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.

Heroes and Hats

Many sports have had their heroes – baseball’s Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente come to mind. From Arnold Palmer to Billie Jean King, sports greats often reach out to their community, to youth, and refine their sport to its highest levels.  From the ancient heroes of standup paddle surfing, or in the Hawaiian language Hoe he’e nalu, to the modern pioneers Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama who re-introduced the ancient sport of paddle surfing to the modern water sports world. Gerry Lopez is best known as Mr. Pipeline for pioneering one of the most challenging waves in the world with style. It was his experience and knowledge of waves and riding that allowed him to provide new SUP board shapes for these pioneers and many others.

Those who have helped standup paddling and SUP surfing become the global phenomenon it is are certainly heroes for the sport. SUP paddling and surfing is a sport with dedicated professionals who travel almost constantly as ambassadors for the sport we love.  Among them are Chuck Patterson and Karen Wrenn.  I was fortunate to meet both of these great athletes – and all round generously warm and caring people – in Bend, OR. Not only did they give popular and well-liked clinics for both beginners and advanced paddlers, they participated in all the races.

Yes, they grabbed their paddles and won the long course event (smiling and cheering on others all the way), but then they gathered at the short course, less competitive race, and built energy and zest into that race as well.  All racers got a great bag of schwag – and one of the cool new hats from Kialoa. 

I don’t usually do the “autograph” thing, but Chuck was so accessible and the spirit of the day was exactly what the sport of SUP is all about – at least in my mind.  Even though the hat is getting salty and sun-bleached, I like the reminder from the autograph when I slip it over my ponytail and head out to the water.

“Mana in humans is manifested as great skills, talents, strengths, intelligence and character. When using a KIALOA Paddle, that electric sensation one feels is the Mana. Keep Paddling,”  is quote by  Gerry Lopez on the Kialoa site.  I know that when SUP greats like Chuck and Karen are present at an SUP event they expend almost as much energy sharing their mana as they do in paddling.

Who’s the local hero for SUP in your community? Who personifies the characteristics that help the sport go from good to great in your locality? We look forward to hearing your stories and posting your photos – or linking to your blogs.  You don’t have to be a pro to be the local hero. Your “autograph” on the experience of others builds out tradition and culture – share it.