How old would she be?

I recently saw a very cool photo on the Standup Journal Facebook page. It was “Mom Feet,” Fran – mother of Standup Journal Publisher Clay Feeter. Meet the team here and remember, “The rest of the team is US!” Cool as a cucumber and smiling broadly, Fran looked totally at home paddling at age 82 – and why not? As she says, “Attitude is everything! I still feel like a kid (except for the joints!). I have on my refrigerator a quote from Satchel Paige: ‘How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?’ ” Right on!

Fran dove into motherhood with a surprise bonus of twins. Twin Kurt learned to windsurf early in the day, and got the rest of the family involved, including twin Clay, now publisher of Stand Up Journal. The family became ‘groupies’ in the windsurfing world, going to events in northern California, some organized by Clay and daughter Christi. There we met world renowned windsurfers, and were treated with friendship by all the young people. We never were made to feel like “old codgers”. Daughter Kerry and husband Bob joined in on events and gave them their  first grandchild soon joined by 6 more! I wondered what Fran attributes her young at heart approach to life. She says, “Our four children have been a major part in keeping us mentally young! ”


In the collection of photos (above) it’s hard to miss the smiles all around.  No wonder. You’ve been to the beach where 90% of the crowd takes the beach towel/beach chair route for the day. After a spin on the sea it’s hard not to grin. During the pre-2011 Battle of the Paddle festivities on Molokai Fran enjoyed some time with the competitors – and with Chuck Patterson whose grin voltage is in the Fran range! Fran decided to test out a Naish race board. Really, it’s commonplace for “grandma” to return home from errands, like the grocery store, and ask for help carrying in those heavy groceries. With the confidence and strength from a lifetime of sailing, windsurfing and paddling, Fran easily carried her own board to and from the water, like the true waterwoman she is.

Fran and Bill Feeter at home on Molokai

It’s no surprise that the ocean has been a tremendously significant influence on Fran’s lifestyle and life choices. “I actually got into making windsurfing sails in the very early days before they became so ‘high tech’. When my husband retired from teaching in northern California, I said, ‘Let’s go where the water’s warm’….so we explored the Caribbean (Belize and Virgin Islands), but decided to stay in the U.S. and move to Maui. We were there 3 years, then discovered that we could afford a house on the beach in Molokai.”

“When we moved here in 1991, we kept our sails rigged and hanging in the carport, so we could just grab them and go when the wind and tide was right (we have a fringing reef – the only one in the U.S. – just offshore, so need a foot of tide to clear it). We actually stopped windsurfing about 10 – 12 years ago. We both had knee problems (I had to drop out of hula). Knee replacement has solved that problem, but we had gotten out of the habit of windsurfing. ” True to “that’s the way Fran does it,” she stays active with the hula group helping with costumes these days.

When I asked Fran how she began standup paddling, Fran recalled her first experience five years ago. She had flown into Boston, then drove a rental car to New Hampshire to visit Clay, who lived with Joyce on a beautiful small lake. She recalls, “It was about 5 p.m. when I arrived, but Clay insisted I go out with them on a standup board right away. I put on my swim suit, sure I would immediately fall in. Well – it was an amazing experience! It was getting dusk, and we paddled around a small island in the middle of the lake, picked a few berries. Then continued on up to the end of the lake. On the way back we saw loons swimming along. I had never seen a loon, and it was ‘chicken skin’ to hear them. And amazingly, I didn’t fall in.”


By the way, check out the paddle Fran sports as she’s cruising the crystal clear waters of her favorite inner lagoon these days. The custom and personalized wood inlay paddle was a gift from son, Clay.

At Elder SUP we focus on stories in which people share their connection to the rituals and traditions around the sea and the environment, values and the impact those things have made for them personally. I asked Fran if there any stories she would like to share related to that topic?. “Being in Hawaii means the Ocean is part of your life. I’ve had the chance of sailing on the Hokule’a, the Hawaiian voyaging canoe replica (our neighbor is a regular member of the crew), and have made 3 ‘man overboard’ flags for the vessel. We are also volunteers with the Green Sea Turtle project here in Molokai. We go to Kawa’aloa beach once a week in the summer to see if any nests have been dug. The nest is marked, then when we see the hatching tracks we wait 3 – 5 days then dig the next and count the turtle shells, and rescue any babies that didn’t make it out. Results are sent to George Balazs in Oahu who is in charge of the state program. And of course, walks on the beach are a regular part of my ‘fitness’ program.”

Being outdoors, self-propelled across bodies of water is exhilarating! We have an entire section of our blog dedicated to that SUP Perspective. For anyone reading about the active connection Fran keeps with her local community’s traditions and environmental activities I hope it inspires a local look around. Wherever there is water, wildlife and people there are opportunities to connect and make a difference.

You know, thinking back on Fran’s story of her first day SUPing, I don’t think it would have dampened Fran’s enthusiasm one teeny bit if she had fallen in on that first day. She’s got a zesty sense of humor and easily laughs at herself, taking life with a light spirit.  While the “elder” in Elder SUP refers to tradition and history around the sport we love, the fact that Fran is 82 does make her “elder” in the calendar sense of the word. Because she treasures and honors the sense of family and connection, she’s a true inspiration. Her paddling story has nothing to do with age and everything to do with attitude. I hope to head to Molokai one day soon and take an SUP cruise in her neck of the sea.

SUP Paradise

Writing, creating, developing marketing strategies and such in my “day job” often sends me to the river all foggy-brained.  Recently I made a playlist for a friend heading to the Yukon River Paddle Quest (go Pam and Karen, both age 50 and doing great in the race today). The drive from Oregon to the race was long enough to beg a special road-trip playlist. With that playlist on my iPod I headed to the water on an overcast, windy day a bit cooler than “summer” should be.  The goal, 5 smooth miles in the aerobic zone.

Elder SUP paddling with Coldplay musicReally, how long does it take for the “should be doings” to drop away and the rhythm of paddle strokes, breathing and savoring the energy on the river to take hold. Not long. Rounding a large rock covered with a gaggle of curious geese, iIdid a nice tail turn across the Healy Rapids. Scuffling water swooshed over my standup board, barefeet would have smiled if they could! Whipping into the current and soaring the final mile or so back to the car Coldplay came on with “Paradise.”  The lyrics maybe didn’t fit as much as the pure tones – ahh, my mind took the time to savor the experience.

Loading board and paddle back at the car I was a thoroughly different person a mere 90 minutes later. Access to “walking on water” is available in almost any town where a river, lake, bay or ocean beckon. It’s paradise! Got paddle? Got a board – make your own paradise wherever you are.


Chip Booth: Standup Guy

Chip is not only the owner of StandupPaddle Bend, but he is one community minded all-round standup guy. He and his wife, Lainey, worked long and hard throughout this spring in order to deliver an awesome community event on June 16th, 2012. This was the second annual Bend Paddleboard Challenge – and a challenge it was. As with many local events, sponsorship is a tough aspect of delivering an amazing event. When one key sponsor was unable to p[participate, the Booth family reached deep in both time and financial support to make the event happen.

With the help of our favorite KIALOA paddles, all participants and many others enjoy an amazing luau lunch after the race from Kona Mix Plate. After a morning of sun, fun, paddling and racing it was a welcome way to refuel deliciously.  With vendors from Nayad SwimGym, Standup Paddle Magazine, Progressive Screen Printing and Bend Parks & Rec there was plenty to experience all day long.

For a full list of sponsors please go to the website.

In the water the competition was top-notch. The results carry all the details, but can’t capture the energy, smiles, camaraderie and energy. The MC, Al Paterson, did a great job of keeping all up to date with stories, details and race updates throughout the morning.

Difficult to capture, because of his very humble nature, is the degree of commitment that Chip Booth has for the recipients of this community-connecting fundraising event. So many locals have been working for years for the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance. No less dedicated are those who work for the Deschutes River Conservancy – and many are active for both important river initiatives. In this economy, it’s not so easy to reach deep into our own pockets for causes – even when we believe in them with a passion.  We’re all very busy, and investing weeks on end to a community event can be as challenging – as the long course in the Bend Paddleboard Challenge – maybe more. 

But Chip Booth stayed the course and we appreciate the opportunity to enjoy our favorite sport together with paddlers and spectators right in the heart of our home town. If you enjoy our wonderful Deschutes River recreation and sport environment on any sort of floating, fishing, hiking, or other way, take the time to explore the ways you can help Chip, and all the river-lovers in Central Oregon to make our river environment the best it can be.

Just as Chip is a great person-resource for our hometown, so is the beautiful Deschutes, Go out, play and enjoy!

10 Ways to Win a SUP Race

  1. Warm up before the race. Practice steadily whenever you can and get used to how “enough” feels.  Use a heart rate monitor now and then – so you learn what “enough” for you REALLY feels like.. The day before the race, work out a little and then rest up well. Stretch after you paddle for practice and get used to what “nicely warmed up” feels like. Honor your current ability and fitness. In the recent “fun paddle” part of the Olukai Ho’olaule’a, Suzie Cooney lead a group stretch and warmup before our 3 mile paddle. It got us ready physically and relaxed mentally.
  2. Be chilled out and friendly. Smile, joke and chat with others before the start, noticing who really needs to simply be left alone. There is bound to be a jittery someone you can calm a bit with a few words and a smile.
  3. Keep a steady start. If you get a shaky one you won’t get a good position. Wait a minute here!  If you are reading this article, chances are you will not be gracing the podium and accepting an award (unless you win the raffle prize). Yes, keep a steady start but keep a stead attitude too. Watch confident paddlers at or about your skill level and stay a bit behind them. They will help you learn to judge the local current, winds and start situation.  Do you see the paddler to the far (far far far) left of the photo, the one in the cool blue KIALOA hat? That is me getting confidence and timing from some of the best. YES, that is as close as I got to Karen Wrenn at the 2011 Bend Paddleboard Challenge – except when she lapped me!
  4. Don’t sprint at the beginning of a distance race. This is a waste of energy and it tires you out. Just sprint a bit for a couple of seconds to help you keep in a good position, then just turn your paddle strokes into a rhythm more like a “jog.”  If you have completed the distance that you’ll be
  5. Stay humble. Each person you pass delivers a chance to share a smile and “Go for it!” – if you have the breath (LOL). But keep your self confidence saying ” I can do it”.
  6. In a long distance race keep your hands loose around the paddle shaft. Wiggle your fingers now and then and use a loose grip and focused, strong paddle stroke. Remind yourself of your technique when you feel fatigued, it will bring you back into your best rhythm.
  7. Use your sense of touch. If you get tired during a long distance race or even a sprint, take a moment to breathe and feel. Feel the water on your feet (are you barefoot?) Feel the wind on your face – even if it is blowing stink and making it hard to paddle. Savor the opportunity to be moving yourself through the natural and sometimes wild outdoors.
  8. Use your hearing. Hear the steady lap-lap-lap of the water on and under your paddleboard. Hear your own breathing and monitor it. Hear your own voice humming or singing a tune to keep you in your aerobic zone – that matters in the longer races.
  9. elder sup and eldersup in Clayquot sound vancouver islandUse your sense of sight. After all, our “race courses are usually staged in oceans, bays, lakes and rivers in places most people would love to be. Got polarized sunglasses? See the bottom, see the colors, the rocks and the vegetation along the shore.
  10. Smile!  Your body will love you for the expenditure of energy you allot to a great big grin. Fun and relaxation will join the smile – after all, how many people get to experience the amazing sport of SUP racing. By the way, if you follow these 10 easy steps you WILL be a winner in any SUP race you choose to enter.