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 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

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www.bigwinds.com

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.

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 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

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