Paddle Like a Girl – KIALOA Tiare

There is a description on the KIALOA Paddles website that describes their Tiare adjustable paddle – but it barely begins to describe the unique features of this woman-specific paddle. Just because so many “girl” versions are pink, I chose the blue for my Tiare. Immediately after getting it I hit the water on a blustery late winter day in Oregon.tiare11

The product description states, “Traditional adjustable paddles are male minded.  Not this one. We combined a Slim Shaft™ that fits like a glove, an 80 square inch blade, and our LeverLock® adjustable technology with a range of 66”-82”.  By doing this we’ve created a lightweight paddle that is ergonomically designed for women.  Adjust the height for varying conditions or share it with your friends.”

I went to the water that cold day expecting a nice paddle with my husband, Ed. I was coming off a hard training day (TRX and insane intense yoga) from the day before so I told Ed I would just be enjoying an easy paddle.  As the miles clicked by I found myself enjoying such a solid “catch” with every stroke – true power connection.  On the pull the blade moved through the water with smooth acceleration. I found a quick rhythm that gave me a surprising amount of speed for the rate of perceived exertion (RPE). Ed commented, ‘Thought you were going to do an easy paddle today,” as I zoomed by. mmmm, that had been my plan.

elk-1The next time we went out we had been talking about paddle length for surfing, flatwater, thick race boards vs slim surf boards. Noticing the freeboard on my Starboard Astro Deluxe Touring board, I thought I might add an inch to the length of my Tiare paddle before we headed out, just to compare. Oh, the joy of an adjustable paddle! Yes, great to share with friends but so cool to learn something about my paddle stroke, paddle length and efficiency.

Once again comparing my RPE to speed I was delighted. I moved through the water with ease, both upstream and downstream, into the wind and with a sweet downwind the other way. I knew the Tiare was designed for a woman, but I decided to check with Dave Chun to learn more about the details. Dave designs KIALOA paddles with a lot of research, innovation – and conversations with the target user. In the case of the Tiare and the new Mekana outrigger paddle those conversations took place with women paddlers.

I asked Dave why I might be noticing an increase in speed and a decrease in perceived exertion with the Tiare blade.  Dave explained that even though the Tiare is smaller in square inches, the bottom third (where the catch takes place) is wider. This allows me to really feel and accentuate the catch of my paddle stroke – thus gaining more effective power as the stroke plays out.  In addition, Dave explained that the flex of the blade allows me to “feel” the water more effectively throughout the stroke.tiare-adj-l

Dave shared this in more detail, “I feel a good paddle needs to flex. The flex gives feedback to the paddler, which makes for a more efficient catch and pull. What the blade is doing in the water is important if a paddler wants to continue to develop their technique. I believe stroke technique is a lifelong journey. Many paddlers only think in terms of fitness when training. But, consider how most athletes are trained for their sport. Components of the sport are broken down in to small segments and drilled over and over again. Practicing an inefficient paddling stroke will get you fit, but it will limit the threshold of one’s overall speed.

The stiffness or flexibility of the paddle must be scaled to the strength of the athlete. Generally speaking, men are larger, and thus stronger. The typical woman, cannot “load” a blade or a shaft designed for a man. It is not simply a matter of building a blade with less surface area. The blade, as well as the shaft, must load under a woman’s energy output. 

The Tiare was designed during the tooling/molding phase as a women’s paddle. The rib is narrower and lower in height than the Insanity. It was scaled to a women. On our part it was a commitment to our women’s program. The Tiare mold or “Shorty” as we nicknamed it, will never be used for an all-around or man’s paddle.

During the design phase we decided that a women’s shaft should be less than 28mm. 28mm is the standard diameter of a men’s Olympic weight lifting bar. 25mm is the standard for women. 25mm is pretty small for a paddle shaft. We settled on the 27mm-27.5mm range. Round shafts flex more than oval shaft, dimensions  and material lay-up being equal. Like designing a pair of gender specific blue jeans, we started with a clean slate when we designed the Tiare – for women.”

I gained enormous insight from Dave’s explanation. The circumference of the paddle shaft is just right for holding in the curve of my fingers – in a relaxed grip.  All in all, I am in totally jazzed about having the Tiare adjustable for racing, recreation, traveling and surfing.

Go now – check out the Tiare at KIALOA Paddles. DESCRIPTION: KIALOA is proud to introduce a new paddle designed to give the female paddler the best experience possible. The blade is designed for optimal catch at the front of the stroke and the Slim Shaft™ with plumeria graphics is a visual stunner. But more importantly the carbon wrapped fiberglass shaft fits a smaller hand perfectly with just the right amount of flex. Conventional thought is to shrink and pink a paddle and ladies will buy in, but we created this paddle from the ground up based on your specific feedback. YES! Thank you for that KIALOA Paddles.

Naish ‘Ohana: Hokua Love Part 2

ed-hokua2Is there any way you can stand before the ocean with the newly designed 2015 Naish Hokua and not feel like an absolute rock star? The moment I pulled my 9’5″ Hokua from its box and bubble wrap, I was IN LOVE!

Seriously, the graphics on the bottom are stellar. It’s light, and almost leaps into waves on its own. Well, now I am just babbling. But seriously, I have never (in 65 years) executed a sharp bottom turn on a head-high wave with absolute confidence and ease – until my sweet Hokua came along.  It was early morning and cold on the Oregon coast in late September. betterbottomturn

The waves had been chaotic and huge for the Long Board Classic the day before.  Sunday found us with a nice swell and the wind was resting (before cranking in hard about 10 am). It was delicious fun!

As wonderful as it is to hit the beach in Pacific City, Oregon wearing a 4-5 ML wetsuit and praying for some sort of order in the waves – surfing Maui is a dream.  In mid-December, just as the shoulder season of rain-sleet-snow-rain is settling into Central Oregon, we will fly off for a sweet week on Maui.  Rather than go through the trouble of shipping our boards or releasing their well-being to airline luggage crew, we choose to “Go Local!~”

Naish Maui Pro Center rocks! Simply, if you want the newest and best rental equipment for your SUP surfing on Maui along with local knowledge of where to surf for your abilities and current conditions – check them out.  Ask for Jay, or Coach – or basically any team member.

Kai Lenny scoring some sweet Maui waves and riding Naish all the way

Kai Lenny scoring some sweet Maui waves and riding Naish all the way

If you are like me, you follow the Naish team riders all race and surf season long.  Their podium finishes are matched only by their absolute love of their sport. It seems that the core stoke and aloha of Robbie Naish permeates not only the corporate structure, but every person involved in the “family.”

riggswaterhunting2

Riggs Napoleon shredding at Huntington Beach

We were fortunate to catch the Positively Kai clinic for groms at the 2014 Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge.  All day long Chuck Patterson was in the water, Kai was connecting with the kids on land and on the water. Noa Ginella, Riggs Napoleon and Kody Kerbox never rested for the entire afternoon. (more story here)

This chick is on top of the world with my new Naish  2015 Holua

This chick is on top of the world with my new Naish 2015 Holua

The shape of the Hokua, the awesome graphics, the quality built into every aspect – all good. But there is something else when you step onto a Naish board – the feeling that you are connected. You are part of the Naish ‘ohana. It is no small thing.

 

SUP Lessons from Seat 2

Timing and “The Catch”

That sound when the catch just doesn’t catch, that “gurgle.” Something about that sound screams, “Wrong!”

During standup paddling, as we work on technique, getting the catch solid is a direct driver of our speed and power. While  a great coach and lots of water time can provide improvement, really refining the catch is a long term commitment. In order not to get bad habits, consistent feedback is a must. When I train for standup paddle races and events I do my best to get the stroke right, but what is missing is a constant feedback loop so only my good technique and habits stick.

oc6-1When reach, the power stroke and a hasty return is perfect in timing, the feel and the sound is pure music and synchronicity. While we can practice these parts of the stroke while standup paddling, every aspect of our technique is even more easily analyzed while paddling with your team in an OC-6. A team provides feedback on so many levels: feel, tips and visual cues from others.

I have had the good fortune to paddle in Seat Two behind one of our more experienced team members, Lisa Jakubowski, as she brings us through a practice as stroke in Seat One. We don’t talk while training but recently she mentioned how she was trying to refine her stroke to avoid the “plunks” and “gurgles.” Being so close behind her, mimicking her style and technique, working on timing the best i could, I decided to work to eliminate the gurgle as well.

Focusing on the one thing was amazing. It began with watching her upper arm and shoulder as she moved through her power and return phase. As if we were connected, my upper arm/shoulder attached to hers. I began to get some solid timing, great for seat 4 and 6 to follow.

Next I matched her hip rotation, working to drive with my forward foot and hip at the exact same time that she did.  Mid way through our 10-mile training drills she mentioned, “When I really drive with my hip, rather than over – reaching with my upper body, I actually get an ideal amount of shoulder rotation. That results in a greater reach. I pause that nano-second at the reach then make sure i get a solid catch.” (Here is a great coaching video from KIALOA Paddles ‘Elele Luke Evslin – coaching Lisa Jakubowski. Thanks to Lisa for sharing it)

Lisa gave me a few tips on how to “feel” that perfect moment between momentum and power when the catch can be ideally executed. At that moment the canoe seems to be moving with exquisite smoothness. The paddle matches the speed of the boat. As I began the return with my paddle I gave a gentle punch with my lower arm. This momentum opened my joints  and stretched my muscles.

The energy of following the action of Lisa in front of me and the timing of the entire team in the canoe fed my ability to maintain speed, power and intensity as needed for all 4 laps of our 2.5 loop on the Deschutes River.

Luke Evslin demonstrates the REACH

Luke Evslin demonstrates the REACH

KIALOA Paddles ‘Elele Luke Evslin demonstrates the Catch

 

 

SUP Racing – The Power of Confidence

Confident and ready to do the Olukai Ho'olaule'a with my 12'6" Naish Glide, my KIALOA rash guard and Sweet Waterwear Women's Pro Elite Performance tights

Confident and ready to do the Olukai Ho’olaule’a with my 12’6″ Naish Glide, my KIALOA rash guard and Sweet Waterwear Women’s Pro Elite Performance tights

The unknown – it’s exciting, scary and often avoided. In 2012 while reading a blog post by Suzie Cooney (certified personal trainer – Suzie Trains Maui) I heard about an open ocean, down wind race event. It was the Olukai Ho’olaule’a – and Suzie inspired us to give the 3 mile “fun race” a try.

We were hooked after the fun race (luau, music, sailing on the Olukai sailing canoe and the spirit of aloha) and started training for the 2013 full Olukai Ho’olule’a run from Maliko Gulch to Kanaha Beach Park.suzie fun 2014

The conditions for the 2013 event were the worst(according to many locals) in the five years the event had been run. Winds was light or from wrong directions and the swells were breaking huge on the inner reefs. Deep ocean swells were coming chaotically from  directions that didn’t invite an easy connection of glides.

I was riding the Naish Glide 14′ (27 1/4 inches wide) after a week of practice. It was rocket fast and – for my skills – something I could handle in consistent friendly small swells, but not THAT DAY. Yup, I was in the water a LOT! Just the same the experience was exhilarating and I could hardly wait for the 2014 event. (video here)

Blue hat is me at the N1SCO World Championships in 2013 (Lake Las Vegas)

Blue hat is me at the N1SCO World Championships in 2013 (Lake Las Vegas)

Here’s where confidence made all the difference. Living in Oregon, far from Maui and the type of conditions I selected for my favored racing environment,  many resources allowed me to be fully prepared for absolute fun and my best Maliko run to date. I continued to train with motivation and advice, stories and smiles from Suzie Cooney. The team at Naish Maui Pro Center listened to my adventure with the 14′ race board and helped me select the 12’6″ Naish Glide for this year’s Olukai Ho’olaulea. The video below shows highlights. I was confident, stable and caught dozens upon dozens of swells and glides. After almost a year riding and paddling, catching waves and racing on my inflatable 12’6″ Naish ONE I hit the water ready for fun!

The wind was more fresh (Yay) than expected and it was a headwind workout to get to the starting line. I put my head done and started cranking up my speed to get there in time for the start. Confidence-builder =  hearing the cool, calm voice of Suzie Cooney who’s always ready to share her expertise on the water. “Slow down, stay calm, and save your energy for the event,” she said with a grin.

And before I knew it, we were off – and it was SO MUCH FUN. I placed better than I expected among the top 30 women – and what’s more. I gained so much confidence that my next down wind races will be on the newly designed Naish Glide 14.0 GS. Locally I can rent one from Big Winds for the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge and reserve one on Maui at the Naish Maui Pro Center. Read more on 5 Steps to Build YOUR Racing Confidence.

5 Steps to Building SUP Racing Confidence (Click for Full Article)

5 ways to Build SUP Racing Confidence

bopstartjudy9If you want to be a writer – write! If you want to gain confidence in racing – race! Here’s a short list that can help, especially if you live far from the sort of water you’ll be racing in and if you will need to rent top-quality equipment for the event.

1. Practice on the  equipment you will be using for the event  – I went from using an 11’3″ all round SUP board to using a 14′ Naish Glide (the 2013 27 1/4″ wide 14.0 foot Glide). I got to Maui 6 days before the 2013 Olukai Ho’olaule’a and went directly to the Naish Maui Pro Center where Coach and Jay listened to what my husband, Ed, and I wanted to do. With every type of SUP surf and race board available for rent, they analyzed our skills in order to match us with what we could handle. A half hour later we were headed to the water with the 14′ Glides on the roof of the rental car. boo3

Hours of practice on that equipment gave us both an eye-opener (27 1/4 inches demands a new balance skills!) and time to gain confidence on the boards we would be using in our Maliko run event. (see the story that explains why I chose the Naish 12’6″ Glide for the down wind event this year and why I will be riding the newly designed Naish Glide 14.0 GX or GS for my down wind events moving forward).

We had a hundred questions and they had both the answers and the patience to share with us even though we were in town for just a week. Find the local team with that degree of customer service and expertise.

2. Plan ahead and talk to experts you can trust – The moment we completed our practice “fun” short Olukai Ho’olaule’a event in 2012 we began planning for the full 2013 event.  Completing that event let us know where the “holes” in our skill set were.  We started planning for the 2014 event immediately. Having the resource of Steve Gates and the team at Big Winds in Hood River, Oregon is awesome. We participated in their downwind clinic with Jeremy Riggs and gained more time on the 14′ Naish Glide.

Elite racer (and overall women's winner) Fiona Wylde and friend ready for Naish ONE fun

Elite racer (and overall women’s winner) Fiona Wylde and friend ready for Naish ONE fun

At the Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge in August 2013 we were able to try the Naish ONE, the inflatable 12′ 6″ SUP board. Thanks to Charlie Burwell and the Naish team members on site, particularly Chuck Patterson, we saw how versatile and absolutely cool the Naish ONEs were (and bought 2 of them!)

Over the year leading to the 2014 Olukai Ho’olaule’a we communicated often with Coach and Jay at the Naish Maui Pro Center planning which board we should rent for the event. Since we were spending so much time on our Naish ONE boards we decided to use the 12’6″ Glide. Our goal was to stay on the board (talk about ultimate stability and glides!) and not worry so much about speed.

After the event we were able to reflect on the experience with Jay an determine that the newly designed Naish Glide 14’0″ GX and GS is going to be the board for us – as our skills dictate, for the 2015 event. The newly designed Glide is 29 1/4 inches wide which will give a sweet stability along with the speed we want. Luckily, Steve Gates at Big Winds has reserved that exact board for us to use for the August 2014 Naish Columbia  Gorge Paddle Challenge. We plan to do some down wind training runs with his clinic leaders.

Find your local experts and experts at your travel destination. It makes all the difference in confidence.

3. Practice in conditions similar to your event – Living in Oregon’s high desert does not provide lots of opportunity to practice in the conditions that Mother Nature delivers in open ocean down wind races.  We are fortunate to be able to travel about a 3-hour drive to get similar challenges in the mighty Columbia River.

When we need to be more local we check the weather report for windy days on local lakes and reservoirs.  Four friends, two cars and a shuttle plan can provide a great day of fun – and the practice we need.

Suzie Cooney (CPT) of Suzie Trains Maui lives the training advice she shares both on Maui and online.

Suzie Cooney (CPT) of Suzie Trains Maui lives the training advice she shares both on Maui and online.

4. Train for the demands of the event -Winter! What a perfect excuse to forego paddling and take up couch surfing (Noooo!), skiing or snowshoeing. If you are serious about your paddling technique – paddle. If you are serious about your strength, endurance, flexibility, balance and speed – get a trainer who paddles.  We have an area in our garage filled with TRX equipment, Indo boards and a spin bike.  We fear we would not be either skilled at how to train or motivated to stay with it without the inspiration of Suzie Cooney. Check her blog for examples. 

5. Leave your expectations at the door – Every event delivers as much of an adrenaline rush as it delivers a chance to connect with like minded SUP athletes. SUP is unique in that you are right there in the watery “arena” with the most elite paddlers in the world – so often. We compete in the most beautiful waters on the planet. Sometimes the sun doesn’t shine or the wind blows snot or the temps drop to some crazy cold level, but if we show up, compete and finish then we win. We win the fodder for “talk story” and plans for next time. As Connor Baxter says, “Always have fun and never give up.” That works for me!

If Shoulders Could Talk – The “Catch”

After watching the Bend Oregon Outrigger Canoe Club practice in our local Deschutes River and observing the power, speed and fun the OC-1 paddlers generate I had to step off my standup paddle board for a try.

Hooked! After just a few weeks of OC-6 team practices I love the sport – and even more, I love what it has done for my SUP technique. While going fast and training for endurance is important, keeping injury-free while getting the most power from each stroke is a top priority.  Like many of you, I get some training from clinics and pros when possible and make the most of YouTube videos by athletes and trainers we respect.

jennnnnnnI actually had to get a sore shoulder in order to learn some key aspects of the outrigger paddle technique.  In seat 2 one afternoon I sat behind a super strong paddler and a KIALOA Paddles ‘Elele, Jen Kjellesvik (Standup paddle and Payette River Games podium winner). On each reach before the catch it seemed to me that her elbow and forearm set higher than the shoulder – so I mirrored that. The imagery of power I got from Jenn in seat 1 made me feel fast and strong – but my upper arm and shoulder felt fatigued and sore. I chalked that up to using new muscles.

Later when we switched out of the canoe for some dry land training with coach, Meg Chun, we were working on the set/hesitation and catch. One by one we showed our technique – and I showed the way I had done the stroke during practice. “Whoa!,” said Meg. It seemed that what I thought I was seeing from seat 2 was not what was really happening. Jen’s FOREARM and hand were above the shoulder (set-hesitate for that nano-second before each catch) but the elbow floated below the shoulder.

Just as I knew from standup technique, to keep my elbow below the shoulder, the same was true for outrigger. Meg’s training and explanation in the dry land clinic really brought this solidly home. Thinking about setting the scapula, images of bracing with the leg and pulling on a door handle, and repeats of a hesitation before the catch gave muscle-memory to this shoulder-happy technique.

Lisa Jabukowski shows great from (Photo by Dave Chun)

Lisa Jabukowski shows great from (Photo by Dave Chun)

A second lap in the OC-6 gave a chance to practice the technique – but a surprise bonus in imagery came paddling by. Team mate, Lisa Jabukowski, came past in her OC-1. For a few minutes she was off to my right. I watched her upper body through dozens of strokes and noticed her shoulder/back position before each catch and pull. I can’t describe exactly how her rotation was different from what I had been doing but watching her allowed me to make subtle changes. Everything about my stroke was feeling better and nothing was getting sore or unduly fatigued. oc6-1

The next time I was in the water after that clinic I happened to be standup paddling. With outrigger imaging in my mind I kept my bottom arm straight and my upper elbow below my shoulder on the recovery. HESITATION, set and DIG for a solid CATCH. Then using my legs and torso rotation I moved my board forward as the paddle held steady and smooth in the water.

Again and again, 8 strokes per side, for about 4 repeats I went slow and with focused intention. Then it was time to see what a bump in cadence might do.

Sweet! There was an absolutely cool connection between the power in my legs and the rotation of my torso – which moved my shoulders to the proper plane (thank you, Lisa).  I could feel the moment of catch before my legs enhanced by body rotation solidly ooooonched my board forward and past my paddle.

Next day shoulder soreness = NONE!! Muscle memory, great imagery and some solid coaching provided in the outrigger team setting is making a world of difference in my standup technique. If you have a chance to participate in both – give it a try.

Great training video by KIALOA Paddles ‘Elele, Luke Evslin (minute 4:00 was especially an “aha” segment for me.)

February: Endless Winter? “Endless Summer!”

Dateline Hollywood, Florida 1965 Holding hands, two high school sweetheart surfers still surfing through life were enjoying what has become the most iconic surf films ever made, “The Endless Summer.” How about you – can you remember the first time you saw “Endless Summer?” How old were you? Have you managed to stay in surfing shape through the years?

The guy I saw "Endless Summer" with in 1965

The guy I saw “Endless Summer” with in 1965

We had plenty of gaps in our surfing life until SUP crossed our path in 2007.  Where the heck did our balance go? Getting back into the waves the SUP way has injected seawater and adventure into our 7th decade. Training is an absolute necessity.

Fortunately we crossed paths with Suzie Cooney, CPT of Suzie Trains Maui just before our first Maliko down wind fun race. (See Olukai Ho’olaule’a story).  By January of 2012 our garage had TRX suspension and rip trainers installed, and we had INDO boards and gigante cushions galore. With a lifelong yearning to spend as much time as possible in the ocean, preparing to participate in the Olukai Ho’olaule’a each year since has been the greatest motivation to hone our skills. Oregon has a winter that delivers snow from October – even into July some years. Our garage training ground has provided us an “endless summer’ in a way. Indo_Endless_Summer-FEATURED

Indo Board along with Robert August, one of the two surfers in the original film, have come up with a new deck design based on the original movie poster.  The artwork for that poster has set dreams in motion for generations of water athletes.  No wonder it is considered the best graphic movie poster of all time.

We plan to be ready to order this brand new “classic!” The first shipment of “Endless Summer” Original Indo Boards will be coming in May and Indo Board expect to have them for the year. Get in line for this  limited edition! Follow Suzie Trains Maui on Instagram @Suzie_Cooney