Category Archives: Rivers

Ride – Glide and Starboard Innovation: Again!

I got a LOT more than bumps in last weekend’s Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge. I got a BUMP in performance and outcomes during the annual down-winder from Viento to Hood River Waterfront Park. It started with a question.

(Photo Credit – featured photo: Gorge-US Photography)

I am a solid fan of the Starboard 12’6″ Deluxe Inflatable Touring board and wondered if it would perform as well on the Columbia River bumps as it does on all sorts of river, lake and ocean conditions we adventure into. I went to the Starboard booth and asked Dan Gavere, “Is my 12’6″ Touring board the best board for me to ride today?”

starboard_sup_12_2x32_free_ride_xl_nose_21The answer is – I would have a lot more fun on a board designed for waves, racing and downwind!  I was very fortunate to connect with Dan Gavere who was manning the Starboard booth at the event. In the midst of talking to tons of avid dealers and Starboard paddlers, he took the time to answer my question. (Much Mahalo!) Dan explained, “You need a specific board for specific conditions – [and the conditions were forecast to be epic- 30+ mph winds on the beautiful Columbia River down wind run].” Dan was kind enough to let me demo the 2017 12’2″ Freeride Hybrid Carbon. And so the story began.

This is the fifth year I have had the absolute joy of doing this event. The very first time was in 2012 (story here). I have done it on a stock surfboard (11’3″), an inflatable, a 12’6″ race board and a 14′ race board. Guess what – this year on the 12′ 2″ X 30″ Starboard Freeride – I not only had my fastest run in similar conditions and training – I am 67 years old.freeride3

This is not usually the year for a personal best with little training and zero down wind practice since last August.

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Pre-race stoke!

Am I stoked – oh YES I am!!! I did my fastest time ever with ZERO falls. Never even got my hair wet. This was not for lack of trying. I went after every bump – aggressively, and the wonderful Freeride graciously sped up, grabbed the glides, burried a nose now and then, but gracefully popped right out and zoomed me forward.

It was so cool to zoom past 12’6″ and 14′ race boards on this stable and agile “all-round” board with surf performance fun.

I am now 24 hours after the race and – no soreness anywhere. No soreness any day for a 67 year old woman is one thing, but after 1:42:23 of hard (fun) paddling is something else.

I am not trained  more than any other year but I noticed one thing. Because the Freeride is so stable (I never fell)  I was not fatiguing my legs and back by trying to stay on the board. I could use every paddle stroke efficiently, balanced and solid. And, when on a glide, I could easily step into surf stance and RIDE!!!!!

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Ready for the most fun I ever had during a Columbia River down wind from Viento to Hood River Waterfront Park

Little did I know as I slid onto the start line what an experience this Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge would be. Woohoo! Total fun all the way.

One of the best parts of the experience was the amazineg”group hug” at the finish from so many of the Starboard Ambassadors and riders. Mahalo to you all for running up, greeting me and making my day with stories and support – Kristin Thomas, Lisa Schell, Sarah Sandstrom, Hailey Driver, Leilani Gibson and Terri Plunkett.

So sure, I won the 60+ age group with no competition, but in going through the finish times among the Downwind Women – the Starboard Freeride delivered me 12th overall in a field of 25. Truly – and seriously – the equipment matters. I have never enjoyed so many glides, I counted them as 20+ seconds more time than once. the bumps connected in combinations of 3 glides, so often. My legs loved having the stability and my surfer-head loved the agility and absolute “go-get-the-bumps” fun-factor.

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Tons of fun being a board caddy for the course race – the Starboard race boards are light and so easy to carry (Photo: Leilani Gibson)

I am so grateful I ran into Dan Gavere at the Starboard booth – that changed my entire weekend. Check out this innovative and game-changing board for yourself.

“Ulitmate glide on an all-round board.”

The Starboard Freeride Hybrid Carbon:

This light weight hybrid layup, offers a good weight at great strength.
I was riding the 2017 Freeride: Thanks to Dan Gavere I learned more about the 2017 Freeride, “It has construction that is called Starlite which is new and costs much less than Carbon. It has Innegra rails that can’t be chipped and features Starboard’s sandwich full PVC wrap making it last a lifetime which is better for the environment because it outlasts other boards and won’t find itself in a landfill.”

Nature’s Intervals: Focus, Pace and Legs

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Elder SUP ready for “nature’s intervals” – up wind and up current

It was a cloudy, calm summer morning, about 60 degrees and the flags at the Deschutes River were lying lazily calm as I headed to the water for a few hours of intervals. Board of choice was the 12’6″ Starboard Astro Inflatable Deluxe – great glides and fast! My paddle was the adjustable Tiare from Kialoa.

The water looked invitingly glassy – then the first gust powered down the canyon in my face as I started on the first up current .7 mile segment. Holy cow – Mother Nature was master of these intervals. The deal was: paddle hard or go backwards.

OK – I was in! Today my focus was on really using legs to drive the board forward with each stroke. Grabbing insights from a number of recent clinics the goal was keeping form and technique on every interval segment.

Fiona Wylde (at Santa Cruz Paddlefest)- Bend your knees more and get your bottom hand lower. (Check)

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Photo by OnIt Pro

Zane Schwetizer ( at Standup 4 the Cure) – Use your legs. Keep your hips facing forward during the rotation of your stroke then bring your board to your paddle. Quads are powerful drivers.

dave-techniqueDave Kalama (at Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge)- Drive your paddle quietly and solidly into the water on your catch – be sure you have a solid catch before you start to bring your paddle back.

DownstreamIt’s amazing how a race pace interval against wind and current can fly by when the mind is fully focused on technique.  When I got to the rapids that marked the turn point it was down current and down wind recovery time.

Whooooosh, in a nanosecond I was back at the put in – ready for lap #2. And so it went for almost 2 hours.  I usually balk at training when the up current river segments are 15-25 mph wind in the face – but today “nature’s intervals” were all about focus and surprisingly were FUN.

healkyEveryone wants to make the most out of their training and get faster. Everyone wants to paddle faster, but actually paddling faster still tends to be elusive. Lets review a few things that can help you either increase, or keep up, the speed while you’re on the water stand up paddling.

Focus:

To go faster we need to focus on our technique! When you zone out or stop focusing on your cadence and reach, form breaks down and you start moving slower. Take your own game plan to the water, rely on your training, and focus on your technique.

Reach:

You’re focused and you have a solid cadence, now you want to really reach. When paddling, you want to get every inch of reach you can to propel yourself forward. Further reach gives you a longer pull, this means your blade is in the water for more time. In theory you keep your board moving, as opposed to when you’re recovering the blade and your board is decelerating. The companion of reach is exiting your paddle from the water – at your feet, not behind them. The moment your paddle begins pushing water up rather than powering your board forward it’s wasted effort.  An entire training session can be an exploration of catch and reach. (Bend those legs)

Fun

Make it a game. Train with a buddy. Set a goal. And best of all, celebrate when you’re done. A session out on the water is what we live for – make it great!

 

Dave Kalama: You’re Gonna Get More Glides

Photo by 808Photo.me
Photo by 808Photo.me

This article contains two powerful lessons from Dave Kalama. If you do down winders, no matter what your skill level,  reading the water and getting your glides are skills you’ll want to hone. 

A big “mahalo” goes out to Dave for taking the time to share these insights. And kudos to four of the Hood River Kalama Kamp who earned medals after their time with Dave Kalama.

Photo by 808Photo.me
Photo by 808Photo.me

Back Story:Did you happen to catch any of the action during the recent, and very challenging, Molokai 2 Oahu (M2O) race?  The conditions were  epic, to say the least. Right at the front of the action was Dave Kalama keeping pace with the young guns, despite pushing 50 years of age.

The focus and confidence Kalama demonstrated in that event was built on decades of pursuing everything that defines a waterman.  Dave’s commitment to putting in the quality miles and hours it takes to compete at this level is well known. What might be less known is his absolute gift of explaining the techniques and insights he’s honed over a lifetime. These insights can be yours.

A lifetime on the water - Mahalo to Dave Kalama for sharing his insights
A lifetime on the water – Mahalo to Dave Kalama for sharing his insights

Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or a solidly advanced standup paddler ready to hone your down wind skills, you will be interested in a recent conversation I had with Dave. One take- away, “Ultimately, instruction on reading the water and having a sense of reading wind, waves, current and glides, will make minimal sense unless you are repeatedly in a downwind situation being exposed to each set of circumstances.”

A number of fortunate SUP athletes looking to gain expertise at doing a down wind run will take a Kalama Kamp clinic in Hood River. others whose dreams are filled with tropical oceans and bays will meet up with Dave at Kalama Kamp in the Turks & Caicos and Fiji.

Rather than gaining just a nugget or two, like those in this article, Kalama Kamp attendees will be exposed to the mother lode of advice and experience right in the environment where it can be practiced immediately. Each of the “nuggets” below was something I had heard from Dave, but more impressive, I heard the same thing from Kalama Lamp attendees I have met at various SUP events around the Pacific Northwest.

hoodriverNugget #1: This was shared with me by a recent Kalama Kamp attendee in Hood River, Jared from Tahoe, “I learned so many specific things about my stroke and body mechanics during the ground clinic. We used brooms and it was really cool. But the best part was out on the water. Dave told us specifically what we were looking for. We could see, really observe what we were looking for, Dave told us when to paddle and go for glides and we practiced and got immediate feedback.

The NUGGET: The backs of waves will present themselves to you. You can use the nose of your board as an indicator of when you should paddle.  As the swell comes under your board it will lift up the back of your board. The angle it lifts your board will match the steepness of the swell. A deep trough translates to a steep face.  Pay attention to the nose of your board.  The more the nose begins to lift you can anticipate that the tail will be lifted by the swell a few seconds later. When the nose is up at its apex begin your attack to catch the next swell. Begin with a stroke at 50-60% to initiate the rhythm but go to your max through the next few strokes. By building the stroke early you are building the tension to move your board forward. Be aware of when the nose of your board is at the apex and drop your paddle in then to  gain tension against the water and set your rhythm. BY the third paddle stroke you should be at 100% and enjoying the glide!

At the Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge I met some “repeat offenders” who had been to a number of Kalama Kamps and are eagerly looking forward to the Kamp in Fiji. Alex and Ashley from Canada explained, “We are intermediate and beginner level paddlers. (Ashley is just getting into down wind riding while Alex has more experience). The Kamp is equally great for both of us. From the on land work, video, recap and reviews to time on the water, Dave not only refines our skills but he motivates us to learn more and gain confidence.

Nugget #2: A Kalama Kamp (Hood River) participant who has taken 3 Kamps already, also named Dave, shared this, “Kalama spends time with every participant on and off the water. He has a knack of explaining technique in a way that I can understand. I was not using my body to drive the board forward. I gained so much confidence in how I gain speed with better technique.”

The Nugget: This video explains it so well:

Inspire Clean Rivers: Youth Video Voice

Got video camera, phone or GoPro? Want to go to the Jack Johnson concert in Bend, OR on August 24? Well here’s a contest that get you in the running for TWO FREE TICKETS!

If you love the water – oceans, bays, lakes and rivers – you want to do what you can to keep them clean and healthy. Your 1-2 minute video can show us all how YOU’D keep the Deschutes River clean and clear of beer bottles, flip flops, cans, and any sort of trash.  Many groups have organized around the goal of keeping rivers and streams healthy.  In Central Oregon we are exceptionally fortunate. We have had incredible river restoration, monitoring and youth education driven and inspired by the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council (UDWC). Now the UDWC has a contest that let’s YOU be part of the solution.

How would YOU inspire others to keep the Deschutes River clean - video ideas? Jack Johnson tickets? Yeah!
How would YOU inspire others to keep the Deschutes River clean – video ideas? Jack Johnson tickets? Yeah!

Hosmer Lake Shasek

The annual impact of their educational programs is beyond measure in terms on connecting youth to the environment, culture and sense of place our local waters provide. “The staff and volunteers continuously create programs and youth opportunities that celebrate every aspect of learning about our rivers and streams from writing to science to the arts.

Now for the FUN PART! Here are links to the UDWC “Keep the Deschutes River Clean” video contest. Be serious, funny, cute and clever in a 1-2 minute video, submit before August 1 and you have a chance to win 2 tickets to the Jack Johnson concert. PARENTS – you know you want to go to this sold out concert as much as your video-savvy kids do – so light a creative fire in them, take then to the river and hand them your iPhone – it’s gonna be fun.

The contest is open to all ages, read the rules and start filming, singing, dancing, cleaning the river, floating, paddling, fishing and making a great story.

Video Contest Submission Form and Rules
Video Contest Flyer 3

“Times Like These” by Jack Johnson
(We can change “what will be” by inspiring a clean river!)

In times like these
In times like those
What will be will be
And so it goes
And it always goes on and on…
On and on it goes

SUP for Everyone: Naish ONE

Giving it my all in the OPEN Course race - so much fun!
Giving it my all in the OPEN Course race – so much fun!

Last weekend I competed in the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge. Compete is not the right word. Let’s just say that I was on my board and paddling in both the downwind and course OPEN class races and having a blast. Energy was high, the elite paddlers were exciting to watch and meet and the wind conditions kept us all on our toes.  The paddlers from the BigWinds JET team were inspirational, and true ambassadors for both our sport and their coach, Steve Gates.

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Bonnie Fromm leading our OPEN Women’s Course Race

If I had to think of one disappointing part of the weekend, it was that I won both a first and second place award.  I had paddled hard and enjoyed catching glide after glide on the Saturday downwind event – and then because there were only two of us in the age 50+ category riding a 14′ board I was fortunate to win (out of two??). Then on Sunday’s course race the real  “win” was showing up and participating. The wind cranked furiously  through the Gorge and made our 4 laps  on the upwind leg and turning at the downwind buoy a mega-challenge.  I remembered to have fun – and I charged out of the water at the end of the event pretty darn stoked!  But placing second out of two (YAY! Bonnie Fromm rocks with the win) in the 50+ age group was no cause for celebration. The participation was the prize.

I was puzzled as to why there weren’t more women in our OPEN classes. What could be done to turn the avid SUP paddlers on shore into participants rather than spectators? How could all the organization, effort and energy of the race management team be shared among more OPEN athletes?  The elite classes were full of amazing, world-class competitors.  What about the rest of us? What sort of race event could generate entries and participation across a more broad bunch of paddlers?

I didn’t have to wait long for the answer.  Steve Gates and the team from Naish had a super-cool event planned.  They had a fleet of Naish ONEs (12’6″ inflatable one-design boards) on the beach and ready for a team relay event – with rules that leveled the playing field for any participants. The Team Relay was a fun four person relay race  contested on a short course right in front of the spectator viewing area at the Waterfront Park (Hood River, OR) . Each Team was required to have at least one athlete under age 16 and one female. The young paddler and the female couldn’t be the same person. Elite athleteswere placed onto teams by the Race Director, Steve Gates of BigWinds. The Relay Race was run all on Naish One boards,

As he announced the rules, Steve Gates explained the fun-factor of the “race, “Go out and have a blast with the Naish ONE boards. They are inflatable and forgiving if you run into each other or fall off. They’re just right for any size or skill-level. This is a fun a event, be prepared to get wet and laugh.” Well, that is exactly what happened.

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

The elite athletes, as you can see from the photos. were having as much fun as the 10-year-old kids.  Even though the elites had just completed 5 loops in a gnarly, windy course they were back to play. The spectators loved watching. One of the coolest things for me was to see people lining up to have a chance to demo the Naish ONEs once the event was over.  The “have-fun” spirit of the relay event seemed to last. People were paddling, sharing tips, bumping into each other, practicing tail-turns and buoy turns and generally sharing a hefty portion of aloha. And isn’t that what it’s all about? (Click on each image for a larger image)

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I am looking forward to seeing more events like the Naish ONE team relays. I expect as people gain experience and confidence in that laid-back race venue they will take a chance with an OPEN event or two. Racing, like life, is a lot more fun when we focus on the experience more than the outcome. The next place I know of in which there will be Naish ONE fun will be in Las Vegas in early October – read more here.

Reach Old Lady – Reach

I am working to prepare myself for the challenges of doing both days of the Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge and then a month later the course OPEN race at battle of the Paddle. I am glad there’s a “sweet old lady” class for us 60+ year old chicks,  And also thrilled that there are enough of us to make a fine class – how cool!odell-me-kerui

IMGP0110The preparation and training has been so much fun. I have the joy of living along the Deschutes River. I can do up/down stream training runs right in the middle of Bend Oregon. I can drive a bit out of town and do 4-5 miles upstream and 4-5 miles back downstream to my car. The span can include the upstream ripples of Dillon Falls all the way to the forceful end of Benham Falls. The scenery is beyond beautiful.

My heart rate monitor keeps me in my selected training zone when I get distracted and sprint too often and for too long. Building a nice cardio base is pretty darn important when you are ready to be a full – fledged Medicare card carrying member (insert LOL here so as not to freak out).

I have been practicing on being efficient. Getting the most power and momentum per effort-unit is imperative. I have watched this video and have read this training tip by dave Kalama so many times – it’s been terrific. Thanks, Dave!

When I complete these events with a smile, I will thank you even more.

SUP Stoke: Connected Glides

Down wind runs! As a surfer from waaaay back in the 60’s and a sailor for many decades since, I don’t think I appreciated the extraordinary stoke that downwind runs provide.

Maybe the lack of enthusiasm for downwinders came from me being on the wrong board. I did my first downwinders on Odell Lake in Central Oregon on a surfboard. One year I was “Queen of the Lake” in first place and the next year I was dead last with the “sightseer” award. Neither time was anything other than a paddle-paddle-paddle workout. Glides were not a part of the game.

We connected with the ease of the Naish 14 Glide
We connected with the ease of the Naish 14 Glide

Then my husband and I headed to Maui for a vacation and we had the great fortune to rent a Naish 14′ Glide for a “fun-run” at the Olukai Ho’olaule’a from the youth center in Paia to Kanaha Beach Park. Talk about a dramatic change. We had so much fun that we spent the next year prepping for the 2013 event.  During our visit to Maui in May 2013 we met Jeremy Riggs who coaches paddlers on skills they need to enjoy downwinders and – GO FAST! It was great news to hear that Jeremy would be in Oregon doing a clinic at BigWinds – a wind-charged downwind from Viento to the Hood River event center 8 miles upstream/down wind.

We planned our trip and drove the three hours to Hood River, OR. Little did we know that city is practically NAISH CITY USA!

808photoJeremyRiggs

The best thing you can have during a downwind run is – WIND! We got that in spades. Sunday dawned with 25-30+ mph winds with hearty gusts far exceeding that. The waves were consistent and thigh to mid-chest high. GULP! We got just what we wanted and it was a bit intimidating.

Jeremy gave us a 90 minute clinic back at the BigWinds event center and the take-away was BRACE! Yes, if I learned nothing else I learned the value of bracing:

  • When the nose dives and you don’t know where it will pop up
  • When a side chop threatens to take you out at the ankles
  • When you need to balance during a glide then paddle-paddle-paddle fast for the next glide – and the next

At mile 6 we grouped together and prepared for the final 2 miles past the Hatchery and the kiteboarders, to the finish.  I didn’t know what I was in for at that moment. Something came together. The thigh-high bumps seemed to invite connection. i was getting 2 and 3 in a row. As the bow of the Naish 14 Glide dipped under from time to time I simply reached back with my KIALOA Hulu Ultralight and maneuvered a quick brace.  In seconds, the nose would pop out and it would be 2-3 paddles and another connected glide on the Naish Glide.  Yes, STOKED was the word of the day.
Watch it all here: