Category Archives: Travel

Big Winds SUP Team in the Molokai to Oahu (M2O)

Rob Dies, Gregg Leion and Big Winds GM, Steve Gates, are on Molokai gearing up to compete in the Molokai to Oahu (M2O) race on Sunday as a three person SUP team. The link below will show their progress in realtime on Sunday as they cross the Ka’iwi Channel or the ‘Channel of Bones’ between the islands of Molokai and Oahu – a 32 mile crossing! They have a support boat and take turns paddling. Their race begins 8 AM Hawaiian time (11 AM Pacific Time) and will take about 6 to 7 hours, depending on wind and swell (the windier & bigger the better). They flew over the channel yesterday on their way from Oahu to Molokai and the scale of the crossing is impressive — it isn’t your typical Viento downwinder!

Ka'iwi Channel

Ka’iwi Channel

The team number is #309. This website will track their progress — it takes a few moments to update.

Here’s the event website.


TJ’s Kiteboarding Travel Tips

It’s that time of year again, water up north is cooling down, and the travel bug is upon all kiters in search of warm water!

Warm waterWhether traveling by land or air, it’s nice to have your kite gear stowed away in a safe, compact manner.

Looking at the options out there, it seems most customers opt for a wheeled “golf” style bag for traveling by air. The 2014 Ion kite travel bags are a great option for carrying boards and kites. For 2014, Ion offers 2 different sized Golf bags, and a longer version to accommodate surfboards up to 6′. The Ion Gearbag 1/3 Golf is the smaller roller bag option allowing for a twin tip up to 145cm x45cm, and 3 kites:

The Ion Gearbag 2/4 Golf is a larger option, offering up to 2 twin-tips (165cm x48cm and smaller) and up to 4 kites.

If you’re traveling to a wave destination you have to bring your kite surfboard. The Ion Gearbag 6’0 will accommodate your surfboard and up to 4 kites. This bag offers specific rail protection for surboards, assuring your board arrives unharmed.

All three of these options are heavy duty, made with a 6000 D ripstop nylon.

Warm waterWhen packing my gear, I’ve always tried to keep the weight down below 50 pounds to avoid an extra weight fee. To cut down on weight, and really maximize space in your travel bag, look into purchasing a compression bag to pack your kites in instead of the heavier backpacks they come in. Ion offers two sized crushbags, the medium fitting 10m kites and smaller, and the large for the 11m to 14m kites. At only $25/$30 each, the crush bags are a great way to keep kites safe, and compact for travel.

Another trick for weight savings is to pack your control bars and harness spreader bar (all heavy hardware) into your carry-on bag. Just don’t bring your fins in your carry-on, or the TSA may have a fit thinking they are sharp, knife-like objects and take them away.

Traveling by air

Traveling by air

So, to all of you lucky kiters heading south for the winter, look to Big Winds as your source to keep all of your kite gear compact and safe for travel. Call us toll free to place your order, or order directly on-line. Big Winds is offering free shipping on all of these new 2014 Ion Kite Travel Bags.

Inflatable SUPs

Inflatable SUPs have gained popularity over the past couple of years for a few reasons:

1) They are durable
2) They are light
3) They pack down to fit in the trunk of your car.

Starboard Whopper

For 2013, we are witnessing a stiffer construction due to 6″ wall thickness. At Big Winds, we offer a number of inflatable options, so we put a couple of our favorites to the stiffness test. In the first test, we pumped up the 2013 Starboard Inflatable Astro Whopper (10′ x 35″) to the manufacturer’s recommended 18 PSI. We placed the board on a couple of sawhorses and bounced on it to see how much the board deflects. The Deluxe construction offered by Starboard this year makes for a very stiff ride, with only 1″ deflection.

Naish Mana

We next tested the 2013 Naish Mana Air (10′ x 33″). We pumped it up to the manufacturer’s recommended 14 PSI and found it stiffer then any of our 4″ wall thickness offerings. With only 1.5″ deflection, the 2013 Naish Mana Air proved to be another great contender in our 2013 inflatable line-up.

Big Winds’ Junior Elite Team Rocks in Sayulita

Two of our Junior Elite Team (JET) athletes, Fiona Wylde and Sofia DeWolfe, competed in the Punta Sayulita Longboard and SUP Classic recently, March 8–10. They did exceedingly well, placing first and second in the Elite Women’s SUP race, and first and third for women, respectively, in the 10K Distance Race. All of us at Big Winds are super proud of them.

Here’s a link to the results.

Fiona wrote up a great recap about her experience during this grueling event, so we want to share it with everyone. Thanks for sharing Fiona!


The contest consisted of a 6K course race, a 10K distance race, a SUP surfing event and a longboard event. I competed in three of the four events — the course and distance races, as well as the SUP surfing contest.

The course race was a blast, with buoys placed in the surf just like in Battle of the Paddle. It was just as gnarly, but there weren’t as many people as BOP. At the beginning of the race it was neck and neck for first with one other girl. She would get a head of me, then I’d catch up, then she’d pass me, then she’d fall in and I would get ahead again.


That pattern continued for two of the four laps. Then, when we were heading back out through the surf to start our third lap, she got taken out by a wave and had to swim to get her board. By the time she got her board back, a set came in. Fortunately for me, I was just enough ahead of her to make it over the set before it took me out as well. For the rest of the race, I just had to maintain my position and keep paddling hard. I ended up coming in first for all the women in the course race! I am really stoked to have won my first big elite race!

Here’s a video of the course race.

After the course race was over, I had my first heat of SUP surfing. I was exhausted and didn’t advance, so I was automatically put in the losers bracket for the following day. Sunday morning I woke up and headed down to the event site for my first SUP surfing heat. I had a good heat and surfed reasonably well. As soon as I got out of the water, the beach marshall announced the start of the distance race. It was a frenzy, but we got everything together and made it to the start on time.
The distance race used a beach start, where competitors ran to the water, threw their boards in the water, jumped on, and paddled through pounding shore break. Miraculously I made it out through the shore break. Unfortunately, all the other girls got caught and got worked. As soon as I was clear of the waves, I started paddling as hard as I could to get some separation between myself and the other girls. By the first buoy, there was about a 200-meter gap between the second woman and me. The race itself was brutal! There was a side wind the entire time, so I could only paddle on the starboard side for 5K, then only on the port side for the remaining 5K, after the turn around buoy. I came across the line first for the women and eighth out of all the men.
Once I got back to the beach after winning the distance race, my mom told me I had won the losers bracket of the SUP surfing. Now I had advanced into the semifinal! I was stoked! This was the first SUP wave contest I had ever competed in, so I was stoked to make the semi. I surfed well, and it turns out I made it to the final by placing second in the semi! I was even more stoked! The worst I could get now was fourth!

By the time the final began, the wind had really picked up, and the waves were pretty blown out. However, I still had fun and surfed the best I could. I ended up getting third in the Women’s SUP surfing contest.
All in all, it was a pretty good weekend for me in Sayulita, Mexico. Now I am heading to Maui for more training to get ready for the next contest.


2013 Cabrinha Switchblade Review

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

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

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

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

2013 cabrinha switchblade

Maui 2012: SUP Downwinding

Wow! What a great trip to Maui! It had been WAY too long since my last visit to the Garden Isle, with absolutely no legit excuse. With sufficient prompting from friends there who I hadn’t seen in a long time, along with the same from some good business associates whom I had yet to meet, I pulled the trigger and booked a flight.

I was joined by my older daughter, Erin and son in law, Rob, leaving behind my wife to her teaching job and my daughter Jodie to help hold down the fort at Big Winds. We were lucky enough to score a great spot at Camp One, with awesome windsurfing right off our lawn, very cool.

A couple of true highlights were the two big downwinders I enjoyed with my friend Bill Babcock. Bill lives for the Maui downwinders and he was kind enough to let Rob and me join him on a 10 mile run from Malaaea to Makena, on Maui’s South shore. It was fully cranking when we arrived at Malaaea, and unloading Bill’s two Unlimted SIC boards and one trusty 14′ Naish Glide was scary, but uneventful. Erin was a trooper and volunteered to drive down the coast to Makena and hang there till we arrived at the end of the run.

As soon as we launched, we were flying. The wind was a solid 30-40, with gusts hitting near 50. We were able to take almost a dead downwind tack, making the swell riding some of the best I’ve ever experienced. Long, long fast, smooth glides. So much fun!

Coming into a pod of whales in the middle of the bay was super cool. We all sat on our boards for a while, drifting while they rolled and frolicked 50 yards away. After we figured they had moved off, we stood back up and continued the run. Bill was following a little behind and witnessed a whale roll 10′ right behind Rob!

Two hours later, we arrived at Makena Landing, where Erin met us. We were all smiles…a memorable SUP experience in the books.

The following day Bill and I hooked up for my inaugural Maliko to Kahului downwinder. After hearing about this run for several years, I jumped at the opportunity when Bill offered to take me. We launched with a brisk 20 knot NE tradewind and a 5′ swell, pretty modest conditions as far as Malko runs go, but I wasn’t at all disappointed to have it mellow for my first one. Bill had already relayed stories of many runs that sounded pretty sketchy with huge open ocean swells breaking on the outer reefs. Small sounded just fine.

The Maliko run lives up to its reputation for awesome beauty and a good challenge. Even with a pretty mellow sea, the swells were well overhead and the bump on the water made for a serious leg workout. With the wind lightening a bit as we made our way down the coast, I found myself paddling pretty hard the entire run. But the spectacular scenery and the prospect of a rogue wave breaking out a bit beyond our line kept me alert to my surroundings. We arrived at the Canoe Hale at the Kahului Harbor some two hours later, having been in no particular rush to get it over with. With a nice atta boy from Bill, I felt initiated into some good company.


There were still a few hours of daylight and plenty of breeze when I got back to Camp One. Just in time for a sweet windsurfing session with Erin, Rob and the Quatro crew that came down from their shop in Haiku to join us. A really great day to wrap up our Maui visit!



If you can’t rip it up in the Gorge, you might as well try Maui, like Karin, our rentals manager did in April.