Bend, OR = Great SUP Destination

Photo by Dennis Oliphant of Sun Country Tours

Photo by Dennis Oliphant of Sun Country Tours

You heard it here – and it’s pretty cool! The TODAY show has noticed that Bend, Oregon is an amazing place to bike, hike and STANDUP PADDLE. But we knew that! The video clip shows local, Tom Burke, doing a casual tail turn.

We could have given them connections to many more video clips, right Chip Booth, Dennis Oliphant, Michelle Alvarado and many more! If any networks are looking for the in-depth story Bendites can help!

The VIDEO is here!

Power to Inspire with Malama

The reality is that by choosing to move ourselves across, over and through the magnificent waters of our world via a board and a paddle we have chosen to be self-powered.  That sets the stage for a number of metaphors. Does it inspire you to share your story? Share why you chose SUP or any other power-related tale- we’re interested.

We have one section of this site dedicated to SUP Muses.  We define SUP Muses as a category of SUP influencers whose stories inspire! Do you know a SUP Muse like Candice ApplebyKaren WrennSuzie CooneyHeather Relyea Baus or Brit Oliphant – let us meet them.

dave8SUP Ambassador:  I live in Oregon, home of the paddle family of Meg and Dave Chun and their KIALOA paddles.  I came by my first Kialoa paddle by borrowing those owned by friends.  Over time I have come to admire the technology, feel, strength and lightness of my KIALOA paddle design, but my first connection and commitment to the Kialoa company came from their attitude and traditions. (Design video chat here)

This next piece is from their website: Born on the Island of Oahu in 1991, KIALOA Paddles grew out of Dave Chun’s love for the sport of outrigger canoe racing.   Driven by the desire to build the best paddles in the world, Dave started crafting wood paddles on his parents’ lanai.  Shortly thereafter, he met Meg, a mid-westerner transplanted to Hawaii.  It was a marriage of west and east, island heritage and mainland progressiveness.  The Chuns moved the company to Bend, Oregon in 1992, bringing the Aloha spirit with them.

Against all odds, they started an outrigger club in the High Desert. Nowadays KIALOA makes a full line of stand up, outrigger and dragon boat paddles.  As a KIALOA Paddles E’lele (ambassador) I take my role with a grain of fun and plenty of listening – to all of you!boc1

I believe that as a global water loving “family” we can accomplish our mission to preserve our planet’s waters and help move them to be even more healthy.  One of the cornerstones of the Kialoa vision is Malama: Stewardship.

Got Heart? KIALOA Paddles

abilitreelogoA few years ago I had the privilege of getting to know the work of a non-profit in Bend, Oregon called Abilitree. They provided the program at Bend’s City Club focused on creating awareness of the work of their clients (be sure to learn more here). The key speaker was a slight young woman named Karen Gaffney. Karen is a world renowned swimmer – having crossed the English Channel, completed the Lake Tahoe crossing (9 miles in 50 degree water) , the Molokini Challenge and the Alcatraz Triathlon relay. Swimming was therapy after she had 5 hip surgeries before the age of 15. Karen faces such challenges with courage and will-power. One of her challenges is Down Syndrome. (Be sure to watch the video below to see Karen receive her Honorary Doctorate degree for her work and advocacy)

As in every aspect of her life, Karen has not allowed anything to limit her quest to make a difference and use every bit of her determination and talent to the max.  Karen inspired each and every person the the City Club audience that day. But no less inspiring was the opportunity that Abilitree afforded our community by making us aware of the heroes and stories of their clients right here in our town. Abilitree provides jobs, training, community service and independent living opportunities for people with disabilities. Individuals with a wide range of abilities come to their work center and receive training for various types of jobs. Abilitree then provides outsourced manufacturing, product assembly and product packaging either in their facility or on site at businesses here in Central Oregon.

Recently, I had the chance to visit the KIALOA Paddles sales and manufacturing base here in Bend, Oregon.  I had heard that KIALOA was being honored by Central Oregon Employment First as a recipient of the Workforce Inclusion Supporting excellence award for group employment. They had been working with a group of clients from Abilitree over the past few years.  I was curious to see what part of the assembly process was being handled by the group from Abilitree.

Amy Graves from KIALOA Paddles accepting the WISE Award in 2013

Amy Graves from KIALOA Paddles accepting the WISE Award in 2013

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An Abilitree client being recognized for excellence at work

If you have ever spent time with any of the team from KIALOA Paddles you know they operate under a “fun at work,” “do what you love ” environment across all teams. Their website exudes the passion and heart they have for what they do.   Being in the warehouse where hundreds of KIALOA paddles are assembled to top quality standards each day was like being a kid in a candy store. The beautiful paddle blades and endless array of paddle types distracted me from the story the KIALOA production lead, John, was sharing.

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The many faces of the KIALOA adjustable paddle

I did finally focus as John took me over to a work station where the half dozen components of the KIALOA adjustable paddle shaft were organized. As John showed me how each piece of the assembly process worked he shared the story of how the clients from Abilitree had added to the efficiency of the adjustable shaft assembly. The task of carefully completing each step of the pre-assembly for the adjustable paddle can become tedious for some. Imagine looking at a stack of 500 sets of the pre-assembly parts. It can be overwhelming – but to the team of 7 Abilitree clients who share the pre-assembly work the required attention to detail is a joy.

The repetitive tasks involved in assembling each component have been accomplished to the high KIALOA standards for over 18 months now. As John explained how various people from Abilitree keep the collaboration running smoothly he peppered that explanation with stories. The clients are consistent, enthusiastic and precise in their work. They often visit KIALOA and learn how their part in the process of assembling an adjustable paddle matters. I looked about the warehouse with different eyes after that.  The rows of adjustable paddles  were just one more example of how KIALOA includes heart  – and includes a terrific value to our community – every day.

One-Design SUP Racing: N1SCO

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

At best, I dabble at SUP racing. I like to paddle hard, go as fast as I can and refine my technique with help from my friends – and awesome YouTube videos from the pros. Over the summer of 2013 I had the opportunity to participate in the Nasih Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge, to take a down wind clinic with Big Winds and Jeremy Riggs, to head over to Maui for the Olukai Ho’olaule’a and to complete a bucket list experience at Battle of the Paddle. In all that time I hadn’t committed to buying a race board.

Over the summer I began to follow the development of the one-design SUP class called N1SCO. It was the answer to the confusing dilemma of what board to buy – for my interest, for my budget, for the best opportunity to be competitive among paddlers all on the same board. The more I followed Facebook, blog and Twitter posts about the various N1SCO events happening all over the globe, I noticed something else. The “fun-factor” was an integral part of each event.naishrelay4

Elite racers had their level of racing challenge in both long and short distances – but all levels were in the game and having a blast. The new Naish ONE race formats are exciting, accessible, simple to set up and fun! All disciplines are easy to follow for spectators, the action is right there in front of everyone and it is thrilling to watch. There’s something for everyone, non-stop action on the water and events can happen in a day.  When I had the chance to witness the crazy fun of the N1SCO relay format I was hooked! Elite racers team with kids, with a super mix of skill and gender. Laughs, splashes and camaraderie connect everyone – racers and spectators alike.

There was no question. When I had the chance to head to Las Vegas for the N1SCO World Championships off I went. The video below shows some of the highlights from my perspective – everyone had a chance for their own good time.  Over the next months there will be more and more N1SCO events popping up at yacht and sailing clubs, at colleges and within communities. be sure to take advantage of a super trend in SUP racing.

SUP Professionals: Amazing Leaders

For Immediate Release

September 7, 2013

SUP water athletes are pioneers in a young sport that’s growing exponentially each year. Almost anyone of any ability level or age can find success and SUP adventure on almost any body of water.  Over the past decade standup paddling, surfing, exploring and racing has grown from unknown to a sport followed by millions. Leading the culture, training, story and growth of the sport are a handful of elite athletes.  Some of these men and women have been nominated for the 2013 SUP Awards. The categories you can vote for between now and September 11 are:  Top 3 Male Paddlers, Top 3 Female Paddlers, Movie of the Year, Top Philanthropic Effort and Top Expedition.

Connor Baxter #1 SUP Male Athlete 2012

Connor Baxter #1 SUP Male Athlete 2012

Candice Appleby #1 Female SUP Athlete 2012

Candice Appleby #1 Female SUP Athlete 2012

Take a look at the nominees and explore the bio of each – SUP is fortunate to have a field of leaders this deep and diverse.  Examples of leadership include addressing issues around racing, professional compensation and equality in the sport. Take a look at the discussion and insights from one group of female athletes that took place during the Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge in Hood River, OR.

Over the years Elder SUP has showcased a number of the nominated athletes.  After you check out the field at SUPthemag.com you may want to learn more by checking out the articles.

Connor Baxter and his inspiring slogan, “Always have fun and never give up.” Connor Baxter was awarded #1 Male SUP Athlete in 2012 (video here)
Candice Appleby – Candice Appleby was awarded #1 Female SUP Athlete in 2012 (video here)

Karen Wrenn
Suzie Cooney
Chuck Patterson
Jenn J. Lee

The list is above is just the tip of the iceberg – do yourself a favor and read the online bios of the athletes leading our sport. Then take the time to let your voice be part of the decision.

SPONSORS of the 2013 SUP Awards

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.

Naish ONE: Fun!

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!

naishone1I carry way more baggage than what’s in the cool carry case for the Naish ONE. Rather than fill in the back story of the board specifications here, you can find out everything on the website.

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

Hundreds take part in Ecover Blue MIle Weymouth 2013

Hundreds take part in Ecover Blue MIle Weymouth 2013

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. ”

pramI 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 have talked with a good number of sailing coaches and program managers who have bought a small fleet of standup boards based on the “flavor of the month” suggested by an eager retailer. It’s a real shame to miss the “boat,” so to speak on the powerful trend and historical value of the one-design class. If you have influence on a decision of this type, share this information and support a wise, long term investment.   It’s easy enough to locate a Naish dealer in your geographic area and get some solid information about the future of one-design and the versatility and performance of the Naish ONE.

Important, too, is to understand the organization behind this trend.  Take a look at the event home at N1SCO.  It’s exciting. Who knows, perhaps a young person you know (or you yourself) might just find themselves on the podium at an upcoming championship (Event Page)