Saturday was a glorious day at Elk Lake in Central Oregon with a few dozen standup paddlers (2 OC-1 and one prone) ready for the Gerry Lopez summer race series. My plan had been to do the open class on my 11’3″ Amundson surfboard but when my friend, Randall Barna called late Friday with the offer to borrow the Amundson 12’6″ race board I eagerly accepted. Five years ago on my first tentative paddle on the Deschutes River, Randall and his family were out for a Friday afternoon paddle. Seeing how sketchy my skills were, he stayed with me for about an hour, providing technique tips and encouragement that made all the difference. Standup paddling in Central Oregon is what it is because of friends like Randall Barna and Cristina Acosta who authored the first and very comprehensive standupflatwater.com blog).
It’s fairly easy for us to give a casual word of advice or support when encountering an SUP newbie. It’s quite another thing to keep a high level of generous enthusiasm for graciously sharing the sport over a span of more than 7 years – but that’s Randall, all the way!
In his sixties, he’s still got competition in his blood, but always with a grin. Drafting and pulling, often neck and neck with buddy, Tom Burke, Randall’s dead serious about his training and racing. More than personal outcomes, he’s always been ready to share expertise in organizing races, helping with courses, all the way to designing and maintaining local race buoys.
It’s not difficult for anyone living near any sort of body of water to notice that standup paddling has taken off like crazy. Everyone and his grandmother can – and seems to be – standup paddling. Inherent to the spread of our SUP culture is a spirit of aloha that can help the sport through growing pains and some hiccups as prone surfers meet standup surfers. As the cool company, KIALOA paddles, demonstrates as a company mantra, we can be “together on the water.”
If you know someone who’s made a difference and shares the spirit of aloha around your SUP experience, please share your story with us in the comments.