Kids Gain Self-Confidence. There is simply nothing like being able to go a distance opr explore a body of water with your own physical energy from a very young age. Riding a bike is one thing. Skillfully steering and powering a paddleboard is quite another. All of a child’s athletic endeavors helps to shape their sense of self, but SUP opens the door to a community of “waterpeople” of all ages and abilities. How often can an entire family head out to the water – each independent but connected? How often can a young athlete stand board to board at the start of a race with elite paddlers – who nurture and inspire?
Spatial awareness. When kids learn how to navigate a standup board through narrow spaces and tight turns—how to avoid collisions, round a buoy with finesse, or squeeze into a packed starting line at a regatta—they develop a spatial awareness that will bring them prowess all activities that involve coordination. Like driving, for instance.
Sense of direction. Kids might paddle all week with a class, camp program or clinic – and gain one set of skills. They become able to go out and explore on their own – which delivers a different set of challenges and rewards. By planning a route with guidance, heading out with the right safety equipment a young person can begin to develop a good sense of direction. Noticing which direction they had come from, picking out landmarks, and knowing how to get back becomes a regular part of their stream of consciousness. That awareness is crucial to having a sense of direction.
Weather knowledge. Do you know from which direction thunder storms normally come? Do you know what the water temperature normally is in cold water climates?? If your child is a standup paddler, he or she will know. Weather knowledge will come in handy both on-the-water and on land.
Sportsmanship and Community. Standup paddling has such an easy learning curve as newcomers to the sport start as beginners. Young people who have put in some time and have gained some skills – usually from a parent or mentor – can easily adopt those roles for themselves. The nature of SUP events invites connection, fun and even competition across age groups. On the land or on the water opportunities to share equipment and knowledge are abundant.
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.
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.
Age 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.
“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. “
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.
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.
Imagine you are enjoying a cool drink while overlooking the beautiful crystal blue water of the Caribbean and the white sand beaches of the Bahamas. As you think about it, you wonder — where did these ice cubes come from, and where did the water come from that made the punch?
You’re surrounded by the beautiful seawater, but you know you can’t drink it. That leaves a small dot of an island as the only source for your water. More than likely the water in your drink came from a well. But given the small size of the island, the amount of fresh groundwater available is limited.
So the question: Where do tourists get their water? Do they get from it from the same well that the island’s residents do, or does the resort ship in its own water?
A bigger and better question: Could our youngest generation- who will be inheriting such water issues- be inspired to imagine solutions both creative and effective for solving such wicked problems?
More than likely, the resort takes the water out of the island aquifer and treats it to make the water a level of freshness acceptable to tourists. Unfortunately, as the water is drawn from the local aquifer and treated, the fresh water that remains for the Bahamian residents becomes saltier.
Is this fair to the residents? Which is more important, fresh water for the tourism industry or freshwater for island residents? Is the salty water from the aquifer a minor inconvenience for the residents who can buy bottled freshwater, or is it a social injustice that takes away a basic human right from the resident?
There are no simple answers to these questions. The fact is the residents need the tourism industry to earn money and make a living. On the other hand, the degradation of water quality is a negative impact on the islanders’ quality of life.
Such a dilemma represents a “wicked problem” (Rittel and Webber 1973). A wicked problem represents a conflict between stakeholders (tourists and Bahamians in this example) that has no clear-cut answers and no clear winners or losers. More than likely such a wicked problem will continue over time and never be resolved to either side’s satisfaction.
We CAN empower our tech-savvy and vulnerable youth who will be inheriting our planet. We can begin with one youth, one school and one community at a time. We can invest in solutions by empowering the very youth for whom we hope to save our global waters. We can begin with a hefty dose of FUN, the SUP kind.
Connecting technology, active ocean sport, resources and fertile ground for nurturing solutions can empower solutions for island communities challenged by wicked water issues. That is the premise of ELDER SUP’s crowd-funding project: STANDUP FOR MOTHER OCEAN. We will begin connecting our support and advocacy in than the incredible Commonwealth of the Bahamas.
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.
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)
In about 6 weeks I’ll be leaving on a jet plane for Battle of the Paddle. I missed it last year and cannot wait to be part of the biggest SUP celebration around. Nearly six MONTHS ago I started looking for a 12’6″ race board to rent. The initial quest was quite specific – and within a few months I was regretting the purchase of a plane ticket and the long long drive was starting to seem like the best bet. There were no boards of any kind, any size to rent (beg or borrow) for the event. I was thinking of dumping the plane ticket and strapping my surfboard to the car and heading south to be a part of the OPEN Surfboard class.
Then I had the chance to talk with Steve Gates at Big Winds in Hood River, Oregon. He had the answer for me – and for many others, most likely. He invited me to come on up to take the Big Winds shuttle and give his demo/rental Naish ONE a try on my favorite down wind run from Viento to the Hood River event site. Better yet, I thought I’d buy one – but these inflatable one-design standup 12’6″ boards are so popular that they’ll be sold out for another week or so. I will have to wait until I arrive in Hood River for the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge to get two Naish ONEs – one for me and one for hubby, Ed. We travel a lot by air – I think these Naish ONES will get more air miles than even water miles!
What really has me jazzed is the opportunity for one-design racing, youth racing, family activities, and travel adventure and exploration that the Naish ONE can drive. (Follow Naish on Facebook)
One early entry in hosting a one-design event was the Weymouth Ecover Blue Mile, held at the 2012 Olympic water sports venue. It proved a resounding success with an amazing 467 people taking part in the Naish N1SCO One design SUP races and free taster sessions. Naish UK put up £1,000 in prize money for a series of races, in which all riders used the Naish ONE 12‘6” N1SCO Inflatable board. The event included an intermediate race (400m), sprint races (100m), and a 1,500m course – the Ecover Blue Mile. Watch a recap of the event here: http://vimeo.com/71723598
Alex Tobutt, a representative of Naish UK, said the weekend had introduced SUP to brand new enthusiasts, “The really nice thing was that the SUP racing wasn’t elitist; anyone could take part. “We had people of all ages and experience and some people had never done it before – and all of them were able to do it. Another great thing was that although everyone was competing, they were also helping each other and supporting each other. ”
I grew up sailing and surfing, doing the juniors one-design sailing back in the 50’s. Then as our family grew up enjoying swimming and one-design sailing in a yacht club setting, the extensive value, family connection, sportsmanship and camaraderie around wind and water sports was priceless. As yacht and sailing clubs begin to adopt standup paddling as a youth and family program option for sport and fitness, it’s important that the same careful consideration put into selecting one-design sailing craft is invested into the SUP purchase.
I met Candice Appleby for about 5 minutes at the Naish Gorge Challenge in August 2012. She’s a charismatic SUP athlete who’s hard to miss, wise and giving beyond her years. Most of us at age 27 are simply trying to figure what we and our lives are all about. For others, their focus, imagination, talent and commitment have inspired a clear path along the journey. Candice Appleby discovered her passion for ocean and watersports early and has played her way with heart and hard training to the podium – and more importantly – beyond! Beyond SUP, Candice competes in ocean triathlons, various Pro Longboard events, body surfing, canoe surfing, prone paddleboarding, lifeguard competitions and other ASP sanction events. In 2010, Stand Up Journal featured her as the “Woman of the Year” in their worldwide publication. in 2011 she launched an Anti-Bullying campaign called “Stand Up for the Children.” Expanding the ways in which she gives back, Candice has taken on the role of CFO/Co-Founder of Performance Paddling LLC. It is in the balance of fitness, competition, travel, family and faith that I am able to fully appreciate all the things I am capable of accomplishing, as well as inviting new opportunities into my life.
Candice Applebyand Anthony Vela are two of the most recognizable faces in the world of Stand Up Paddling. Candice has won the Elite Race at the Battle of the Paddle more than anyone else but it’s not just the racing that makes these two so well loved. Candice recently shared these thoughts after the Inaugural Performance Paddling Junior Pro & Youth SUP (May 2013), “Yesterday was undoubtably one of the most joyful days of my life so far. All of the smiling faces of these precious children are engraved in my heart. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart to all of the sponsors who helped make this event possible. To all of the volunteers and crew, this wouldn’t have been possible without your help. Each and every one of you played a huge role in the success of this event. Thank you so much for working so hard. To the Children, it was a pleasure watching your skills and talents on the water. You all shined bright for the whole SUP world to see. Parents, thank you for supporting your children’s ambitions and promoting a healthy active lifestyle. Anthony, I don’t even know what to say. You have changed my life in so many ways and helped me turn many of my dreams into realities. Thank you My Love. You are the best friend and companion I could ever have. And of course, thank you Lord!
More and more Candice and Anthony are putting back into the sport, especially through their coaching. Just over twelve months ago the pair stepped up that commitment when they created Performance Paddling. The initial focus was on hosting SUP coaching clinics at the big races they travel to. Their vision has evolved into much more. The creation of the “Performance Paddling Competition Team“, which is basically an elite junior squad of Stand Up Paddlers inspires paddlers both young and old while guiding the culture around standup paddling as a sport and a community. In a sport as young as SUP there is not a culture of tradition and mentors.
Rather than having a cadre of “elders” who inspire the next generation, Candice and Anthony have stepped into that role. It will make all the difference. That sort of “connection across generations” is exactly the sort of story we love to share at Elder SUP.
Candice recently posted a quote from a coffee table book titled, ONE. A portion of it is here. As you read it, it’s important to know that Candice posted it during a time she was recovering from hand surgery that has curtailed her competing as she heals and rehabs. During that time she has remained active and giving within the SUP world, all with her signature smile.
“A great life includes something worth living for, maybe even worth dying for. A portion of a great life would be devoted to something bigger, greater, grander than yourself. Something that inspires you, energizes you, pulls you forward. Something that responds to your unique talent or touch and , ultimately, makes a difference in the world around you.
A great life would naturally bring more meaning, love, laughter, wonder and adventure to your days. At the end of your journey you would look back on a life of significance, rather than regret-knowing in your heart that you left the world better than you found it. Knowing that you made a difference in the lives of others. Knowing that you got something wonderful out of it, and that you gave something wonderful back.
A great life, of course, is not something we experience, it’s something we create.”
There is no doubt that in the process of creating a great life for herself, Candice radiates the energy that inspires us to dig deeper, mine our talents well and share what we can with others – generously and with love.
As she moves through the work and time it takes to recover from hand surgery patience and persistence will pay off. Recently Candice reported, ” I surfed my longboard yesterday for the first time since my surgery and it felt so good. Thanks for all the continued prayers and positive thoughts. I still have a ways to go before my hand is ready to properly grip a paddle, but I WILL GET THERE. Thanks for your continued support.”
Sooner or later we’ll all have that injury or life challenge that will deliver a setback that demands our strongest attitude and commitment. Flexibility, a grin and accepting the support of friends can make the journey an exercise in the attitude of gratitude. Thanks for the reminder, Candice.
When commenting on her life with Anthony Vela she explains that sometimes it’s like a dream. Candice recognizes, “My life is so blessed. Thanks to all of my friends through the years from whom I have learned about life and the ocean. I am thankful everyday. How did I get so lucky?”
Candice, I think you have made your own luck. As a SUP Muse, you inspire us to use our talents and energy in a similar manner.