board, preventing any cracking around the fin box. Simply put, these boards are strong and last the test of time. It was best put by the late Donald Takayama: “Good boards aren’t cheap, cheap boards aren’t good”.

cheap board

A pricey CI surfboard brought into the North Pacific shop for major repair work

Come by Big Winds to demo North Pacific boards and find out for yourself what you’ve been missing! Custom orders taken at the shop, or over the phone.


Review: Naish Draft and DUB

The conditions were set for a test drive on the recently released Naish Draft kite. With winds gusting to 39 mph on the Event Site sensor, the 7m Draft was going to be a heavy one to hold down, but this test was to push its air time abilities.


Having just recently mounted the Naish dub with boots, I thought this might be the perfect board to hold down the power of the Draft 7 in these conditions. Up near the White Salmon Bridge on the Washington side, the wind was a bit more tame, and the riding conditions were great for boosting big air.

Draft - DUB

Shawn and Jessy Richman both have this kite dialed. It’s a timing thing, but once you figure it out, it has no limits for hang time. I saw Jessy jumping the length of football fields at Kitebeach in Maui last month, which immediately made me a believer in this kite.


Shawn was seen in a different orbit by Naish designer Damian Girardin, claiming Shawn may have hit the 100 ft. mark. Recently, the Richman brothers have been putting on a show at both Huck Fest and KB4C the past couple of weeks here in Hood River, and the Draft seems to be the kite of choice for both its light wind / race capabilities, and boost abilities.


The Draft 7m is a kite that you may never outgrow, one with hidden talents that may take time to unlock. If you are a kiter looking for a free ride kite that screams up wind, and boosts huge, look no further then the Naish Draft. Come by Big Winds to check one out for yourself!



2013 Cabrinha Switchblade Review

Location:  Harbour Island, Bahamas
Wind:  25-35mph (NE)
Board:  2013 Cabrinha X-Caliber 136cm

I recently had the opportunity to do some kiteboarding off of Harbour Island, in the Bahamas. The 9m Switchblade became my go-to kite as a tropical storm blew through for a few days.  I’ve been always setting up the bridles on the steering lines on the second knot up.  But, after reviewing the Cabrinha Kite Tuning Tech Tip, I thought the 3rd knot up sounded more like the traditional feel of the Switchblade.  You can review this Tech Tip HERE:

As I had imagined, the tighter rear lines on the steering bridle made for a bit more responsiveness and heavier bar pressure.  3rd knot for big boosts too!  If unhooking, the 2nd knot might be best suited for ultimate predictability and perfect balance, but for the traditional “bow-kite” feel, bump up to the 3rd knot.

I really liked how much faster the new 2013 Switchblade turns, which had always been the limiting factor on the design in the years past.  For ultimate versatility, range, and user friendliness look no further then the 2013 Cabrinha Switchblade!

2013 cabrinha switchblade

2013 Cabrinha Trigger 5’11 reviewed by Randy Orzeck

Rocked the new 5′ 11″ Trigger.  Loved it! Besides being great on the waves, the board is super fast and points ridiculously well. The skillet out points the S-quad and the Trigger way out points the Skillet.  Pretty cool when point sailing.  Lots of rides!!!  The board is extra sensitive to foot placement which is great once you get it.  It will make any kind of turn you want. I also dig the extra nose flip. The waves were really steep and pitching and I swear, that extra kick saved my butt on several big drops. Cant wait to get on it again. – Randy