Category Archives: Stand Up Paddling

Fiona Wylde: 2014 Overall Surftech Shootout Women’s Champion

Big Winds team rider Fiona Wylde brought us up-to-date on her latest exploits:

It Wasn’t A Win Without A Fight

Every contest has a different aspect; a different way of achieving an outcome; a different way of ending a contest. Sometimes I end contests earlier than I want to by not making it through a heat or placing as high in a race, but never am I going to give up and stop pushing my abilities to the highest place they can go on that day of competition.

fiona-cruz2I was invited to the Surftech Shootout back in January to surf the prestigious wave at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz, California. My Quatro teammate, Bernd Roediger flew in from Maui to meet me and my dad who drove down from Hood River, Oregon. With the van packed with multiple surf and race boards we were ready for whatever the conditions gave us over the weekend.

As most of you know, Santa Cruz is a surfing Mecca where much of surfing innovation began. Twenty-eight years ago the Santa Cruz Kayak Fest, now Paddle Fest, was created. Over the last couple years the Paddle Fest organizers have opened up the event to include stand up paddlers, which we are extremely grateful for.

fiona-cruz4The contest began on Friday, the 28th, with preliminary stand up surfing heats. Both Bernd and I surfed smart heats, catching head high set waves at the Point and riding them through to Indicators, which granted us wins. On Saturday we raced in the six-mile elite stand up race, leaving from Cowells Beach. I had a good start and lead the women and hung with Bernd until the first buoy, which was a mile into the race. Then Morgan Hoesterey, an extremely strong, incredible paddler came up and passed me. I did my best to hang with her, but she pulled away. Windy, choppy water and beach runs made the race more fun and interesting for all the competitors. I maintained second place, finishing fifty-nine minutes after I started. Bernd finished middle of the fleet, which is really good for the guys division considering he hasn’t raced in a flat-water race in over two years.

fiona-cruz1That afternoon the south wind kicked up even more and the waves were pretty small. I was a little skeptical paddling out to my second heat that afternoon, but my mood changed as soon as the horn sounded. Fun-size waves were coming through and it was way better than I imagined. I won that heat to secure my spot in the final. Bernd did the same with his quarterfinal heat and we were both looking forward to surfing the next day.

fiona-cruz3True to the swell forecast, Sunday delivered. We arrived at The Lane to eight foot, glassy faces, and were happier than two kids in a candy shop; only the candy was the waves. Bernd got to surf his semifinal heat in the glassy conditions where he put on a clinic. By the time the women’s final came around later that afternoon, the wind had picked up a bit, but the sets were bigger! I took my 7’8″ Quatro Step-up gun, rather than my shortboard, for stability in the wind and to get into the waves easier. I was frothing! Sitting in the channel I couldn’t wait to get my heat underway. The horn sounded to end the heat before me, so I had one minute to get in position. As soon as I was at the peak where the waves had consistently been breaking, a massive set came through that peaked way outside. I started paddling frantically. I thought that maybe by the time I got to the first one the heat would be underway, but I was four seconds too early. It would have been a late drop either way, so I paddled over and was confronted with an even bigger wave. Scratching to get over it in time, I rejected that opportunity when it peaked up even more and broke on my head. I had no option but to dive as deep as I could under the wave. As soon as I dove, I felt a pull then a release… my leash had broken. As soon I popped up, I signaled and yelled for the Jet Ski. They came in, pulled me up on the sled and drove me into the break to look for my board. For those that aren’t familiar with Steamer Lane, the “beach” consists of rocks and cliff. I did not want my board to get destroyed, and I still wanted to surf this heat. We drove through Indicators, just in time to see a California State Lifeguard pop over a wave paddling my board to safety. It was like a miracle! He handed me the board and an extremely generous water safety patrol surfer from the Santa Cruz Lifeguard took his leash off of his foot and gave it to me. I was ready for action! By the time I made it back out to the peak, I only had twelve minutes left. The heats were nineteen minutes, and since this was part of a kayak competition, they counted three waves instead of the normal two. I got lucky and a good set came through and I picked one off. Four minutes later I was back at the peak, ready for another. I caught another set wave and was making my way back out when another big set came through that broke way outside. Since I didn’t have much time left and I still needed another wave, I decided to go for it. I picked the second wave of the set and took off right as it broke. I made the drop, but when the whitewater exploded, I got worked. No sets came through in the last two minutes. The horn blew, and my contest was over.

I didn’t know if my two waves and drop were enough for me to take the win. The other girls caught plenty of waves from start to finish and were shredding! What I was happy about was that given the scenario, I did the most that I could to surf my best and make and use the twelve minutes to my full potential.

Bernd’s final followed shortly after mine. Sitting on the cliff, watching him, I felt like I was watching an ASP Professional Surfer that somehow got a paddle stuck in his hand. Bernd caught four waves in his heat, but he didn’t catch just four waves, he caught the best four waves. There were no doubts in our mind, and pretty much everybody’s on the cliff, that Bernd had won and owned the final.

fiona-cruz5My worries ceased when the announcer welcomed me to the stage to congratulate me for my Sup surfing Women’s Surftech Shootout victory! And my happiness went through the roof when they announced me as the 2014 Overall Surftech Shootout Women’s Champion from my race and surf result! With Bernd winning the men’s overall sup surfing, me winning the women’s and the women’s overall Surftech Shootout, it was an all around Quatro victory!

All of this wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Jackson, the California State Lifeguard who jumped off the rocks to save my board and the water safety surfer for giving me his leash along with the Jet Ski Patrol. You guys made it possible for me to surf the rest of the heat! A big thank you goes to Duke Brower at Surftech and the Santa Cruz Paddle Fest for incorporating Stand Ups into your event. And of course thank you to Rahel, Lexi, Jessie, and Buck of the Lyons family for hosting us and making us feel at home! To all of the surfers of Santa Cruz thank you for graciously sharing your wave and allowing stand up paddlers and kayakers to surf Steamer Lane for the weekend.

This event comes to a close on a high note. With both Bernd and me winning, both on Quatro, both loving our boards and enjoying Santa Cruz, we will always remember this event with positive memories. Not all events end this way, so when they do, we need to remember them and enjoy this moment! Cheers to fun times!

~Fiona

Get a Grip!

A new product made in Oregon with 100% natural ingredients has been recently introduced to us at Big Winds. Paddle Grip Wax is an essential addition to prevent the slip we get from water and sweat on the paddle shaft and handle. The rationale? It combats fatigue and reduces paddle rotation and hand displacement.

gripAfter trying Paddle Grip Wax for the first time, I’m hooked. It is now difficult to paddle without this wax. We offer it in three different formulas: Cold Water (below 64 degrees), Warm Water (above 64 degrees) and SUP Anti-Sweat (All-Temp/All Purpose). Not only does a little go a long way, but a light coating goes on clean and doesn’t attract debris. Another thing I noticed was the reduction in hand blisters. So, avoid paddle slippage and skin maceration, and get some paddle grip wax today!

–TJ

888-509-4210
www.bigwinds.com

Save the Rails!

You’ve just spent your last paycheck on your dream SUP. It’s worth spending a few extra dollars and a little time to prevent any damage to the rails. At Big Winds, we use Railsaver on all of our high-end race and surf SUP boards since the rails are typically the part of the board that gets hammered over time by your paddle. The rail tape is easy to install, doesn’t yellow over time and will certainly help the resale value of the board.

RailSaver Pro

We sell Railsaver in kits or by bulk. The kits we offer from Railsaver PRO come in clear or striped and are by far the best quality rail tape we have found. Railsaver PRO comes in two 6’3″ x 2.5″ lengths and retails for $59.99 for the clear and $65.00 for the striped.

RailSaver Pro

We also offer bulk Railsaver Pro in two widths: 2″ wide ($2.88/ft.) and 3″ wide ($4.32/ft). This rail tape is made by PukaPatch, and goes on smooth and clear. We have a formula that helps customers pick their length: 1/2 the length of your board per side. So, with a 14′ race board that has a moderate thickness, the 3″ wide tape at two 7′ lengths is optimal. For an 8′ surf SUP, all you need is the 2″ wide at two 4′ lengths. When we apply the rail tape, we start towards the nose of the board, and begin adhering where your maximum reach is. This will give you a bit of distance beyond your feet, in the case of a not so perfect exit of the blade at your toes.

Please give us a call to order yours today or place your order online.

–TJ

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

Fiona Wylde: Big Winds Team Rider Rocks at Turtle Bay

Superstar waterwoman and Big Winds Team Rider, Fiona Wylde, brought us up-to-date on her competition in Hawaii:

Heading over to Oahu last week, I didn’t have any expectations. Yes, I wanted to make it through a couple heats, and yes I wanted to perform at my best. If I did that, I knew would be surfing to my best ability and enjoying it.

Fiona at Turtle Bay
The Women’s Pro Stand Up World Tour had its first stop at the infamous Turtle Bay Resort. Twenty-Four girls filled out the heats to create a solid bracket for the women’s comp. The conditions were tough on the first day, with lots of wind and some good size waves coming in that broke outside and mush-burgered to the inside. I caught enough waves and completed enough turns to secure a second place position to advance straight to the third round.
On the second day of the contest, blue skies and clean waves showed promise for an all time afternoon of competition. After making it through round three, I started my quarterfinal heat off with a solid 6-point ride and was looking for a second. Just a minute later I caught another wave in that range and was feeling good. Towards the end of the heat, the sets became farther apart and I got a bit frantic. There weren’t any good waves to better my early high scores, so I had to hope that the first two waves were enough. When the heat came to an end, I had a feeling I might have made it through, and did so with second place. Next up were the Semis. By mid-afternoon the forecast had been proven correct… the swell was building. At Turtle Bay, the big sets break outside the bay on the outer reef and wash through the bay. It makes it harder to catch the inside reform as well as the outside because it has already broken once. My strategy was to wait patiently on the outside and catch the set waves and only the set waves. I did this and caught three contestable waves, but my turns were not as critical as I was planning. I was a bit conservative in the semi final, because I was so worried about staying on my board, which was a mistake. I have learned now that during a competition, I have to give it %110 all the time and every turn, and just go for it!  And that way, even if I don’t make, I was trying. I am not disappointed with my results because a fifth place finish for my first world tour event is pretty good, but I did learn a lot and am looking forward to competing again.

Fiona at Turtle Bay
Fortunately I will have the opportunity real soon. I am en-route to the Dominican Republic as I write this for a contest called Master of the Ocean. This contest is a windsurf, kite surf, stand up surf and surf contest where I will be competing in all the disciplines. Wish me luck!
Cheers!

~Fiona

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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

2014 Naish Mana Standup Paddleboard

Over the past few seasons Big Winds has been introducing many of our customers to the joy of surfing with a paddle in hand and we’ve had a huge, immediate success with the Naish Mana series. The Mana’s are Naish’s best selling SUP boards in their surf line and for good reason: they are easy to surf and super fun! I personally started my SUP surf progression on the Mana 9’5 during the winter of 2010-11. This particular size worked great for my novice days of progressing in the surf and my wife found it enjoyable for just cruising around on the Columbia River (a one board solution for the both of us to enjoy!). As we all progress with our paddling skills so do the SUP boards and for 2014, Naish has given the Mana an updated shape and great new look.

2014 Naish Mana Standup Paddleboard

photo: Gorge-Us Photography

We have now had the opportunity to test the new 2014 Mana 9’5″, 8’10″, and 8’5″ on the Oregon Coast over the past three months and love them! The first time I took the 9’5″ GT out, I immediately took notice of how it turns on the wave with little or no effort. Naish has taken 27 liters of volume out of the 9’5″, dropping it from 190L to 163L. With reduced volume, increased tail rocker and a V bottom shape, the turning and carving becomes much more dynamic and rail-to-rail transition effortless. Although the Mana is a more performance oriented board now than it ever has been, it still retains its ability to allow beginners to have fun due to the wider outline. At 32″ wide the 9’5″ Mana is an inch wider for 2014. This added width equals added stability and can help get the paddler out through mushy whitewater with unbelievable ease.

2014 Naish Mana SUP

photo: Gorge-Us Photography

Naish replaced the 2012 9′ Mana with the 2013 8’10″. For 2014, the 8’10″ is bumped out a half inch, gets a slightly pointier nose, and exaggerated tail rocker. The biggest waves I’ve ever ridden have been on the 2014 Naish Mana 8’10″ GS in December on the Oregon coast, a day I will never forget! If I had to choose just one board, this would be the one for everyday conditions. It’s long enough to catch the slow building waves, but short enough to rip once on them. I don’t consider myself a lightweight by any means (165 lbs), but this board is designed for the lighter weight riders, having only 133L of volume. The GS construction is reasonably light too, only two pounds heavier than the GT wood construction. Not bad for a $500 cost savings!

2014 Naish Mana

photo: Gorge-Us Photography

We had been anticipating the release of the 8’5″ Mana after hearing about it in Maui at the Naish dealer meeting in July, and have now had the opportunity to surf it on several occasions. The 8’5″ GT is under 20 lbs and loves to crank out turns with its light swing weight. It has a generous width of 30.5″, making it very stable and comfortable in less than ideal conditions. The stability was particularly noticeable near the tail, making it easy to step back to get over the whitewater or make a quick pivot turn to catch the oncoming wave. With the 6.5″ center fin, the board tracks great and stays locked to the water in bumpy conditions.

All 2014 Naish Mana’s have a three fin, thruster configuration. The GT models have a really nice US 6.5″ wood center fin, whereas the GS models can vary: Mana 10′http://www.bigwinds.com/sup/category/63/product/2857 and 9.5″ GS comes with a stock 9.0″ AST fin, whereas the 8’10″ has the 6.5″ AST fin. One thing I did was upgrade the outside FCS side fins from the stock molded composite fins to a lighter weight, performance fin set with a more responsive flex pattern. The FCS PC-5 fins work great for a guy my size, and PC-7 for the heavier guys. We have a great selection of aftermarket fins to choose from here at Big Winds, and if you have questions on which might work best for you, give us a call or stay tuned for upcoming blogs discussions on fin selection.

–TJ

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

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

Review: 2014 Starboard Astro Stream 9’6 x 36″ Whitewater SUP

Big Winds is stoked to be representing one of the most highly anticipated whitewater inflatable SUPs on the market, the 2014 Starboard Astro Stream 9’6 x 36″. After a very successful season with the 2013 Astro Whopper, Starboard Team rider and three time whitewater champion, Dan Gavere helped design a board that is ultra-durable and super stable. At 36″ wide, the widest point of the Stream is in front of your feet yet it retains a generous width all the way back to the tail. This allows you to really get into an aggressive stance and maintain your balance when your back foot is nearing the tail. It’s great for punching through the holes and waves. With a volume of 387 liters, the new Astro Stream has nearly 100 liters more than the 2013 Whopper Deluxe and almost 200 liters more than the Whopper Fun 4″ thick version. The Stream has 6″ of thickness but is solid as an oak tree with a double layer of 1.8 mm PVC around the rail. Extra stiffness and extreme impact strength are a couple of new features we noticed right away. When you have this board inflated to 18 psi, the rail feels as solid as steel. The new Astro boxes have also been upgraded with a thicker wall and made to take a hit without cracking. The new Astro white water 2.5″ fins are soft and shallow, providing a little more traction than running the board without any fins (something we practiced quite a bit with last year’s Whopper). The front fin placement is right behind your feet, which is much better than the traditional “surfboard” thrusters that are so far back.

 

Dan Gavere on the Astro Stream

Dan Gavere on the Astro Stream

Here in the Northwest, the rivers flow year round. But the summer months can be pretty shallow on our local Hood and White Salmon rivers, so the short fins are really going to be nice to navigate the low volume rivers and creeks. Lastly, the addition of extra handles both at the nose of the board and on the sides are a nice new feature, especially for the rapids that may be a bit difficult to navigate standing up. Dropping down to your knees and having a place to grab is essential. The new Starboard Astro Stream 9’6″ is a great choice for beginner through advanced paddlers looking for the ultimate in compact whitewater performance. Please feel free to give us a call to place your order today, toll free: 1-888-509-4210.

www.bigwinds.com