Tag Archives: Windsurfing

Women’s Clinics

 

The Decision

Anyone who windsurfs knows firsthand the dedication and tenacity it takes to learn and develop windsurfing skills. It’s the favorite sport for many — not only for the thrill — but the sheer sense of empowerment and accomplishment.

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I’m always inspired to see talented windsurfers on the water. The truth is, sometimes we feel stuck, reaching for the next level and not making it as quickly as we’d like. And let’s face it: women are a minority in this sport. We push ourselves for the love of it, and benefit from inspiration in women around us.

When one of my friends recovered from a bad skiing injury and felt timid about getting back on her board, I thought the best thing I could do to help was sign us up for Big Winds’ Women’s Clinic. There might have been a smidge of self-interest, but it was a great excuse. (Plus a pretty simple task — a single phone call or website click.)

BW.WC.Heidi.Rigging BW.hookingin

We are students!

The first morning, eight women abuzz with nerves met (goddess) Heidi Chappel and her assistant Milena. Introductory conversations outside Big Winds helped us get to know each other, where each was in her windsurfing journey, and even share any fears we had. (Why not throw in some group therapy too?) Experience levels varied. Some sought confidence in the footstraps and harness, while others strived to jibe, or finesse a bomb-proof jibe.

After checking wind reports, Heidi announced we’d caravan to Viento, where the wind was promising and people sparse.

There we watched Heidi on the dryland simulator while she imparted her wisdom. (In “real” life, Heidi teaches high school English — no doubt the kids love her!) Then she distilled what most women were there to work on: the carving step jibe. Everyone had a turn on the simulator to practice Heidi’s stages for the “set-up,” “the carve,” and “the transition. Each part of the jibe had several steps yet within a short amount of time we had them drilled in our heads. It was obvious many ladies learned new pieces that might hold keys to their success.

Preparing our own equipment, Heidi imparted some excellent rigging tips, and key things to look for in a properly (or poorly) rigged sail.

On the water, one instructor sailed with us and the other stood hip-deep near shore, calling out feedback as warranted, and offering heavy doses of praise and encouragement. It’s hard to describe the sensations, surrounded by women sailors in a wave of camaraderie. All of us with the same chant in our heads: “slide, release, mast, boom, boom.”

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Day Two – We Want More!

The next day, pumped for more fun, the wind called for another day at Viento, which excited us all.

Two solid days of practice with the right guidance works wonders. It was amazing how each person’s skills improved. Some relearning jibe steps in line with Heidi’s methods. Some who never jibed in their lives occasionally nailed them, gifted by hoots and hollers from camp mates.

At the end, none wanted it to be over. We exchanged email addresses and promises to sail together again. And we hung out with our picnics well past the end of the camp.

For those who have thought about trying Big Winds’ Women’s Clinic, I heartily recommend it. You’ll learn from amazing teachers. You’ll have fun. You’ll make new friends. Most of all, you’ll be empowered, all in the company of inspiring females.

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New in The Gorge – LP Foil Boards

LP-Foils-Spring2015 from LP Foils on Vimeo.

Big Winds is in its second year getting involved with kite hydrofoils, and is happy to announce a retail partnership with local manufacturer LP Composites! LP has come up with a product that has tested extremely well for durability, handling, stiffness and speed. They have just released a very light weight product called the FRS Series Kite Foil, available in two mounting systems (Deep Tuttle, and 4 Hole Plate), and two different strut lengths, 39” and 35”. I’ve had the opportunity to now test the 4 hole plate on my Lift board, with a 39” strut, and first impression was that this was a high performance product…fast, maneuverable, and light! The LP is so stiff, there is absolutely no vibration. I hit my first ever roll tack, as it pivots effortlessly! The Gorge can serve up some pretty harsh conditions, and this foil can handle it! I look forward to testing this foil more, with the 3 different shims that come with it to allow for more or less angle on the rear wing. We are stoked support the first manufactured foil here in the Gorge, and can’t wait to see the products to come (including the windsurf foil!).

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

Review: Sailworks 2015 Revolution

IMG_1010This year’s Revos sure look different. But are they better? Staffer Eddy Patricelli spent two weeks riding a quiver of Revos in 12-40 mph winds. Here’s his take. To test ride one for yourself, hop over to Big Winds. Up to $100 in demos can be applied to a sail’s purchase.

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Photo by Katie Crafts

What I Like 

Planing Power: The Revos have it. Period. Prior to this photo being taken, I hadn’t planed much on the 5.7 model. When my son hopped aboard I backed off the downhaul and outhaul slightly, connected my boom to the clew’s upper grommet and shazam! Off we went, full plane. My son’s added 35 pounds be damned.

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2015 Revolutions are available in 3.0-6.2 sizes and start at $564. Recommended mast: NoLimitz Sumo RDM.

Control: Over two weeks of testing I have yet to re-rig. A 4.5 in 35 mph winds — I hung on. A 5.0 in 13-20 mph — I planed throughout. From a tractor-like pull, to a soft, supple power sensation, the Revos’ adjustable power profile has kept me sailing, and smiling. I can share these sails with my wife without either of us feeling compromised. A big deal.

Speed: I welcome drag races riding the Revos. I can’t say the same for other wave sails. Coast through lulls, loft higher jumps, blast upwind — the Revo’s slippery nature opens big doors.

What I Don’t Like
The sail’s foot outline is fuller than most wave sails. It adds to the sail’s impressive speed and power. The rub is that it’s cumbersome for spinny freestyle tricks.

Bottom Line: No surprise, I dig the Revos. This wave sail line hasn’t lost sight of the bump and jump sailing most of us do. They’re speedy, powerful, and exciting to ride. That’s a great foundation for any session, waves or not. It’s also why these new Revos will comprise the bulk of our demo sail fleet this summer at Big Winds. Try one for yourself here!

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

Review: Naish Starship 100

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Fresh out of the box, this 100-liter model from Naish looked fast, felt light and begged for a ride. So we gave it one … in virtually no wind. That wasn’t our plan. But nor was what happened when we hit the water.

No-Wind Tester: Eddy Patricelli, 185 lbs., 22 years on the water, former board test editor for WindSurfing magazine.

10 – Planing: Most kiters had headed in. Remnant blasts of a 10-20 mph wind day had all but IMG_0929vanished. But I hit the water anyway. Lucked out on a gust, linked it to another, and planed across the river. A total fluke. So I thought. I planed back across again … and again … and so on.

9 – Riding:  This board wants to go. Period. It’s ridiculously fast to plane, and ridiculously fast. Its speed adds coasting power to connect the gusts in big ways. The board comes with a real deal, MFC 32 cm, G-10 FreeWave fin, which adds to the lively, responsive ride.

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100-liters (90-liter pictured), 240 cm X 62.3 cm, 17.5 lbs. w/  straps and fin, $1,929

8 – Turning: I had a hard time assessing jibing. I was dumbfounded to even be planing at all. On a 5.3 Force 5 (review to come), the board kept pace with riders on 7.5-meter sails and 130-plus liter boards. Planing jibes? It turned great. As in, far better than the big boards most were jibing on that day.

9 – Overall Impression: The board wowed me. It offers simple, straight-ahead fun with phenomenal horsepower. Hang on. Hustle for the straps, and from there, try to find the Starship’s top speed. I didn’t, but had a blast trying. So will just about anyone — especially since the Starship comes in 90-, 100- and 115-liter models. My advice: try one (demos here).    

Best Suits: Thrill seekers, dragsters, and gear minimalists. This board’s planing power drops wind minimums, and prioritizes what sailors want most — fast, no-hassle fun.

Score: 36/40

 

New FCS II Fins

FCS Fins are now utilizing a tool-less click-in system…FCS II. Big Winds is stocking FCS II for kite, SUP, and windsurf boards. T.J. runs through the thruster, quad rear, and new center fin Connect click in system. No more need for tools, set screws, tabs nor screws!

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

2015 Naish Global

Next season Naish will be reintroducing the Global to its board offerings. Much like previous iterations, and the Naish Koncept that followed, the 2015 Global is designed as a do-it-all wave board, effective in conditions all over the world. However, in terms of design, the 2015 Global is a significant departure from its predecessors. While the name and the pitch are familiar, it is important to note that this is not the continued evolution of the boards that came before it, but a completely new shape, and a big step up in terms of performance. The 2015 Global is available in Small (78 liters), Medium (88L) and Large (98L).

Naish Global at Big WindsI am 175 pounds and I have been riding the Small Global as a high-wind board here in the Gorge in mostly 4.2 conditions. I have tried the board on good days and in some pretty funky up and down conditions. The board performed well in both powered up and more marginal conditions.

In terms of appearance, the most unique feature of the 2015 Global is the square tail. The increased tail volume helps the board plane up and coast through lulls. Combined with the board’s tri-fin setup, the square tail provides exceptional grip and drive as well as super stable feeling in carving turns and jibes.

Naish Global at Big WindsWith any new board I expect to have to make small adjustments to my sailing to get the most out of the board. The Global felt pretty good right off the bat. With its notably flat deck and wider tail, I had to loosen my back foot strap a little bit in order to make sure I could get over the centerline and apply pressure on the toe side rail to turn and trim the board. Once I got that dialed in, it was easy to adjust to the board and really put it through its paces.

At a diminutive 222 cm (under 7’4″!) the Small Global feels super compact and controllable. Like other stubby onshore and all-around wave boards, the Global carries speed on swells and through tight turns, planes early and is quick for a wave board. Where I think it sets itself apart the most is in the ride quality. While other boards have felt skittish, prone to spin outs or had an uncomfortable, pounding ride, the global manages to package all of the characteristics I liked in other similar boards with a ride that I’d be happy to live with full time. The new high density deck pads are super grippy and help with creating a super responsive feel.

Naish Global at Big WindsAll 2015 Naish boards come with high end G10 fins from Maui Fin Company. These fins are a significant upgrade from previous Naish stock fins and the fins that come with most other boards. With the stock fin set-up the board feels rock solid, and didn’t even hint at spinning out during the time I spent testing it. I’m looking forward to trying the board with a smaller center fin and seeing if I can slide it around a bit more. If you’re looking to try a multi fin board for the first time, or have had trouble with cavitation on other multi-fin set ups, this board is definitely one to try!

I think the 2015 Global is one of the best performing boards I’ve sailed in the past few years for the unique conditions we have here in the Gorge. I’m also looking forward to trying the larger sizes out on the Oregon coast as well.

— George

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

2015 Starboard Kode FreeWave 86

When the Kode FreeWave was pulled out of the bag at Rowena the other evening it turned heads on the beach. I received comments on what an amazing looking board it was, the graphics really pop and the wood showing slightly through the bottom paint was “so cool”. I agreed. Starboard took a board that looked pretty darn good in 2014 and made it look red hot with updated graphics for 2015. Pictures don’t do it justice, this board needs to be seen in person.Kode Freewave at Big Winds
Graphics aren’t the only improvements that Starboard made, this year’s Kode 81, 86 and 94 include a new thruster fin setup and the Kode 86, 94 and 103 models have a thicker tail rail release edge for more float out of a turn, quicker acceleration and more pop. I basically ran the board to the water in excitement (and in wanting to get some runs in before the wind dropped out).

Kode Freewave at Big WindsWhen I slid my feet into the Kode’s contour-shaped sponge pads for the first time, I thought I had put on my morning Ugg boots; they were the most comfy pad and strap combo I have ever experienced. It is amazing how much good straps and pads can contribute to your overall enjoyment of the board. And enjoy I did. This board is smooth and easy to ride and felt perfectly matched to the 5.3 I was using. Even in the dying winds, I was able to experience the main strength of this board: versatility. It felt like it was a jack-of-all-trades: great turner, quick to plane, fun to turn and easy to ride. I envision this board working really well for the intermediate/advanced sailor looking for one board to do it all. It could also be an awesome light wind or big guy wave board. Really, no matter who slips their feet into the Kode 86, it will definitely put a smile on their face, this board rips and is one comfy ride.

–Matt Morrow

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

2015 Quatro Sphere 80

Within half a reach I knew the Quatro crew had a great board with the Sphere 80. After a couple of reaches I was in love. Having never ridden a thruster set-up before, I wasn’t sure if the Sphere 80 would be something I would really like. Normally I like “fast” waveboards and I was expecting the thruster fin set up to feel a little slow for my taste. This was not the case at all. For a wave board, the Sphere had plenty of top end and it carried speed very well in the turns. Keith Taboul, Quatro’s shaper apparently designed it this way: “I stuck to a v-bottom for early planing and a double concave to soften the ride at high speeds and then worked meticulously on the rail foiling, ending up having the rails faster from nose to tail to making the board feel distinctly crisp and responsive.”

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The thruster set-up was noticeable when slashing a swell in that it was both loose and tracked exceptionally well; the board went exactly where I wanted it to, exactly when I wanted it to. I was powered on a 4.2 and in the gusts I was amazed and how in control I felt on the Sphere. It stuck to the water very well yet was easy to release when jumping. I was warned that sometimes thruster/quad set-ups can spin out easier due to the smaller fins and foot pressure adjustment is necessary for those with heavy rear pressure, but not with the Sphere. I felt like I could handle any gust, any bump and any swell. Due to how in control I felt on the Sphere, I went for maneuvers I might not normally try. It made me a better sailor, which makes windsurfing so much more fun.Quatro Sphere at Big Winds

I would highly recommend this board to anyone coming from a single fin background who might be hesitant to use a thruster setup. There is just no downside that I could find, the Sphere was fast, loose and easy to sail. I felt more in control on the Sphere than on any board in that size that I can remember. It felt like it was made for the chop and swell of the Gorge, I can’t wait to try it on an ocean wave.

–Matt Morrow

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

2015 Naish Sails Review: Part 2

2015 Naish Force Five 5.3

The wind started to drop a bit and it was time to rig up. The Naish Force Five is touted as “a 5-batten wave sail perfect for riders who demand acceleration power and control” which is right up my alley. Visually, it looks spectacular. The yellow/grey/black sail color combo that we had is definitely easy on the eyes (really, it is gorgeous) and the 2015 Naish wave sails look bomb proof. Rigging was quick and easy. I loved the loop-and-go downhaul pulley and the easy to use downhaul pocket for extra line. The “radial clew” is apparently one of the strongest in the industry and certainly looks the part.

Unfortunately, I only got a couple of reaches in before the wind shut off so I didn’t get to fully put the sail through the paces. However, I certainly got to experience the balanced power that the sail delivers as I found myself still planing and having fun even after everyone else went in. While the Force Five has great low end power, once planing it felt rock solid and very stable.

I have been fortunate to have tried many brand new sails right out of the bag but I have never been so impressed by the clarity of a sail window before. Somehow the 2015 Naish Wave Sails seem as if the window wasn’t there. Even with the X-Ply Laminate they have a clarity that is nicer than a monofilm-only window. It made the river seem more open and clear and would certainly be advantageous on a wave. I found out that this is a new feature and is called a Spectraview II Window. I can certainly attest to Naish’s claim of “improved visibility”. It is amazing.

2015 Naish Session 4.2

2015 Naish Session

2015 Naish Session

Wow wow WOW! Being 185 lbs, I have, in the past, preferred the more powerful Naish Force to the Session but this 2015 Session is another story. Right away the 2015 Session put a big smile on my face it felt as though I had been sailing it for years. The sail was perfectly balanced even in the gusty conditions that we were experiencing. The soft leech helped spill wind when needed and the draft forward shape provided plenty of power to get me planing in the lulls.

I loved how easy the sail was to handle when riding swell it was very quick to depower when needed. I felt confident in every maneuver; the Session was very responsive and just a pleasure to sail. “Fast,” as Mark said when we were comparing our testing notes, “that Session just does everything a great sail is supposed to”. This felt like the perfect all round Gorge sail for any weight of rider and I can’t wait to get another “session” on it.

Chinook Quick Harness Lines

Harness lines don’t often get a lot of mention even though they can make or break a session if they are misaligned or the wrong size. I got to try the Chinook Quick Harness Lines for the first time and they are a game changer. First, they can be EASILY attached without needing to remove the boom end and second, the mono point design makes it SO much easier to adjust the position on the boom when on the water. I felt like I could get my line position dialed in about a quarter of the time as double attachment point lines. If you haven’t tried them highly recommend a pair as they make a world of difference.

–Matt Morrow

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

2015 Naish Sails Review: Part 1

Late in September, Mark, our windsurfing manager, George, our rentals and lessons expert and I went out to Rowena to test some of the hottest new 2015 high wind gear. The wind was averaging 28 knots at Dougs according to iWindsurf and the water and air were still holding onto some lingering summer warmth.

Mark and I arrived to what appeared to be 3.7 to 4.2 conditions. George was already on the water tearing it up on the new Naish Global Wave S 78 and his Sailworks Revo 4.2. He was making it look good. We began our rigging frenzy.

2015 Naish Force Three 4.1

Having never sailed a three batten modern sail before I was excited to get the new Naish Force Three on the water. On the beach there were some slight wrinkles in the single Dacron luff panel that our Naish rep explained were necessary and would disappear on the water as the sail took shape. The Cross Batten certainly caught my eye as I was outhauling the tail edge of the batten is literally inches above the outhaul eyelet. This cross batten concept is thought to help increase power and give the sail a balanced feel. I was ready to find out.

Naish Force 3 at Big Winds

Naish Force 3

The walk down to the water was a pleasant one due to the light weight of the Force Three and the extra pair of flip flops Mark loaned me to negotiate the razor like Rowena Rocks. On the water the first thing I noticed was an incredible amount of low end power. This sail could PULL. I had it rigged fairly full but still never expected the amazing amount of grunt. Up and planing the sail had a very light feel which was especially evident during transitions. The sail was a pleasure to rotate and handle. I didn’t feel completely “dialed in” especially when pointing upwind during gusts and the sail could have probably used a little more outhaul. I would have loved to play around with the adjustments a little but that will have to wait for another day as it was time to try another sail — tough job but somebody has to do it!

— Matt Morrow
Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com