Category Archives: Reviews

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

2014 Inflatable SUP Review

The inflatable SUP market is booming. Every reputable manufacturer in the business seems to have their version of an inflatable. There are reasons for this: many stand up paddlers don’t mind a slight compromise in performance to offset the logistics and expenses of hauling around or traveling with a standard epoxy board. Just getting an SUP off the roof rack and to the water can be a hassle. And traveling by air with a 10′+ SUP? Forget about it. Allow me to introduce the 2014 line up of inflatable SUPs we offer at Big Winds, for wherever your next paddle adventure takes you.

Inflatable SUPs are divided into five categories: All Around, Touring, Wave, Race, and the emerging Whitewater class. Each of the brands we sell at Big Winds (Starboard, Naish, Tahoe, and Aquaglide), offer an inflatable in one or more of these categories.

The All Around inflatable SUPs are one of the more popular due to their overall versatility. Many All Around inflatables can be used in a variety of different water bodies, including flat water lakes and bays, moving water rivers and creeks, and even small ocean waves.

One of the most popular models we sell in the All Around category is the Starboard Astro Whopper Deluxe. The Whopper is one of Starboard’s best selling SUPs, so it makes sense that they offer this classic shape as an inflatable. Starboard regards the Astro Whopper as the “Swiss Army Knife” of all of their Astro Inflatables.whopper-yoga

At 10′ in length, 35″ wide and 6″ thick, the Astro Whopper is a great choice for exploring, longboard style surfing, fishing, yoga, and even whitewater. The Astro Whopper has a “whopping” 300 liters of volume, perfect for even the heavier weight paddlers. The Astro Whopper comes complete with the new high aspect pump, making it easier than ever to inflate to the recommended 18 PSI. It weighs in at 28 pounds, a bit heavy due to the EVA pad covering the entire top deck. (But your dog will appreciate this). The Astro fin boxes are built strong, thicker than the 2013 model assuring that they’ll hold up if paddled over rocks or reefs. With the choice of running a single center fin (6.75″) for cruising, or adding the 4. 5″ side bites for surf, the Astro Whopper has multiple options. The Astro Whopper is a great choice for the whole family.

Naish offers a number of inflatables. In the All Around category, the Mana Air 10′x 33″ is our favorite. If the Whopper is a bit too wide and heavy for you, consider the 2014 Mana Air 10′ as a super fun board for surf, cruising or even whitewater. The 2014 Mana Air has a bit less volume

Mana Air

Mana Air

than the Whopper Air at 230 liters, so it performs really well for the smaller to medium sized individuals. It features a 10″ slide-in fin, with two rubber side fins that are integrated to the bottom of the board. All Naish Airs are equipped with a new high aspect pump, allowing inflation to the recommended 14 psi to be much easier now than in the past. Naish also offers a slick electric pump that plugs onto the battery of your car that shuts off automatically at the desired PSI. Overall, the Mana Air 10′ is a comfortable and stable board that is fun in a variety of conditions.

Aquaglide offers a 10’6″ x 31″ inflatable SUP called the Cascade. The Aquaglide board is a great

Aquaglide Cascade 10'6

Aquaglide Cascade 10’6

price point option for those looking for a stable and stiff inflatable SUP for under $1000. The Cascade 10’6″ comes complete with a high volume pump and single center fin. It is maneuverable enough for surf and perfect for recreational paddling. With the 6″ thickness, the Cascade 10’6″ can work well for all levels of paddlers and heavier riders up to 300 pounds. This board packs down small, but not as small as the other above mentioned 10′ inflatables.

 

Next up are the Touring boards. Typically a touring board is 11′ or longer, has a pointed nose, plenty of volume for loading gear and is stable to paddle on both flat and bumpy waters. Our

Astro Touring

Astro Touring

favorite touring boards are the Starboard Astro Touring 14′ and 12’6. These boards are both 30″ wide and have over 300 liters of volume (the 14′ has 351 liters and the 12’6″ has 302 liters). They come in the standard Deluxe Blue model, which is 6″ thick with the Deluxe Back Pack and High Aspect Pump. The Astro Touring boards can be used for downwinding, too. It is fast enough to obtain the proper glide in small to medium size wind swell and stable enough to handle the bumpy water. This is a great board for traveling to non-wave destinations as it packs up small and is light: the 14′ is 26 pounds and the 12’6″ is 24 pounds.

 

Alpine Explorer

Alpine Explorer

Tahoe SUP has an 11′ Tour board called the Alpine Explorer (2013) which works well for loading gear and paddling distances. This board has two spots to stow gear, fore and aft, and can handle the heavy load without bowing out like a banana, due to a separate chamber running the length of the board. This chamber is inflated separately and acts as a stiffening beam and provides a slight ridge under the board for better tracking. Two side-by-side fins provide even more straight-line tracking.

Aquaglide Cascade

Aquaglide Cascade

Aquaglide comes in with a 12’6 Cascade Touring board under $1000. It is super stiff, 6″ thick and very stable at 31″ wide. Like the other touring boards, the Aquaglide 12’6 is ideal for adventure travel or recreational paddling. The weight comes in a bit heavier at 34 pounds but it’s still compact enough when deflated to fit into the provided backpack. The entire package is under the fifty pound mark for air travel.

 

 

For the ocean goers looking for a great inflatable for wave riding, we like the Naish lineup. These boards are designed by wave riders in true wave conditions.

 

Nalu Air

Nalu Air

For a good longboard style design, the 2014 Naish Nalu Air 11′ is stable and fast enough to catch waist-high to shoulder-high waves. The Nalu Air 11′ is narrower than the Mana 10′ at only 30″ and has less volume (210 liters), making it faster for catching waves and fun for cruising around between sets. Naish makes a smaller 4″ thick version for the smaller guys, the Nalu 10’2″ which is also 30″ wide” with even less volume (180 liters). The equivalent to this board for the ladies is the 2014 Alana Air 10’6, which is the same shape and design as the Nalu Air 10’2″, but with a great color scheme for the gals.

Starboard too, has a good offering to the inflatable surf SUPs. The Astro Wide Point is the Starboard Astroinflatable version of the 8’2″ x 32″ Wide Point. It’s the shortest inflatable we offer and is set up with a quad fin configuration. This board, even in the deluxe model, is 4″ thick with only 130 liters of volume, making it a great choice for small to medium riders. The new 2014 Astro Drive is based on one of our favorite crossover boards, the Starboard Drive 10’5″ x 30″. With a more narrow hull shape, this is a great choice for a crossover board (flat water to surf). Set up as a thruster, the Astro Drive comes with a 6. 75″ center fin, and two removable 4″ side fins.

The Race boards have become very popular and more events are including an “Inflatable Class” especially for those traveling by air. The Naish ONE 12’6 is a great choice for training and racing and Naish has dedicated a lot of energy to get the N1SCO events taking place world-wide. The Naish ONE provides a stable and economical racing class for those that don’t want to spend huge amounts of money on upgrading their equipment every year.

Naish One Racing

Naish One Racing

The ONE race formats are a blast to take part in and great for the spectators to see all of the action right up front. With the growth of these events springing up locally, regionally, nationally and internationally, other companies have started making Race shaped inflatable SUPs. The Starboard Astro Racers are the fastest in their class, offering both a 14′ x 26″ and 12’6 x 26″. Narrower than the Naish ONE, these boards are know to have won more events than any other inflatable board. The new 2014 Astro Racers are great to travel with, as they pack down smaller than any other inflatable and are the lightest weight: the 14′ is pounds and the 12’6″ is 21 pounds. I trained on my Astro Racer 14′ last summer, and found it surprisingly fast and stable for only 26″ wide.

The emerging whitewater class of inflatables, though young, is a personal favorite to me as we have a number of rivers surrounding Hood River that are perfect for Stand Up. Coming from a kayaking background, I’m finding Whitewater SUP the ticket to get back on the rivers including everything from meandering water to Class 3+ whitewater. My choice is the 2014 Starboard Astro Stream 9’6″. It is designed and built to take all the abuse a river can put on an SUP and going inflatable is my preferred choice as it’s lighter than plastic, compact enough to travel with and built to take hits.

Dan Gavere

Dan Gavere

Dan Gavere has put a lot of energy in growing the sport and with his new pro model Stream 9’6″, he’s made it easier for everyone from beginners to experts to navigate rivers standing up. This board is ultra stiff and super stable at 36″ wide. It has a three fin configuration. The new 2.5″ whitewater fins are short enough for running shallow rivers, yet just long enough to track well when ferrying across the currents, eddying out and peeling out around rocks and obstacles. Make stand-up paddling easier than ever on whitewater, and get the 2014 Starboard Stream 9’6!

– TJ

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

 

Kiteboarding Tricktionary

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

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

tricktionary1

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

 

Kiteboarding Tricktionary

Kiteboarding Tricktionary

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

Review: 2014 Cabrinha Vector

The 2014 Cabrinha Vector kite has been upgraded to fit into the same category as most performance freeride kites. The Vector has all of the features I look for in a good beginner kite and I really feel most riders will continue to love it throughout their kiteboarding progression. The new bridle has no pulleys which really makes for a nimble, direct feel between the kite and rider. It turns fast, with tuning options on the wingtip for a more or less bar pressure. I flew the kite set on “B” for a more direct feel and shorter depower stroke.

2014 Cabrinha VectorThe new Overdrive “1x” bar is the same bar used on all 2014 Cabrinha models and has a complete kill switch once the quick release is hit. I put this to the test on three different occasions. After the first time hitting the quick release, I was amazed at how fast the kite depowered and fell into the water (comparable to any 5th line kite I’ve flown). It’s a complete shutdown system in all wind ranges. Each time, I managed to climb up the flag line, retrieve my bar and assemble the chicken loop with no problems or tangles. With the kite dead downwind of me, the relaunch was effortless by simply pulling on one outside line with the bar all the way forward. All of these features make the Vector a winner for beginners who may be dropping their kites often or for advanced riders practicing new tricks.

2014 Cabrinha VectorIt boosts big, too! I pulled the trigger behind a Core of Engineer’s boat that was hauling a$$ up the Columbia and felt a very smooth lift and soft, forgiving descent. The Vector even kite loops. It has little to no flutter in the trailing edge which was a big annoyance in the years past for me and this kite. The Vector has the same double rip-stop nylon canopy, the same skeletal frame tech and utilizes the same Overdrive control system as the high performance Switchblade and Drifter. Welcome to the big leagues 2014 Cabrinha Vector! Check out the video on the 2014 Vector here.

-TJ

Review: 2014 Dakine Renegade Kiteboarding Harness

Big Winds is fired up to be one of the first dealers in the U.S. to offer the newly updated 2014 Dakine Renegade kite harness. I’ve had the opportunity to use the new Renegade harness kiteboarding over the past three months and I can’t get over how comfortable this harness feels, right off the shelf, with no break-in period. The Renegade comes with a memory foam pillow that feels just like you’re laying back into a Tempur-Pedic.

2014 Dakine Renegade HarnessesIt’s newly improved freedom spreader bar pad is ultra-slim, and doesn’t get in the way when you’re bending over to pump up your kite or making a stylish grab. The Renegade is feather light for 2014 and with all of the new features, it’s worth every penny for the comfort it provides when kiteboarding. If you have used the Dakine harnesses in the past, you will notice right away what an upgrade the new ones are. Check them out at www.bigwinds.com or give us a call toll free at 1-888-509-4210.

-TJ

Rock ‘n’ Roll with Speakers on Your SUP

Jammin’ out to your favorite tunes while paddling has always been done with headphones. Well, not any more. Big Winds has the new waterproof, shockproof and mountable EcoRox bluetooth speakers!

EcoRoxWith an easy to install suction cup mount, the EcoRox speaker can be enjoyed while cruising with your friends on the water for a social Stand Up paddle. This speaker sounds great, and is easy to use via bluetooth from your smartphone, or plugged in with a wired device. With a 10 hour battery capacity to rock out with out any cords, the EcoRox makes for a very compact and light weight way for everyone to enjoy the music.

ecorox
The EcoRox speaker comes as is without any mounts, but for only $14.99, you can purchase the suction cup mount, or a mount for handlebars:

This is a great idea for anyone looking to have a waterproof way to let everyone enjoy the tunes! What happens when someone is trying to call? Yes! Answer it with your EcoRox speaker!

Have more fun on the water and rock on!

2014 North Kites

rebel2014 North Rebel: We’ve had the opportunity to get to know the new 2014 Rebel this late summer and absolutely love it! The Rebel has all the power it has had in the years past, and again an enormous depower ability. This is huge for us here in the Gorge with our gusty conditions. It is a kite that maintains through the lulls with its super low end, yet feels stable and solid when the wind starts firing. One characteristic that stands out for 2014 Rebel is that it has good drift, where the kite doesn’t fly so fast to the edge of the window, permitting it to drift downwind. To summarize, this diverse kite can be described as a 5-line, high performance Freeride/Wave kite.

evo

2014 North Evo

2014 North Evo: After a couple of chances to fly the 2014 North Evo 9m, we’ve found that the kite has been completely redesigned to be a full-on 4 line freeride kite. The 2014 Evo is going to be best for the individual who stays hooked in, likes to boost big air and feel direct, yet gentle bar pressure. Having been given less of a delta-C shape, the new Evo is higher aspect in the center giving it wonderful lift for huge hangtime. There are two bridle guides on both front line bridles, giving the new Evo a smooth predictable nature instead of a jerky/yanking feel when accelerating through the window. Maintaining the 5-strut platform, the new 2014 Evo feels stable and solid in gusty wind. The 2014 Evo is a new kite that fits in the 4-line Freeride/Freestyle kite category in the North line-up.

2014 North Dice

2014 North Dice

2014 North Dice: We are fired up for the new 2014 North Dice here at Big Winds! We’ve now had the opportunity to fly every size from 8-12m, at one point, all 4 sizes were on the water at once. The North Dice is being marketed well right now, and if you haven’t seen the wave/freestyle footage yet, be prepared to be amazed.

Pair of Dice

Pair of Dice: Directional and Twintip.

The Dice is a one-kite-does-all option for the rider who looks for a quick turning, good drifting kite for wave riding, and also wants a good freestyle kite for hooked in or un-hooked tricks. The Dice seems to fit the category of last year’s Evo: super versatile, fun in the flats, and fun in the waves.

2014 North Neo

2014 North Neo

2014 North Neo: After just now getting off of the water with the 2014 North Neo 9m, I can say that if I lived and kited in the waves every day this would be my choice. The new Neo has been completely redesigned by Ken Winner, with the help of Sky Solbach, in their Maui back yard testing grounds, the perfect place to design a true wave riding kite. The Neo has a super low aspect center strut, for really smooth down wind pull and drift. One thing that I noticed, similar to that of the Rebel, is that the Neo has a good steering response when depowered; again a super important feature for wave riding. For 2014, the ultimate wave machine in the North line-up is the Neo.

North Evo and Dice

North Evo and Dice

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.

–TJ