Category Archives: SUP Racing

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

You can stay in touch with Connor:
Join his Facebook page 
Following him on Instagram 
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Subscribing to Connor’s  Blog
YouTube channel 

Gnarly Buoy Turns = SUP Racing Friendship

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.

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New friends and winners – Bonnie Fromm and Terri Plunkett

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!!”

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Terri’s KIALOA HUlu paddle and her Uli inflatable powered her through amazing down wind runs at La Ventana

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.”

terripbonniegroupTerri 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.”

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Anthony Vela had a great week with friends old and new – and winning La Ventana Classic

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! 

Although the cost to attend high school is only $300 US annually per student, this cost is a roadblock for some Mexican families and stops many bright and motivated young people from attending high school.

Training Tips

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.”

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KIALOA ‘Elele Terri Plinkett plays at training with a smile.

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.”

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Bonnie Fromm gliding fast in her “happy place.”

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.

La Ventana Classic – A New Champion

We love to watch elite SUP racers vie against the wind and current, gliding far on bumps and waves in a challenging down-winder.  In the January La Ventana Classic a champion rose from the local community on a waterlogged board that floated ashore as ocean debris and with a paddle he constructed from scrap metal and blue paint. You may be scratching your head, “What?”  Me too, but then I got the story from the top female racers in the week long event, Terri Plunkett and Bonnie Fromm. (Featured image by Matt Treger Photography)

Terri shared, “La Ventana Classic was a magical event with down-winders similar to Maui. The El Norte wind powers down the beautiful Sea of Cortez.  While all that was amazing, I was most touched by the local community and the cause this event supported. All proceeds went to send high school kids to school. The cost is $300/kid per year, but let me put this in perspective. During the week we were there the Mexican government announced the minimum wage was raised – to $4.50 (comparable USD) per DAY.  No wonder the tuition is beyond the reach of most families.

Over 13,000.00 was raised and instantly distributed to selected students based on the student’s willingness and motivation for education So many are so poor. I really felt and saw the poverty first hand. Just giving your hat to a local kid made them so so happy. But the generosity, the sharing of food, talent and smiles indicated to us all how rich the community was in spirit. They had parties every night with local bands
Many groups of children performed and danced for us at the event site. The K and 1st graders being over the top adorable! The locals made and sold homemade tamales, cerviche and burritos every day. We had board caddies to cart our boards around for us.”

Who was the local champion?

julioBonnie Fromm completed Julio’s story, “One local father paddled from town on his soft top board (yes, the waterlogged 50-pounder) and chewed up, homemade paddle to join us! Julio was an inspiration to all of us in his determinAtion to finish all five races. After one race we were able to loan him a solid board and nice paddle. He finished every race with a huge smile. I asked him how he got in such great shape to paddle so well and he pulled out his rosary beads, kissed them then said ‘strength for our kids’ in spanish! In the end he was awarded a new paddle for being so inspirational.”

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Julio and his hand crafted paddle

Julio Caesar Locero ended up as the Town Hero. It was a challenge for even seasoned racers to do all 5 races. The “down-winders” ranged from 5-15 miles and were often side wind in large chop and surf. His desire and courage was contagious! No one wanted to see Julio out on the water on the waterlogged board he found washed ashore. Anthony Vela  rallied the vendors and eventually Julio was loaned an F1 board to use.  Rather than raffling off one of the paddles, the race manager presented it to Julio. Cheers and great energy came every time he was on the podium. Terri and Bonnie agree, “We all learned that racing is about heart, friends and our shared love of SUP.”

There is a lot more to this story:

Read More, “Buoy Crash = Friendship”

Sweet -Race Jersey Next Generation

sswjer-proIf you followed the inaugural 2015 Pacific Paddle Games you may have noticed everything about it was bigger than life, from the oversized waves to the above-average temperatures. The best was the creme de la creme athletic talent that showed up from every corner of the world to compete for the biggest number of all: a record-setting $55,000 prize purse. With all the photos and live coverage of the event, one other thing that literally stood out – was the bright Sweet Waterwear jerseys worn by the athletes – from the world’s top Pro paddlers to the XXS groms.

With many more top athletes enjoying the performance of Sweet Waterwear jerseys throughout 2015, it seemed like a good time for Elder SUP (ES) to go behind the scenes of this unique specialty Hawaiian brand based out of Honolulu. We were fortunate to have this chat with Sean Sweet, founder and visionary behind the brand.

ElderSUP: Sweet Waterwear was the official PPG race jersey on the estimated 450+ Open & Elite racers at the 2015 Pacific Paddle Games, the successor to the Battle of the Paddle. What a format and what an event for the inaugural year!  How did this all come about?    

SweetWaterwear:  As soon as news broke about the PPG I approached Andrew Mencinsky (Marketing director at SUP the Mag & race organizer for PPG ) early on. Andrew has known about Sweet Waterwear & the high quality of our gear for quite some time.  He knew many of the top SUP racers already use and swear by our gear. He’d also seen our Men’s Nirvana Race jersey at other prominent races and from team jerseys that we’ve done for many of SUP’s top board brands.  Andrew and the team at SUP the Mag & TEN (The Enthusiast Network) really wanted to step things up at PPG. They were quite determined they were not going to just follow in the footsteps of the Battle of the Paddle. They wanted every aspect of PPG to be “Bigger & Better.” One of the most obvious “on-screen” ways to do that was to upgrade and outfit ALL of the athletes in beautiful custom PPG jerseys. (video teaser here)

Andrew wanted different colors by gender and group. We are one of the few companies that was large enough to do that and still be flexible enough to produce within a somewhat tight time constraint. For all these reasons, Sweet Waterwear was an obvious and easy, quality choice that met all their objectives.  

ES:  The vibrant colors on all the Sweet Waterwear jerseys we saw at PPG were exceptionally bright and highly visible in varied ocean conditions, at a distance & on the webcast. 

SW:  Stepping out of the box and pushing the bright colors was key essential goal for PPG.  I’ve had these colors available – but no Race Director had ever ventured out of the color norm with us, before PPG.  Fortunately Andrew knew well the live and telecast value of adding bright colors to the mix was far more than just a safety consideration – he recognized that the bright colors would really “pop” on the webcast providing a much richer and vibrant visual experience.

ES:  We noticed right away that the Women’s jerseys at PPG were trimmer and a different cut.  What brought about your developing a women’s specific race jersey? 

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“Our constant goal at Sweet Waterwear is to raise the bar in fashionable, functional activewear,”

SW: With the huge success of our Men’s Nirvana jersey, it was a logical extension for us to make a (literally) “more fitting” Women’s paddlesport tanktop.  Women are far more fashion, fit and style conscious. We realized that wearing a downsized boxy men’s jersey just wasn’t really cutting it.  The difference is more than just color. It fits better due to details like binding versus wide trim along with subtle, but noticeable, hourglass shaping.  Now, the ladies look more flattering and feel better about how they look in our Sweet Waterwear jerseys while enjoying the same ultralight breathing performance of the Mens jersey, but in a more feminine, fashionable tanktop.  

ES: Everyone performed to the max at the 2015 PPG but  looking for the true stars of the day, they were also some of the smallest. The future of the sport is growing up on waves around the world, and we got to witness it during the Grom and Junior Pro races.

SW: Absolutely, as the PPG event showcased so very well, the future of our sport is a powerful field of youth. And for the first time ever, we made sure they had race jerseys designed specifically with the smaller sizes in mind.

sswjerkids The kids were not an afterthought (as they often are at most other races).  We offered size XXS jerseys for the first time ever to accommodate the keiki (children). With the kids we made the Boys Red and Black while  the Girls had Red and White. It was subtle, but still made a perceivable distinction.  The kids were super stoked to have their “very own” special kids jerseys.  We were equally stoked to provide the kids with something “just for them” to enhance their performance and the PPG race experience.  

These custom PPG jerseys have become a proud keepsake and talking point long after the race has been over.  The kids are especially proud to wear their PPG race jersey at other races and while training no matter where they may live and paddle.  We often refer to the robust “Retention Value” of our high quality race jerseys that get “great mileage” of exposure long after the event is over.  sww-kids

ES:  What is your background and how did you develop the Sweet Waterwear brand from your past expertise? 

SW: I have 30 + years in the apparel industry, most of it in casual and active sportswear. Shortly after moving to Hawaii it was quickly evident to me (as a new paddler) that the SUP market was very much under-served, especially on the Women’s side. I had just come off an 11 year stint at well-known Women’s sportswear company. So I knew how to bring a lot of technical fabric and sourcing expertise to the table.  Being based in Hawaii helps enormously. We can test year round. I have access to all types of wind and watersports, as well as, all  levels of paddlers including several of the world’s elite racers. Many of these elite water athletes  have become ambassadors for our line after testing out our gear.

Since Day 1 – when we launched at the one (and only) Battle of the Paddle Hawaii (in 2010) we have offered a more highly evolved line and more technical detail that both athletes and everyday paddlers can really appreciate – so it stands out in the marketplace.  Our race jerseys are well received by so many elite and fitness paddlers.  Pro racers have the opportunity to wear and try many different styles and brands, but the feedback we get and then incorporate into our designs demonstrates how we are meeting the trifecta or “Sweet Spot” of paddler’s needs in style, function and performance.

ES: How is Standup Paddling gear different than, say, Surf gear?

SW: Stand-up paddleboarding is not like surfing in that it is largely an “on-the-water” activity versus often “in-the-water” like surfing. Tight rashguards don’t work as well. They are skin-tight, which by design will help keep you a little warmer. In stand-up paddleboarding, you are burning calories, and most paddlers want & need to dissipate that heat. Furthermore, you are also fully exposed to extremely high levels of sun when you are standing on the water. The combination of direct sun and indirect sun reflected off the water surface really intensifies your exposure. We are a core SUP brand and have pioneered crafting far more fashionable, superior quality, sun-protective gear specifically made for stand-up paddleboarding and other similar paddle sports like outrigger canoe paddling, kayaking, canoeing, dragon boat, etc.  We are also very proud to be cut and sewn in the US using high quality European spec fabrics. There are hardly any Surf brands that can say that – most all are produced offshore in Asia with cheap labor and heavy “cost consideration” given to margin – which inevitably compromises on garment quality.

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We already have what is perhaps the most popular men’s stand-up paddleboard racing jersey on the market. We offer custom printing and even co-branding opportunities. It’s market that we got into early and one where we have established a high profile & strong presence.  If you happened to catch all the ISA World Standup Paddle and Paddleboard Championship action last May you saw Sweet Waterwear jerseys on Team Hawaii.  Zane & Matty Schweitzer have both declared them “Best jerseys EVER!!” Looking at the Sweet Waterwear ‘ohana I guess that is the opinion of many of the best in the world.

ES:  I have noticed a lot of detail and innovation in your latest styles. like in my Sweet Waterwear Ka’iulani Zip long sleeve performance top with the neck zipper, thumb holes & big zippered back pockets, especially as the days turn cooler here in the Pacific NW.  How did you come upon the name you chose for that style? 

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Check out the bold print on the back of the Ka’iukani (also available in white-sky-turquoise)

SW:  Ka’iulani loosely means, or implies, ‘rich in health, spirituality and prosperity.’ The meaning resonated with me because, in my opinion, so many standup paddlers seem to reflect these qualities and values.  Further Princess Ka’iulani was/is an important historic figure in Hawaiian history & culture. The Kaiulani is our our top-of-the-line full featured long sleeve so you could also say it’s fit for royalty.  

ES:  What can we expect next from Sweet Waterwear?
SW:  We are driven to excellence, so we will continue to combine high quality performance fabrics with thoughtful superior design & our special “Handcrafted in USA” manufacturing.  We are getting deeper into prints as accents & adding more styles like dresses & hoodies.  Further we are very excited to announce that this summer we will be rolling out a complimentary special collaboration – a new line called “SWT KSS”.  It’s sort of a double entendre & acronym for a limited collection  designed by Kimberly S. Schamber and made by Sweet Waterwear.  Look for the SWT KSS collection to launch in Spring / Summer of 2016.