SUP Stoke: Connected Glides

Down wind runs! As a surfer from waaaay back in the 60’s and a sailor for many decades since, I don’t think I appreciated the extraordinary stoke that downwind runs provide.

Maybe the lack of enthusiasm for downwinders came from me being on the wrong board. I did my first downwinders on Odell Lake in Central Oregon on a surfboard. One year I was “Queen of the Lake” in first place and the next year I was dead last with the “sightseer” award. Neither time was anything other than a paddle-paddle-paddle workout. Glides were not a part of the game.

We connected with the ease of the Naish 14 Glide

We connected with the ease of the Naish 14 Glide

Then my husband and I headed to Maui for a vacation and we had the great fortune to rent a Naish 14′ Glide for a “fun-run” at the Olukai Ho’olaule’a from the youth center in Paia to Kanaha Beach Park. Talk about a dramatic change. We had so much fun that we spent the next year prepping for the 2013 event.  During our visit to Maui in May 2013 we met Jeremy Riggs who coaches paddlers on skills they need to enjoy downwinders and – GO FAST! It was great news to hear that Jeremy would be in Oregon doing a clinic at BigWinds – a wind-charged downwind from Viento to the Hood River event center 8 miles upstream/down wind.

We planned our trip and drove the three hours to Hood River, OR. Little did we know that city is practically NAISH CITY USA!


The best thing you can have during a downwind run is – WIND! We got that in spades. Sunday dawned with 25-30+ mph winds with hearty gusts far exceeding that. The waves were consistent and thigh to mid-chest high. GULP! We got just what we wanted and it was a bit intimidating.

Jeremy gave us a 90 minute clinic back at the BigWinds event center and the take-away was BRACE! Yes, if I learned nothing else I learned the value of bracing:

  • When the nose dives and you don’t know where it will pop up
  • When a side chop threatens to take you out at the ankles
  • When you need to balance during a glide then paddle-paddle-paddle fast for the next glide – and the next

At mile 6 we grouped together and prepared for the final 2 miles past the Hatchery and the kiteboarders, to the finish.  I didn’t know what I was in for at that moment. Something came together. The thigh-high bumps seemed to invite connection. i was getting 2 and 3 in a row. As the bow of the Naish 14 Glide dipped under from time to time I simply reached back with my KIALOA Hulu Ultralight and maneuvered a quick brace.  In seconds, the nose would pop out and it would be 2-3 paddles and another connected glide on the Naish Glide.  Yes, STOKED was the word of the day.
Watch it all here:

SUP Jazzed: Mighty Columbia River Gorge

A short 10 months ago I hopped on my 11’3″ surfboard (too scared to use the Naish 14′ Glide recommended by cool Steve Gates) and launched into 30+ mph winds and screaming river waves.  It was my first foray into the Columbia River and my first real down winder. Jazzed is an understatement, hooked on the stoke became the reality.

Judy and Ed loving life on a down-current glassy Columbia Gorge paddle

Judy and Ed loving life on a down-current glassy Columbia Gorge paddle

If I knew then what I know now, I would have totally paddled the Naish 14′ Glide – holy cow what a ride!

We recently survived one of the strangest down-wind Maliko runs (no wind, huge swell and confused chop) at the Olukai Ho’olaulea. The glides we got were awesome fun and only got us more hooked. We were in Hood River, Oregon for a clinic by Jeremy Riggs hosted by Steve Gates at BigWinds. Saturday dawned glassy so we did the “cocktail cruise” from Mosier to the Hood River event center. We took the BigWinds shuttle and had an absolute party for the sense as we cruised the 8 mile section.  In anticipation for the huge wind predicted for Sunday, we practiced some tail turns (splash!!!) and bracing. (anticipating Sunday’s clinic with Jeremy Riggs)

The Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge of 2012 was an amazing gathering or elite watermen and women, well-coached youth paddlers and every sort of talent in-between.  Clinics were provided, experts were available and safety crews on jet skis created a terrific event from start to finish.  There were well-attended clinics by Naish team rider, Karen Wrenn and great support and fun for all! The grom clinic given by Kai Lenny was one example of the positive attitude and easy manner of teaching while sharing expertise that Kai enjoys. (Be sure to catch the new GQ trailer featuring Naish team rider, Kai Lenny – well done!)

Hood River - be there and look for Elder SUP - can't wait to meet you

Hood River – be there and look for Elder SUP – can’t wait to meet you

There’s no question where we’ll be the weekend of August 17-18, 2013. We’ll be at Hood River with hundreds of others all praying for wind.  When you think of the Columbia River Gorge you probably picture trees bending and whitecaps boiling from the consistent winds generated by conditions at the river’s mouth near Astoria, OR.  For paddlers of all skill levels, there is something for everyone. You might just come upon the Gorge on one of its quieter days.

If you do, simply head over to BigWinds, talk to Jason or Steve and get yourself a Naish Glide. Windy or glassy, you are in for a sensory celebration.

Summer Sun: SUP Performance Wear

Midway through a 12 mile paddle in my Sweet Waterwear paddling top and compression pants

January warm in my Sweet Waterwear paddling top and compression pants

As temperatures rise we slap on the sunscreen and savor summer SUP fun.  As the paddles get longer, as your skills drive the quest for more adventures, more exploring, more down-wind wildness there’s another key item to consider – performance paddling gear. It’s not just a cozy layer to keep the chill off – the right gear makes all the difference as we push our endurance, challenge our muscles and work our joints.

The first thing we did was to check out the Naish 14′ Glides we’d be using all weekend.  Steve Gates and Jason at Big Winds took great care of us.  Hood River (Oregon) looks like Naish Central whether it’s SUP, windsurfing or kite-boarding. naish2naish-flga

We enjoyed a clinic by Jeremy Riggs of Maui as part of the fun provided by Big Winds in Hood River, Oregon. On Saturday the wind was a rare serene breeze allowing us to do a glassy down current run from Mosier back to the Hood River event center. Sunday roared in with steady 25 mph winds cranking up the Columbia River Gorge spiced with gusts of 30 mph or more.  The river provided sweet glides, a good bit of chaos with side chop and sets that encouraged us to try connecting glides and soaring.  It was epic for all 25 of us!

Candice Appleby shows us how it's done!

Candice Appleby shows us how it’s done!

Hauling my drippy self onto my board again and again was an effort. Instead of being chilly, as the wind quickly dried my Sweet Waterwear performance top I warmed up easily.  After the race while we chatted and enjoyed a local “cold beverage” my legs felt hugged and cared for in my Pro Elite Performance Tights.

We love to look toward our favorite elite water athletes for tips on gear and training – it just makes good sense to notice what they’re wearing for enhanced performance.  In the video below the silver arms of my performance top is just the half of the cool fuschia I love!

Saturday: Glassy Goodness ( see video here)

Sunday: Epic Columbia River Downwind

SUP Endurance: Karen Wrenn Rocks

In a few short weeks SUP endurance athletes will gather for a cause at the 100 Mile Paddle, the ultimate adventure paddle & race for teams and elite paddlers.

100mile3This two day adventure paddle will start 75 miles north of NYC and follow the Hudson River to a breathtaking loop around Manhattan. It’s not surprising that KIALOA Paddles team rider, Karen Wrenn will be there paddling strong and raising funds for causes she cares about. The goal of the event is to raise awareness and funding for Autism Charities and Clean Water Initiatives.

As cool as the event sounds, it is not for the un-prepared.  Training for an endurance event of this sort is almost as grueling as training to, let’s see, climb Mt Everest.  The point is that the athletes able to solo a 100-mile paddle have demonstrated discipline, commitment and focus in their training.  So, what about us mere mortals who might want to do a crossing, paddle 30-40 miles or simply prep for race season?

Karen Wrenn training with friends

Karen Wrenn training with friends

If you take a page out of Karen’s book you’ll add a key ingredient – have fun training.  If you follow Karen’s blog or LIKE her on Facebook you’ll discover how she keeps the stoke going.  You’ll see her on one of her quiver of NAISH SUP boards almost every day.  All work and no play is definitely not her style. A busy mom, Karen adds family fun to time on the water for a terrific win-win experience. wrenn-100

Whether on the flatwaters of an Oregon lake, the often gnarly surf on the Pacific coast or fighting upstream currents (and dodging freighters) on the Columbia River, Karen is putting her time in to prepare well for the 100 Mile Paddle.

Another NAISH SUP team rider, Suzie Cooney, CPT, has shared some endurance training ideas that any of us can use.  She is excellent at breaking down each aspect of strength and endurance required for your best SUP experience. According to Suzie, “You already know that balance is a huge part of being a good paddler but so is leg strength.  It’s much easier to train the larger muscle groups such as the glutes, quads, hamstrings and calve muscles, but what about the tine supportive muscles around the ankle joint, knees and hips?  They are often under trained and overlooked.”

I couldn’t agree more. I read Suzie’s article and have added her suggestions to my weekly training routine – with surprising results. I look forward to hearing your comments.

wrenn-naishboard1Maybe we won’t charge the Maliko run like Suzie Cooney or raise funds for great causes via a 100 mile endurance race like Karen Wrenn – but we can grab our best endurance ability with gusto – and a grin!

You can follow Karen Wrenn on Twitter.

Summer SUP: Hosmer Lake, OR

Summer time and lakes, go together like picnic and burgers, beer and brats, families and fun!

sarongjudy2A drive from Bend OR can provide access to hundreds of idyllic lakes in under an hour. Weirdly, Bend is located in the high desert but the influence of paddling culture and passion is alive and well. Just last Saturday Ed and I put our boards in at Lake Hosmer for a leisurely paddle.  Winds were light and the sun sparkled the gin clear water as trout and (yes) Atlantic Salmon darted underfoot.  We had heard our favorite, Bill Keale, performing just the night before. There seemed like no better song to to accompany the astounding footage of Lake Hosmer than Bill’s ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow/It’s a Wonderful World,” from his CD, BY REQUEST.

Take a 3-minute tour of one of our favorite high Cascades lakes.

Connor Baxter Wins the Oleron

Connor Baxter battles a strong field to win the Oleron World Series in France - June 2013

Connor Baxter battles a strong field to win the Oleron World Series in France – June 2013

The June 2013  Oleron Stand Up Paddle Challenge opened the European leg of the Stand Up World Series on the beautiful Oleron Island.   Featuring one of the most stunning and challenging long distance courses combined with the exciting World Series Sprint Racing, Oleron Island is always an exciting stop for the 2013 Stand Up World Series.

This World Series event featured the world’s very best athletes, from Ratings leader Connor Baxter (Starboard), Kai Lenny (Naish), Jamie Mitchell, Beau O’Brian (Starboard) and Paul Jackson (Fanatic), to Europe’s leading lights Casper Steinfath (Naish), Leonard Nika (Starboard) and Bart de Swart (Starboard), the Oleron Stand Up Paddle Challenge will provide the ideal platform for competitive stand up paddle-racing.

The second stop of the 2013 European leg of the Stand Up World Series was the Bilbao World SUP Challenge, held in the Basque country of Spain. The Bilbao World SUP Challenge inspired the world’s best paddlers to the City to battle it out for the $20,000 prize-purse and all important ranking points on the Stand Up World Series. After breathtaking performances and close finishes throughout the series, Connor Baxter came out on top giving him a 100% winning record this year!

Connor Baxter surging his Starboard to speed - photo by Michael Terrien

Connor Baxter surging his Starboard to speed – photo by Michael Terrien

June 10, 2013: In the words of Connor Baxter after paddling to his third straight win in the World Series Stop 3 for the World Series in Oleron, ” France was an amazing event. This was a two-day event and like always we had both a long distance and sprint races.”

A last-minute storm just before the start of the distance race created a change in the course distance from 30 km to 6.5 km due to heavy winds. The beach start in the storm conditions caused some chaos for the athletes.  By the time the leaders arrived at the first buoy, Connor Baxter held the lead with Kai Lenny pushing a close second. He was followed by Casper Steinfath, Leonardo Nika and the rest of the elite field.

A bevy of spectator and filming boats created side chop and added to the difficult conditions. At a crucial moment one random choppy wave hit Connor and cause him to fall of the board. A quick scramble back and he was paddling hard, but the interruption gave Kai the break he needed to capture and hold the lead.

Day two of the series brought better, though cool, weather and a field of athletes raring to go in the sprints. As the heats progressed toward the final field, it was apparent that the competition was still strong. The heat was stacked with the world’s fastest racers all trained and ready to excel.   

Along with Connor Baxter,  Eric Terrien , Kai Lenny, Casper Steinfath, Jake Jensen, Leonardo Nika, Chase Kosterlitz, and Beau O’Brian were ready to sprint from the start.

From the moment of “GO!” in that final heat, Connor sprinted off the beach, into the water and didn’t look back. His fellow Starboard teammate Beau O’Brian was right beside Connor all the way to the first buoy. In spite of a fall at the second buoy, Connor had a good distance in front of second place.

With two more buoys to go, Connor’s strategy was simple,  “I just kept my head down and my paddling on full throttle. I pretty much had it in the bag after I turned the third buoy and the last buoy but I didn’t let up – just in case. I caught a bunch of little swells on the way in and secured my first place.”

Casper Steinfath came in second then Connor’s  Starboard teammate Beau O’Brian in third. It was a sweet win for Baxter who stayed focused and positive in spite of battling health issues just last year. The grin on his face said it all. This is a waterman whose heart and passion for what he does inspires us all. Find Connor Baxter, water athlete, on Facebook.