Kialoa Paddles: Po’okela, Laulima and Malama

Over the years Elder SUP has shared stories about people, places and events. We have enjoyed adventures and “talked story” with some incredible athletes and SUP-pers. For me, each outing on the water was powered by one KIALOA paddle or another – from the Gerry Lopez designed Hulu GL race and surf, to the Tiare adjustable (designed specifically for women) and many more. Recently, as we developed the “Power of Presence SUP” (P2SUP) program of guided meditation for SUP, we needed great boards to share with participants. Fortunately, our timing coincided exactly with KIALOA Paddles’ launch of two great new inflatable boards. (Spoiler Alert: One of the coolest videos you will see is at the end of this article)

KIALOA has built innovative Outrigger, Dragon and SUP paddles for over 24 years. Their mission, according to Jim MIller, KIALOA’s director of new business development, has expanded as ,”producing the best products for paddlers through innovative design, selective materials and a lean manufacturing process.” This summer they unveiled the inflatable Waikiki and Napali which join the initial soft top Aloha.

clinic5As we build our newest business here at Elder SUP we looked for sponsor support from companies with a mission and culture aligned with ours. We were fortunate to have the support of Sweet Waterwear – and KIALOA Paddles. We admire and respect the way KIALOA employees live like they paddle following the guiding principles of their core values: Po’okela (excellence), Laulima (teamwork), and Malama (stewardship). We aspire to have these same qualities drive our decisions and actions as we grow P2SUP.  Just as the KIALOA team appreciate those who have helped them along the way, we appreciate KIALOA and wish them all the best.

julia1stMeanwhile, it’s time to get out on the water on our 12’6″ infalatable KIALOA Napali. My favorite young paddling buddy, Julia, joins me on the Aloha soft top. We are out to have some “clean up the river” fun. IMG_2856[1]

This article would not be complete without a story from KIALOA’s own, Meg Chun. Here is the story that goes with this amazing video example of the spirit that drives the people and the company.

TEAM KIALOA 2015 from FocalBoxProductions on Vimeo.

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.

SUP Insights: Dave Chun & Aha!

coursestartPrepping for the Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge a few weeks ago the goal was to increase my speed over a 5 mile distance. Little did I realize how insane the upwind legs of the Sunday course race would be – 4 gnarly laps!  The training I did was adequate – but the level of fatigue I had over the next week pretty much let me know that I pushed my limits endurance-wise.  Even with the great advice shared by Candice Appleby before the race, I knew I wasn’t getting every ounce of speed or power from the efforts of my paddle strokes.

It wasn’t until I got back home and went out for a training session that the most valuable insight of my weekend at the Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge really hit home.  I had been hanging out with a group of people all chatting in the KIALOA Paddles tent before the awards on Saturday.  A few strong looking paddlers from Vancouver were asking Dave Chun about which paddle to add to their KIALOA quiver,  As it usually does with Dave Chun, conversations about paddles tend to morph into conversations about design and technique.  He’s so passionate and knowledgeable about every aspect of his life’s work he simply can’t help it.  dave-design

The guys were skilled at both outrigger paddling and standup. So in the explanation, Dave was comparing and contrasting body position, stroke and technique. Always eager to learn more I listened like a fly on the wall.  It seemed that recently I’d honed my reach and blade entry into the water, but there was always room to refine things even more. All the phases of the stroke have to work together smoothly for the stroke to be efficient and without good reach and catch, the stroke won’t be effective.

Dave was explaining aspects of the “catch.” The “catch” is the point where the blade is fully buried and locked onto the water. It is natural  that the stroke begin as you begin to put the paddle into the water. You will naturally begin to pull on the paddle and begin to apply pressure to the water with the blade, even before the blade is fully buried. SO, it is important to “bury the blade” relatively quickly. The paddle should not “float” down to the water. Reach and drive the paddle into the water and make the catch  as far in front of you as possible. Since ALL of the stroke is in front, and never behind your body, the more in front of you that the paddle gets fully buried and makes the “catch” the longer stroke you will have!

While I don’t always execute the reach and set-up, followed by a great catch, I had heard this before.  What I never “heard” before was a key bit of information.  Dave explained that a mistake that’s sometimes made is to begin pulling the paddle back or attempting to begin to drive the board forward before the catch has been completed. It’s a brief second of time, but important to fully execute the catch before moving through the paddle stroke. The focus should be on entering the water smoothly and quickly with the paddle edge slicing into the water cleanly, creating minimal turbulence. Once the blade is fully submerged and “planted” it’s time to apply the power. If you start pulling too soon, the blade tends to cavitate (air bubbles form along edges of blade) and will slip through the water instead of holding.

Planting the paddle: That was something I never thought about – and probably rarely did. So eager to turn over another stroke, I did a reach-catch-pull without getting that minute time period of allowing the blade to “plant.”

catchPaddling in wind, paddling currents upstream and down all make it difficult to really determine the impact on speed or efficiency that a single change might deliver.  Yesterday as I did my 60 minute training session I picked a section of the river that would be somewhat consistent over the hour. Wearing a heart rate monitor I did 1-mile loops up and down stream. The miles flew by, maybe because so much concentration was going into refining that catch and “plant.” In any event some things were both cool and surprising.

My average time per mile was about 25 seconds faster. My heart rate per minute was 5-8 beats per minute slower. That led to a perceived exertion that was less – while going faster. My limitation when racing is usually central (my heart rate rockets off the chart) before my muscles beg for relief.  This was fun!  Our sport can keep us refining skills and learning constantly – and that’s just one more thing to get us back on the water working hard again and again and again.

The Indian and the Arrow

Enjoying another day on the river with my original KIALOA paddle. (Photo Jill Roselle)

Enjoying another day on the river with my original KIALOA paddle. (Photo Jill Rosell)

In 2007 when I started standup paddling, I purchased my first KIALOA paddle and planned to have a cool “hobby sport.” Little did I know how the SUP-bug would capture me!  Whether surfing, racing for recreation  or cruising a river, lake or bay I used the same paddle.   Choice sometimes results in a sort of decision-paralysis. As friends began to add to their quiver of paddles I tried out many of them over the years – and each had distinctly different attributes (including so many that I loved just because they were so beautiful!)

KIALOA Pipes

KIALOA Pipes

KIALOAMETHANEHINANO-2

KIALOA Methane (Limited Edition Hinano)

Watching golf with my husband, we chatted about clubs and choices and using the right one for the shot – and the topic turned to paddles! I needed to make a choice or two and start to grow my quiver of paddles.  Would the “right” paddle catch me more waves, shoot me ahead in races and generate more fun on the water? Now, I am realistic enough to realize that my skill level just isn’t going to magically improve with a paddle – but it sure can help!

NO matter what your skill level,  it is very important every once in a while to recharge. It’s vital to get yourself to that next level with tools or training or resources in order to reach the competitive edge or proficiency that can make your sport more fun.

We’ve all heard, “It’s the Indian, not the arrow.”  Of course your individual skill that matters far more than the equipment you use. That said, it was time for me to retire a vintage paddle and take advantage of new technology. Fortunately, Dave Chun was available to give me some guidance on my decision to get a HULU Ultralight GL paddle, he knew it was exactly what I wanted. The question was, what size should it be?

Dave and I discussed the challenges of 63 year old shoulders, knees and back. With absolutely no pain or injury from the paddle size and length I had, and 100% satisfaction with its performance Dave pretty much suggested, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it – size-wise.” Just the same he lent me the Pupu Adjustable paddle and sent me off with some advice, “Go out and try this paddle at a variety of lengths. Don’t worry about the number or the height, just paddle.  Be aware of how it feels to your body, notice any pain or discomfort.  Paddle at each setting for a good long period of time. You’ll need more than just a few strokes to really feel what that length is doing for you.”

I brought my own paddle and the Adjustable Pupu. It was a 48 degree February day with little wind. The river was empty, except for me, some beaver and geese.  I got into a cadence and paddled up and downstream for 15 minute increments. Using my best technique I paid attention to the sound of the water lapping under the board, the length of my reach and “dig,” as well as my ability to turn over strokes quickly – or longer.  A few hours later I went back to decide on the length of my new HULU (YAY!!!!!)

Beauty, functionality, and technology. Explore the details here http://www.kialoa.com/hulu-ultralight-gl.html

Beauty, functionality, and technology. Explore the details here http://www.kialoa.com/hulu-ultralight-gl.html

I had the adjustable paddle about 1/2 inch longer than my usual paddle.  We decided that small of an increase in length was not worth the potential for a change in my forearm, elbow, shoulder comfort I’ve had for the past 6 years.  Paddle stroke technique seems to be trending toward more rapid turnover – more strokes per minute rather than long, hugely powerful pulls through the water.  At last! I ordered my HULU and learned much about building out my quiver.

Today it was about the arrow, not the Indian – Getting jazzed, taking time to explore options, taking time to go to the training and listening to the advice of an expert.

These things can be extremely powerful in mentally advancing your enjoyment of standup paddling. OH! For enjoyment personified, take a look at this video created by Washington state pro paddler, Beau Whitehead.

Winter SUP Training

January warm in my Sweet Waterwear paddling top and compression pants

January warm in my Sweet Waterwear paddling top and compression pants

Just took a virtual tour drooling over the Naish line of Glide raceboards (have you ever seen that GX? Yeah!)and Mana line of SUP surfboards.  It seems like forever until we head to Maui for some surf and downwind fun at the Olukai Ho’olaulea.  In reality, it’s just about 100 days.  With so much snow and ice on our local paddling locations, we are waiting until late May to get our Naish boards. Meanwhile we prep and dream. I did have the pleasure of going a few miles in the Deschutes River on a recent 50 degree afternoon. It was the first time I’d paddled since our fun in Maui in early December. Other locals, like Randall Barna paddle regularly – every freezing month of the year. naish randall winter

I was paddling on my Amundson 11’3″ all round fun board.  Everyone knows that I have had endless hours of flatwater and surf fun with that board.  Heading up river on a calm day I was surprised to notice – my Amundson just didn’t have that “glide!” In Maui we had been blessed with a few glassy days with small surf so the actual glide of the Naish 14′ Glide was obvious. A set of 6-8 strokes on one side generated some serious acceleration with minimal effort.  It reminded me of some technique suggestions from KIALOA paddles’ Dave Chun.

When asked about paddling technique, Dave Chun says, “Listen to the board, Don’t worry about what you look like. Listen to the water coming off of it. Feel what makes it go fast and smooth.” I was doping that observation during my January paddle and realized how much the design of a board impacts the glide, the sound and the result of a series of paddle strokes.  Even though I love the sound of the chop-chop-chop as the bow skims across the ripples in river current and breeze bumps, having aboard that slices right through all that with more of a “swish” is simply faster! So glad we’ve got a 14′ Naish Glide reserved for the Ho’olaule’a.

We don't have the beach (and I certainly don't have the body) but we can train and prep with guidance from Suzie Cooney, CPT

We don’t have the beach (and I certainly don’t have the body) but we can train and prep with guidance from Suzie Cooney, CPT

While a great board is key to having a great experience during SUP events, the bottom line is getting ourselves ready to be strong, safe and prepared for the physical and mental challenges. To that end we have been poring over Suzie Cooney’s SuzieTrainsMaui website for ideas and training tips. Luckily she has SKYPE sessions available for some true custom training opportunity. I know we will be filming some sessions with the GoPro to get solid feedback that we need.

Since Karen Wrenn experiences much similar winter weather we looked for some training tips that power her fitness and competitive success.  This is from Karen’s blog with a link to Stand Up Paddle Annapolis’ blog

“I do a lot of cross training in the gym in the Winter. Circuit training is great because you can get your heart rate going, build muscle and muscle endurance. I will first do something that elevates my heart rate followed by a couple exercises that include strength and balance. For example, I might do 20 double jumps (or you could do 100-150 single jumps) with a jump rope and then move right into 20 kettle ball swings (from a squat position swinging the kettle ball to shoulder height coming to a standing position) and repeat. Then I would move into a plank position with elbows on a ball and roll the ball forward and back for 20 reps. I would do this circuit 3 times and then move on to another circuit.

Another idea of a circuit is to do 15 split jumps on each leg (http://www.livestrong.com/video/5310-split-jumps/) and then 20 tri-cep dips then 20 reverse crunches (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVVlXA0dqGg) and repeat this circuit another two times.

Basically, come up with some circuits of three exercises. Have the first exercise of the series be something that will elevate your heart rate ( jump rope, running stairs, sprints on a rowing machine) add a strength exercise (kettle bells, push ups, tricep dips, pull ups, etc…) then add in a core exercise ( reverse crunch, plank, medicine ball sit up and throws). After you finish one circuit of three then move on to another.

I run a lot during the Winter. Running is a great way to keep up your cardio endurance and a great thing to do if you only have 45 minutes to spare. If you are not a runner… biking and swimming are great options too.”

From Naish Stand Up Paddle's Facebook page

From Naish Stand Up Paddle’s Facebook page

Excuses for not getting ready? NONE! Have fun, just be sure to be safe and paddle with a buddy when the water and weather is cold.

The Power of the Feather: HULU

Hulu means feather in Hawaiian. We sometimes leap to compare a feather with “light as a feather,” but that would ignore other powerful components of a feather. Birds’ feathers are designed to be light but very strong, tough and flexible. Feathers are some of the lightest but strongest materials in nature. When Dave Chun of KIALOA Paddles named the newest in the KIALOA line of paddles the Hulu, the name was an immediate fit.

Before going into detail  about the Hulu line, I’d like to share some bits from a recent conversation I had with Dave in his Bend, Oregon office.  An avid student of nature, water, paddling, observation and the “wisdom of crowds,” Dave provided some fascinating background around his journey toward understanding what creates great paddle design.

While outrigger canoe paddling is the sport of choice for Dave, he has spent a substantial amount of time underwater. It’s not uncommon to spot Dave neck deep in water at a crucial buoy in a race where he’s grabbing some cool action shots. But it’s not such common knowledge that Dave spent many years deep in the ocean spear fishing and designing spears.

It was in that environment that a super-creative, full-of-ideas guy like Dave began to recognize the value of slowing down and being calm. Instead of going fast and chasing a fish, Dave realized that hovering low and quiet by the smaller tropical fish would eventually draw in the larger game fish.  The same would happen when a myriad of ideas tumbled in his head – simply slowing down and being quiet would allow the best ideas to flow into consciousness. 

Experiences in spear fishing allowed Dave to become quite competent at designing spearguns. Years of experience in the world of outrigger paddling also allowed Dave to learn from the bottom, putting real experience to use in developing unique and highly effective paddles. There was no “school of paddle design” or books to read at the time, so Dave’s path to refining his skills to the digital and highly refined level they are now did not include engineering or degrees.

Dave’s formal training was in social work. At first glance there would seem to be little connection between excellent skill for social work and transfer to paddle design. Here is where the “wisdom of crowds” comes into play.   As a social worker, Dave was keen to really listen to what his clients were saying. He encouraged story-telling and let people weave the tales they wanted to share. In almost every case, somewhere deep in a story a nugget of important information would be shared – and Dave honed his listening skills over time.

Instead of doing formal “market study” and test groups, Dave refines designs by getting KIALOA paddles in the hands of diverse types of paddlers. After trying the paddles people tell the story of their experience, sharing things they felt, saw, thought about, wanted, liked or disliked. The “wisdom of crowds,” from the top paddlers, racers, surfers and pros to the everyday paddler all contribute to a distinct line of versatile KIALOA paddles.

The majority of the testing for the Hulu happened in the Pacific Northwest so KIALOA could keep the paddle project on the down low. Karen Wrenn and Cyril Burguiere in Portland, and Beau Whitehead in Bellingham all had prototypes of the Hulu out for a spin. Chuck Patterson was used later in the project as a strength tester – who better?

Chuck with an earlier KIALOA paddle – looking strong as usual.

According to Dave, “Much of the testing was focused on the strength to weight ratio. We wanted the paddle as light as possible, but we did not want to build a ‘disposable’ race item. Our goal is to keep our product out of the landfills. Since we work with plastics, a long service life for our products is necessary. I feel a super light paddle which is disposable is irresponsible.”

Dave explained further, “The Hulu features a brand new shaft, called CST. It currently is available in 2 versions. Light and Ultra Light. The shafts are built with pre-impregnated carbon fiber and are oval in cross section. The system we used to build the shaft is proprietary to KIALOA. The Hulus are our lightest SUP paddles. Some of our racers converted 100% of the time to the Hulu. Others use it as part of a quiver. But most have adopted it as their default paddle. The Hulu is designed to be a race paddle specific to the unique structural demands of racing.“

Personally, I am so eager to get my Hulu paddle that I can barely wait until the January 1 launch date.  I am an “everyday” paddler, far from being either elite or top ranking in any venue.  The need to have the best tool for the job (go straight and go fast) that racers want is not less important for us “everyman” paddlers. The Hulu is just right for me (and you, and your best friend, and Chuck and Gerry and Cyril and on and on).

 Dave and his good friend, Gerry Lopez, work in close proximity. (Be sure to check out the video link) It’s natural for them to check in with each other on a pretty much daily basis. As the Hulu evolved, Gerry’s ideas connected with Dave’s and the paddle became a collaboration of input.  The light sharp edges providing a clean entry and a stiffness ideal for maximum energy transfer made for the pure purpose of the paddle as a race paddle.

As we were talking, Dave reached over to a line of paddles leaning against the wall and pulled out one of the most stunning paddles I’d seen (this from someone hooked on the Hinano and Plumeria designs of the Pipes and Methane).

Dave held out the Hulu Ultralight GL model, GL for Gerry Lopez, for me to see. WOW! Gerry’s name is signed in his trademark script below the logo we all recognize. In bold black and gold colors, the paddle is a work of art. Dave has taken years of ideas and concepts that buzz around in his creative mind, he tempered the ideas with “wisdom” from crowds and from his good friend, Gerry. Hands on digital refinement and observing from experience, life and other pursuits collectively aligned to  result in the Hulu. Focus on using the newest in high grade carbon fibers with a high modulus of elasticity connected to a willingness to try, fail and re-design has brought Dave to the point where he is confident to launch the Hulu. For one, I am jazzed.

Connect with KIALOA or a dealer in your area.  Your Hulu is ready.

License to Play!

Ahh, the day job. I have read all the books and make a true effort to worker smarter not harder. Some days are more difficult than others, especially when the exquisite days of summer SUP seem to be coming to an end far too quickly. While I subscribe to a philosophy of PL-ORK (play at work) the day’s lineup of responsibilities can overwhelm. Have you ever felt that way? (silly question)

Yesterday was one of those days. I have a complete re-write of my PA Pharmacy (day job) website on-going and the energy wasn’t translating so well. At an early morning break I came across a welcome e-mail from KIALOA paddles.They shared a new video that was hard to resist with this introduction, “Straddling the line between creativity and insanity, you are just as likely to hear a discussion on His Holiness the Dali Lama and the merits of Heavy Metal, as one on hydrodynamics and higher design when you visit the shops of  Gerry Lopez Surfboards and Dave Chun’s KIALOA Paddles.

I am so fortunate to live in Bend, OR where both of those uber-cool guys have their shops. Added to that is the occasional opportunity to experience a yoga class at Groove Yoga lead by Gerry Lopez. Maybe that proximity to the Dave-Gerry blend of creativity/insanity made me particularly susceptible to the philosophy of the video, maybe it was just a stellar day outdoors when my head was all mothballs and dust. Whatever the convergence of luck would have it, watching that video changed my day. Take a look for yourself.

How productive was I going to be looking out of my office window and fighting with the task at hand? I took the message from the film as “license to play.”

Not 45 minutes later I was at Groove Yoga sweating through exactly the class I needed. With my trusty Amundson surfboard on the roof rack, class was followed by a short drive down to Lava Camp and the river launch spot just upstream from Benham Falls. Ahhh, breathing in that crisp air while applying massive amounts of sunscreen was just what I needed. I took off upstream planning to go about 4 or 5 miles before turning around for a down-current ride back.

The gods of wind had to be chuckling, throwing gusts right into my face during the up-current paddle. “Are you kidding?”

No problem, it was an unexpected play session smack in the middle of the work day. Music in my ears consisted of a playlist created by my 10-year-old granddaughter, and it kept me smiling. About 90 minutes into the paddle I hit the 4 1/2 mile mark (GPS and mileage by Nike+). A quick turn and I was soaring back downstream. The easier paddle back allowed lots more time to let the endorphins and the views kick in.

Did I hit the office with enthusiasm later that afternoon? You bet! The day allowed me just a couple of hours of work but it was productive – or maybe my mindset imagined it so. In any event, nothing was lost by the hours of escape from routine and some sweet river diversion. Thanks to Dave Chun and Gerry Lopez for the inspiration and license to play.