Wind, Water, Waves – and Customer Care

Wind, water, waves – and the companies that make or sell the goods that get us out there. This is a story about a hat!

I write a lot about about Starboard founded in 1994 by Svein Rasmussen. Why not when this is their vision (and they walk the talk globally): Bringing innovation, quality and inspiration to the world of wind and water. Together with riders and partners around the world, Starboard and Tiki strive to be the best in the world and FOR the world. (You can be part of this by joining the Tiki Challenge or by earning yourself some Blue Tiki – a social token currency

I am so stoked with my 4 in 1 wingboard and my Freewing AIR V2 that I am constantly watching Starboard videos to learn more, and reading articles about the adventures of the Freewing Dream team. It’s always fun to feel part of your favorite brand “team,” right? That feeling got me started looking for a a Freewing hat. Well, gear was not so easy to come by (and I hear that might be changing) but right then I was having a challenge locating a hat.

I decided to contact Big Winds (online everywhere and brick and mortar in Hood River) – home for everything windsurf, SUP, kite, wing and foil. Using the CONTACT form online I inquired about obtaining Freewing branded hat. Like always, I got a response that same day. They didn’t have such a thing in stock but they would check around. I had mentally given up on the hat when a few days later I got another email.

Now I am, by far, probably their smallest customer. In spite of that, Bruce had made the effort to search out a leftover Freewing hat that had been left at the shop by a Starboard rep. Just yesterday it arrived at my house! Can you say “customer for life?” Absolutely. Because a retailer that goes above and beyond for each and every customer does that for a reason. The team at Big Winds is ultra passionate about their water sports – and it translates to every team member at the shop and online.

Get to know Big Winds – on their blog and on Facebook! Feel a part of the team.

Wind is Wonderful

There has always been something magical about paddling my SUP on a glassy lake or river. But ever since I got my Freewing AIR V2 I have been obsessed with my Windy App. If wind is promised in the afternoon I add my paddle to the gear and plan on spending the pre-wind hours having a nice paddle. All the while I’m waiting for those ripples on the water. In Central Oregon the prime time seems to be right about 3 PM. The good news is that even when we are still having 35-45 degree nights, by then the temp has popped up to a balmy 55-70 degrees (at least for next week). Out here it could turn back to winter and even snow through June.

My friend, Dennis, has been sharing some insights on where the local “wingers” go and I have heard they are a friendly bunch. Before arriving in their midst my plan is to get some skills under my belt. So last week when Ed and I headed out to Haystack Reservoir I was determined to get my first water time in spite of the VERY light breeze predicted. And man, was it ever light – and fluky.

The good news – My Starboard 4 in 1 wingboard is perfect for me and I had savored a few amazing moments of feeling the “soar” of the wing. And of course. After about an hour on the water we packed up to head home. The moment we turned on the car – the wind freshened! LOL next time we will wait for it.

There was still plenty for me to learn even off the water. Last week our springtime transitioned into what we call “third winter.” It didn’t snow in late May but it was COLD!!! Fortunately, Starboard has produced a wonderful series of instructional videos with more than enough content to prepare me for my next adventure on the water.

Of course my favorite series is “Zero to Hero” with Starboard Dream Team rider, Zane Schweitzer, aka Zaniac. He has a great way of breaking things down. In fact, he has me convinced that one day this “Elder Wingboarder” could even foil!

Zero to Hero (1-10)

Wind and Wing – Day One

Isn’t it always the way? On these spring days when it’s warm enough for a paddle the wind is blowing like stink – and usually in the face as I travel upstream in the Deschutes River. With a string of windy days locally I planned to take my first “on the ground” practice session in a wide grassy area near the river. How did I prep for that practice? It was very easy because Starboard has created a wide repertoire of how-to videos for both wing boarding and wing foiling. Since my wing boarding experience will begin with the 4 in 1 inflatable (what a versatile board) I made sure I checked out the board as well.

Since I have the 2019 Starboard Inflatable 12’6″ x 30″ Touring Deluxe SUP Windsurfer that can be used for both SUP and windsurfing I had some questions about how the mast foot attaches to the mast track in the Wingboard 4 in 1. The two setups were different.

I was fortunate to contact John Rainnie (North American Sales Manager) with my question. John immediately contacted some members of the Starboard Team and he forwarded the prompt answer from Raul Delgado. The images ABOVE clearly show that for the Wingboard 4 in 1  inflatable, you mount the mast base into the mast box by screwing it in directly without the threaded nut. The images show the inflatable board configuration.

Starboard was founded in 1994 by Svein Rasmussen. It all came from the vision of bringing innovation, quality and inspiration to the world of wind and water. Together with riders and partners around the world, Starboard and Tiki strive to be the best in the world and FOR the world. Unboxing my board for the first time, spreading my Freewing AIR V2 out in my living room, I felt pride in having products from a company with such an unwavering commitment to the Ocean and the environment. Even the bags the board and the wings came in were constructed from recycled plastic bottles.

Back to the learning! In the 5 part Wing Basics video series, Starboard’s instructor, Sam Ross, takes you from zero to hero, starting from the beach to gliding on the water. With tried and tested teaching methods and techniques coupled together with clear visuals from Starboard’s on-water team, the learning experience becomes rewarding, simple, and fun.

I began with Lesson 1: Mastering Wing Basics on the Beach. First I watched the video several times at home and learned all the parts of my Freewing AIR V2. Yesterday afternoon I headed to the river and the perfect place to start practicing. The area was clean – there were no rocks or other things that could harm the Freewing. I had the 4M sail and was ready to GO! Sadly, there was little to no wind. Still, it was fun to inflate the wing, remind myself of all the parts, and to loft it in the gentle breeze. I plan to head back for more tomorrow – the wind is promised to be better!