Kiwanda Wonder: From the Inn

pc-feetfireI spent 52 years of my life in South Florida where I equated a “beach day” with sunshine, temperatures above 70 degrees and a bathing suit with sunscreen slopped on generously. For the past dozen years the Oregon coast has introduced an entirely new and amazing meaning to “a day at the beach.” Nowhere is it more wonderful than at what has become “My Little Beach Town” like it has for so many others. We took a late September long weekend at the Inn at Cape Kiwanda recently and were greeted by weather that – at one time – would have encouraged me to be indoors. Not now!

Overcast skies only served to bring us all a bit closer – to our toasty beach fires.  The wind was barely moving the colorful kites streaming along behind flocks of kids using barefoot running for wind-power – fueled by giggles and glee. A toddling towhead decked out in cozy fleece danced close to the waves adding a glisten to the low-tide sand while his watchful dad put finishing touches on the sand castle. Two sprightly seniors were sipping coffee mid afternoon as the tide began to switch from low to high. As the glassy waves built into more organized sets, they hopped up, donned their wet-suits and headed out for a standup surf session.  I have to admit – the two seniors were me and Ed.pc-sept-surf

It was so much fun catching wave after wave, even though the rides were short that afternoon, the waves were glassy goodness over and over again.  We came ashore and back to our room (and the toasty fireplace) in time to shower and dress for the 5:30-6:30 Friday night wine and cheese sampling party in the lobby of the Inn at Cape Kiwanda. This week’s end ritual begins with few people knowing each other – but soon conversation is lively. We took turns checking out the birds on the haystack with the telescope in the lobby.  As we snacked on fruit and cheese we recalled the day’s fun – how many hiked up the dune and took photos of the awesome view. Those who hadn’t quickly made plans for the next day.  As the hour wound down a few of us lingered by the fireplace while others made plans to meet for dinner at the Pelican Pub.

pc-beachcarSaturday morning dawned a bit foggy with the haystack rock rising ghost-like out of a low bank of cloud.  Again, it was no time to remain indoors and miss the wonder. As we walked across the parking lot of the Pelican Pub we had to look twice at what we were seeing. A lone guy was standing mid-way between the waves and the dunes doing – something? The air between him and the fog was all glimmering with light refracted somehow into rainbows in the shape of a sphere. Holy cow! He had a bucket of soap and a huge bubble blowing wand. He’d dip the wand into the bucket, hold it high and allow the light morning breeze to billow out bubbles nearly 4 feet in diameter. They would bounce and dance for a bit then disappear in a poof.

pc-3horsesIn a light drizzle that was mixed with peeks of sunshine in the blue windows between the clouds we took our coffee out to the beach for our walk down to watch the dory boats launch for their early morning catch. After a hike up the dune at Cape Kiwanda we began to make our way back to enjoy breakfast on our balcony.  As we were strolling back, the muted hoof beats of a group of horses caught our attention, just in time to snap another photo of what makes Pacific City beach wonderful in every sort of weather. Don’t miss it!

The Inn at Cape Kiwanda

The Inn at Cape Kiwanda

SUP Professionals: Amazing Leaders

For Immediate Release

September 7, 2013

SUP water athletes are pioneers in a young sport that’s growing exponentially each year. Almost anyone of any ability level or age can find success and SUP adventure on almost any body of water.  Over the past decade standup paddling, surfing, exploring and racing has grown from unknown to a sport followed by millions. Leading the culture, training, story and growth of the sport are a handful of elite athletes.  Some of these men and women have been nominated for the 2013 SUP Awards. The categories you can vote for between now and September 11 are:  Top 3 Male Paddlers, Top 3 Female Paddlers, Movie of the Year, Top Philanthropic Effort and Top Expedition.

Connor Baxter #1 SUP Male Athlete 2012

Connor Baxter #1 SUP Male Athlete 2012

Candice Appleby #1 Female SUP Athlete 2012

Candice Appleby #1 Female SUP Athlete 2012

Take a look at the nominees and explore the bio of each – SUP is fortunate to have a field of leaders this deep and diverse.  Examples of leadership include addressing issues around racing, professional compensation and equality in the sport. Take a look at the discussion and insights from one group of female athletes that took place during the Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge in Hood River, OR.

Over the years Elder SUP has showcased a number of the nominated athletes.  After you check out the field at you may want to learn more by checking out the articles.

Connor Baxter and his inspiring slogan, “Always have fun and never give up.” Connor Baxter was awarded #1 Male SUP Athlete in 2012 (video here)
Candice Appleby – Candice Appleby was awarded #1 Female SUP Athlete in 2012 (video here)

Karen Wrenn
Suzie Cooney
Chuck Patterson
Jenn J. Lee

The list is above is just the tip of the iceberg – do yourself a favor and read the online bios of the athletes leading our sport. Then take the time to let your voice be part of the decision.

SPONSORS of the 2013 SUP Awards

SUP Insights: Dave Chun & Aha!

coursestartPrepping for the Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge a few weeks ago the goal was to increase my speed over a 5 mile distance. Little did I realize how insane the upwind legs of the Sunday course race would be – 4 gnarly laps!  The training I did was adequate – but the level of fatigue I had over the next week pretty much let me know that I pushed my limits endurance-wise.  Even with the great advice shared by Candice Appleby before the race, I knew I wasn’t getting every ounce of speed or power from the efforts of my paddle strokes.

It wasn’t until I got back home and went out for a training session that the most valuable insight of my weekend at the Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge really hit home.  I had been hanging out with a group of people all chatting in the KIALOA Paddles tent before the awards on Saturday.  A few strong looking paddlers from Vancouver were asking Dave Chun about which paddle to add to their KIALOA quiver,  As it usually does with Dave Chun, conversations about paddles tend to morph into conversations about design and technique.  He’s so passionate and knowledgeable about every aspect of his life’s work he simply can’t help it.  dave-design

The guys were skilled at both outrigger paddling and standup. So in the explanation, Dave was comparing and contrasting body position, stroke and technique. Always eager to learn more I listened like a fly on the wall.  It seemed that recently I’d honed my reach and blade entry into the water, but there was always room to refine things even more. All the phases of the stroke have to work together smoothly for the stroke to be efficient and without good reach and catch, the stroke won’t be effective.

Dave was explaining aspects of the “catch.” The “catch” is the point where the blade is fully buried and locked onto the water. It is natural  that the stroke begin as you begin to put the paddle into the water. You will naturally begin to pull on the paddle and begin to apply pressure to the water with the blade, even before the blade is fully buried. SO, it is important to “bury the blade” relatively quickly. The paddle should not “float” down to the water. Reach and drive the paddle into the water and make the catch  as far in front of you as possible. Since ALL of the stroke is in front, and never behind your body, the more in front of you that the paddle gets fully buried and makes the “catch” the longer stroke you will have!

While I don’t always execute the reach and set-up, followed by a great catch, I had heard this before.  What I never “heard” before was a key bit of information.  Dave explained that a mistake that’s sometimes made is to begin pulling the paddle back or attempting to begin to drive the board forward before the catch has been completed. It’s a brief second of time, but important to fully execute the catch before moving through the paddle stroke. The focus should be on entering the water smoothly and quickly with the paddle edge slicing into the water cleanly, creating minimal turbulence. Once the blade is fully submerged and “planted” it’s time to apply the power. If you start pulling too soon, the blade tends to cavitate (air bubbles form along edges of blade) and will slip through the water instead of holding.

Planting the paddle: That was something I never thought about – and probably rarely did. So eager to turn over another stroke, I did a reach-catch-pull without getting that minute time period of allowing the blade to “plant.”

catchPaddling in wind, paddling currents upstream and down all make it difficult to really determine the impact on speed or efficiency that a single change might deliver.  Yesterday as I did my 60 minute training session I picked a section of the river that would be somewhat consistent over the hour. Wearing a heart rate monitor I did 1-mile loops up and down stream. The miles flew by, maybe because so much concentration was going into refining that catch and “plant.” In any event some things were both cool and surprising.

My average time per mile was about 25 seconds faster. My heart rate per minute was 5-8 beats per minute slower. That led to a perceived exertion that was less – while going faster. My limitation when racing is usually central (my heart rate rockets off the chart) before my muscles beg for relief.  This was fun!  Our sport can keep us refining skills and learning constantly – and that’s just one more thing to get us back on the water working hard again and again and again.