Going Full Speed Ahead: Jane McKee

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Jane McKee – living her dream in a new decade!

No one lives “age is just a number” better than waterwoman, Jane McKee. As I am wrapping up my 7th decade at 69, I look for inspiration and “go-for-it” from people like Jane who live by this truth, “Anything is possible if you believe in yourself.” (from a 2015 Elder SUP article). Now at age 60 Jane keeps doing what she loves – and keeps looking forward for more adventures and goals.

I asked Jane, “Did your motivation to do the 2018 Kaiwi Solo – Molokai OC1 World Championship originate from within yourself or from connection with a group, a club or friends/peer paddlers?”

Jane explains it like this, “My motivation for doing the Solo again came within myself, as all my races are.  I had a great race in 2010, coming in third place overall at age 52 and thought maybe I would leave it at that. But  I turned 60 this year and thought I would like to train for the race again as a celebration of my benchmark year.”

Finishing 8th out of 22 women starters was definitely a celebration!

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Fun with friends – and smiles all round

Before recapping her Kaiwi Solo experience, a full decade (or 4) older than the other women paddlers, know this: Jane is already planning her next adventure event, “I got into the M2O this year so have hung up the OC1 paddle for my Standup paddle. Really stoked to have made the start list. I’m doing a three person team with Jen Fuller and Kristin Thomas from California.”

I’d like to stay active on the water for another decade or two, so I asked, “What habits (eating training) and lifestyle contribute most to your “go get ’em” attitude at age 60?

Jane is specific, “I adopted a Keto diet last year and dropped about 25 pounds. I do ramp up the carbs before and during a long race, but then go right back to a high protein/fat regimen. I don’t drink alcohol, my guilty pleasure is a diet coke especially right after a race, I love the bubbles! I have a very simple lifestyle, up at 4:45am, at work at 7am, off at 3: 30 and either paddle or gym. I rest when I feel I need it, not according to a schedule. I find as an older athlete, you can still train hard but need more recovery time. Paddle smarter not harder. I am in bed by 8.”

I definitely find truth in her response about rest.

ES: What was your favorite moment of the race (or of preparing for it, a breakthrough or other)?

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Awards ceremony 

JM: I was understandably a little nervous about the conditions on race day. We thankfully had wind but it was very North and that made for a lot of work. After the race I posted on Facebook, “Did a Mack truck hit me? No, it was just the Channel of Bones reminding us that you never know what the Channel will dish up. Rain and variable winds gave way to a solid North wind that created a tough paddle with not much help in the way of surf. I was happy with my 8th place finish and I won my age group. Thank you to my coach, Guy Wilding, for keeping me focused in the rough moments. Congratulations to all the finishers and especially our mana wahine!”

ES: What abilities to read wind, waves, weather contributed to your successful crossing?jane-mckee-awards

JM: The solo this year was a tough one. The wind coming so much from the North resulted in a side chop/swell that made it difficult to surf much. The tide was sticky also. I always do my homework before a race so I knew what we were in for. I had to make the best of it. I think if I had taken a more northern course I would have had more of an opportunity to surf down later in the race. After talking to some other paddlers after the race, this seemed to be the strategy. I am fairly good at reading waves but this race didn’t offer up much opportunity for it.

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Way to rock! First place Women 60+

ES: What equipment did you use?

JM: I have an Ares Pro canoe and use a Makana Alii Paddle. I am thrilled with my Ares. I had great success in last year’s Olukai race when Kai Wa’a lent me one. I was in third place until I snagged a buoy rope the last 20 yards from the finish, which put me in fourth. The conditions that year were tough, we had to race twice around a rectangular course that was mostly side winds. The canoe performed amazingly in those adverse conditions. I know I can surf a canoe but its the off conditions that I need help with and the canoe was a rock star. I walked right up to Tom Bartlett after the race and said ‘I want one!’ I have used a Makana Alii paddle for 16 years and Les Look has always supported me. I love his paddles and appreciate his help all these years.

ES: What did you use for hydration/fuel during the event?

JM: I did a combination of just water and a Perpetuem mix. I have used Perpetuem for years and it works for me. Unfortunately when I packed I grabbed the wrong lid cover for my camel back so it was basically useless. I had my helper drop small bottles to me which was challenging to say the least. The first year I raced I used Power Bar pieces and Snickers bars as fuel. This year I used Gels and Snickers Bars later so I would have something solid. It worked fine.

ES: What was a roadblock or challenge during your prep for this event (or any other in your history) that was tough to overcome and how did you overcome?

JM: I really didn’t have any. My training program went well, I had a great race season, I was top three overall in every single race up until Molo Solo, so I was getting results.

ES: Any fun or funny story to share- in general – that you just want to share?

JM: I remember years ago paddling with some new girls in the six man in a race. We were getting water in the canoe after awhile When the steersman yelled ‘BAIL!” one of them jumped out. I love that story.

ES: A “word of advice” or mantra that resonates with you that might inspire others?

JM: I think it is really important that you paddle or do whatever sport you do, for the love of it. I cannot imagine not being on the ocean. It is my therapy, love, passion, lifestyle. Don’t let the pressure of racing take your joy away. I see a lot of young ‘sponsored” paddlers that put so much pressure on themselves that it becomes like a job to them. I have been paddling 26 years and I still get nervous before a race. Someone asked me once, after all these years why? I told them, because it means something to me. The day I stop getting excited before a race is the day I quit.

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Photo Credit: Jeff Chang

It is obvious that Jane is still very excited! Wishing her the best at M2O this year

We look forward to following Jane’s upcoming adventures on the ocean.

Save Our Ocean: Carolina Cup

The 13-mile Quiksilver Waterman Carolina Cup lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest races going, but this year it was hailed as even more fun than ever. A course reverse allowed for some calm flatwater and downwind bumps that added excitement.

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Zane Schweitzer book signing with NC Coastal Federation Board member, David Cignotti

A different sort of excitement was playing out at the North Carolina Coastal Federation. As the non profit and featured recipient for funds raised at the event, Catherine Snead, who has the role of development for the Federation, decided to get creative and connect with Zane Schweitzer for a unique collaboration. For each book, Beneath the Surface, sold at the Carolina Cup, $5 would go to the Federation. nccf-booky

Catherine arranged for a life sized poster of Zane to be at the booth so people could have a selfie “with Zane.” The most fun was when Zane spent time at the booth chatting with readers and doing what he does best – sharing stoke and the Zaniac way of doing things.

You can get your copy of Beneath the Surface directly from Zane or on AMAZON. (ebook or print version)

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Life Is Balance: Don’t Mind Falling In

On the back cover of the recent Spring Issue of Standup Journal there is a beautiful Starboard ad with the headline, “Life is Balance.” SUP Yoga is beautifully portrayed. I love that – but I am hungry to kick up my downwind game and hone my balance in a different way. Like Starboard and their Starboard Blue program, which balances their carbon footprint with offsets to improve the environment, standup paddling is more than what we do on the water. 

Retirement was on my mind – retirement from racing and maybe even from “work.” But I connected with Starboard “Dream Team” waterman, Zane Schweitzer a few years ago and things changed. Zane and I are neck deep in amazing projects and I love every minute. Working with Zane hit me with a huge dose of what he does best – Innovate and Inspire. zaniac arms up

During Zane’s BENEATH THE SURFACE book launch events here in Bend, OR I watched him eat his whole plant based diet, train hard with what was available and hit the snow and the water with equal enthusiasm and joy. I caught the “Zaniac” bug. Spring may be showing itself as winter here in Bend, but paddling on the rivers and lakes (when they thaw) is on my mind.

Also on my mind is a bold move – branching away from my awesome Astro Deluxe 12’6″ Touring board (at 31″ wide and stable) to the Inflatable Allstar 12’6″ X 27 with Airline Deluxe Technology – yup, just 27″ wide. I turn 69 in June – growing into the “elder” part of Elder SUP pretty quickly. Why would I move to a less stable board at this point?

starboard blueAs Zane says, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” I love to grow – and learn and practice. I know that “Life is balance,” in every meaning of the word. Balance is a characteristic skill of young athletes – and the young at heart. I am willing to learn, practice and grow.

Talk about “Life is balance,” here is a bit more about Starboard Blue and how they offset their carbon footprint. Did you know that for every Starboard Stand Up Paddle Surfing board sold, they plant a mangrove in the Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park?  Mangroves are “Miracle Trees” and are really efficient at removing massive amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere – 1 ton over 20 years to be exact making Starboard  “Carbon Net Positive.”

Want to learn more – visit star-board.blue

Watch this video for a comparison between inflatable and composite construction in the Allstar line. Inflatable is my construction of choice – easy to store and great to travel with.

Standup for the Cure – Positivity

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).

sftcm2Before 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. sftcmview

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.

sftcmhatBesides 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. sftcmreeride

The most connected and positive community gathers at every Standup for the Cure event. Smiles were plentiful and awareness buzzed throughout the day. Thanks for inspiring us Shawneen Schweitzer Shelby Kailei Lane Schweitzer Zane Kekoa Schweitzer Matty Schweitzer Judie Vivian Dan Van Dyck and all the enthusiastic and loyal sponsors including
Ambry Genetics West Marine Maui Jim Cobian Kona Brewing Company sftcmona

Ruth’s Chris Steak House Miami Yacht Club

Surfrider Foundation Miami Chapter (No single use plastic bottles at the event – tons of awareness instead of tons of plastic).

sftcmsrBe sure to check out the schedule for an upcoming event and be sure to be part of exactly the energy our sport is known for.  Aloha!

 

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!

 

Connor Baxter Wins The Bilbao World SUP Challenge

When Connor Baxter writes a recap of his races, it’s like being right there on the water with him.  FOLLOW Connor on social media (links below) to get all his updates as they happen.  You can get the full story from SUPRacer. Read his recap now:
(Connor Baxter) The 2016 Bilbao World SUP Challenge was another huge success. Every year this event is one of the biggest stops on the Euro Tour, with an elite field of paddlers and great weekend vibe.
After a few days relaxing through Paris and Bordeaux I got to the city on Wednesday. I did a nice jog along the river where the race was going to be held, to start visualizing and planning what I needed to do.
The race was being held during max high tide, so there was little current to worry about. For that reason I just had to focus on paddling. As it got closer to the contest day the nerves and excitement started to kick in and I was ready to go! This year the points were only on the distance race so that meant one day of 120% effort. bilboa4
The race started at 4:30 in the afternoon, so it was a lazy morning of stretching and eating food before game time. When I got to the event site I set up my Starboard Sprint with my Manta Futures Fin and headed up to the starting line. It was a standing up rolling start and when that horn blew, I was a little caught off guard.  I fell back into the super choppy water. Then, I managed to catch a few little wakes from everyone and got some clean water That’s when I started to get into my rhythm for the next 14 kilometers.
There were a total of six turns in the course and I knew that negotiating them well was the only way to drop the huge train that was lined up. There were a few huge surges that dropped some of the train, but the top ten guys hung on and were together for the whole race.
bilboa3I felt really good and kept telling myself that “I got this”, which gave me a lot of energy to stay in the lead pack. Coming into the second to last turn the gear shifted and everyone had the pedal to the metal – and I dropped back to fifth place and was hurting, but then I got some inspiration from one of the greatest athletes Muhammad Ali, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” So I went in the next gear and started passing forth place and then into third before the last turn. bilboa2
As I got closer to the final buoy turn I knew if I wanted a shot at winning I needed to be turning on the inside and be the first one to turn. So I sprinted again to get on Michael Booth’s inside for the turn. I quickly turned and put my head down for the final sprint. My body was cramping up, but I just kept telling myself – mind over matter – and I sprinted even harder, until I crossed the finish line in first place.
I was super stoked to win the distance race and knowing that there wasn’t a second day of racing was a great feeling. Now off to the fourth stop of the Euro Tour – San Sebastián!!

I want to thank my sponsors for all their support – Starboard, Dakine, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Futures Fins, GoPrHammer Nutrition, Go Pro, Garmin, Waterman’s Sunscreen, OnIt Pro and Hi-Tech Sports.

Also a big Mahalo to all the event organizers and all the volunteers. Great Event!! A definite MUST for next year!!!

Aloha,
Connor Baxter

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