Do It! – Your Bucket List SUP Event

Have you got that SUP dream, that event that fuels your dreams and motivates your training? Do you have what it takes to make it happen?

Got a dream? Let's talk story with Steve Gates, GM Big Winds and coach

Got a dream? Let’s talk story with Steve Gates, GM Big Winds and coach

We’ve heard it before, “Access to success is through the mind,”  – but for Steve Gates access came through the heart, spirit, absolute grit and gumption, as well as the mind! I had a great conversation with Steve, GM of Big Winds in Hood River and coach of the JET team, yesterday. We chatted about his recent three-person team crossing of the Ka’iwi Channel at the 2014 Molokai2Oahu (M2O). Rob Dies, Gregg Leion and Steve made a plan to do the Molokai to Oahu – and they did it! But let’s back up just a bit.

I first met Steve, now a strong, tall, fit guy sharing smiles and stoke, in August 2012 at the 2012 Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge. That event was his baby. A health issue had him terribly underweight but he was working hard and cheering on his JET team even though he was almost too weak to stand. By December he was fighting for his life. In June of 2013, about six months after Steve had been frighteningly close to death’s door,  we went to Hood River for a down wind clinic with Jeremy Riggs. As we grabbed our glides and rode the 8 miles of Columbia River from Viento to Hood River there was an “energy bunny” paddling ahead and back, from paddler to paddler, joining Jeremy in on-water coaching with relentless grins and technique tips – Steve Gates.

According to Steve, “I was still denying the physical limitations of my body and was running on enthusiasm and joy just being out on the water and paddling.” And here’s the story  too cool not to share. Six months before, in December of 2012,  when Steve was too weak to either hold a paddle or stand he articulated a dream. As we rang in 2013, Steve shared his dream of doing the Molokai 2 Oahu in 2014 from a hospital bed while continuing his battle with a dire health situation.

Big Winds JUnior Elite Team (JET) loving their tough practices and huge stoke

Big Winds JUnior Elite Team (JET) loving their tough practices and huge stoke

As a life long water athlete and coach, Steve never asked others to do what he would not do. Ask any JET team member and they will tell you that they didn’t mind the early morning summer practices (well, not too much) because Steve was always there and he did what they did. He sweated with them and panted after a tough interval – and he made it fun. Steve always asked his team to follow their dreams and aspire toward what they really want – and so he did the same.

In early 2013 Steve, Greg and Rob were making plans for an escort boat, for local support they would need for M2O and for a training plan that would let them reach their dream.

A powerful moment - Photo by 808Photo.me

A powerful moment – Photo by 808Photo.me

There were plenty of ups and downs. One bout of dehydration nearly dashed all hopes for Steve to get to the physical level of strength and endurance he’d need. “Access to success is through the mind, ” and in Steve’s mind he was at M2O – and by July 2014, he actually was there.

According to Steve,”The morning flew by and before we knew it we had finished all preparations and were at the start point on the beach ready for the start.  Soon, I was in the water, sitting on my board next to Connor Baxter. Neither of us knew what the day would hold.” For Connor it was a record-breaking win, for Steve and his team it was the culmination of a long journey from the start of a 32-mile paddle across the challenging and treacherous “channel of bones.”

Rob Dies, Gregg Leion and Steve Gates just before the start of M2O

Rob Dies, Gregg Leion and Steve Gates just before the start of M2O

The conditions did not deliver the usual tradewinds and nice push toward glides the paddlers dream of. In fact the swells were smallish and every glide was the result of hard work, sometimes against both wind and current.

Greg Leion getting a glide Photo by 808Photo.me

Greg Leion getting a glide Photo by 808Photo.me

Steve, Rob and Greg made their changes in and out of the escort boat. Their escort boat captain, Jeremy Wilmes and his helmsman and first mate Josh made everything possible. Steve shares, “You couldn’t ask for more, these guys are as good as they come.”

Rob Dies making his way past the China Wall

Rob Dies making his way past the China Wall

The hours flew by and they were at the China Wall and final legs of the race.  Rob Dies put the hammer down and pounded past the gnarliest area of the race. The changes came more often and before Steve realized it was his time to jump in, get on board and paddle to the finish.

We all watch events and the competitors launching toward the finish. Sometimes we wish that we were competing or accomplishing some long dreamed-of adventure. Imagine, if you can, the enormous wash of emotion, satisfaction, happiness and awe that had to encompass Steve as he made his way across the finish line for the team.  The journey had been long, and often seemed impossible.

A happy Steve Gates crossing the finish line for the team at M2O 2014

A happy Steve Gates crossing the finish line for the team at M2O 2014

From that day when simply standing was a challenge to this moment paddling strong across the M2O finish line. Steve was standing, tired and beat, but never beaten. Got a dream, got a goal? Think it is impossible? It’s there for you if you put your mind, heart, spirit and the support of friends and family into the mix. Now – GO FOR IT!

 

Positively Kai: Family, Attitude and Aloha

The Lenny family enjoys a close connection to the ocean - and to each other. Aloha, dreams, hard work and smiles.

The Lenny family enjoys a close connection to the ocean – and to each other. Aloha, dreams, hard work and smiles.

Martin Lenny told me a story once, it was a story that started with family – a family connected to the ocean.  In the early days as Martin and Paula were working double jobs while raising their family, they recognized that their son Kai was active – super active. Kai, whose name means, “ocean” in Hawaiian was happiest in the ocean.The best way to feed his need for action was to top off each day with time at the beach – doing whatever ocean sport was suitable for Kai’s age.

Fortunately, his family recognized that Kai had more than just a love of the ocean, he also had a passionate dream. Kai learned how to surf at the age of 4, windsurf at 6, stand up surf at 7 and kite surf at 9. Learning how to do these sports all happened naturally, and from it grew his love affair with the ocean and the waves. Mentors have been integral to Kai’s ability to soar toward his dream.

The early days’ mentoring from Robby Naish has evolved into a lifelong friendship.  Few his age have enjoyed training with not only Robby, but also legendary watermen like Laird Hamilton,  Dave Kalama, Buzzy Kerbox and Chuck Patterson.  Kai eagerly adopted just about every sport that involved water, wind and waves.

Traditional prayer circle lead by gerry Lopez before the Positively Kai Grom clinic - huge turn out

Traditional prayer circle lead by gerry Lopez before the Positively Kai Grom clinic – huge turn out

A common thread among his mentors and his family has inspired Kai as he has become a champion, a leader himself: Give back to the next generation by mentoring and consistently sharing aloha. It was exactly this sort of mentoring and inspiration that helped Kai continue his life journey toward his own dream. It is very obvious that the entire Lenny family lives this commitment to sharing with the next generation of standup paddlers.

In the spirit of mentoring and giving back, Kai has created a series of clinics for groms (young surfers) called, “Positively Kai.” Yesterday in Hood River we enjoyed watching the free clinic supported by sponsors (Naish, Hurley, Red Bull, Nike, GoPro , Turtle Bay Resort, Vertra, MFC and others).

DSC02549The clinic began with a prayer circle created by three concentric circles of hundreds of groms, family and friends holding hands and following the words of Gerry Lopez. Soon afterward, the groms were organized by age group and taken for more land instruction by the Big Winds JET team riders and many elite standup paddlers like Connor Baxter, Kody Kerbox, Chuck Patterson, Noa Ginella, Riggs Napoleon and more.DSC02666

DSC02723 DSC02696Age group races were an exciting part of the clinic but the real stories happened on the beach! One group of 8 year olds pow-wowed on the sand as the one more experienced paddler shared confidence and some words of wisdom to his peer.

A mom sent her 5 year old out into the windy bay with a grin. Why? She explained, “When she was 18 months old she began going paddling with me, sometimes napping on the board and sometimes falling off. But she has always loved being on the board with me. Now that she’s 5 she begged to come to this clinic and learn to paddle on her own.”

One exceptional paddler, Estani Bori age 10, had some obvious experience, skills and maybe that same passion that once fueled Kai when he was 10. He flew around the race course, then ran down to the beach to help collect the boards from the other racers as they finished. He was on the water doing tail turns and sprints all afternoon. I caught up with his father, Pablo.DSC02704

“Why did you travel all the way from Tahoe for this clinic,” I asked. Pablo didn’t hesitate a bit, “Once I saw that Estani lives and breathes this sport I had to help him follow what he is passionate about.”

That sounds like something Martin Lenny said, back in the day.  Pablo continued, “Estani goes to sleep watching his SUP heroes and he wakes up wanting to paddle, paddle, paddle. Once he started doing races it was great. The travel and the paddling is something we can do, father and son.”

Again and again all day long that is what stuck – the number of kids and parents, entire families smiling and sharing the stoke that is SUP. The energy of more than 400 people through the dance-off, the dinner of yummy burritos (Kai’s favorite) and the awards was stellar.

We ended with this from Kai, “I am inspired and stoked to see so many groms of all ages charging and having fun. You are the future of SUP and this is the best time to be a standup paddle athlete. The sport is young and has room for you to make your dreams happen – in SUP or whatever it is you dream. “DSC02670

Who Knew? Slower Can Be Faster

Super slow motion overview of technique by Dave Kalama

Super slow motion overview of technique by Dave Kalama

Conserving energy, maximizing stroke, honing effective technique. We all work on these a lot of the time if the number of articles and how-to videos out there are any evidence. When we can’t get to a clinic, it’s terrific to be able to access local coaching and online video tips.

Then it comes to getting on the water and paddling. Often, we prep for a race and discover that  we’re working our hardest and giving it all with high RPMs and effort – but it just doesn’t feel FAST!

 

Dave Kalama looking strong mid Ka'iwi Channel (photo by 808Photo.me)

Dave Kalama looking strong mid Ka’iwi Channel (photo by 808Photo.me)

Distressed Mullet recently posted a very short and “to the point” video with some tips from Dave Kalama (now just a few days after his 6th place solo finish in the 2014 M2O against paddlers 2-3 decades his junior – Yay Dave!) The video is below and well worth taking a couple of minute to internalize Dave’s simple, but not obvious, message. “Go slow to go fast.”

Molokai 2 Maui: Train with Peggy King

Peggy King has put in the training and downwind miles needed for the downwind racing season

Peggy King has put in the training and downwind miles needed for the downwind racing season (photo credit: Jeff Chang)

July 12, 2014 – Peggy King will be on the  starting line ready for the Maui to Molokai SUP race. This event, which begins in Honolua Bay, covers a stretch of water often described as “The Best Downwind Run On The Planet.” With her 60th birthday in the rear view mirror, Peggy King’s M2M training had been well-planned and solid. She feels ready for her second solos M2M.

We had a blast at the 2014 Olukai!

We had a blast at the 2014 Olukai!

I ran into Peggy at the start of the 2014 Olukai Ho’olaule’a. She looked fit and with 20 fewer pounds on her lean frame she was an inspiration to me! Curious about her training (and ready for some lean muscle and more endurance) I asked her to share some details.

Peggy King’s Training Summary:  My training for this event was planned and actually started way back in September of 2013. My main focus was on improving my overall fitness and accomplishing some weight loss( 20 lbs since July 13!) The strategy included attending classes at Crossfit Upcountry Maui 3-4x per week.

I am not a nutrition expert, I simply used common sense. For example, my diet plan began with the eradication of a favorite –  Triscuits and cheese. It was the start of a few habits changes that made a big difference. Diet was rounded out with meats,veggies fruits, and what we all know is important, less sugar, processed food, and alcohol. Portion control is the magic.  Athletes need water – so I was more conscious of that.

pk-hawaiikai1

Time on the water is Peggy’s favorite training routine (photo credit: Jeff Chang)

My XFit class formed a training base that I supplemented with SUP surfing, uphill walking with my dogs, and some double exercise sessions to mimic the time and intensity of  e what is required on a double Maliko Run.  It was important for me to include scheduled rest days! When I’m tired I overeat, am clumsy and risk getting hurt! Noooo! I do not want an injury.

Paddle season is upon us now- I did some of the Kahului Harbor circles in calm water- not fun! I am aiming for a double Maliko run at least 1 x per week. Since February, I have been doing downwinders to the Kahului Harbor(not just ending my Maliko runs at Kanaha) 4-5x per week.

Falling during the M2M not only wastes a lot of time, but also energy. Paddling upwind into a body of water in the nasty wind is important- and a skill required for M2O( I’m not doing that one!) and M2M.  After paddling 26 + miles of open ocean when you are tired it is necessary to have a solid base of skills and endurance.

Jeff Chang from the Wet Feet company took Peggy on the Hawaii Kai Run while she was on Oahu last week

Jeff Chang from the Wet Feet company took Peggy on the Hawaii Kai Run while she was on Oahu last week

Jeremy Riggs has helped me with my down-winding and paddling skills for 2+ years now,”being my chaperon” when conditions were really windy and nasty. As a result,my confidence has improved tremendously. I also sought out some wonderful coaching on my paddle stroke from David Kalama. I love and respect both these guys so much!

Since paddle/ downwind season has started, I’ve been challenged with the tiredness overeating/ training syndrome,but it’s getting better as my body adjusts to this workload! This is not easy for a 61 year old post menopausal broad like me.

I’m feeling both anxious and excited now as M2M approaches. I want to improve my time and qualify as a finisher sooo bad. They let me through last year at 5:34 although  I fell a lot the last 5 miles. I did a fair race. This means I didn’t cheat by going to my knees or sitting down.

I am much more prepared mentally and physically this year. Who knows what the conditions will bring. It could be light or 45 mph! I could be “yard sale” falling across the channel! I’d like to think with all my training and weight loss I’ll do better than that! Fingers crossed and hope for the best.”

We wish the same for you, Peggy!  (Note from Elder SUP- I have taken a clinic from Paddle with Riggs and you can too! Launches your skills to an entirely new level)

 

SUP Lessons from Seat One

Yesterday most of the paddling I did was going for a wave – and did I ever catch a ton of them. There was an offshore wind and no organized swell, but the warm water of Oahu’s Waikiki break called Four’s was all fun.

Well, it was all fun until my husband, Ed, wiped out from a steep takeoff. The powerful off shore wind caught the edge of his board and flipped it fins up just as he hit.  The gashing bruises delivered enough pain and swelling to keep him out of the water today. boo3

A sweet south swell meandered in by 7 am and the wind was about as calm as we could wish for. I didn’t have the heart to take the SUP surfboard out while Ed couldn’t paddle, so I decided to do a solid 4 miles on my Naish ONE.

That’s where the “SUP Lesson from Seat One” made itself known.I took the first 1/4 mile to warm up a bit,weaving through the low tide reefs. Using what I learned from SEAT FIVE (article here) rotation, catch and driving my board forward rather than pulling my paddle back was my mantra.

The water was so glassy that I easily got into a groove. As my Naish ONE gained speed and glide I noticed my stroke BPM increased. As I moved through the water with acceleration, I noticed that it was too easy to miss the catch and let my paddle slide without any real power though the water. What was going on?

boo1Then I remembered. Just last Monday night at Bend Oregon Outrigger Canoe Club practice I was in Seat One. A very similar situation played itself out as we went 70% of race speed for 8 minutes, then 80% for 4 minutes then 90% for 4 minutes.  As stroke person I had to work hard to make sure I maintained a solid catch even as paddle strokes per minute increased.

No one would be better to remind me of what to do than the steersman, Jason Tedrow.  A skilled and versatile water athlete and rabid competitor, Jason coaches with purpose (to catch the canoe in front of us and get to the highest speed we can maintain).

boo6After each pyramid of percent of race effort he would critique our technique and remind us-

  • Keep your stroke up front and lively
  • Maintain your catch
  • Rotate from the hips and drive the boat forward
  • Timing, timing, timing

As the hotels of Waikiki whipped by in my peripheral vision, as I worked to stay steady and balanced. Sideways swells reached for my ankles I recalled the lessons from Seat One!

nata9The bow wake of my Naish ONE invited a paddle stroke pace that was much quicker than my usual. My reach and catch was a rotation and drive combination. The faster my board went the more quick and sharp were my paddle strokes.  Before I knew it I was turning at Diamond Head for the return 2 miles.

Natatorium nata2

 

 

 

 

This practice delivered some solid cardio intervals and a huge measure of stoke! Headwinds greeted me on the return trip and I was getting fatigued. This was a perfect scenario for another “Lesson from Seat One.” When we were doing those sprinting pyramids I was often feeling “too tired to go another exchange.” Yet, focusing on the voice of the Seat 3 “Hut, Ho” and the encouragement of the steersman we all remained calm and maintained speed. I did that same thing as I worked fast and steady back into the wind.

nata6Who knew it could be outrigger practice that refined me into a better SUP paddler!

Pailolo Power = Peggy King

As the author of Elder SUP I enjoy talking story with paddlers of all ages. Perhaps because of the name of this blog, a majority of engaging stories come from athletes who have hit that daunting half-century mark.  What’s a common thread? Age is entirely irrelevant to expanding horizons in SUP adventures,

Peggy King is not just "pretty on pink" - she's a powerhouse

Peggy King is not just “pretty on pink” – she’s a powerhouse

One example is Maui’s, Peggy King. As she paddles through her 60’s and is immersed in the pure enjoyment of SUP here’s what she has to say, ”

I hope to make improvements in my times for the upcoming races this year, (2014) including Maui to Molokai (solo)again.”

The Maui to Molokai is a 27 mile open ocean event. Maui2Molokai is sometimes thought of as the little brother of the Molokai2Oahu so to speak. Other than the Kaiwi Channel in the Molokai2Oahu, this race is 10 miles shorter but wind speeds in the Pailolo Channel are known to be the highest in the state of Hawaii.

Simply 60+ and having a blast!

Simply 60+ and having a blast!

Time on the water, a dedication to training and knowledge of winds and currents are just the beginning of preparing for such an event.

photo 3Peggy has a resume documenting just what she needs.  She has put in her training time, plowing through the tough workouts that CrossFit has made famous. And then there’s this: Peggy was a finisher and the oldest solo competitor in the 2013 Maui to Molokai World Cup of Surfing.  

Gnarly stuff, that is! If you saw her in her other hats as an instructor in piano and fitness or in her roles working at various elementary schools on Maui and Valley Isle Fitness Center on Maui you may not suspect the waterwoman spirit you’ve encountered.

From her home in Kula, Maui, Peggy shared some stories about her husband, grown son and her four 4-legged members of the family. It’s natural that she would share her home with her dogs. She has consistently been a volunteer with Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation

I first noticed Peggy’ name in the results page of the 2013 Olukai Ho’olaule’a. Since I was 64 at the time I was hunting peers in the line-up. Peggy nabbed a first place in the age 60 and over division. That’s just the beginning of her 2013 successes: 3rd, 45 and over 14′ fixed fin class at the 2013 Maui Paddleboard Championships(Maliko Gulch to Kahului Harbor,9.54 miles) and then add her Maui2Molokai.

Photo by Baby Hawaii Photography - blog link http://www.babyhawaii.com/blog/?p=194

Photo by Baby Hawaii Photography – blog link http://www.babyhawaii.com/blog/?p=194

I wonder if Peggy’s gift and dedication to playing classical piano enhances her ability to focus and succeed at the daunting events she goes after?   In any event, Peggy defines the power of being SIMPLY 60+ (More about Peggy King)

Archie Kalepa: Walk the Talk -TEDx

archie-canoeaerila

The first time we saw Archie Kalepa was at the 2012 Olukai Ho’olaule’a event at Kanaha beach on Maui. We were on the beach waiting for our turn to ride on the new Olukai sailing canoe, Kamakani Eleu (the spirited wind). Lots of the Olukai team were sitting around talking story and we were fascinated. Little did we know the legendary watermen surrounding us, including Archie. By the time we flew across the swells we had a solid appreciation of the culture and spirit behind the teams who race these sailing canoes – and the Olukai team that brings the Ho’olaule’a experience to us all.

 What a surprise to find Archie’s presentation at Olukai’s TEDx Maui online. (see video below). Archie Kalepa, one of Hawaii’s greatest ocean sports pioneers, Hawaiian Lifeguard, and Director of Maui County Ocean Safety Division recently retired and joined the OluKai marketing team full-time as the Konohiki (caretaker). As the Konohiki, Kalepa will support and direct the brand in remaining authentic to the ocean lifestyle and respectful of the Hawaiian culture through hands-on participation in marketing activation.Who could be better at maintaining strong ties to the Hawaiian culture?

Settling in front of my computer with a cup of coffee this cold Oregon winter morning I got both butterflies and inspiration from Archie’s compelling style of story-telling. He explained, “In surfing as in life you need to know where you need to be.” On a surfing canoe there is a huge difference between “riding” and surfing. To truly surf you need to know the lineup, study the wind and be where you need to be. We need to be adaptable and “crack the code” or find the formula for both challenging surf spots and – life. Archie’s true passion is using his skills to share the experience with friends while keeping them safe. archie-board5

With more than 30 years as a Hawaiian Lifeguard, this elite and humble waterman has saved countless lives, revolutionized lifeguarding today as one of the pioneers of personal-water-craft (PWC) and PWC sleds for use in tow-in surfing and ocean rescue, and became the trailblazer in establishing long distance SUP racing. In August of 2012, he was inducted into Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation’s Hawaii Waterman Hall of Fame, the highest honor a waterman can achieve in Hawaii.

archiek-canyonIn call to us all to reach for our dreams and risk taking the steps to achieving those dreams, Archie noted that we are becoming out of tune with nature. By using technology instead of our instincts we miss many authetic and life changing opportunities. One such opportunity came Archie’s way and he grabbed it – going 187 miles in 17 days he was the first to SUP the entire length of the Grand Canyon. (video and story here)

“Connect with your culture,” advises Archie. As a waterman or in everyday choices, life is like a big ride. Talk about a big ride, Archie shared the story of his favorite ride on the iconic wave off Maui’s north shore, Pe’ahi. Because so many people visit Maui and go to the trouble to make their way through muddy and gullied dirt roads to take their place on the cliff to see (or more often not see) the break, Archie poses the idea that as a wonder of the world Pe’ahi should be recognized as such.

Archie Kalepa surfing Pe'ahi - photo by Damian Antioco

Archie Kalepa surfing Pe’ahi – photo by Damian Antioco

As a member of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Archie has traveled to Tahiti on both the Hokulea and the Hawaiiloa traditional voyaging canoes, and is dedicated to resurrecting interest in the traditional Hawaiian sport of canoe surfing. 

As a public-safety expert, a big-wave surfer and a Hawaiian Waterman, Archie Kalepa is driven to help others and spread what he calls the spirit of “aloha,” the Hawaiian greeting. “Sharing the spirit of aloha is always giving somebody a helping hand, always giving somebody a kiss. Always when somebody needs help, you help them, show them how to be good people,” he says. “That’s what the aloha spirit is, showing people love. It’s what people from Hawaii do. It’s how we live our life.”

 Archie Kalepa: Foil Boarding from OluKai on Vimeo.