Category Archives: Reviews

2015 Performance Race Board Test

Types of SUPs:
Starboard All Star
Bark D2
Naish Javelin LE
Infinity Blackfish
SIC X-14 Pro Lite
SIC X-14 Pro

Test team:
Steve Gates: 65 years old, 5’9”, 150 lbs.
TJ Gulizia: 39 years old, 5’10”, 165 lbs.
Jon Davies: 39 years old, 6’0”, 190 lbs.
MacRae Wylde: 51 years old, 5’10”, 170 lbs.
Ford Huntington: 17 years old, 5’11”, 175 lbs.
Don Wiley: 53 years old, 5’9”, 152 lbs.

Conditions:
Smooth water with a light breeze

A few words about our Test Team:

“With an amazing array of new 2015 high performance race boards in our shop, I wanted to get the best read possible on how these boards compare. I rounded up a very experienced group of guys with plenty of SUP races under their belts over the past decade. Among the group we have multiple wins and podiums all over the U.S., including Battle of the Paddle, Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge, Oregon Open Ocean Classic, Round the Rock, Willamette Cup, Carolina Cup and more. We have all paddled a ton of boards over the years and were stoked to get together and chase each other around on some of the fastest fourteens on the planet. As you can see from our comments we have varying impressions of the boards. This is good and as it should be. ” -Steve Gates

 

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Starboard All Star 14′ x 25” Custom Carbon 269 L. 25 lbs $3399:

Steve: This All Star is very fast and slippery feeling. Not the most stable, but the glide and acceleration are excellent. It would be best-suited for advanced and expert paddlers up to +/- 185 lbs. who want a fast board in a wide variety of conditions.
TJ: Fast! This board speaks to me. The one characteristic that stands out is the flex pattern. Positive and negative “yaw” allowing the board to get to maximum speed from a dead start. Not the lightest, but certainly one of the fastest. Best for paddlers who want to excel in a variety of conditions – very versatile.
Jon: Nice water release, glides well. I like the new deck height. Fairly stable, great top end speed. This was my favorite board of the test. Best for a flat-water race.
Macrae: This is the go-to, all around board. It has the ability to perform in any conditions. No matter who was on it, it seemed to perform, and it had the fastest GPS time of any test. It’s a little taller than last year’s, and has a distinct, stiff feel when you get on it. Very stable and tracks well. Best for a medium-to-large person who expects to paddle in many different conditions. My favorite.
Don: This and the Bark were my favorites. When the All Star got up to speed it had a balanced and consistent feeling in all directions relative to the light wind and chop from other boards. Tracking didn’t seem to be affected by the wind. It would be a great race or all-around board for someone my weight or above.
Ford: Incredibly fast and responsive board. It really cuts through the water with ease. Fast acceleration and is able to hold a steady, fast pace. It’s best suited for anyone looking to really bring their overall athletic ability up. Whether you’re working out or racing, the All Star doesn’t disappoint in any areas. I’d say you need relatively good balance to paddle a board like this. If you like recessed decks (some people don’t) then this is the board for you.

 

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Bark D2 14’ x 26” Pro Elite 238 L. 27 lbs. $2449

Steve: This board has characteristically smooth Joe Bark feel. Effortless and quick, it’s fast, stable, and easy to turn. It would be best for intermediate to expert paddlers +/- 180 lbs. who want a fast, stable board in even bumpy conditions.
TJ: A great addition to the Bark line-up. The D2 is as fast as any of the 14’ x 26” boards tested, the low profile shape is great in crosswind conditions, and it doesn’t get pushed around. The tray (standing area) is comfortable with contours under foot, allowing the paddler to feel their position on the deck. Best for paddlers up to 185 lbs., looking for a fast 14’ race board that excels in dead flat to crosswind.
Jon: Nice mix of stability and speed. Loved the extended flat deck surface. The long, narrow nose seemed to cut the water well without inhibiting turning. Broad tail should allow for some downwind ability. While it may not be the absolute fastest, it was really easy to paddle. Best for a mid-sized paddler in flat to moderate conditions.
MacRae: Fast, comfortable board. There will not be any tricks in learning how to ride it. It is quiet and slices through the water with ease. The top-end speed was great, it was easy to sit in the draft train. It’s quite stable and tracks well. The best part of this board is there’s nothing wrong with it! Would work well for medium-to-large people looking for a race board that’s easy to paddle.
Don: This board stood out for me. It had a light, agile, close-to-water feeling that I didn’t quite get with other 14-footers. Very stable for its width, easy to sink for pivot turns, still quite secure. The nose buried in chop a few times when I moved towards the front of the deck pad, but I couldn’t tell at all by feeling. The white bottom paint is a bonus for someone whose board spends a lot of time on the roof of a car. It would be a great race or all-around board for light paddlers. I think it would be fine for down to 130 lbs. or so.
Ford: The D2 was as stable as a 26” with the responsiveness of a board much narrower. Felt solid underfoot, and turned extremely fast. Best suited for anyone. I’d say it would be a great first race board or a board for someone who’s been racing for years.

 

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Naish Javelin LE 14’ x 26” L. 20 lbs. $3999

Steve: Deceptively fast, very smooth and quite stable. As a wider board, it’s more stable, but it’s also the lightest and really responsive to each paddle stroke. Turns easily. It would be best for intermediate to expert paddlers up to 200 lbs. that want a single board for a wide range of conditions.
TJ: Very stable, comfortable standing area, and light! One of the lightest constructions offered at only 21 lbs. I like the flat deck, no water pools, and it’s easy to run around on. Best for anyone looking to compete at the highest level and stand atop the podium!
Jon: Nice flat deck with a great traction pad. Seems plenty fast but position on the board is critical. I really like everything about it except the low-pointed nose, which tends to dig into the water if you’re not careful. Seems best for larger paddlers, flat water only.
MacRae: This board is super stable. It feels wider than 26” but paddles well in flat water. It seems like the nose is designed to go over the water rather than a wave piercing through the water – to make this work you have to stand a bit further back than on other boards. It can catch in a draft train, but once you find the sweet spot it tracks well and is fast. This board can support anyone, but it might feel big for a small person, and a larger person would be rewarded for testing different fore and aft positions.
Don: Unfortunately I didn’t give the Javelin a fair chance – I found it kind of squirrely and had a tough time staying in a draft train. In hindsight, I was standing way too far forward, this was putting the nose too deep in the water and causing it to wander from side to side. Next time I’ll stand a little behind the paddle. This board would’ve been fine (maybe ideal) for my weight if I’d stood farther back.
Ford: Naish always makes a solid board. And the 2015 Javelin still holds that same standard Naish is known for. Fast and stable in all conditions, his board is great for anyone over 150 lbs. It’s also a great board for some of the bigger guys looking for stability without compromising their speed.

 

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Infinity Blackfish ST 14’ x 26” Custom Carbon 22 lbs.

Steve: This board is an attention getter with a custom carbon look and three-fin configuration. It’s light, fast, and moves well in smooth water. The lifted nose allows for excellent control in rough conditions. Best for: advanced to expert paddlers up to 190 lbs. wanting a downwind capable, all-conditions race board.
TJ: This custom board is different than any other SUP I’ve paddled. It is by far the most stable 25” board I’ve ever paddled. The three-fin configuration is interesting, effective for stability, tracking and speed. It feels light and nimble, but the water that “whiskers” off the nose is different than boards with a piercing nose. Excels in bumpy water, and will get you to the front of the pack at “moto-cross” mass start races. Best suited for anyone looking for stability in a narrow width. Versatile for bumps and downwind runs too!
Jon: Very stable and easy to paddle. It has a curious but pleasant water release. The unique fin setup is intriguing. Not sure who it would best be suited for.
MacRae: Just looking at the board you can’t help but think wow – that is different! The narrow nose, wide and thick tail, and three fins is certainly a different configuration from what we’re used to seeing. Rides well over water, made the most splash of the test. Speed-wise, it was right there with all the others. Because of the big tail, this board seemed really stable. Easy turns. It seemed to come out of the water with each stroke – it surged ahead. My impression was that a bigger paddler with a powerful stroke would be best for this board, but the volume and stability could support anyone.
Don: Hmm. It had a different feel but I’m not sure why – probably because I was psyched out by thrusters on a race board. It hung in the draft train well and responded well to sweep turns. Pivot turns took a little more effort than the others. I felt like I was a little too light for this one – maybe best for 160 lbs. and up.
Ford: Interesting board. At first I wasn’t sure what I thought of it but it definitely grew on me. The Blackfish seemed very rigid in the water. Kick turns were very comfortable on this board, most likely because of the tri-fin setup. If you like a board that can hold its speed and accelerate when you need it to, this is for you. It’s very different from any board I’ve ever been on, but I could see anyone looking for something different really enjoying it.

 

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SIC X-14 Pro Lite 14’ x 24” 253 L. 23 lbs. $2799

Steve: The Pro Lite is fast and sleek. The glide and acceleration are impressive, as well as the speed. This was the narrowest board, but didn’t lack for stability. Very fun and very fast, this board would be best for advanced to expert paddlers under 180 lbs. looking for an elite-level race board.
TJ: Speed over stability, but manageable for only 24”! It gets to speed quick and stays there. The standing area is slightly recessed, allowing the side of your foot to find a wall to brace off when stepping back for a pivot turn. Best for light-weight riders (175 lbs. and under) looking for a fast board that will keep speed with little effort in strength, but willing to be challenged in bumpier waters.
Jon: Really more stable than you would guess for a board of this width. It’s too small for me but for someone less than 170 it would be a good alternative. Best suited for flat-water racing.
MacRae: Looks fast, was fast. This board slid through the water with ease. What I really liked was there was almost no slowing or drag as you finished your stroke. Even at speed, the board seemed to hold its momentum, and was the smallest board in the test. It’s easy to paddle. Would best suit smaller to medium paddlers, and larger paddlers with good agility. I think it would be best for someone with an efficient stroke over a power stroke.
Ford: One of my new favorite boards. Feels just like the X-14 Pro, just narrower. Has that kind of responsiveness that a skateboard or a short board surfboard does despite being 14 feet. This is the perfect board for someone my size. Best for: someone who is very confident with their balance. It’s not for anyone – it’s an extremely high performance board made for the paddler who is relatively advanced in their stroke and overall technique.

 

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SIC X-14 Pro 14’ x 26” 253 L. 23 lbs. $2799

Steve: Stable and fast, bigger guys can take this board in almost any conditions and have a great time. A proven, competitive elite-level race board. Best suited for an intermediate to expert paddler up to 200 lbs. looking for a single board for many conditions.
TJ: I paddled the SIC X-14 all last season and loved it! The SCC construction puts it at one of the lightest options in its class at only 23 lbs.! The X-14 Pro seems to have a very efficient waterline that maxes out from nose to tail, and the low profile shape doesn’t get pushed around in cross winds. Best for someone looking for a fast 14’ elite class board, for coarse racing, sprints, and even mild downwind.
Jon: This board has rounded rails, which can leave the paddler feeling vulnerable at first. Once you realize it’s actually quite stable, you can settle down and pick up speed. It’s fast – great water release and it seemed to be the best gliding. Best suited for flat-water racing.
MacRae: This board is a flat-water machine. It’s very predictable, fast, and has a good glide. The board accelerated well and was not difficult to keep at a high rate of speed. It doesn’t feel wide, but it’s very stable. Best suited for small paddlers looking for a stable, fast board, or for medium and large paddlers looking for a fast flat-water board.
Don: Great glide and tracking, and very comfortable in the draft train. It seemed to take a little more effort to make small direction changes than the others. This board is fine for m weight, but for a one-board quiver I’d lean more towards the Bark, All Star, or Javelin.
Ford: This is one of the most solid boards out there. It just feels incredible to paddle. It’s the perfect combo between a board that is fast and a board that’s quick- it can accelerate really well, but can also hold a fast pace no problem. Great board. This is best for someone who’s really looking to get faster. Its stability will throw you off at first if you aren’t used to narrower boards, but once you get used to it, I don’t think you could go wrong.

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

Firewire’s New Modern Planing Hull Kiteboards – Vader & Vanguard

firewire

Benefits of the Shape:

These boards give you the following benefitsSuperior upwind capability – The MPH design is a planing hull, designed to create more lift than a standard direction board which technically function as a displacement hull similar to a boat that sits down into the water. The MPH planing hull provides a ride that feels like your gliding as the board continually wants to accelerate giving the experience of forward drive which is being produced by this hull design. This forward drive translates to getting you upwind much easier than traditional boards which is beneficial for all riders, but particularly great for larger riders who used to have to sit on the sidelines on light wind days. Even in flat water riders enjoy how easy it is to get upwind and the board outline is great for practicing transitions, tricks and airs on this board.High Performance ride – These are high performance boards ridden by some of the top surfers in the world. You get the exact same shape with the Kiteboard build of the Vanguard or Vader so you know it will carve and turn incredibly well.Predictable stability – The Vanguard has proven to be a very versatile board. The parallel outline from nose to tail provides more overall surface area and make it a very stable platform. You will feel asmoother ride through the chop and inadvertent weight shifts won’t send you toppling off the board like a standard surf shape. This makes learning on a Vanguard a snap! We recommend the Vanguard for beginner and intermediate riders or people who are new to strapless. But don’t worry, it will absolutely keep up as you progress and advance.Durability – The MPH boards are made from our Future Shapes Technology (FST) that offers superior durability yet is still very light. You will get years of use out of the FST construction, much more so than a standard polyurethane board.Environmentally conscious – Did you know that every FireWire board is Eco certified by Sustainable Surf.org? FireWire is committed to making the most environmentally friendly board on the market with new building materials such as Entropy bio-resin and Paulownia wood deck skins featured in our TimberTek models. 

Rider suggestions regarding board setup:

The parallel outline of the MPH design places more rail line in the water than traditional shapes. This means the there’s similar amount of rail in the water at any given time on a much smaller overall board size. We use 185lb/84kg as a general guideline for sizing the Vanguard. For larger riders over 185lb/84kg the 5’6” or 5’4” is recommended and for medium/smaller riders under the 185lb/84kg mark, the 5’2” or 5’0” is suggested. Of course wind and other factors can be taken into consideration. More wind look towards the shorter side, less wind the longer side. The Vader is intended to be ridden 1”2” or 2cm-5cm shorter than your preferred Vanguard size.

Small miracles  The parallel rail outline and MPH design allows you to ride a very small board size. Don’t be intimidated by the smaller sized models. We have a lot of customers that won’t believe they can kite a board as small as the Vanguard and will purchase a 5’6” only to come back and buy a 5’2”. Smaller in this case can be better. You can get a skateboard feel with tons of control. Felix and some of our other riders report that they ride 5’2” in triple overhead surf with no problem. In fact the board feels more stable in large surf than a traditional 6’+ board! And don’t forget, the Vader should be ridden even smaller and will get you the same dependable hold in any type of surf.

V vs.V  Vader vs. Vanguard Comparison – At first glance these boards look very similar with the tail the only noticeable difference from afar. Our endless hours of testing these two models revealed that the Vanguard is really stable and works well for the beginner/intermediate kiter. While the Vader is pure adrenaline and caters well to the intermediate/advanced riders. The reason behind this is the Vader has a bit more tail and entry rocker which translates to tighter, quicker turns. In comparison, the Vanguard will tend to draw out these same turns making it feel stable and slightly more predictable. The Vader’s bottom has deep channels allowing it to hold and grip on big turns so again, it can be ridden even smaller than the Vanguard. Both boards will want to drive forward and race quickly down the line but the Vader will offer a bit more vertical attack and tighter carves. Either board will allow you to experience the fluid feel of the latest planning hull designs and get you back upwind instantly!

Traction pad placement  The rear foot placement should be very far back towards the tail. When using a tail pad we recommend that you position the back edge of the pad approximately 1” or 2cm in front of the deck plug. These boards ride really well when even weight is provided on both feet. Or for an immediate rapid turning response, weight you rear foot further back on the board.  Big Winds offers front pads if you choose to go pad vs. wax.

Fin suggestions:  Big Winds has stocked the Vanguards in the past with Futures Fins, and have found success with the following Thrusters from Futures:  John John & F4 Tech Flex.  Quad Sets:  F4 Quad and V2 Rasta Quad.  5-Fin:  Mulcoy.  This summer we had FireWire build our Vanguards with FCS II’s, and the Performer Thrusters in PC or Neo Glass are our go-to!  Sold as a thruster, with optional Quad rears, check out the FCS II Performer Fins.  Have a look at our fin options here:

Big Winds Kiteboarding Fins

For any other questions regarding FireWire kite surfboards, feel free to give us a call at Big Winds 1-888-509-4210, or come by the shop to take a FireWire kite surfboard for demo!

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

2014 Naish Mana 8’10

Reflecting back to Christmas Day, 2013, on the Oregon Coast, it was my introduction to what has become one of my favorite SUPs in the surf, the 2014 Naish Mana 8’10. In 2015 the Mana 8’10 will have only a graphics change so Big Winds nabbed some of the remaining 2014s to offer our customers at a screaming deal.

The 2014 Mana 8’10 GT (wood construction) is a beauty both on the water and off. With the exposed wood veneer on the top deck, it is arguably one of the cleanest looking boards on the showroom floor. This full wood sandwich deck offers more than a naturally pleasing look, it allows for the board to flex more naturally and freely too. A wood veneer laminate optimizes strength, and reduces weight to only 20.7 pounds, including the 3/4 deck pad.

2014 Naish Mana 8'10 at Big Winds

photo: Gorge-Us Photography

The 2014 Mana 8’10 is also available in the GS construction (standard glass matrix w/ wood standing area). This is a great option for the same shape at a price point value. The GS construction only weighs 2 pounds more, but is $200 less!

The 8’10 Mana is one of the most forgiving boards I’ve ridden, not too wide, and not too narrow. I really enjoy the 30.5″ width and at 133L, it’s super stable for riders up to 200 pounds. The compact design works really well for us here in Oregon where conditions can get challenging. When you’re on the wave, the exaggerated tail rocker and V bottom shape makes it easy to turn and carve down the line, too.

Now is the time to secure a great surf SUP for “real world conditions” at a discount of $400 off the retail price! Big Winds offers 10% discounts for any accessory with the purchase of a new 2014 Mana 8’10 GT, so if you need a board bag, an upgraded fin set, paddle, leash etc, now’s the time to grab one!

-TJ

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

Starboard Astro Inflatables

Of the many disciplines one can pursue in Stand Up Paddling, the Touring Inflatable category has become an increasingly popular one. Using an inflatable SUP for touring has many advantages: easy to travel with, light weight, very durable and stow-able. Starboard has been offering two different touring sizes in their Astro line up, a 14′ and 12’6. These boards are stable and fast, allowing one to show up at any flat body of water, pump up, and go for a casual paddle or more.

Starboard Astro at Big WindsThe Astro Touring boards are a great choice for people who don’t have the space to store a long SUP or don’t have a rig to transport one. They’re for folks who are vacationing to far away places, where wave riding isn’t the primary goal. They’re for the adventurer who is hiking into a remote area for the solitude of paddling where people are few in numbers.

Starboard Astro at Big WindsThese boards are stiff enough to paddle with little to no bounce, when inflated to the recommended pressure of 18 psi. They have enough volume to accommodate any paddler weight, including your favorite SUP buddy or gear for self-support overnighters. I keep a couple of boards on hand in the RV at all times and forget they are even there. We have a 12’6 for my wife and a 14′ for me. We’ll stumble upon places we hadn’t even thought about paddling at and be ready at the drop of the hat. The idea of packing away a 12’6 board and 14′ board and completely forgetting that they are with you is great! They travel by air easily, too! Taking the 12’6 to the Caribbean for touring and snorkeling was one of the best trips I can remember.Starboard Astro at Big Winds

The 2014 Starboard Inflatables are still in stock, and we are closing out the 14′ and 12’6 models. When considering size, don’t let the 14′ fool you, it packs down almost as light and as small as the 12’6 and paddles faster, too. Give us a call if you are in the market for a new Touring board, as the inflatable options are better than ever.

-TJ

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

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.

-TJ

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

Review: Imagine Connector SUP

When Hawaiian waterman Dave Kalama teamed up with Imagine Paddle Surf, we knew there was something in the works for the ultimate downwind SUP. Leave it to one of the guys who started it all to shape a fun, forgiving and fast downwind board. The 2014 Imagine Connector is a very worthy SUP and is a steal at only $1599.

Available in 2 sizes, the 14’x 27″ and 14’x 29.5″, the Imagine Connector looks different than any other downwind board we’ve carried here at Big Winds, with lots of volume up front and thinned out through the tail. This works so well in the swell and has been tested in some of the

Imagine Connector

Imagine Connector. Click to enlarge.

biggest swell the Gorge has to offer. No matter how deep the bow wants to penetrate, the high volume, sleek piercing nose prevents the board from pearling. It allows you to really want to punch into the bump ahead of the trough you are gliding in and keeps you committed with little to no worries of diving the nose deep. The thinned out tail makes sense, as there is nothing for the wind or side swell to push on laterally throwing you off balance from behind. Foot steering is also super responsive due to the low volume tail section. Once committed to the glide, the board really accelerates to the next bump and “connects” with ease.

The 2014 Imagine Connector is available in one construction, but is relatively light for a non-carbon board. The 27″ wide model weights 28 pounds and the 29.5″ wide model comes in at 29 pounds. When the 2015 Connector launches, it will only be available in a custom carbon/wood construction, and will retail for close to $1000 more! Now’s the time to grab a 2014 Connector at a steal of a deal!

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

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Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

Patagonia at Big Winds

The newly redesigned Patagonia wetsuits and newly introduced drysuit caught our attention this year and thought they would be a perfect fit to the Big Winds offering for Fall 2014 and Spring 2015. Patagonia has always stood by a mission that has inspired us: To build the best product, to cause no unnecessary harm and to use business to implement solutions to the environmental crisis. After hearing about the new upgrades from local Patagonia ambassador Jason Slezak, we thought there is no better time then now to offer our clientele a new wetsuit and drysuit option at Big Winds.

Patagonia wetsuits have a new exterior fabric this season. It is 88% recycled polyester, ultra durable and water-resistant. The wrists, ankles and knees are built with a very durable and long lasting Supratex material that overlaps well with gloves and booties. These updated suits are now 100% externally seam sealed, triple glued, blind stitched and internally taped on high stress areas.

Big Winds carries the new R2 and R3 back zip wetsuits. The R2 is rated for water temps of 55-60 degrees and has worked perfectly so far on the Columbia River this fall. The 3.5 mm neoprene is located in the torso and thighs and is reduced to 3 mm in the arms. The R2 is lined with a

Patagonia R2 wetsuit at Big Winds

Patagonia R2 wetsuit. Click to enlarge.

green interior fabric in the body. This fabric is 67% recycled polyester and very hydrophobic, allowing for minimal water uptake and quick drying. The arms and legs are lined with a blue lining, which is 100% recycled polyester and ultra stretchy. The easy-access center back zip entry has an internal gasket to prevent water from flushing down the back, maximizing comfort. The R2 suit is easily as warm as any other 4/3 mm suit out there and retails for $389.

Patagonia R3 wetsuit at Big Winds

Patagonia R3 wetsuit. Click to enlarge.

The R3 suit is rated for water temps of 48-55 degrees and will be our go to winter and early Spring suit. The thickness bumps out to 4.5 mm in the torso/thighs and is lined with a mid-weight chlorine-free merino wool. It’s the wool that makes this suit feel like you are inside a toaster oven, offering the warmth of a 5/4 mm suit, without the bulk and thickness of a 5/4 mm. The same green polyester lining used in the R2’s torso is used in the R3’s arms and legs for maximum stretch and warmth. The new R3 back-zip full suit retails for $489.

After watching Jason Slezak testing the drysuit in the Gorge last winter and hearing the positive feedback from our Alaska friends up north, we feel this is a good season to re-introduce a drysuit into the Big Winds offering. Patagonia has recently entered the kiteboarding market, hiring ambassadors like Jason and Julien from Liquid Force and Reo Stevens from Cabrinha.

Patagonia Drysuit at Big Winds

Patagonia Drysuit.

This new kiting suit is made with durable waterproof, breathable and windproof, 3-layer Gore-Tex. It’s rated for cold water and air temps of 48-55 degrees and can certainly be pushed into an even colder environment with proper layering underneath. It comes with a Gore-Tex waterproof hood that is stowable. Wear it up when rigging your kite to stay warm.  Then zip it down and out of the way just before hitting the water, so it doesn’t flap and fill with water. The neck gasket is a comfortable 2 mm neoprene and is easy to pull over. It is coupled with a front collar flap with snaps to prevent wind and water entry. The wrist and ankle gaskets are latex, which prevents any water entry (no more balloon legs!). Like most drysuits, the Patagonia drysuit is a rear zipper entry. The zipper used is a YKK/Aquaseal waterproof zipper that is easier than any other drysuit zipper I’ve used. There are a few other nice features, including a chest pocket, leg pocket, relief zipper and suspenders. Priced at only $699, this is the best built, highest quality drysuit we’ve seen for the price. If you want to make kiteboarding or windsurfing an all season sport, this is the ticket to challenge the coldest of water and air conditions.

Patagonia Drysuit at Big Winds

Patagonia Drysuit

Big Winds is one of the first retailers to offer the all new Patagonia wetsuits and drysuit and we feel confident that Patagonia has a quality product that they stand behind with an ironclad guarantee. Give us a call, stop in or order online.

–TJ

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com