Rocked the new 5′ 11″ Trigger. Loved it! Besides being great on the waves, the board is super fast and points ridiculously well. The skillet out points the S-quad and the Trigger way out points the Skillet. Pretty cool when point sailing. Lots of rides!!! The board is extra sensitive to foot placement which is great once you get it. It will make any kind of turn you want. I also dig the extra nose flip. The waves were really steep and pitching and I swear, that extra kick saved my butt on several big drops. Cant wait to get on it again. – Randy
Went to A-town yesterday evening and rode the 2013 Skillet in perfect 7m conditions. 28 mph tight fan like wind and super smooth, steep swell. I loved the old Skillet but the new one is soooooooooo much better. It is so much faster and smoother. For some reason you can sheet in and blast over and through anything at mach speed. It also has way more bite when ripping turns and the flat/concave deck makes it feel like you are 3 times more connected to the board. It is leaps and bounds better than the old skillet which was an amazing board. This is definitely the money board for the Gorge, or for that matter, anywhere!!! Although the board is stiff, it does not ride stiff, in fact it rides buttery smooth. It rocks!
The moral of the story is, Big Winds should really focus on that board for the Gorge. The Skillit makes taking it to the next level of strapless riding much, much easier. It is really and amazing board. I think you will sell lots of them.
Here in the Gorge, we are fortunate enough to see and test the newest gear to hit the market. The 2013 Switchblade has been highly anticipated due to the improvements in turning speed and bar pressure. Pumping the 2013 Cabrinha kites is a cinch with the new Airlock allowing for a higher volume of air to pass through the one way valve. It doesn’t require an adapter either, and attaches directly onto the valve. The ultra durable dacron frame is noticeably stiff and ridged right out of the bag, helping lock in the kite’s intended shape.
The 2013 Switchblade has a bit of a wider looking wingtip, which probably helps in the faster turning speed (quite noticeable in the bigger sizes). This probably adds to the improved relaunch too! Once in flight, I noticed how much lighter the bar pressure was from the previous models. Out of the bag, the Switchblade is set on the “lighter steering impulse” setting. If you want heavier pressure in the bar, there is a slight adjustment on the trailing edge bridle (shift the bridle from A to B).
One more huge improvement is on the 2013 Quicklink Control System. First off, the quick-release has been improved for reconnecting on the water. To reconnect, you push the quick-release up until it catches on the hook (new for 2013). The new flying lines are thick, like cables! They have an improved finish reducing stretch over time, and making running out the lines easier.
The 2013 Switchblade works in a wide range of conditions, making it a very versatile kite. We have had a chance now to fly the new 5m (28-38 mph), the 7m, 8m, and 9m.
New for the ladies this year is the Switchblade offered in the Siren collection (sizes 6/8/10/12). The Siren colorway was inspired by the ever talented Suzi Mai. The Siren Quicklink Bar has a longer, easy to reach trim adjuster, and smaller harness loop. This makes reaching maximum depower much easier for the ladies!
The Inaugural Positively Kai Grom SUP is this Friday, August 17th in Hood River, Oregon. More than just a Grom (Kids) SUP race, the Positively Kai Grom SUP is an invitation to try out stand up paddle boarding in a fun environment. It is with this in mind that the event has added a SUP clinic/instructional with Kai and the Naish Pro Team first thing in the morning, immediately following registration.
The instructional is open for both kids that are registering to race or just there for a day of fun. The instructional clinic is for the very beginner all the way up to the advanced paddler wanting to improve their technique. Don’t have your own setup? No problem, Naish will be providing a range of boards and paddles to try out.
All minors under 18 will need a parent or legal guardian to sign their waiver.
Come one, come all! Let’s have some fun!
8:00am-9:00am Registration/sign in
8:30am-9:30am Paddling Clinic with the Pros
10:00am – Event Kick Off – Race Starting
12:30pm – Free Pizza Lunch
Award Ceremony Post Event
Heidi Chappel is a staple for Big Winds’ teaching program. She’s been with us for 16 years (at least!), and has given countless women the skills to sail with confidence at our annual women’s clinics. The next session is August 9-10; call or email to get signed up for these fun and effective clinics.
- ph: 888-509-4210
- e: email@example.com
How long have you taught windsurfing?
[Heidi] A long time! I’ve been teaching for Big Winds 16 years or so.
Do you have a teaching philosophy, or windsurfing philosophy, that drives these clinics?
I LOVE windsurfing! It’s the absolute greatest sport in the world! We want to bring more women into windsurfing and make it more accessible by showing them how much fun they can have on the water. We want them to see that it doesn’t have to be complicated and hard!
What is the daily schedule like during the women’s clinics? A full day of sailing seems long and tiring! How do you break it up?
The beauty of an all-day clinic is just that- it’s all day! That means we get to take advantage of the entire day’s wind and if the wind takes a break, we do, too! We spend as much time on the water as we can, and typically we have at least one instructor on the water and one on land so if you need a break from windsurfing, one of our isntructors is there on land to answer questions, give rig tuning advice, or teach a land lesson.
It’s a big day, but you’ll be happy-tired by the end!
What kind of skills can women expect to take away from these clinics?
We ask that participants have a bomb-proof waterstart so we are free to travel to whichever beach is likely to get the best wind for the day. Our clinics are tailored specifically to the individual skill level of participants. We can help you get into your harness and footstrapts to sail safely across the river, or we can help you smooth our your jibe so you’re not falling in every time you want to turn around. After our clinics you’ll know how to rig and tune your own sail, you’ll understand the importance of “calf-awareness,” and you’ll confidently “pet-the-puppy” to improve your stance!
What beach is the clinic at?
The beach we choose is dependent on wind. We pick it the morning of the clinic and make sure it’s suitable for all participants.
Come windsurf with us! Not only will you improve your windsurfing skills, but you’ll meet some cool women who absolutely LOVE this sport!
Thanks to all of you who participated in the “June Free Tuesday” Ladies Stand Up Paddle Nights. I hope to be able to offer a few more surprise sessions, but as of right now I don’t have any specific dates planned. Please stay tuned, if the opportunity arises I will fire out an email to invite you. Summer is now in full swing at Big Winds, and our event calendar is filling up!
For those of you with your own boards, let’s continue to paddle on Tuesdays. This is not sponsored by the shop, so you will need to have all of your own gear. I would like to continue to meet at the Event Site at 5:30, and we will make a plan depending on the weather. I love to paddle around Wells Island, up the White Salmon, over to Bingen or to Koberg. If it is windy we can take some field trips to do downwinders, (super fun). Let me know if you are interested, by emailing me here at the shop: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hopefully you have all enjoyed your introduction to Stand Up, and continue on to stay involved and enjoy this great sport. We have some incredible deals in the shop on boards, paddles and everything else you need to enjoy SUPing, to be safe and legal. Our Event Site Beach Center is open 11-6 daily and is stocked with over 30 SUPs for rent. We also offer a 5X punch card for 5 2-hour rental sessions for $145. That’s a $30 savings.
We will continue to have some Advanced Clinics for you who are interested in taking your paddling to the next level. The women who participated in Steve’s clinics in June were super stoked on the results of their efforts. Please let me know via email if you’d like to be on this list for more information.
Have a great 4th of July and I hope to see you on the water!
Back when waterstarting was considered a freestyle maneuver and chest harnesses were worn over neon wetsuits, Big Winds set up shop in Hood River, Oregon. 25 years later, we’re still here and having as much fun as ever!
[Steve Gates] Hood River was a pretty sleepy town in the spring of ’87. The recession had hit rural Oregon hard and things were pretty dormant economically. Safeway was still downtown, Franz Hardware still anchored 2nd and Oak and The Coffee Spot was the place for good coffee. The locals were generally friendly, but a bit suspicious of the “Boardheads” moving into town.
When summer hit, so did the windsurfers. This was before everyone had a van, so the boards were stacked to the sky. And they were everywhere. Windsurfing was THE thing then. Kiting didn’t exist, mountain biking wasn’t happening yet and whitewater wasn’t really on the radar yet…it was all windsurfing, and windsurfing was going off!
Why did you want to start Big Winds? And why did you choose Hood River for its stomping ground?
My wife, Ginny, and I had been living in Girdwood Alaska for 15 years and were thinking of a move, we just didn’t know where. We had looked at the central coast of Cal and some small towns in the mountains of Colorado, but nothing had really grabbed us. I was a building contractor and my back was tired from having a tool belt on 7 days a week. We were ready for a change.
I caught wind that a friend was thinking of opening a windsurfing shop in the Gorge. Several friends and I had gotten totally hooked on windsurfing on trips to Maui several years earlier, so we had heard and read all about the Gorge. Ginny and I talked it over, and within about 5 minutes decided that I should chat with my friend. The rest, as they say, is history. We struck a deal, became partners, and we moved lock stock and barrel to Hood River, sight unseen.
How did being a new dad reconcile with opening shop? What were some challenges you encountered with both endeavors unfolding concurrently?
My daughters were 2 and 6 when we moved so they adapted easily. Fortunately, Ginny and I made a lot of friends quickly, so the fact that I was totally consumed by the new business wasn’t a disaster on the home front. Though I was working a ton, I was still staying really involved with the kids, primarily through sports. That continues to this day. I’m super lucky to be able to windsurf, ski, surf, bike, hike, and play tennis with my “kids”.
What are some highlights from the past 25 years for you and for Big Winds?
The highlights certainly revolve around all the great people I’ve had the good fortune to meet and call friends. We’ve been incredibly lucky to have so many great customers who have supported us over the years. Without them, the rest would be moot.
We have so many great folks working in our industries, as well. My mantra is that I want to do business with people who are fun and easy to business with.
The area that I’m most proud of is the opportunity I’ve had to mentor so many young people that have worked with us at Big Winds. It’s tremendously satisfying to watch kids grow in confidence and mature into really neat young adults and know that we have played an integral role in that process.
Is the shop today where you imagined it would be?
It’s way, way beyond where I imagined it could be.
Paint us a picture of Big Winds in 2036- 25 years from now. What do you think the wind sport scene will be like, and where do you see Big Winds fitting in?
I certainly see Big Winds still active and vibrant 25 years down the road. We’re definitely in it for the long haul. Though I won’t be at the helm, it’s my expectation that it will continue to be a well-run, successful business.
If the last gazillion years are any indication, the Gorge will still be windy. I do believe that windsurfing will still be a popular sport, as will kiteboarding and SUP. Hood River will continue to be a favorite destination for these sports, it’s natural beauty mostly preserved for generations to come.
The future looks quite good, really.
Here’s a scan of an old film shot of David Ambrose kiteboarding in 1998 in La Ventana, BCS, Mexico. This is really dates him as a pioneer in kiteboarding. Note the gear: 2 line Wipika Classic 5.0, and a Timpone tow in surf board! There are no other kiters out because there were no others there at the time. This is back when Baja Joe’s was a windsurfing resort.