Olukai Ho’olaule’a: Recap by Connor

On the STANDUP PADDLE MAGAZINE’s Facebook page there was a great recap of the Olukai Ho’olaule’a posted.  I am sharing the whole summary by Connor Baxter here. It’s almost like being there again!

Connor baxter, Dave Kalama, Kai Lenny, Suzie Cooney and all the elite SUP racers are in the front ready for a challenging run.

Connor Baxter, Dave Kalama, Kai Lenny, Suzie Cooney and all the elite SUP racers are in the front ready for a challenging run.

“The Olukai Ho’olaule’a is a great event. Every year paddlers look forward to competing at this event in the infamous Maliko downwinder. The day started out with rain and very light winds. But, when driving down along the north shore we could see that the wind was picking up and the rain had stopped – and there were a few whitecaps. It was looking like it was going to be a good day. Driving into Maliko Gulch, I knew there were going to be a bunch of people – there were cars parked all the way out to the highway – and it was only 10am. What a great turnout.

Once we got there – I checked in and got my board ready. And, of course had to say hi to everyone. At 11:30 we had a pule, a Hawaiian prayer and then all 300+ of us hit the water for a 12:00 start. It was a water start on the outside of the bay. The wind was a little onshore so I decided to start further outside. Once we were all lined up on the water the boat waved a yellow flag so we got ready to race. And bam the green flag went up and I sprinted right from the beginning. Dave Kalama and I pulled away right from the beginning and like always – were just trading off back and forth.

Dave Kalama showing his powerful form making his way to a strong finish

Dave Kalama showing his powerful form making his way to a strong finish

Once we got to outer Baldwin I knew I had to put a gap on Dave. So I put my head down and I shifted into 6th gear and didn’t stop until I had a comfortable lead. Once I was a little ahead, I got into a steady rhythm and kept going.

Coming into Camp One I was a little nervous, because I didn’t have a leash and there were waves. So I caught a medium size one and stepped to the tail and rode the wave to the inside. Once I hit the flat water I just kept my head down and sprinted all the way to the finish.

connor111

Awesome shot captured by Terry Marie Galpin

I had a good lead of a minute and a half on Dave – and two and a half minutes on Kai in third place. I hit the beach and ran all the way to the finish line and spur of the moment I got a great idea to dolphin dive across the finish line – even though there was no one even close to me.

Overall it was a great event and I had a lot of fun and really stoked to defend my title and hope to do it again next year! I want to thank my sponsors for all their support – Starboard, Maui Jim, Rainbow Sandals, Trident Sports, Rista Fins, Dakine, GoPro, OnIt Pro, Waterman’s Sunscreen, Igloo Coolers, Sunrite Maui, Hammer Nutrition, iDcard, EFX and Hi-Tech Sports. Also a big

Mahalo to all the event organizers and volunteers.”

Aloha, Connor Baxter

SUP Training: Observations

Waking up to a big dawn, orange full moon in my face and a sudden “ouch” at the first moves of the day.  Upper back, ribs, and upper abs screamed resistance at my walk to the kitchen for morning coffee. And guess what – I am one HAPPY person.

Karen Wrenn SlideAfter getting more knee and low back fatigue during longer and stronger paddles over the years I reached out for some advice on technique. Fortunately, Karen Wrenn (super inspiring) shared some insights (you can follow her on Twitter) and with some practice I am creating a more effective technique.  I found this artistically beautiful video on the HangerFox Youtube channel that allows us to observe the technique that creates that highly effective paddle stroke that serves Karen so well.

With Vimeo, YouTube, blogs by pros and all sorts of social media links, we can “meet up” with SUP professionals we admire. SKYPE is another way we can get great training tips from our favorite pros. Suzie Cooney, CPT of SuzieTrainsMaui encourages SKYPE training and has had great success with that medium.

Robby Naish (happy birthday this week) and Kai Lenny in Alaska

Robby Naish (happy birthday this week) and Kai Lenny in Alaska

Recently I watched a short video of Kai Lenny and Robby Naish paddling around icebergs and basically “chilling” in Alaska. It’s good to study their stance, paddle placement, reach, posture and recovery during racing sequences as well as more recreational paddling.  Sometimes it’s tough to assimilate exactly what is making their performance so efficient and powerful.

dave-safebackThis very short video by Dave Kalama posted on the Distressed Mullet YouTube channel gives direct and easy to implement advice on how to protect your lower back. Hinging rather than bending is a habit that is not too difficult to hone – give the video a few, or maybe a couple of views then try the movement on your next paddle.

Dave Kalama provides a more advice in his blog article I found to be easy to put into practice. “Don’t rush.”

He explains that even if your technique is effective, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are utilizing it properly. If you rush through all the phases of your stroke and don’t take the time to execute each phase correctly, then you are not using your level of technique in an efficient way.

For me, one of the pieces I took away was to take the time to really drive the paddle down into the water. Create a complete stretch of your reach. According to Dave, ” it only costs you a little patience and time to completely extend your arm forward. Also, rushing through the recovery phase will break the flow of a smooth rhythm, which is where real efficiency resides. If you rush into getting your hips all the way back under you to the neutral position, then you miss out on all the potential momentum you can generate through the hips. dave-technique

During yesterday’s training that resulted in muscle fatigue and “good workout” soreness, it might have been that fully extended reach, getting my hips back to neutral and rotating the upper body appropriately that made all the difference.  There’s nothing like practice, exploration and observation to add even more fun to this sport we love so much!

We’d love to hear from you – what blogs, videos or images have been useful as you improve your technique?

 

RPE, SUP and Neutral

My best paddle last week came about 10 days into my training with the TRX RIP and TRX Suspension trainers.  As I dropped my board into the brisk Deschutes River I was thinking about fall colors and maybe the last barefoot paddle of the season. There was not a cloud in the sky although we were predicted to get a few inches of snow by late evening. I felt great! 

In order to monitor a bit about my training paddles I use Nike+ on my iPhone to get feedback on minutes per mile. I wear a Polar heart rate monitor because sometimes I tend to go too hard for too long and start to erase the fun factor. I always bring along the GoPro HERO with at least two mounts. The suction mount on the board works well in the river, and the head mount captures awesome views. On this particular day I was simply out for color and the brilliant day. Training wasn’t on my mind.

Imagine my surprise when I heard the robo-voice from the Nike+ app say, ” One mile. Average pace 18 minutes per mile.” Okay,” I thought to myself, “When the breeze is in my face and I am going up current in this section of the river I average 21 minutes a mile.” Weird, I wasn’t trying so hard, my rate of perceived exertion (RPE) was medium, maybe a 6 out of 10.  Heart rate was in a manageable range. What was making a difference?

I believe I was cranking out the miles in a quick but seemingly easy manner because of two things.

First of all, I did feel powerful. My feet seemed to be gaining power from my legs with each paddle – and the only thing I was doing differently was maintaining a neutral spine. Core engaged and tail tucked. A neutral spine is a prerequisite to doing the TRX system. Perhaps 10 days of practice at that had provided me with a better “engine.” I have had a habit of bending at the waist, particularly when skiing. Muscle and body memory around creating that more upright, neutral spine might be a valuable transfer to more than just my SUP technique. Good news since ski season is just around the corner.

Technique makes all the difference. I get a great deal of insight by reading Dave Kalama’s blog. He recently wrote, “Paddling most of the time needs to be a very flowing and rhythmic action, not a tense muscle flexed series of positions, but rather a constant continually moving movie. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place to exert yourself, but if your base stroke comes from a place of rhythm and flow, when you exert yourself you will be much more effective and efficient. The best fix for it is to greatly reduce your power level and learn how to use your technique as your driving force, not your power output. Decrease your power to the level that you don’t feel like you’re doing any work at all, and just concentrate on technique. You’ll be surprised at how fast you go.”

I have no doubt that my neutral spine and effective technique made all the difference on speed.  How satisfying to have things come together – awareness of technique, reach, proper hand and arm placement as well as on-land training.  What’s been your best “surprise” when it’s come to RPE and SUP?

Surf is Where? Arizona!

Lake Pleasant near Phoenix AZ, home of Standup Paddle Arizona http://standuppaddlearizona.com/

Without a wave in sight, an active bunch of standup paddlers have found a perfect place to hone their skills and enjoy their SUP adventures – in Lake Pleasant near Phoenix, AZ.

Stand up paddle boarding in AZ is fortunate to have a leader like Chandler local, Chad Brockman.

Chad Brockman enjoys paddling with a friend!

Chad has a versatile business and provides a myriad of resources for SUPers in Arizona.  As an instructor, he provides a strong foundation for the sport, especially for newbies, by  instructing them how to learn and practice the proper stroke.  Water is a haven from heat, a great medium for fitness, but it can also be a powerful, even destructive, force. Chad includes lessons on  how to read the water and be safe in and around a variety of waters.

Chad has been living in and around the water for 51 years.  That experiences has included plenty of adventures, but also some trials and tribulations.  “Talking story” and sharing insights based on experience adds to the value of Chad’s instruction.

Chad explains, “SUP Health not only improves your physical condition, it will gift you with a healthy mental outlook.” Part of starting new people on standup paddling is giving the “straight scoop” about purchasing the right equipment. Being able to grow into, not out of, equipment saves money and frustration in the long run.  We could not agree more.

If you live in AZ you have a super resource available. Whether you are recovering from an injury or simply want a way to have fun with friends and family and escape the intense heat, SUP is the way to go.

Anyone can do this! Standup paddle boarding can be done any time of day, even by the light of the moon. Join Arizona Standup Paddle for what could be the most fun you’ve had on the water! Chad Brockman is a bona-fide waterman with over four decades of experience world-wide. He has been introducing this new sport of SUP to the valley for five years.  Chad has become an ACE Certified SUP Fitness and a World Paddle Association Safety Instructor.

The state of Arizona offers great weather year-round. Stand-up-paddle boarding is growing as more and more people, products and places are being discovered daily.

This is a great opportunity to try out this new sport. We all like walking on water, now we can run! And get wet, and have fun with our dogs! 

 

 

 

SUP, Quads and TRX

I am gaining new respect for the collection of muscles that make up the quads. After a full 5 months of paddling 90-120 minutes 5 X a week I imagined that I was in really good shape. I have been honing my technique according to insights, blogs and experts since late last spring. Driving the board forward with my legs while using the core, lats and good measure of  “reach, dammit reach ala Dave Kalama” I really believed my fitness was balanced and solid. 

The summer included down wind runs across Odell Lake and a great experience at the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge. It was a first time for me to SUP in the Columbia River.  When the winds picked up to 30+ knots and the swells reached 5+ feet I actually felt ready. Deciding to race in the surfboard class instead of the 12’6″ raceboard class was likely a good decision.

Overall Age
1 130 Horn Todd 31 M Victoria, BC 1:34:30 0:11:07 0
2 233 Shasek Judy 63 F   1:47:01 0:12:35 12.5
3 142 Mebus Brady 17 M 1:47:18 0:12:37 25
4 231 Cunard Sam 20 M 1:47:57 0:12:42 37.5
5 253 Willems Brandon 24 M 1:49:37 0:12:54 50
6 222 Jerry Ohlson 50 M 1:50:06 0:12:57 62.5
7 143 Mebus Leanne 48 F Gig Harbor, WA 1:52:04 0:13:11 75
8 227 Thomas Mark 37 M 1:52:26 0:13:14 87.5
9 259 Rieke Anna 44 F 2:00:33 0:14:11 100

The only reason I put those results in there is to indicate that I was actually prepared and trained by late summer. Building on that training, I decided to connect with Suzie Cooney of Suzie Trains Maui to stay fit all winter and to be ready to do the Olukai Ho’olaule’a in Maliko Gulch next May. Suzie suggested we get an Indo Board and Gigante cushion and the TRX RIP Trainer.

So, on October 10, yesterday, I did my Beginner Workout with the RIP Trainer and then spent about 5 minutes doing a paddling move on the Indo Board (30 pulls each side X 5 sets). BY that night I began to feel that “sore but not hurting” sensation that indicates that a muscle has been sincerely worked. Oddly, in conventional strength training a particular muscle gets that feeling.  In this case it was a total collection of seemingly equal fatigue and muscle soreness throughout the entire quad – front, inside, and deep in the central  thigh. Oddly enough, even though I did not do any sit-ups or convention ab-work, my upper abs were also sore.

This did not happen on the first two sessions with the TRX RIP Trainer. Interestingly enough, as my skill in setting up my position and neutral back became more effective, the range of muscles engaged increased.

This morning dawned sunny and warm so I decided to head out to the river for a medium intensity 4 miles. Holy cow! Moving through my paddle stroke with care during the warm up and then with an intensity of about 60% of what a fast interval might be I could feel plenty of new muscles engaged. My quads let me know when they were working. Lats and upper abs, same thing.  It was a challenge to do this relatively easy paddle as so many areas were soundly fatigued from the past 4 days of land training.

This was great insights. As fall comes to Oregon and the freezing months of snow, ice and gray are due, it’s awesome to realize how sport-specific an exercise program done inside, in my home garage, can be. Can’t wait for the events and fun of 2013.

     

Battle of the Paddle – GO!

Dana Point will be bursting to the seams with every sort of standup paddler from the most elite to the curious newbie. From  a huge array of vendors on the shore to the high-energy races and the exuberant fans, friends and families this is a not-to-be missed stand-up paddle (SUP) exposition that is an ocean festival celebrating what has become a global lifestyle. The expectation for more than 1000 entries is highly realistic – and I truly wish I could be entry number 1001. My guess? There are plenty of you out there who’d love to join in as well. There will be something for everyone. From beginners, to family and company relay teams, to high intensity elite competition, Battle of the Paddle is a showcase for the water sport we love.

Long before I ever thought I’d have the skills to consider heading out for an event like Battle of the Paddle I received the 2009 Commemorative Promo DVD called, “Stand Up and Make a Difference” for the Battle of the Paddle. Seriously, the dream began. Just this summer we purchased a new Mike Waltze film called, “That First Glide.” The hook was now seriously set. 

The story began with images evoking the pioneers of 2000 years ago venturing from Tahiti on their paddle canoes. Over time, Hawaiians introduced surfing and paddling to the world. Over many generations, the “beach boys” refined their sport purely out of having fun on the waters that sustained and influenced their life and culture. No doubt you’ll be in awe of some of the waves the film captures, monsters being ridden with an evolutionary array of boards and paddles by modern day pioneers that include Gerry Lopez, Laird Hamilton, Dave Kalama, Chuck Patterson and many more. When you take the time to watch the film it’s hard not to get jazzed about riding waves and paddling flatwater that is accessible to any of us. The segment showing Laird and Dave simply playing on waves that many of us might find “not good enough” is a perfect example of the absolute versatility of standup paddling from the perspective of two of the greatest watermen.

This is what it’s all about – Rainbow Sandals Founder Jay ‘Sparky’ Longley looks to the future of SUP – 12-year-old Riggs Napoleon, son of Aaron Napoleon. Photo by Chase Olivieri.

Back to the theme of this article, the Battle of the Paddle. There is a short interview midway through the film in which Gerry Lopez is asked about the inspiration for what has become such an incredible SUP event. There is a pause and then a grin, Gerry explains that he and Sparky Longley (founder, Rainbow Sandals)  both became enamored with standup at about the same time. When they started thinking about what kind of event they could design Gerry knew exactly what kind it should be. “The race should start right in the surf and go in and out through the surf with the course set right in the middle of the surf break.” And so began one of the most compelling and challenging ocean events drawing in some of the best ocean athletes in the world.

The elite racers have to mix it up with a sprint through the gauntlet midway through their race. They return to the surf for another loop. Obviously these elite athletes have to stay tuned in to the condition and be in top physical shape.

One aspect of BOP is that it includes events that stretch standup paddlers of all levels to the best of their current abilities. The Open course begins outside of the surf break. Demos and “fun” events allow beginners to feel a part of the energy and culture.

To all of you reading this who are “BOP Dreaming,” take a look around your own backyard – or ocean, lake, river or bay. We are blessed with endless numbers and types of events organized by people with a similar passion for getting the SUP “game” right. Maybe you are one of those people. If so, please share a story or comment about your event. Just like we are collecting stories about SUP retailers and professionals working hard for a cause, we want to collect stories about people who infuse local events with a passion and energy similar to what the BOP has nurtured.

Read a bit about one such event organizer, Steve Gates of Big Winds and the Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge in Hood River Oregon. Then send us e-mail with your story. We might not be part of the 1000+ at Battle of the Paddle in Dana Point next weekend, but we can be a part of the culture it inspires.

The Hands Have It

I wonder how many miles I’ve swum (swim, swam swum?) in my life. First foray onto a swimming team was at age 5 in 1954 (yes, they actually had pools way back then).  Once we started a family more miles accumulated during summers at the club pool and year round at the house. For a spell it was some ocean miles. Perfecting the reach and pull of the stroke along with hand position was a great way to keep my mind occupied during longer swims. Perhaps some of those watery decades embedded a sense of reach that is transferring to my paddle stroke over time.

Photo by Nikki Brooks (Copyright)

The value of using our hands in the art of paddling may be under-rated. At many SUP events there is a single or maybe a few prone paddlers.   Candice Appleby strolled out of the water at the recent Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge after a spin in the bay prone paddling.  She noticed a group of us watching.  She enthusiastically explained why she takes time to prone paddle on a regular basis. “When you’re lying on board propelled only by your hands and arms you get a better sense of what’s  happening in the water. Whether you are going to ride waves or enjoy flat water, it’s good to really get close and experience the currents and personality of the water you’re on – up close.”

On a recent paddle in the crystal clear Hosmer Lake not far from my home I gave it a try. What a totally different sensory experience from the view we get standing. In fact, it was a whole body change of pace and training. Going slow was my top speed – not likely to have prone paddling in my quiver of top-skills! Getting a bit wet and reaching through the surface of the lake was fun.

Back in the stand up position I finished a tour of the lake and practiced some of the techniques that make every paddle more enjoyable. Today it was reach-reach-reach! I stumbled upon a rich body of information on technique posted by Dave Kalama, he’s the one with the ready grin on a mission to have fun.  He’s written some easy to understand articles on paddling technique. The one that has made the greatest difference in my paddling is called “Kalama’s 50-50.”

The written explanation of the technique meant to hone and improve “reach-reach-reach” is excellent and easy to understand. The real jewel is the video. Seriously, don’t sit at your computer and just watch the video. Grab some tape, go out on the water and really give the technique a try. It made an incredible difference in the effectiveness of  my paddle stroke this summer.

Sharing kudos on technique videos with Dave Kalama. Photo by Ed Shasek

It was cool to run into Dave at the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge. I had a chance to let him know how often I head over to his blog and search the technique section. True to his nature, he listened a bit and reminded me, “As long as you keep having fun out there. Glad you enjoyed the process.”  Dave’s got it right, the most important technique is mind set. keeping that positive mood and building confidence that leads to the most fun in whatever aspect of standup you’re in to.

What’s your favorite technique or skill-builder? Would love to hear from you.