Category Archives: Paddles

Free Stand Up Demo

Test the newest race and tour boards in Hood River this weekend!

JET-Team-8.20.14-by-Gorge-Us-Photography-11

No registration required.
Just show up!

When: Sunday, 4/19, 1-3pm
Where: Hood River, Event Site

Will will have various performance paddles for you to try as well as some, if not all, of the following boards:

Amundson
TR-12’6 x 29

TR-12’6 x 27
TR-T 14′
TR -X 14′
TR- 11’6″ 

SIC
X-Pro 14′

V2

Starboard
Elite Tour 12’6
All-Star 12’6 x 24

Elite Tour 11’6
Naish
Javelin 14′ X 26 LE

Bark
D2

Downwind 14’
Contender 12’6
Appleby Race 12’6

Naish
Glide 12’6 x 30 GS

 

Review: Paddle Grip Wax

Highly experienced Big Winds paddlers weigh in on the virtues of Grip Wax from Element Expeditions.

Steve Gates:

In putting together my kit for the Molokai to Oahu Race (M2O) this past summer, one of the first things that went into the bag was a tube of the Warm Grip Wax from Element Expeditions. I made sure my Team’s paddles were all appropriately waxed. I know from experience it helps in relieving the grip tension on the shaft, so it’s especially effective in long distances races like the M2O.

Grip Wax at M2O

Matt Morrow:

I just returned from three days on SUP surfing on the Oregon Coast. It was my first time paddling using gloves and I was worried the gloves would cause my forearms to fatigue. I happened to borrow a paddle for the trip that was freshly waxed up with Element Expeditions Grip Wax and I was blown away. The wax allowed me to use a MUCH gripwax-cold-ssofter grip, and I experienced less forearm fatigue in 3mm Gloves using Grip Wax than when I am paddling with bare hands and no wax. I think the Grip Wax works exceptionally well with gloves as the wax allows the gloves to almost stick to the paddle shaft like glue and therefor your hand can be relaxed on the shaft. There was no residue on the gloves after paddling, probably less wear and tear actually as I was not gripping so hard. I certainly was able to stay out longer, catch more waves and have more fun because of the grip wax, it was amazing. Furthermore, in 3 days of getting pounded by Oregon Coast surf, I never lost my paddle once and believe the Grip Wax played a big role in this. I will be recommending it highly.

T.J. Gulizia:

I’ve been using the Paddle Grip Wax for awhile now, and honestly, feel it a necessity for all types of paddling. During the summer months, I swear by the Anti-Sweat wax. A little of this stuff goes a long way, and lasts awhile before needing to reapply. It goes on as a very thin, clean layer, doesn’t sluff off or clump up, and doesn’t attract sand. If my hands are wet or get sweaty, the wax comes into play so I don’t have to apply the gorilla grip which means less fatigue and fewer blisters. For surf and whitewater, the Cold Water Wax is the ticket, especially when wearing gloves. A finger tip grip is so much more relaxing than a tight grip and the blood flow into my hands allows for better circulation and a warmer feel in frigid waters. Great product, all natural, and inexpensive.

Grip Wax on the Oregon Coast

And, straight from founder Seann Feldmann:

Our story is quite simple. Years ago, my co-founder, Frank Frankovitch and I were attending MooseFest Whitewater Festival near Old Forge, NY in the heart of the Adirondacks. As Frank and I were preparing our boats for launch, I noticed a fellow paddler applying a brand name surf wax onto his paddle shaft. As a surfer and a paddler I thought it was curious that he was applying a top coat surf wax directly onto the paddle shaft. I wondered if there were any alternatives on the market and when I returned home my search came up empty. So, I decided to make my own and started experimenting in my garage.

Knowing that most surf waxes require a base coat and are notoriously messy, I set out to solve two problems. The first being to create a non-petroleum based sport grip that could be directly applied to the paddle without the need of a base wax. The second, was to create a delivery system that reduced the mess involved when applying wax. Countless formulas and delivery systems later, I came up with a 100% organic formula that could be stored in a twist-up recyclable tube. Frank and I attended many paddling events and would hand it out to our friends for feedback. We listened to comments, then tweaked the packaging, made revisions to the formula, and finally expanded the line to include a grip for every season and paddle sport. The rest is, as they say, history.

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

Smaller Sizes for Quickblade Trifecta and V Drive

The hottest race paddles on the planet for 2014 are now available in smaller sizes and Big Winds has them!

Since last spring when the Quickblade V Drive and Trifecta blades burst onto the racing scene, they have pretty well dominated almost all events. From the M2O, to the Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge, to the BOP, more podiums have been claimed by racers using these two blades than any other.

The Trifecta (a Travis Grant / Jim Terrell design) previously only offered in a 96 square inch blade now has an 86. The same goes for the V Drive (a Dave Kalama / Jim Terrell design). Previously offered in a 91 and 101 it is now available with an 81 square inch blade. This is a huge opportunity for lighter paddlers looking for powerful, high cadence blades.

Quickblade paddles at Big Winds

Big Winds GM Steve Gates with the Trifecta 86 (left) and the V Drive 81.

Sound too small? Maybe, maybe not! Consider that Quickblade owner Jim Terrell and 10 time M2O Champion Jamie Mitchell, both used a new V Drive 81 at this fall’s BOP!

A couple of days ago, our new V Drive 81 and Trifecta 86 arrived and I jumped at the chance to put them through their paces on the water. Never mind that the air was 40°, it was raining and the water had dropped to a cool 45° — I had been looking forward to testing these new blades for awhile!

Quickblade paddles at Big Winds

Steve, with the (left to right) Trefecta 86 and 96 and the V Drive 81, 91 and 101.

I’ve logged a ton of hours on the V Drive 91, including this summer’s M20, and was anxious to see how the smaller 81 felt. Being a lighter guy, at 150, and after talking with Jim about it, I guess I was predisposed to thinking it would feel great in the water. It didn’t disappoint. In fact, both the V Drive 81 and the Trifecta 86 felt magical. A solid catch, with zero flutter through the power phase, trademarks of the larger sizes in both blades, were there in spades and both blades generated plenty of power.

Either one of these new blades, the V Drive 81 and the Trifecta 86, will be a perfect choice for those paddlers looking for a powerful, smooth blade that can go the distance.

-Steve

Quickblade paddles at Big Winds

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

2014 SIC X-14 Pro and Quickblade Trifecta

Last weekend provided the perfect opportunity to test some new SUP gear here in Hood River. Conditions were relatively warm, calm and beautiful here in the Gorge, so I grabbed the new 2014 SIC X-14 Pro Race board and the new Quickblade Trifecta paddle to give them a test drive. Typically, I prefer testing new boards with a paddle I’m already familiar with, but I thought I’d get the Trifecta on the water, too.

I’ll begin with the board. I paddled the X-14 Pro once at the Open Air demo in Utah last summer and once at last summer’s Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge. Both were quick, little “there and back” sprints, testing stability and balance, as both days were relatively choppy and windy. I didn’t remember the X-14 Pro as being as light as the production boards we just received, so I went directly to our scale here in the shop. The board blew us away with an actual weight of 22.4 pounds without the fin! SIC listed an average weight of 26.4 pounds, which is still acceptably light in the racing world, especially for a board that retails at $2799. But 22.4 pounds? (The only board that we have here in the shop that light is the new Naish Javelin 14, which came in at a featherweight 21 pounds!) The X-14 Pro has an easy to manage handle dead center on the board, which allowed me to maneuver it to the water with ease. It also comes with two inserts on the port side for a beach start optional handle, something we will be looking forward to adding come race time this season.

SIC X-14 Pro

Photo: Gorge-Us Photography. Click to enlarge.

Once on the water, I balanced out the trim line and found my feet pretty much dead center around the handle, nose slightly engaging the water. The “hole shot” is a term taken from the motorsport world, describing the time and energy it takes to get up to racing speed from a standing start. Combined with the new Quickblade paddle, I got the X-14 Pro up to this speed quick and effortlessly. It accelerated to a glide and kept gliding as quickly as any 14′ race board I’ve tested. After taking the board across the Columbia River to the Washington side, I found a nice little spot within the White Salmon River that was deep enough to practice pivot turns, but shallow enough to fall. (I’m always hesitant at first with new boards to whip it around when the water is only 35 degrees!)

SIC X-14 Pro Pivot Turn

Photo: Gorge-Us Photography. Click to enlarge.

The X-14 Pro is super easy to pivot turn, leading to a very maneuverable and agile feel. The stock fin works great and will shed weeds better than the fins SIC has offered in the past. Although the X-14 Pro doesn’t come with a board bag, it deserves one and the FCS 14′ Race Cover fits it perfectly.

The Quickblade Trifecta is a new paddle designed by Jim Terrell and Travis Grant. Grant was the recent winner of a trio of trophies (M2O, BOP and Gold at the ISA Worlds; hence the name “Trifecta”).

Quickblade Trifecta

Photo: Gorge-Us Photography. Click to enlarge.

The blade shape is relatively long and slender compared to the Quickblade Elite Racer and has a new flex pattern in the shaft, designed for long distance racing. The paddle I tested has a 96 square inch blade, with a round tapered shaft and carbon handle. For the past few seasons, I’ve come to really enjoy the feel of a smaller blade as long as I can keep up a relatively high cadence over long distances without burning out. 96 square inches is bigger than I’m used to, but it felt incredibly easy to pull the board past the blade. With the same amount of effort I put into the smaller blades I’ve been paddling, I felt more power coming from the Trifecta. Less effort, more reward! With little tension on the shoulders, I fell in love with the new design. The new evolution of design in the Quickblade’s Trifecta is evident in the blade shape and the seamless connection from blade to shaft, too. The back of the blade has a distinct spine running down the center, virtually eliminating any flutter. Even tugging hard on the blade, it remained rock solid and stable. Quickblade continues to lead the evolution in SUP paddle design and the Trifecta is one that will be hard to pry from my hands this season.
To sum things up, the new board and paddle I used last weekend provided a whole new eye opening experience in flat water. The sport of SUP continues to evolve and keeps getting better every year. We are excited to get out and test the new 2014 gear this season and will continue to post blogs and answer questions the best we can, so please keep checking our Big Winds blog, Facebook page, or give us a call to get the best information we can provide!

-TJ

www.bigwinds.com

888-509-4210

Big Winds Whitewater SUP Package

Big Winds has put together a package for all of the whitewater SUPers out there. We have tried a number of whitewater SUP boards and nothing compares to the 2014 Starboard Astro Stream 9’6.  This new inflatable whitewater SUP has been designed by five time whitewater champion Dan Gavere, who has helped grow the sport of whitewater from the early kayaking days to the ever evolving whitewater Stand Up scene. Dan has been a local Hood River source of knowledge and mentor to the Big Winds crew, helping us dial in our own Hood and White Salmon river runs on SUPs. We have been through a tremendous evolution over the years, having started off crushing 12′ epoxy boards, moving into (and quickly out of) the heavy plastic boards and trying to make inflatable surf boards work. Thank you, Dan, for helping design an inflatable SUP specifically for whitewater!

TJ paddles the Smith River

T.J. paddling the Smith River, Redwoods National Park. Photo: Gorge-Us Photography.

Over the years we have found a few key pieces of equipment essential for river running. We’ve put together a package to make your decision process easy and save you some coin along the way. Included with the 2014 Starboard Astro Stream 9’6, we offer a three piece breakdown Werner Carve adjustable paddle. Werner has been a key developer of whitewater paddles for decades and we couldn’t recommend a better paddle for durability, adjustability and convenience. You can store all three pieces in the Astro Stream bag.

The package includes a whitewater PFD with a breakaway belt, perfect for securing your Dakine SUP Coiled Leash, also part of the package. The MTI Thunder R-Spec is a newly designed whitewater rescue vest with the release located up front.

The final (and important!) piece of the package is the helmet. Many whitewater enthusiasts may already have a good helmet but we offer a solid water helmet from Triple 8.

This package makes it easy for our customers looking to hit up their backyard river runs! Give us a call if you have any questions about this package, want something more or different! Toll Free: 888-509-4210 or visit us online at bigwinds.com.

–TJ

Choosing Your New Paddle

There are several variables to consider when choosing your new paddle: your height, your fitness level, the type of paddling you expect to do, and of course, your budget. Answering those questions will help guide you to a paddle that will provide you with the right amount of power, be the right size for you, be as light as possible, have the correct flex, and be a paddle you can afford. Here’s some information I hope you find useful in choosing your new paddle.

choosing your paddle

Paddle length:

As a general rule, you’ll want a paddle that’s 7”-10” longer than your height. For surf riding, you’ll stay on the shorter end of the range and for racing on thicker boards you’ll be on the longer side. A good way to measure for most flat water paddling is to use the old classic way we used to measure ski length: standing with your arm extended upward and your wrist bent at 90 degrees, have the paddle come near the base of your wrist. I’m 5’10” (70”) and I use paddles between 77” and 79” while on my race boards, which tend to be about 6” thick. I use a 76” paddle for wave riding.

Blade Size:

Choosing the appropriate blade size is at least as important as having the correct length paddle. A blade too big may cause shoulder discomfort and early fatigue. A blade too small may not deliver the power you’re looking for. As a rule, smaller less burly folks will want a blade between 85 and 100 sq inches. This will provide good power, allow for a high cadence stroke, and minimize the risk of injury. I’m 150 lbs, fit but not burly, and effectively use a blade sizes of 85”to 100”. Though I had been primarily using a 100 sq. in. blade for the past year, lately I’ve gone to smaller blades (Ke Nalu Wiki and Quickblade Elite Racer 90) and am loving the quick but powerful stroke they allow. I have at times used larger blades, like the Kialoa Toro (107 sq in), in races and have been surprised that it felt good.

choosing your paddle

Materials/ Construction:

Materials used in the construction of paddles determine overall weight, flexibility, durability and cost. There are basically five types of materials currently being used in shafts and blades: aluminum, wood, plastic, fiberglass and carbon. Aluminum is strong and cheap, but heavy and fairly inflexible. Wood is strong and pretty, but again on the heavy side. Plastic is durable and cheap, but is heavy and offers little in the way of performance. Fiberglass provides a pretty good balance of durability, moderate weight, flexibility and affordability. Carbon is the best performing material of the group, allowing for varying flexes, excellent strength and the lightest weight. It is also the most expensive material.

Flex:

As a rule, lighter weight, less strong paddlers will want a shaft that is somewhat flexible to reduce the risk of injury. Bigger, stronger folks will appreciate a stiffer shaft to transmit more energy directly into power.

The Big Winds staff is filled with athletes who love to paddle. Some of us are recreational paddlers who go out for fun and the social aspect of the sport, and some of us (like myself) are WAY into it and paddle all the time for fitness and race training, and racing. We are a staff made up of all ages (14-61) and about half guys and half girls. We have an extensive SUP lesson program and a huge SUP demo and rental fleet at our waterfront location in Hood River.

We’d love the opportunity to share our enthusiasm and experience and help you get set up with gear that will maximize your fun on the water, not matter what your level of involvement.

So give us a call. We’re your SUP experts!

 

–Steve

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

 

Paddler Height

 

Paddle Length (includes handle & blade)

Foot/Inch

Inches

Centimeters

 

Racing

Surfing

Touring

4′

48″

122cm

 

54″

53″

55″

4′ 1″

49″

124cm

 

55″

54″

56″

4′ 2″

50″

127cm

 

56″

55″

57″

4′ 3″

51″

130cm

 

57″

56″

58″

4′ 4″

52″

132cm

 

58″

57″

59″

4′ 5″

53″

135cm

 

59″

58″

60″

4′ 6″

54″

137cm

 

60″

59″

62″

4′ 7″

55″

140cm

 

62″

61″

63″

4′ 8″

56″

142cm

 

63″

62″

64″

4′ 9″

57″

145cm

 

64″

63″

65″

4′ 10″

58″

147cm

 

65″

64″

66″

4′ 11″

59″

150cm

 

66″

65″

67″

5′

60″

152cm

 

67″

66″

68″

5′ 1″

61″

155cm

 

68″

67″

70″

5′ 2″

62″

157cm

 

69″

68″

71″

5′ 3″

63″

160cm

 

71″

69″

72″

5′ 4″

64″

163cm

 

72″

70″

73″

5′ 5″

65″

165cm

 

73″

72″

74″

5′ 6″

66″

168cm

 

74″

73″

75″

5′ 7″

67″

170cm

 

75″

74″

76″

5′ 8″

68″

173cm

 

76″

75″

78″

5′ 9″

69″

175cm

 

77″

76″

79″

5′ 10″

70″

178cm

 

78″

77″

80″

5′ 11″

71″

180cm

 

80″

78″

81″

6′

72″

183cm

 

81″

79″

82″

6′ 1″

73″

185cm

 

82″

80″

83″

6′ 2″

74″

188cm

 

83″

81″

84″

6′ 3″

75″

191cm

 

84″

83″

86″

6′ 4″

76″

193cm

 

85″

84″

87″

6′ 5″

77″

196cm

 

86″

85″

88″

6′ 6″

78″

198cm

 

87″

86″

89″

6′ 7″

79″

201cm

 

88″

87″

90″

6′ 8″

80″

203cm

 

90″

88″

91″

6′ 9″

81″

206cm

 

91″

89″

92″

6′ 10″

82″

208cm

 

92″

90″

93″

6′ 11″

83″

211cm

 

93″

91″

95″

7′

84″

213cm

 

94″

92″

96″

Women-specific paddles

It’s really important that lighter weight people — less bulky, less strong individuals, and most all ladies — have the right paddle or they won’t have as much fun and could possibly end up injuring themselves.

A couple features that distinguish a ladies paddle are a small blade, and a relatively flexible, small diameter shaft. The combination of these two things allow lighter weight paddlers to develop a high cadence stroke without the fear of injuring and overloading shoulder muscles, arms, and lower back. It’s really important that women don’t just grab the paddle their husbands or boyfriends use, or a rental paddle that is 1.5 or two pounds heavier.

The paddles we like to recommend for women are really lightweight, with small blade sizes — generally 83 to 90 inches in surface area, and relatively narrow, say between 7 and 8 inches wide. The shafts are quite narrow, so they are easy to grip with smaller hands. And they’re also more flexible. All these characteristics mean less load on the shoulders.

Examples of these paddles are the Quickblade Flyweight and the Kialoa Pipes. These are outstanding choices for ladies and both feature narrow diameter shafts and small blades. The Pipes is a 100% carbon paddle, ultra light with an ovalized shaft for superior comfort and grip. The Flyweight All Fiberglass paddle — with a fiberglass shaft and fiberglass blade, is a little heavier and is priced really well, while the Flyweight FG/CA, has a carbon fiber shaft and a fiberglass blade, and the Flyweight All Carbon, weighs in at a miniscule 15 ounces!

The Quickblade Flyweight has three options for women-specific paddles.

I encourage everybody to get the best paddle that their budget allows. You’ll have more fun. Your paddle is like your ski boots. It’s a critical piece of equipment that connects you, and you make contact with. Comfort is important. If you have a lightweight paddle that you like, you’re going to want to go paddling. If you have a big, clunky paddle that is oversized and fatigues you when you go out, you’re less apt to want to go paddling.

Let us help you choose the perfect paddle for you!