I recently had the absolutely joy of watching the “Progression Project” film Nine of the world’s top SUP surfers hit the waves with Erik Antonson of PaddleWoo. Antonson is responsible for some of the most progressive media in paddlesports, producing free content via his PaddleWoo podcasts and blog posts to help expose and advance the industry. The Progression Project documents nine of the world’s best standup paddle surfers in Costa Rica showcasing the sport in its most progressive form in one groundbreaking SUP film. Left to right in the photo above: Sean Poynter, Caio Vaz, Ian Vaz, Kieran Grant, Fisher Grant, Zane Schweitzer, Giorgio Gomez, Erik Antonson, Mo Freitas and Noa Ginella. (Featured Photo above: Chandler Williams/Modus Photography)
The film is now available at no charge online. Erik explains why he is offering the film for free, “My hope is that by releasing it for free, we get some curious surfers to watch the film and realize there is so much more in paddle surfing than they realize.” A brilliant way to bring understanding and mutual respect out on the water.
The film hit home in so many ways.Let me start with a totally unrelated story – the first chair lift ride of my ski season at Mt Bachelor this year. We were heading up with a snowboarder talking about skiing vs boarding. Since the guy did both, he was balancing his joy in each sport as both different and very good. One statement he made about skiing, just an off-hand comment, changed my entire season.
Just like the guys in the Progression Project film talked about small things they learned from each others style and technique away from competition, the guy shared one insight and it made all the difference for me. He simply said, “I love that feeling in skiing when you initiate a turn with your toe and move to mid-foot, then the turn locks in so easily.”
He might have said more, I don’t know, because that one statement stayed with me. I didn’t think I was much aware of the exact mechanics I engaged when initiating a turn – so many things to think about. But that one statement, stuck and my technique and level of fun on the show has soared this season.
In the “Progression Project” film again and a again each of the water athletes is interviewed and each share what they observe, respect, appreciate and can analyze from the very people they perform against in competition. One small thing, one observation could bump a skill up a level. It was great to experience the camaraderie and fun these elite athletes maintain. The shared respect for each other and for their sport – and the most amazing SUP surfing footage you’ll enjoy again again – make this a unique and special project!
A huge “mahalo” to that guy on the chairlift! And to all the athletes in the Progression Project. I may have even subconsciously picked up a SUP surfing tip, too.
I look out my Bend, Oregon window this morning to a stormy sky and a gnarly wind whipping a snowstorm towad the mountain – the solid “wave we surf all winter. There is no paddle along a sunny stretch of water this Thanksgiving, but there is indoor time to pause, reflect, celebrate a mindful approach to living that has been honed sweetly by nearly eight years of standup paddling. As a pumpkin pie bakes I am full of watery gratitude.
The sport, the physical training of SUP, the people and places, the challenges, the waves, the glassy lakes, the quiet moments of mindfulness, the adventure, the journeys and the incredible impact standup paddling has had on my life as I close out my 7th decade. I am so very grateful for the timing.
In November and on Thanksgiving it’s an easy practice to think about all we are grateful for. The gift of time on the water is a solid connection to nature. Grateful for surviving a thorough working over by the late takeoff or for the gift of being alone on a river stretch as the setting sun gilds ripples and blazes the sky in color.
At events and competitions the inspiration for gratitude is there if we are awake and aware enough to see it. Elite water athletes supporting while pushing each other to unimagineable limits. Being on the start line with all ages facing equal weather and water adventures. The smiles, the energy, the camaraderie within a solo sport that connects us in a caring community.
Early in my standup and surfing experience I was impatient, anxious and often frustrated. I had a habit of focusing on what I didn’t have or do have rather than what I did have. By watching, reading about, listening to and paying attention to what so many of the athletes in SUP shared, I started to learn, to hone new habits of both awareness, acceptance, patience and gratitude. The ego always wants more, especially if other people have it, to satisfy our sense of worth, to satisfy our happiness. But the truth is, we don’t actually need anything to satisfy our happiness, our happiness lies within us. We have the gift of being on the water, catching waves, currents, the wind. Let’s not miss what we are so fortunate to experience.
Often we “Elders” take the time to share our experience, talents and time as mentors. What an incredible way to practice gratitude by giving. Sometimes the younger generation, from toddlers to elite athletes easily one third of our age demonstrate the power of living life with giving and gratitude. A Facebook post from Zane Kekoa Schweitzer brought this home to me this morning, “There’s no thankful without grateful.” Simple but true. Zane lives his #innovateandinspire life slogan by sharing and giving back tirelessly. That really reminds me that “GIVING” might be the most important part of the THANKS.
From the website of Zane Schweitzer: ABOUT– Zane cares deeply for the wellbeing of others and the preservation of our planet. In 2012 Zane and his family co-founded “Stand Up for the Cure”; a Stand Up Paddle Event that has raised over $800,000 for uninsured cancer patients in the past 5 years alone. He founded his own “InZane SUPer Groms”; where he teaches children at home and around the world how to surf and share Aloha while taking care of each other and our oceans. He is a Global Ambassador for multiple organizations such as Mighty Under Dogs, Access Surf, Thera Surf, Surfer’s Healing, One Ocean, and more.
Recently, Zane has taken on the role of a motivational speaker at School’s here in Hawai’i and across the U.S, sharing his inspirational message of Innovate & Inspire by Sharing Aloha Around the World. Teaching the next generation the importance of following their dreams by finding what is important to them and then sharing it with others. Living a healthy and active lifestyle while learning our responsibility of taking care of our planet by making it a better place for all. Zane lives this daily.
You expect participants in a highly personal, built-for-connection event like Standup for the Cure to be enthusiastic and highly invested in experiencing a positive event. The surprise for me at the November 12 event at Miami Yacht Club was the attitude and absolute commitment of the sponsors. A lot of the praise for that goes to the tireless enthusiasm and work by event director, Dan Van Dyke (shown here leading the prayer circle).
Before I go on and on about the weather for the event (absolutely stellar), the course (indescribably beautiful) and the raffle prizes (so many, and all so cool), I will introduce you to some of the many sponsors i enjoyed talking with.
The sun was bright so one of the first people I chatted with was Morgan Parker of Raw Elements, makers of clear and tinted sunscreen made with 100% natural ingredients including zinc oxide. The moisturizer was evident as I applied the clear stick blend to my face. They were at the event because, “It’s a great cause and a natural audience for our mission toward skincare and cancer prevention.”
Speaking of prevention, I experienced the quick and easy breast cancer screening available at no charge to all. In the course of the Standup for the Cure history hundreds upon hundreds of early stage cancers have been detected, with support and followup made available. Each $125 raised by the event is used to support someone in need for screening. With $850,000+ raised so far think of the positive impact the event has had for so many of us across the country.
We all love the ocean, surfing and a great cause but we don’t all take action to make a difference. Two local high school students Jacy and Joie started SURF TO THE RESCUE at the end of their 2016 school year. These students donate proceeds to Surfers for Autism, except on Nov 12 all proceeds went to Standup for the Cure. The shirts are top quality and the logos unique – and their hearts are definitely in the right place.
Besides winning a very cool hat at the Ambry Genetics booth (answered questions about breast cancer correctly), I had a fantastic conversation with Jaci Talpash. Few could be more proud of the work done by their company. She shared so much about all Ambry Genetics does and I walked away grateful for all the teams behind the innovations and research.
The team from Cobian Footwear (check out the styles) lives their #everystepmatters message with their participation in causes that resonate. Grag Tayler shared, “We are national sponsors of Standup for the Cure, so this is not a one time effort for us. They are honored to be part of the effort fighting breast cancer and those working to find a cure.
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse fed us well with perfectly grilled burgers on melt in your mouth buns. Kona Brewing Company team froze their hands off reaching into a cooler full of ice to hand us perfectly chilled beer. We all needed it after an active morning. The morning was made more active for many as Andrew Crane representing Starboard shared Allstar and Freeride boards, paddles, leashes and PFDs to dozens upon dozens of eager paddlers, both novice and super experienced racers.
Sometimes a message just hits home – for me it was a yoga class about 2 years ago. A quote, right timing and a curiosity for “present moment awareness” set me on an adventure I called “Power of Presence SUP,” meditations to hear while paddling. It’s funny – once you become aware, the signs, lessons, energy and path that’s right seem to open wide.
Often on a long paddle the rhythm of the water and the movement set my mind adrift. Other times, it sets my mind on fire. After a fantastic TEDx Women Bend conference last week – it was on fire! Stories are me! And this was a day of harnessing our own story, beginning with, “What is life asking me to do now?” Through exploration of inspiration, intuition and insight we can create the story (and the path) that’s right for us, right now.
Our story can begin much like the conference began – with poetics of authenticity. Krayna Castelbaum dazzled us with poetry selections that left me with this message, “A new beginning of the heart is waiting for you to be ready to emerge.” That’s solid enough to grapple and gnaw on for a 4-5 mile paddle on a sunny day.
Or maybe when the surf looks daunting the phrase she shared, “Learn to find ease in risk,” could be very valuable.
Poetry. I haven’t really immersed in the rhythm and wisdom, rhyme and heart of poetry for a long while. My poetry is in the water, waves, currents and wind.
I am inspired to give time to poetry, to the bold words of others stoked on life lived boldly and with heart. Thank you Krayna for sharing. And the next time I get crushed by a shorebreak and finally grab my board to paddle out again I can be grateful with these words resonating, “Courage kindled and you stepped out eyes young again.”
Mindfulness, meditation and the gift of poetry on the water.
It’s a tried and true, well-known aspiration – let’s see, do, experience or visit (fill in the blank) and check it off our “bucket list.” Ed and I headed to Lake Powell with our Starboard inflatable touring boards and a bucket list- slot canyon paddling experience in mind. Fortunately we had contacted Joe and Jordan at Lake Powell Paddleboards beforehand to schedule a one-day private trip.
From the first moment we walked into their shop we knew that Joe and Jordan had created a very special culture and vibe in Page, Arizona. The store was built out of a number of shipping containers, paneled with wood reclaimed from pallets and insulated with environmentally sound materials.
The photos just begin to tell the story. Joe (behind the counter) is under a custom painted board, just one of many unique, one-of-a-kind objects and posters that tell the story of connection with community and water-athletes.
After falling spontaneously in love with the canyons and waters that make Lake Powell, they made a move based from their heart and a passion for standup paddling. Check out their website often. While they have an incredible service-based operation now – they envision so much more Lake Powell exploration and coolness coming in 2017.
We were so lucky to grab the last full-day adventure of their season. After a long and busy spring-summer, Joe told us to be at the marina at 6:30 am because the beauty and glassiness of the water is prime at sunrise. No burn out or fatigue from Joe after all those busy weeks – he was no less in awe of the oranges that welcomed our day or the full moon setting as we hopped on the boat.
We got a “whack on the side of the head” from a day that turned all expectation on its ear. The best words I can use to describe the energy and magic that Joe and the team at Lake Powell Paddleboards brought to the experience are “a sense of wonder.” That and an absolute respect and love for Lake Powell.
We hadn’t motored 100 yards before Joe pulled out a fish net and picked up a floating bag of chips that apparently blew off a boat. There was very little litter but he nabbed the few we saw. Not a word was said, but the respect was evident. And the “talk story” continued without a hiccup. We learned so much – what a day!
Our destination for the day was Labyrinth Canyon, a spot we could have reached in maybe a third of the time if we zoomed over with a focus on “arriving.” That’s not the experience we got – and for that we were beyond grateful. We meandered up river and learned the names of landmarks and formations along the way. Boundary Butte and Dominguez Butte became familiar, as did Navajo Rock, Tower Rock and Gunsight. Joe shared so much insight about the water, the rocks, geology and canyons.
More than what we learned, we connected to the energy and awe in the magnificence of where we were. Joe couldn’t hide his enthusiasm if he wanted to.
We arrived as the solitary adventurers at the mouth of Labyrinth Canyon and secured the boat on the sand.
Yippee! It was paddle time. We got on our Riviera Voyager 12’6″ boards (awesome tracking and glide) and began the paddle into the canyon that became more narrow, incredible and “full of wonder” as we went. Maybe 2 miles into the canyon and it narrowed. The water ended at a small beach with a path that wound into the canyon ahead.
We left the boards and donned water shoes for what would be the most unexpected, amazing experience – again – instilling us with a child-like sense of “WOW!” that increased with every step.
The photos barely do justice to the texture, colors, ever-changing light and shadow. The vibration of the ages seemed to radiate from the twisting and turning serpentine hallways of ancient stone.
At one point the air filled with a low thumping sound. We looked up and saw a Great Horned Owl swoop up then land on the canyon wall just overhead. As curious about us as we were about him, we enjoyed several minutes of shared stares. What a bonus.
Back to the water we began our paddle out of the more narrow canyon slots to the wider areas where the wind had picked up a bit. With maybe 500 images captured by our cameras we were still remarking at every turn – “amazing!!!
As we began our journey back to the dock enjoying lunch and “talk story” time we fully expected Joe to be more than ready to close down this final guided trip of the season. Not so. He had a few other spots to share. We came around one rock outcropping to see a section of sky and clouds that dazzled.
Joe had seen the shot and let us snap more photos. At another area the water was more shades of absolutely clear blues and greens than you could imagine. Yes, it was October, but the day was warm, sunny and we had to leap in.
You may be able to take a guided standup paddle trip in many different beautiful places. But if you are ever in the vicinity of Lake Powell don’t miss the chance to gain that kid-like grin, the custom experience and the customer service expertise that comes with a special discovery – Lake Powell Paddleboards.
From ski movies to films about surfing, SUP, cycling and wilderness adventures, I love to vicariously travel and experience sports stories. While I work in words, music and images presented in films can impart an energy and immersion like nothing else. Last night I had the pleasure of viewing a film envisioned and produced by Jim Brewer. The film is Driftwood. Directed by Peter Trow and narrated by Shaun Tomson, it carries the viewer on an extraordinary journey.
Driftwood is more than simply a film about paddle surfing, but equally about culture and discovery. Surfers Sam George, Noah Yap, Ammy Naff, and Jim Brewer travel to Sri Lanka, Iceland, and Colombia, among other places, on their quest to paddle rivers and oceans around the world. In a conversation with Jim Brewer, her shared, ” I had an idea to make a film that focused more on the places we visited rather than the travelers themselves. It was my job to capture details for each location. Hopefully, the viewer will get a sense of the experience of the many different locations and cultures.”
In my mind, the team did exactly that! While I have no aptitude for music, I couldn’t miss the dance between breath-taking local images and the rhythm and style of the soundtrack. Jim explains it like this, “I put an incredible amount of time into finding the soundtrack for the film. I wanted the music of the film to be representative of locations we visited and help to create a feeling for the country and our adventures there. For me, the music is the most important part of the film so I put a lot of effort into finding tracks that help to highlight the images.”
They nailed it! I read a review of the film by Glenn Dubock and couldn’t agree more with his description of the Driftwoodexperience, “Imagine yourself free floating in a liquid Technicolor world; here, you interact with locals and wildlife in places that haven’t seen anyone ply their waters on a craft quite like yours. This is exactly what the creative Jim Brewer and Peter Trow so masterfully captured in high definition during their globetrotting adventure on standup paddleboards. “Driftwood,” as Brewer clearly states, is not a movie about SUP—SUP just happens to be the watercraft of choice that allows Brewer and Trow to enter into some very far off places and become involved with some very far-out people.”
Put your passport away and grab a beer and some popcorn – the adventure comes to your home. Enjoy a short trailer here, then grab your copy of Driftwood.
The La Ventana Classic ended its race week with a 5.5 downwind race from the Hot Springs to Baja Joe’s. Overall rankings were announced at the end of the day with Bonnie Fromm, Terri Plunkett and Dianna Steven taking first, second and third respectively for the Wahine class. While by no surprise, Anthony Vela, who has dominated all of the week’s SUP races, took first followed by Jeremy Vaine and MacRae Wylde.
Better than trophies, Terri and Bonnie met while inadvertantly crashing into each other at crazy, gnarly buoy turns in Race #1 – the course race – and being gracious about it all. They easily connected and became fast friends. Terri shares, “Race # 1 sucked. The course race was insane for me because paddling upwind on an inflatable is so hard. My inflatable ULI board was incredible in the down wind events, it really took off in the wind! The best part of the course race is that it was when I met Bonnie Fromm. Good PEOPLE that Bonnie Girl and she is strong and fast!!”
Bonnie set the stage for our story, “Terri and I competed in 4 out of 5 events: a course race, a 4 mile downwind, La Cruces 10mile, and El Norte 5 mile downwind. We both skipped the island crossing as it was 11 miles of cross chop and would have made the final races too much. The final El Norte was my favorite as the wind was great and the waves coming into Baja Joe’s were a hoot.”
The Downwinder Sprint is an 8 mile coastal Downwinder sprint from Rancho Las Cruces- paddlers race downwind breaking free in the La Ventana swells with the wind at their back. It was the most challenging race of the event. It was meant to be a down winder but the waves and wind both were on shore with wave reflection from the cliffs. Bonnie gives us some insight, “We had the rare opportunity to start our downwind paddle race from Las Cruces, the private playground for Bing Crosby and the Ratpack! It was eight miles of pristine coastline in wild waves that challenged every balance muscle! Incredible experience with Awesome people! We paddled cross wind through huge washing machine waves for about 7 miles before rounding Puento Gordo and turning downwind. It was BEAUTIFUL but some of the most difficult water I have ever been on. I was thrilled to remain standing and dry with only a few tumbles to my tush.”
Terri told us that the drive to the start of the La Cruces race took 2 1/2 hours through dirt roads across a countryside that was surreal and spectacular. A key was needed to get in to the gate, a private access to the start. The start was in the middle of no where – and once the horn sounded the racers were split apart by wind and waves. Terri explained, “I felt very alone. Back on shore no one remained after the start. I paddled past incredible, pristine beaches but it was also a bit eerie, no buildings or support.
I was connected to my board, the only means of support, by a thin leg leash. Once we passed Puento Gordo the experience could not have been better. Las Cruces. Baja Mexico. 10.5miles of paddling along this magical pristine coast line with winds blowing us furiously toward the finish line. What a rare and amazing experience. Another gift paddling a SUP has given me. Along with a new friend.”
On Facebook, Anthony Vela posted, “This was the start of the Tres Cruces Downwind race in La Ventana. Such a beautiful place to see, thank you to everyone at the La Ventana Classicwho helped with the many logistics to make moments like these possible. Over 50 miles of paddling last week
After the awards were announced, Tim took the mic to announce the final sum that was raised in support of the local school kids.All money, beyond costs of running the event, will go directly to the Amigos de Alumnos group, to contribute to high school scholarships and help local students in La Ventana/El Sargento continue their education. The grand total of $12,666 dollars will allow 42 kids to continue high school!
Terri couldn’t say enough about winner of the Classic, Anthony Vela. Back in CA, Anthony leads Performance Paddling (Dana Point, CA), for adult racers. Terri tells us, “The drills that we practice with Performance Paddling I used in every event, particularly the 11-mile side wind island crossing. ‘Bracing,’ ‘One sided paddling,’ ‘Step back & brace,’ ‘Lean turning,’ ‘Stop back brace and stall’ and the ‘Quick change drill.’ So many things we practice every day are applied to open ocean paddling.”
Bonnie had been in Baja for 4 weeks and had done numerous down wind paddles. She trains by doing, trying to paddle a few times a week throughout the year. She’s stoked by the performance of her Amundson 12’6″ TR-X, “my saving grace in the wild seas.”
Cross training is part of Bonnie’s program, “I’m off to the Northwest to ski and hope to enter my first skate ski race! Paddlewise I will probably not compete again until The Rose City Races (Portland).
Big thanks to all the sponsors and volunteers at the event— without them it would not have been possible! The mayors of local towns, Los Planes and El Sargento, were both in attendance and were incredibly thankful for everybody’s support.
Some history ……… Las Cruces, Baja MX – Rancho Las Cruces The exclusive property of Las Cruces is located approximately 30 road miles south east of La Paz, capital of the State of Baja California Sur, Mexico Rancho Las Cruces Baja Resort The start of the 11mile downwinder Hernán Cortés, the Spanish conquistador, was told about a great Island filled with gold and pearls of wonderful size and color. Determined to find the source of such impressive riches and to claim the fabled island of pearls for the Spanish crown Cortés sent various expeditions. On one of these Cortés himself set forth and landed on May 3rd, 1535 on what was thought to be an island. In commemoration of his landing he placed three crosses on the land he baptized as Santa Cruz. Stone replicas of these crosses still remain in the site where Rancho Las Cruces now stands. Part of the land known as Santa Cruz by the early Explorers would later be named Las Cruces. Although he found no gold, Cortés did find pearls of astonishing beauty.
Abelardo L. Rodriguez Montijo & Lucille Bremer Down the centuries the shores of Las Cruces and the islands of Cerralvoand Espirito Santo were renowned for their fabulous pearls but a decline in the pearl oyster started as early as 1900 and by 1929 the pearl industry of Baja belonged to the past. Standing where Cortés once stood more than 400 years earlier, Abelardo L. Rodriguez Montijo watched the rising sun cast its array of magnificent color on the tranquil sea. He saw the remains of thatched huts, water wells and aqueducts that once irrigated beautiful tropical orchards and native palms. He realized then, that although depleted of pearls, Las Cruces could still provide treasure. He believed that the enchantment of ten thousand acres with more than five miles of private sea coast would be gratifying to those who must face maddening crowds and churn through congested traffic. In 1948 he and his beautiful bride, Lucille Bremer decided to turn Las Cruces into a small luxury resort.