No Waves – No Problem

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

When we put time, money and our vacation dreams into planning a surf vacation, we want waves! Sometimes the weather gods just don’t hear us and deliver calm seas. This was the situation recently as we arrived with great anticipation on Maui this past December. Our first stop was the Naish Maui Pro Center right near the airport in Kahului. We picked up our reserved Hokuas along with lots of great local insights and some talk-story time with the crew of Coach, Jay, Martin and Sam.

It wasn’t all calm seas. On our first full day we had the great opportunity to witness huge swells rolling in at Jaws and enjoyed hours of fun up on Pe’ahi Bluff. Unbelievable rides by many local water athletes riding both prone and standup were documented by photographers and can be found online. Check out the Facebook and Instagram pages of Chuck Patterson, Connor Baxter, Kody Kerbox,  Kai Lenny, Matt Meola and Zane Schweitzer, just to name a few.

The waves of the north shore are absolutely out of our talent-zone. We look forward to riding west side waves at Launiupoko, S-Turns, Rainbows and such. In that part of the island we had a day or two of little ankle biters and knee high fun waves. The rest of the time a mix of Kona winds and the usual trade winds greeted us with sunshine each morning – but flat seas.

btnaishNo sad faces on us! We had traveled with the handy backpack filled with our Naish ONE 12’6″ inflatable boards. At 30″ wide they are as stable as they are fast. Talk about an easy way to enjoy our daily down wind runs on crystal clear, flat seas! With some local advisement from the team at Naish Maui Pro Center, we checked tide tables and local maps in order plan our adventures.

One day we parked our car at Napili Bay and down-winded to the Hyatt at Kaanapali – about 5 miles. Later in the day we walked back to the car – along a terrific walking path and some quiet streets to Napili. Another day we drove to Lahaina and took the local bus ($2) back to Kaanapali. By noon we were on the water doing another down wind run of about 4 miles. The whales were active that week. We wished we were closer to Lanai where they splashed and played, but their spouts and breeching were still a cool sight to see even from a distance.

whale2Mid week we took a few hours to paddle from Napili Bay in and out of various bays heading north past Kapalua toward Honolua Bay and back. Turtles and clear views of the reef were with us 100% of the time. Inspired by that, we hiked the light weight Naish ONEs into the beach at Honolua Bay with snorkels and masks.  After paddling out to the point (wishing the swells would provide a chance to watch the local talent ride) we circled back and spent a few hours observing tropical fish of all kinds.2013-12-16 10.20.33

Our final day delivered! Thigh to waist high glassy goodness at Launiupoko where we surfed our sweet Hokua’s until the tide went so far out we knew it was wise to take a break.

alexsurfTake-away idea: If SUP surfing is your goal and the seas are delivering a steady breeze and calm seas, think down wind fun. If you rented your board you may be able to trade out your shorter SUP surfboard for a longer board better for down wind paddling. Your balance and conditioning will improve and you won’t miss a single day of great ocean fun on your vacation.

Naish Maui: The Local Connection

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Easy breezy travel with 12’6″ Naish ONEs – check as luggage and good to GO!

Grabbing our bags from the baggage carousel at Kahului Airport took on a sense of adventure. All we had were two duffel bags and a KIALOA paddle bag. The duffels held our Naish ONE inflatable 12’6″ race boards and our clothes – all under 40 lbs.  Within 15 minutes we had our rental care and off we headed to what is always our first stop in Maui – the Naish Maui Pro Center just minutes from the airport.

Whether you surf, SUP, Kiteboard or windsurf a visit to Naish Maui Pro Center is your best first stop. Walking in, there was Jay in deep conversation with a customer about local conditions and ability level.  Behind the counter instead of simply ringing up a sale, Sam was searching online for webcam shots of the Kauhlui Harbor to share with an eager customer as he purchased his more advanced 2014 kite. “Coach” Jeff Hughes, manager of Naish Maui Pro Center, dropped what he was doing as we came in, welcoming us with the same enthusiasm he extends to all. The vibe of the entire store is “local,” and respectful of all seeking water fun whatever our ability.In spite of being pretty well-equipped for all the downwind fun we were planning (so cool to travel with our Naish ONEs), we needed the best SUP surfboards for the smallish wave fun we’d be having in the Kaanapali/Lahaina area.  Coach pointed out the Hokua 9’5 and 9’10” all ready for us. Beautiful! As Jay helped us load the boards, being winter, we had to ask what was pending for Peahi (Jaws) this week.

Chuck Patterson rocks his Naish Hokua with power and then some!

Chuck Patterson rocks his Naish Hokua with power and then some!

As luck would have it, word of a big swell for the very next day was buzzing around. Within minutes we were at the computer by the checkout counter searching for news and webcam shots.  There was no way any of the staff could mask both their enthusiasm for swells, surf and the ocean or their deep expertise. That alone provides a wonderful buying or rental experience, but the “local” vibe doesn’t stop there. No matter how busy the shop is – in the retail front or in the rental and repair back room, there always seems to be time to answer the most basic questions or to expound on the more technical topics.

When you are on Maui and you are looking for the best equipment and the feeling of a hometown shop, go no further than Naish Maui Pro Center. It’s easy to get all your equipment reserved and ready before you leave home. It’s just as easy to hone in on the best areas to enjoy that equipment once you arrive. The team will match your ability to local weather conditions, swells, and clue you in on tides.

To our great excitement – they will also get you in the local loop as far as unique conditions are concerned. YES! We made the long hike from the road all the way out to Peahi Bluff (way better than trying to get our rental car in and out!). We saw some incredible rides from the watermen and women who wait all year for this winter wonder to deliver its awesome-ness. And all that was the first 24 hours of our trip. Maui is wonderful.

SUP WonderWoman: Peggy King

This is the first in a series of stories about a 60+ “newbie.” She entered her seventh decade earlier in 2013 – welcome to the best years, Peggy! We;ll start with some background and then subsequent posts will follow her through adventures on the water, her challenges along the way and her evolution toward SUP. Why “wonder woman?” Well, no one has yet to see Peggy King and WonderWoman together – only makes us think about it.

Peggy King: Family, SUP, Ocean, Piano and Dogs (5 of them!)

Peggy and Bill King - still crazy after 37 years! Photo by 808 Photo http://808photo.me/

Peggy and Bill King – still crazy after 37 years! Photo by 808 Photo http://808photo.me/

From upstate New York and a childhood spent skiing on snow and water, Peggy made her way to the University of Denver, CO and met Bill KIng, her husband of 37 years. By 1976 they had moved to Hawaii where they raised their, now adult, son.

Peggy’s world of work and volunteering is as diverse as her water sports activities.  She taught piano, PE and a fitness instructor working at various elementary schools and at Valley Isle Fitness on Maui over 25 years. Music and animals are true passions and have brought Peggy to serve on music boards and volunteer with Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation. If you swing by Whole Foods in Kahului you’ll spot Peggy introducing adorable, homeless dogs to their potential new owners.

How many of us watched the movie JAWS and were scared out of the water for a spell – Peggy was too! Her venture into the shore break at Baldwin beach resulted in an over-the-falls fiasco that didn’t help her confidence at all. Luckily, two girlfriends introduced Peggy to windsurfing and (lucky break) instructor Mike Waltze. That lesson in 1979 inspired a windsurfing way of life, including Bill’s opening Sailboards Maui with Mike Waltze and Fred Haywood in 1980.  Along with Matt Schweitzer and his father, this group worked to develop windsurfing and its equipment into what has evolved today.  peggy-shop

Mike Waltze racing one of the original windsurf models in a recent competition.

Mike Waltze racing one of the original windsurf models in a recent competition.

In the 1981 Maui to Molokai windsurfing speed crossing in 1981 Peggy was the only woman to compete and finish. In 1984 at the Oneill Invitational Peggy was the overall winner of the wave and slalom events.  By 1990 at age 35+ she became Maui County Slalom Champion. To this day I thank BK’s nieces who baby sat my 2 year-old son Gar so I could compete in that event!

Our son, Garfield was born in 1988 and raised him with a waterman’s upbringing in addition to school and soccer. Gar and I learned to kiteboard  together in 2000 and onward.  We truly enjoyed our Mother and Son full circle experiencing wind and water sports on Maui. Watching Gar at Hookipa and the summer gusty winds finally became a bit much and I retreated from the ocean briefly in 2007.

That was a pivotal decision – and a good one!  My dear longtime friend  and massage therapist, Bill Boyum turned me on to SUP. I haven’t looked back since. (More on the SUP Adventures of Peggy King to follow.  SUBSCRIBE to Elder SUP so you don’t miss this or our other stories.)

Olukai Ho’olaule’a: Recap by Connor

On the STANDUP PADDLE MAGAZINE’s Facebook page there was a great recap of the Olukai Ho’olaule’a posted.  I am sharing the whole summary by Connor Baxter here. It’s almost like being there again!

Connor baxter, Dave Kalama, Kai Lenny, Suzie Cooney and all the elite SUP racers are in the front ready for a challenging run.

Connor Baxter, Dave Kalama, Kai Lenny, Suzie Cooney and all the elite SUP racers are in the front ready for a challenging run.

“The Olukai Ho’olaule’a is a great event. Every year paddlers look forward to competing at this event in the infamous Maliko downwinder. The day started out with rain and very light winds. But, when driving down along the north shore we could see that the wind was picking up and the rain had stopped – and there were a few whitecaps. It was looking like it was going to be a good day. Driving into Maliko Gulch, I knew there were going to be a bunch of people – there were cars parked all the way out to the highway – and it was only 10am. What a great turnout.

Once we got there – I checked in and got my board ready. And, of course had to say hi to everyone. At 11:30 we had a pule, a Hawaiian prayer and then all 300+ of us hit the water for a 12:00 start. It was a water start on the outside of the bay. The wind was a little onshore so I decided to start further outside. Once we were all lined up on the water the boat waved a yellow flag so we got ready to race. And bam the green flag went up and I sprinted right from the beginning. Dave Kalama and I pulled away right from the beginning and like always – were just trading off back and forth.

Dave Kalama showing his powerful form making his way to a strong finish

Dave Kalama showing his powerful form making his way to a strong finish

Once we got to outer Baldwin I knew I had to put a gap on Dave. So I put my head down and I shifted into 6th gear and didn’t stop until I had a comfortable lead. Once I was a little ahead, I got into a steady rhythm and kept going.

Coming into Camp One I was a little nervous, because I didn’t have a leash and there were waves. So I caught a medium size one and stepped to the tail and rode the wave to the inside. Once I hit the flat water I just kept my head down and sprinted all the way to the finish.

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Awesome shot captured by Terry Marie Galpin

I had a good lead of a minute and a half on Dave – and two and a half minutes on Kai in third place. I hit the beach and ran all the way to the finish line and spur of the moment I got a great idea to dolphin dive across the finish line – even though there was no one even close to me.

Overall it was a great event and I had a lot of fun and really stoked to defend my title and hope to do it again next year! I want to thank my sponsors for all their support – Starboard, Maui Jim, Rainbow Sandals, Trident Sports, Rista Fins, Dakine, GoPro, OnIt Pro, Waterman’s Sunscreen, Igloo Coolers, Sunrite Maui, Hammer Nutrition, iDcard, EFX and Hi-Tech Sports. Also a big

Mahalo to all the event organizers and volunteers.”

Aloha, Connor Baxter

Talk Story: GoPro Wordsmithing

Just over a year ago, my husband, Ed, and I did our first SUP downwind event. It was a short, 3-mile fun race off the north shore of Maui from Paia to Kanaha Beach Park. (story here). Four days later, Ed had rotator cuff surgery, a 6 month road back to paddling that included lots of pain, rehab and determination.  Through all of that we had the plan to return to Maui on May 11, 2013 in order to do the full-out 8 mile run from Maliko Gulch to Kanaha beach Park no matter what. The weather, a fresh, large swell and little wind made the “no matter what” a bit more than we’d expected – but we did it!

As adventures, even of the “bucket list” kind fade over time, there’s something we can all do to preserve them for ourselves and anyone else who’d like to share with us.  Using a GoPro camera and any of the various mounting accessories, capturing active adventures is as easy as pushing a button and getting out there.

Making the story something that friends and family will enjoy as much as you (star of the show) do requires a little more time and planning. Using great tools available from GoPro, iMovie, Windows Movie Maker or any number of easy and inexpensive editing tools you have the ability to take hours of action and collect in smaller buckets of interesting and quality segments.  Adding the right music is usually the most fun lots of us.

The next part takes a bit more time. Watch your project from start to finish again and again. Watch it with someone who wasn’t with you during the action. What do they wonder about, WOW about or seem most interested in?  What questions come up?  Once you really “know” your visual story you are ready to do some “wordsmithing.”  The more you practice the art of magical and creative wordplay , while still maintaining the essence of the story the more comfortable you will be as a wordsmith.  We may not ever become a master at crafting new words or cobbling together fresh phrases but we can add substance to our videos by adding a carefully scripted dialog from time to time.

This video, Reflections – SUP Lifestyle is a bit long but it solidly inspired me to try harder on my video scripting.  VIDEO SAMPLE: This is a 4 minute example made from over 3 hours of GoPro footage.  I’d love to hear your comments and link to projects you’re proud of.

SUP Maui: Glassy Goodness

Have you ever had that oh-so-comfortable pair of shoes you wear way beyond their fashion or appearance window? How about your “lucky” baseball glove or standup paddle you hesitate to change? Anyone who knows me well knows that when I get equipment that works for me I stick with it.

Fortunately, the team at Naish Maui Pro Center (cool story about their team here )combines excellent advice and careful guidance as they encouraged me to try the Naish Hokua 9’0″ during our recent trip to Maui.

Back story: I have paddled flatwater, downwind and surfed on an Amundson 11’3″ for the past 4 years. As an all-round SUP board it has served me happily and well.  During the 12 months between May 2012 and May 2013 I caught exactly 4 waves and surfed a total of 2 hours at Pacific City on the Oregon coast.  To say the least, my surf skills had not been honed or improved. Moving toward the sort of high performance boards in the Naish Hokua line seemed, well, scary! I was used to a barge under foot not the v-design of the Hokua.

Outrageous, wonderful surprise!  The first minute out on the water with the Naish Hokua 9′ 0″ had me knocking knee wobbly, then it clicked. A mere paddle stroke or two had the Hokua accelerating steadily. The first thigh high glassy swell rose over the mid tide reef at Launiupoko so I went for it – and caught it!  All day I played from that start. Late take-offs? The Hokua and I laughed our way down the faces, it seemed made to rise out of the water and with a mild press of my back foot I could get a lot of tail kick right or left. This had never been part of my skill set before!  The Hokua has a super nice “between-the-feet” feel that allowed plenty of fun while waiting between sets and just paddling over the gin clear water above the reef.

While the 9’0″ is great for riders 30-60 lbs heavier than I am, even at my age, size and weight it felt zippy, maneuverable and tons of fun!  If you’ve been sticking with the SUP board that’s been your go-to equipment for some time, take a demo, rent a Naish Hokua if you get the chance. You may fall crazy in love like we did – see GoPro video below for the full story!

Maliko Musings: Olukai Ho’olaule’a

When experienced standup paddlers describe the downwind run you are about to do the very next day and they say, “It’s going to be harrowing, huge swells and very little wind,” that does not build confidence!

The start of the 2013 Olukai Ho'olaule'a at Maliko Gulch

The start of the 2013 Olukai Ho’olaule’a at Maliko Gulch

Those very conditions greeted 336 SUP downwind racers at the 5th Olukai Ho’olaule’a on May 11.  Little did I know as I paddled out of the Maliko Gulch what was in store.  The tide was flowing in, the swells delivered confused chop and the wind clocked toward our faces as we paddled past the reefs and cliffs about a mile and a quarter straight out to sea and the starting line.  I believed the waves would be my nemesis, but one wave in particular delivered the defining moment of that all-round incredible event!  Here’s the story:

Like most of the participants, I spent a great deal of time paddling on my knees, really getting a challenging balance workout while going for the glides or taking some head-first dunks into the confused sea.  When I had feet under me, eyes on the horizon and my paddle technique cranking out smoothly, holy cow, the Naish 14′ Glide I was riding accelerated with glee and practically begged to connect those glides. Exhilarating stuff for sure. Light as a feather, my KIALOA Hulu paddle powered me through chop and (YAY!) let me brace, balance and avoid plenty of wipeouts.

From the very first paddle stroke, as fellow participants were lifted – then disappeared – behind the swells, my fear was that I’d not be able to negotiate the beach landing. All along the shoreline from Hookipa to Kanaha and points in between the swells met reefs and created a wall of crushing white-water challenge. About 75 minutes into the race Kanaha and the life guard stand was in view. I was paddling near Sean Sweet of Sweet Waterwear when I heard him say, “Judy, look right!”

Defining moment, uncaught wave of the day. And that was a good thing!

Defining moment, uncaught wave of the day. And that was a good thing!

I braced my paddle in the water to my right, swung my eyes over and looked straight up into a building and breaking wall of gray-green and foaming wave. There was just one reaction, and it surprised the living daylight out of me – I was like, “Yeah!” and went for it. Went for it as in, “I want to catch this thing.”  Lucky for me, very lucky, the water was deep enough that instead of crushing right onto me, it re-built as a pillowing swell and swept neatly under my Glide. Also lucky for me, I realized how much I love being in the ocean, riding waves, being part of a huge community of like-spirited paddlers and enjoying the fruits of much practice and training. It’s all a very cool journey.

It’s tough to put into words the impact an event like one’s first Maliko Gulch downwind run delivers. Instread, here’s a 4 minute video that tells the tale. Much appreciation (listed in the credits at the end) go to Naish International  (Haiku), KIALOA Paddles, GoPro, and Suzie Cooney, CPT.