Candice Appleby – Respect, Love, Karma and Grace

latorche-candiceIn the late 1980’s I had a writing assignment with a tennis professional that was funded by Wilson, the company that makes tennis balls.  It seems that they had developed a tennis ball that could equalize enjoyment of a tennis match between two players of very unequal ability. When the ball was hit hard and directly (as in a shot from a strong player) it would react with a slow and low bounce as it hit the court on the other side. This would give the weaker player an easier shot to return. It seemed an amazing product.

The project lost funding and never made it to the marketplace, but some of the lessons I learned while writing for that project stuck with me.  For one, I learned a very different meaning for the word “compete” than I had usually considered.

The word, compete, comes from Latin competere, “come together,” but in later Latin, it developed the sense “strive together,” which was the basis for the English term. During the field testing of the Wilson tennis ball, when players considered the “strive together” meaning of competition their reported enjoyment of the game and tennis in general was 7 and above (on a scale of 1-10).

Just yesterday I read a post by elite water athlete, Candice Appleby, after a Round 3 loss in the 2013 La Torche Pro surf event in France.   Understandably, she was extremely disappointed with her performance. In spite of a very stacked heat with three of the top women surfing together, she simply and graciously reflected on her own performance and frustration at not putting together a “solid ride” in the heat.

According to Candice, “Every wave I caught, just seemed to reject me and I kept falling. Looks like my Sup Surfing World Title dreams will just have to wait until next year. 2013 just hasn’t been my year I guess. Maybe God is trying to tell me something. Hopefully I can figure out what that is soon. Until then, I’ll just have to keep healing my hand and work on my strengths. Thank you to everyone who has been cheering for me along the way. Your support means so much to me. Next year I will be back and ready to take on the many challenges I set for myself. Congrats to all of the girls who competed in this first year of the Women’sStand Up World Tour. We were all a part of history. Aloha & God Bless.”

We all know that it isn’t easy to report to friends, family and fans after a huge disappointment. To do so with such grace and respect for her fellow competitors is an Appleby trademark.  In my role as content creator for my company, Water Words, I speak to dozens of elite and not-so-elite SUP surfers, paddlers, newbies and racers each week. It is always surprising and cool to hear how many mention a casual meeting with Candice at a clinic, an event or just on a beach. Again and again I hear an anecdote about how she has encouraged and inspired them – often without knowing who they are. Her generous spirit and fun-loving ways just seem to connect again and again.

What I wonder is: How did the performance of the entire group of elite women raise to a collective higher level because they “came together”  in the competition, all striving for their best?

Working hard, training and hoping for a specific outcome or title is natural. Not attaining the goals we set for ourselves in a competition is heart breaking.  Being able to circle back and put together a mindset that embraces the true meaning of compete, to strive together, we are able to frame our future efforts in a new way. The almost 40,000 Facebook friends who follow Candice know her attitude well.  Some of the comments posted demonstrate how much respect and love for our sport and for fellow competitors resonates with us all. I have removed the names from the comments below and have paraphrased them – they are just an example of how the collective “we” reacted.

  • Tough break, tough girl, classy post. You may not have accomplished everything on your list, but your list towers over 99.999% of most people’s. Take comfort knowing you are much-loved & very well-respected around the world.   “Paddle on girl”
  • Losing is just like winning at the top. Being humble and accept what you just got schooled on will only make you better tomorrow, next week and your next event. There is nothing in your world you can’t concur, wins come in many different forms and your friends believe you’re a winner.
  • Love your positive attitude! That’s what makes you a winner! Love and aloha to our SWEET girl!! XOXOXO
  • You are my inspiration.
  • You’re still awesome….I’m sure all competitors were aware of your presence….a true warrior you are
  • You are awesome for being a class act!!! Still holding your head high and not placing blame on anyone. Keep up the professional attitude.
  • Thank you for writing this Candice. It inspires us all to hear how you feel and that everyone, even Candice Appleby, has their moments. Don’t be too hard on yourself! Rest up and see you next year…can’t wait:)
  • Your grace in handling life is a great example…………
  • You suited up, you showed up, you did your best. High five!

SUP: Perfect Beach Town

Inn at Cape Kiwanda is nestled between the light colored dune and the darker hill to the right - all ocean view rooms

Inn at Cape Kiwanda is nestled between the light colored dune and the darker hill to the right – all ocean view rooms

What’s a perfect beach for SUP paddling and surfing? Sandy bottom, glassy waves, no crowds, clear water warm enough for no wetsuit – does that work for you? Well, except for the warm water and no wetsuit, Pacific City, Oregon is pretty close to ideal.  The swells can be predicted and the mix of surfing waves goes the gamut.  The ambiance in a beach town can add a lot to our SUP surfing and paddling experience.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am staying at the Inn at Cape Kiwanda this trip and finding it to be an incredible spot for a super surf trip experience. In previous trips I have stayed at a nearby campground, in a camping cottage or in a rental home set back from the ocean. The heart of Pacific City’s beach scene is the triumvirate of the Cape Kiwanda Dune, the Pelican Pub and the iconic Haystack rock about a mile off shore.

This “haystack” stands 327 feet (100 m) above the sea and is the world’s fourth largest sea stack or off-shore monolith in the world. The Inn at Cape Kiwanda is situated right in the middle of these three with an ocean view from every room. IMG_1580

While that is a nice amenity, its value to us as SUP surfers on the Oregon coast is enormous.  That early morning surf check in case the waves are right for a “dawn patrol” is usually a chilly trek from where you spent the night to the parking lot next to Pelican Pub. There we usually huddle in ski jackets holding our morning coffee close and tight. This morning I simply rolled over, still in the cozy bed, and check ed out the sets coming in at pre low tide. Not yet ready to surf, I made some coffee and went out on the deck.

capewaves2From there I could view the far western edge of Cape Kiwanda Dune, where the sets announce their arrival with a wash over the jutting rocks. I took a long beach walk and enjoyed the art – created by clouds, water and sand.IMG_1587

By noon as I had a light lunch back on the deck at the Inn, I started to notice larger arcs of whitewater wrapping around the end of the dune. These sets came in consistently for bout 20 minutes. i timed the intervals between sets and decided, with incoming tide and lighter than expected winds, it was a great time to don the wetsuit and head out. An hour later I was chilly but had my fill of waist to chest high rides cutting right and left on fairly glassy faces.

Now came a real treat. I loaded my board onto my car and drove over to the Inn at Cape Kiwanda. Just outside of the lobby is a WARM WATER shower. I doused the board and myself – it felt wonderful.  After drying a bit it was back to the room for a rest and a book.  But as I read, I could keep an eye on the incoming tide and the dory boats coming in – right up on the sand.

I must have dozed off – about 4:00 the swell seemed to build a bit. The expected afternoon winds didn’t materialize and I was right there, front and center to observe the sea.  Back into my wetsuit and an afternoon session I might have missed if i hadn’t been right there – better than any webcam!

SUP Brands: Culture Beyond the Product

Why do we choose the brands we do?

Why do we choose the brands we do?

The three year-old begs for Barbie, Tonka, HotWheels – and even the iPad. By the teen years the collection of brands we love and must have explode into the hundreds.  As SUP gets more and more popular and mainstream, “brands” and manufacturers for boards, paddles and gear are popping up constantly. What is it about the brands we buy – and what brands should we buy?

strength2

The slogan for the Olukai Ho’olaule’a

We don’t have any paid advertising on the Elder SUP blog, instead we think hard about the brands we use. We write about the expertise, passion, commitment – and the people – behind the brands.  The brands we choose affect us on functional, emotional and social levels. A good example of this is when I put on my yellow Olukai race jersey. With it on I feel the vibe from the culture of the Olukai  Ho’olaulea even on a day like today when I wore it to yoga. It’s a mind-set, a community – and a brand that resonates what it is: OluKai was conceived from a desire to create a better class of products for the life we live in and around the water. That resonates with me.

When we propel ourselves powerfully, gracefully and with friends across the water we appreciate the “story” behind our paddle. Not long ago I wrote about the KIALOA Paddles’ new Hulu race paddle.  At the time, I had heard something about a Gerry Lopez collaboration with Dave Chun on the design of a GL Surf paddle.

Dave and Gerry had many, many conversations about the need for a surf specific paddle. With the very specific design that makes the Hulu  series (Light, Ultra Light and GL Ultralight) a great downwind and race paddle, those same specific attributes leave it vulnerable as a surf paddle.  The Hulu has fine, sharp edges – ideal for racing – but when it is used for surfing some customers mentioned that their boards were being hit and bruised. Surfers dig, brace and fall on their paddles – a surf SUP paddle has to be designed in its own way. The KIALOA Paddles design of a surf paddle would require beefing it up in the areas where needed and modifying the edges specific to the mechanics of surfing.

Here’s where the excellence in a brand and its story come alive! A quick search can lead you to dozens of SUP paddle manufacturers, some of these manufacturers are also designers. Few have the breadth of experience and commitment to excellence, as well as a deep relationship with legends in the sport the way KIALOA Paddles does.  Throughout the design of the Hulu race paddle, Dave Chun and Gerry Lopez had conversations and collaborated. Throughout that process, the plan to eventually create a GL Surf paddle series stayed constant.  The design was born of many ideas coming together.

Dave Chun and Gerry Lopez collaborate and noodle around designs and ideas regularly.

Dave Chun and Gerry Lopez collaborate and noodle around designs and ideas regularly.

I’m not sure if Tom Carroll is aware of his influence on the design of the GL Surf Series but the collaboration with Gerry was constant. Both Dave and Gerry recognized that what Gerry needed in a surf paddle, “everyman, the regular surfer” might not need the same thing.  I thought it was really fascinating to hear (in the video below) about the symmetric profile on the top and bottom of the paddle. If you cut across the paddle’s width you would get a profile in a squished diamond shape.  The reason it is the same on both sides is because SUP surfers brace both on the front side and on the back side of the paddle according to stance, style and the wave.

The paddle has the same hook found on the Hulu Series  design because Tom Carroll and Gerry both wanted that element in a surf paddle.  Even though Dave has had a lifetime of shaping paddles with economy of function and beautiful aesthetic form, he listened to the customers and their experience during the design process of a new sort of edge for the GL Surf series paddle – it is more rounded and wider than the Hulu race paddle. The fatter edge was tough for Dave to design at first, but testing proved that the rounder, soft, “fat” edges would protect the board without jeopardizing performance.

The KIALOA Paddles Hulu race series of paddles will soon be joined by the Hulu surf series.

The KIALOA Paddles Hulu race series of paddles will soon be joined by the Hulu surf series.

There will be a soft release of the 8″ blade (similar to the KIALOA Methane) in the GL Surf series in 2013 – I know, I am drooling for it too.  Over the 2014 year a number of other widths, from 8.5″ to 7.5″, and shafts are scheduled.  KIALOA Paddles is determined to provide excellence at each price point, from the CST to the fiberglass shaft option. If the KIALOA name will be on the paddle, slow and careful design and testing by elite and regular paddlers must come first.  It’s one brand in our SUP life. It’s also a great example of how and why we select the brands we do.
Treat yourself to the video story here: