Tag Archives: elder sup

Sweet -Race Jersey Next Generation

sswjer-proIf you followed the inaugural 2015 Pacific Paddle Games you may have noticed everything about it was bigger than life, from the oversized waves to the above-average temperatures. The best was the creme de la creme athletic talent that showed up from every corner of the world to compete for the biggest number of all: a record-setting $55,000 prize purse. With all the photos and live coverage of the event, one other thing that literally stood out – was the bright Sweet Waterwear jerseys worn by the athletes – from the world’s top Pro paddlers to the XXS groms.

With many more top athletes enjoying the performance of Sweet Waterwear jerseys throughout 2015, it seemed like a good time for Elder SUP (ES) to go behind the scenes of this unique specialty Hawaiian brand based out of Honolulu. We were fortunate to have this chat with Sean Sweet, founder and visionary behind the brand.

ElderSUP: Sweet Waterwear was the official PPG race jersey on the estimated 450+ Open & Elite racers at the 2015 Pacific Paddle Games, the successor to the Battle of the Paddle. What a format and what an event for the inaugural year!  How did this all come about?    

SweetWaterwear:  As soon as news broke about the PPG I approached Andrew Mencinsky (Marketing director at SUP the Mag & race organizer for PPG ) early on. Andrew has known about Sweet Waterwear & the high quality of our gear for quite some time.  He knew many of the top SUP racers already use and swear by our gear. He’d also seen our Men’s Nirvana Race jersey at other prominent races and from team jerseys that we’ve done for many of SUP’s top board brands.  Andrew and the team at SUP the Mag & TEN (The Enthusiast Network) really wanted to step things up at PPG. They were quite determined they were not going to just follow in the footsteps of the Battle of the Paddle. They wanted every aspect of PPG to be “Bigger & Better.” One of the most obvious “on-screen” ways to do that was to upgrade and outfit ALL of the athletes in beautiful custom PPG jerseys. (video teaser here)

Andrew wanted different colors by gender and group. We are one of the few companies that was large enough to do that and still be flexible enough to produce within a somewhat tight time constraint. For all these reasons, Sweet Waterwear was an obvious and easy, quality choice that met all their objectives.  

ES:  The vibrant colors on all the Sweet Waterwear jerseys we saw at PPG were exceptionally bright and highly visible in varied ocean conditions, at a distance & on the webcast. 

SW:  Stepping out of the box and pushing the bright colors was key essential goal for PPG.  I’ve had these colors available – but no Race Director had ever ventured out of the color norm with us, before PPG.  Fortunately Andrew knew well the live and telecast value of adding bright colors to the mix was far more than just a safety consideration – he recognized that the bright colors would really “pop” on the webcast providing a much richer and vibrant visual experience.

ES:  We noticed right away that the Women’s jerseys at PPG were trimmer and a different cut.  What brought about your developing a women’s specific race jersey? 

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“Our constant goal at Sweet Waterwear is to raise the bar in fashionable, functional activewear,”

SW: With the huge success of our Men’s Nirvana jersey, it was a logical extension for us to make a (literally) “more fitting” Women’s paddlesport tanktop.  Women are far more fashion, fit and style conscious. We realized that wearing a downsized boxy men’s jersey just wasn’t really cutting it.  The difference is more than just color. It fits better due to details like binding versus wide trim along with subtle, but noticeable, hourglass shaping.  Now, the ladies look more flattering and feel better about how they look in our Sweet Waterwear jerseys while enjoying the same ultralight breathing performance of the Mens jersey, but in a more feminine, fashionable tanktop.  

ES: Everyone performed to the max at the 2015 PPG but  looking for the true stars of the day, they were also some of the smallest. The future of the sport is growing up on waves around the world, and we got to witness it during the Grom and Junior Pro races.

SW: Absolutely, as the PPG event showcased so very well, the future of our sport is a powerful field of youth. And for the first time ever, we made sure they had race jerseys designed specifically with the smaller sizes in mind.

sswjerkids The kids were not an afterthought (as they often are at most other races).  We offered size XXS jerseys for the first time ever to accommodate the keiki (children). With the kids we made the Boys Red and Black while  the Girls had Red and White. It was subtle, but still made a perceivable distinction.  The kids were super stoked to have their “very own” special kids jerseys.  We were equally stoked to provide the kids with something “just for them” to enhance their performance and the PPG race experience.  

These custom PPG jerseys have become a proud keepsake and talking point long after the race has been over.  The kids are especially proud to wear their PPG race jersey at other races and while training no matter where they may live and paddle.  We often refer to the robust “Retention Value” of our high quality race jerseys that get “great mileage” of exposure long after the event is over.  sww-kids

ES:  What is your background and how did you develop the Sweet Waterwear brand from your past expertise? 

SW: I have 30 + years in the apparel industry, most of it in casual and active sportswear. Shortly after moving to Hawaii it was quickly evident to me (as a new paddler) that the SUP market was very much under-served, especially on the Women’s side. I had just come off an 11 year stint at well-known Women’s sportswear company. So I knew how to bring a lot of technical fabric and sourcing expertise to the table.  Being based in Hawaii helps enormously. We can test year round. I have access to all types of wind and watersports, as well as, all  levels of paddlers including several of the world’s elite racers. Many of these elite water athletes  have become ambassadors for our line after testing out our gear.

Since Day 1 – when we launched at the one (and only) Battle of the Paddle Hawaii (in 2010) we have offered a more highly evolved line and more technical detail that both athletes and everyday paddlers can really appreciate – so it stands out in the marketplace.  Our race jerseys are well received by so many elite and fitness paddlers.  Pro racers have the opportunity to wear and try many different styles and brands, but the feedback we get and then incorporate into our designs demonstrates how we are meeting the trifecta or “Sweet Spot” of paddler’s needs in style, function and performance.

ES: How is Standup Paddling gear different than, say, Surf gear?

SW: Stand-up paddleboarding is not like surfing in that it is largely an “on-the-water” activity versus often “in-the-water” like surfing. Tight rashguards don’t work as well. They are skin-tight, which by design will help keep you a little warmer. In stand-up paddleboarding, you are burning calories, and most paddlers want & need to dissipate that heat. Furthermore, you are also fully exposed to extremely high levels of sun when you are standing on the water. The combination of direct sun and indirect sun reflected off the water surface really intensifies your exposure. We are a core SUP brand and have pioneered crafting far more fashionable, superior quality, sun-protective gear specifically made for stand-up paddleboarding and other similar paddle sports like outrigger canoe paddling, kayaking, canoeing, dragon boat, etc.  We are also very proud to be cut and sewn in the US using high quality European spec fabrics. There are hardly any Surf brands that can say that – most all are produced offshore in Asia with cheap labor and heavy “cost consideration” given to margin – which inevitably compromises on garment quality.

swteamhi

We already have what is perhaps the most popular men’s stand-up paddleboard racing jersey on the market. We offer custom printing and even co-branding opportunities. It’s market that we got into early and one where we have established a high profile & strong presence.  If you happened to catch all the ISA World Standup Paddle and Paddleboard Championship action last May you saw Sweet Waterwear jerseys on Team Hawaii.  Zane & Matty Schweitzer have both declared them “Best jerseys EVER!!” Looking at the Sweet Waterwear ‘ohana I guess that is the opinion of many of the best in the world.

ES:  I have noticed a lot of detail and innovation in your latest styles. like in my Sweet Waterwear Ka’iulani Zip long sleeve performance top with the neck zipper, thumb holes & big zippered back pockets, especially as the days turn cooler here in the Pacific NW.  How did you come upon the name you chose for that style? 

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Check out the bold print on the back of the Ka’iukani (also available in white-sky-turquoise)

SW:  Ka’iulani loosely means, or implies, ‘rich in health, spirituality and prosperity.’ The meaning resonated with me because, in my opinion, so many standup paddlers seem to reflect these qualities and values.  Further Princess Ka’iulani was/is an important historic figure in Hawaiian history & culture. The Kaiulani is our our top-of-the-line full featured long sleeve so you could also say it’s fit for royalty.  

ES:  What can we expect next from Sweet Waterwear?
SW:  We are driven to excellence, so we will continue to combine high quality performance fabrics with thoughtful superior design & our special “Handcrafted in USA” manufacturing.  We are getting deeper into prints as accents & adding more styles like dresses & hoodies.  Further we are very excited to announce that this summer we will be rolling out a complimentary special collaboration – a new line called “SWT KSS”.  It’s sort of a double entendre & acronym for a limited collection  designed by Kimberly S. Schamber and made by Sweet Waterwear.  Look for the SWT KSS collection to launch in Spring / Summer of 2016.     

Pe’ahi Challenge: An Epic Day

The air was electric with anticipation, the athletes quietly checked equipment as the rhythm of swell surging in Kahului Harbor reinforced the truth. While one water athlete would reign victorious by the end of the day, each knew the true opponent was a wave named, Pe’ahi. There would be no beating her, only the chance to be patient enough to wait for her to deliver the right wave and then ride it with a lifetime of experience blended with courage and focus.

IMG_1564In the pre-dawn darkness we arrived at Kahului Harbor as the boats and jet skis were being launched in preparation for the first paddle-in event  at Jaws, the Pe’ahi Challenge. We were there to observe the pule, the traditional moment of prayer shared by the athletes as they gather in a circle offering their gratitude, asking for safety and protection, blessing the endeavor they will experience today. One image comes to mind.

One of the competitors emerged from the cabin of his boat with a handful of ti leaves. Traditionally ti leaves are used in ceremonies for protection and to call in good luck and spirit. The young man shared the ti leaves with drivers of the jet skis, the link to safety for the athletes. No words were needed, the jet ski drivers knew their role was crucial and one that was built on training as disciplined as that of the athletes.

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Always ready for rescue, the safety team took some hard hits in the impact zone – Photo TAG Heuer

One by one the boats headed out for the long ride to the deep channel just off the shoulder of Pe’ahi. We had the good fortune to be on the cliff with a bird’s eye view of every ride. Within earshot of the spot-on commentary and “talk story” gift of Dave Kalama, we were fully immersed in an epic day that will go down in history.

Before the comp even started, Kai Lenny caught what looked like the best wave of the day, a huge barrel, moments after Shane Dorian’s monster drop. Kai’s wave was caught on camera but from a distance. People continued to remark throughout the morning that it was easily the biggest and deepest (made) barrel they had seen. If you want to see the footage, FOLLOW Kai on Instagram – and prepare to be blown away by that video.

With near-perfect Jaws conditions, the best big wave riders on the planet were queued for heats and a chance at the the wave of their life. Yes, there was a hefty purse of $100,000 – but at the moment the laser focus was on the swell, on the power of Pe’ahi. Before the event even started, things got crazy. Mark Matthews took off on a bomb and separated his shoulder. Every ride had a price tag.

The predicted swell delivered with power and resulting carnage that had every spectator holding their breath until the athlete popped up out of the churning foam and grabbed the rescue sled. Commentator, Dave Kalama, explained that after a crushing wipeout the full focus is on getting a board (in so many cases the board has been splintered by the impact) and getting out there as soon as possible for another ride. You have to get out there and go again before the realization hits you. What an absolutely insane path you have chosen as yours.

The day was full of rides that brought gasps, then cheers. Dave Kalama called Greg Long’s cavernous deep 9-pointer “one of the biggest waves ever paddled into.” Every heat brought incredible rides and the gnarliest of wipeouts. One of the runaway jet skis, hammered sideways by the wave, was pounded toward the rocks, then methodically smashed to bits in the crushing foam. Watching that gave each of us spectators a full understanding of the forces the athletes endured at any misstep or wipeout. Their preparation and training mixed with courage and absolute passion for what they do is nothing less than heroic.

Huge cheers erupted in the VIP tent when Albee Layer threw down some incredible tube rides. It was nail-biting good to be seated next to Peter Walsh (father of competitors Shaun and Ian).  Shaun Walsh’s steep drop, which Shane Dorian said was one of the steepest of the contest, gave us all chills. Ian Walsh’s heat before the semi-final was a collection of one strong ride after another. From one of my favorite Maui paddlers, Peggy King, “Maui Local boys ruled today and Billy Kemper deserved the win!” Right on, Peggy.

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Heading out for some little fun waves at Launiupoko, Maui

The very next day we took our boards to Launiupoko on the West side for the polar opposite of waves, a gentle 2-fit swell. We always have fun at our favorite Maui beach – does what we do count as “real” surfing?

We got some insight later that day. It was really cool to read a post by Kai Lenny that made us feel a connection to one of the world’s best – simply because we hunger for time in the ocean and on its waves, “2ft to 20ft the fun is the same to me. I’m just happy to be in the water everyday!”

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At the end of the day at the Pe’ahi Challenge, Billy Kemper won the well-deserved prize. Every competitor provided the honor of participating in this historic, inauguaral event was also a winner. In the biggest picture – we all won. Our sport is gaining fans and appreciation from surfers of all levels and non-surfers as well. Thanks to the World Surf League (WSL) and TAG Heuer for the vision to collaborate to bring us this event.

 

Outrigger to SUP – Seat to Feet

Understanding the basic mechanics and physiology of stand up paddling can increase both motivation and effectiveness of our training.  Recent winner of the Kanaka Ikaika Racing Association Women’s Overall SUP Unlimited Hawaii State Championship in April 2015, Jane McKee (profile article here), has taken the time to share some of her solid insights with us. After decades racing OC1 and OC6, Jane began focusing on training for SUP downwind and events in August 2014.

janemt1Jane provides these tips, “The one thing I noticed immediately after training for SUP is what a huge energy expenditure SUP requires. On my one man I am sitting comfortably on a foam seat, locked into my craft as though I was part of it. On the SUP the only thing locking me onto my board is the bottom of my feet. Every large muscle group comes into play, and in the first month I was completely gassed after about 5 miles. I felt like I was doing squats the whole time, and, well, you pretty much are.

Training Nugget:Technique is a big factor in SUP. Leading with the hip, using the big core muscles and leg muscles to balance and drive the board forward, all come into play.

I found that the principles of the stroke are pretty much the same in outrigger and SUP. Keep the start of the stroke way up front, and finish the stroke by the feet. Because the SUP paddle is such a long lever, triceps, lats and biceps get a healthy workout. I never weight trained for one man, but find weight training to be beneficial in SUP to keep from getting injured. Also I had to train my legs more. It is very much a leg sport. I did notice that after 2 or three days a week on the SUP and I had to cross train. This is when I would get back on my one man. It is a perfect combination to alternate. The one man gives your body relief from the rigors of the standup while allowing you to train similar muscles and keep your endurance training. And you avoid burnout while still getting to be on the ocean.

Training Nugget: Consider weight training, especially the legs and add some cross training to your SUP routine.janemt2

Everyone has told me I have picked up the sport fast. I have to attribute that to many years of training basically the same muscle groups used in SUP, racing outrigger a LOT.  Primarily it is my ability to read the ocean, linking up the waves and finding the path of least resistance. You either have it or you don’t. Some people never get it. It is an absolute must if you want to compete in open-ocean or downwind paddling. When I give OC1 clinics this is a favorite topic. People want to know HOW. I can explain the physics, and dynamics, analyze wave patterns and currents, but you have to get out on the ocean and understand what it is doing that day. You have to really look; pay attention and most of all FEEL the ocean and hear what it is telling you. It is, in my opinion, a gift.

Training Nugget: To read waves and succeed in down wind and open ocean events you need to spend time in the ocean and practicing “reading” all aspects of wind, wave and current. It is a life long practice – and a gift.

janemt3I decided to race SUP this year in the Kanaka Ikaika race series that culminates in the State Championships in April. As I only had my one board, the 17’4 Unlimited, that is the board I raced every race even if it was flat or upwind. People thought I was crazy but I figured if I could push that big board on the flat just think what I could do if it were windy? In the months leading up to the States race I had to really pay attention to not over training by eating well, getting enough rest and learning to say no. Learning to say no if I were tired, even though the conditions were excellent.

Your body repairs itself during sleep. Adequate rest is vital to improve your fitness.

Training Nugget: As an older athlete, recovery takes longer, and I have learned to listen to my body. I could write a book on training as an older athlete, and have learned by trial and error that you can train as hard as your younger competition, but you must recover longer.”

Thanks so much for taking the time to share this with us.  Those few training nuggets could make all the difference this season. Aloha.

SUP Surprises: Oregon Coast Delivers

Two "Elder SUPs" on an adventure
Two “Elder SUPs” on an adventure

It was the final day of our “SUP Surf” trip tp the southern Oregon Coast.  A wicked series of winter storms fueled by gale force winds and torrential rain filled the creeks and rivers to flood stage. The best surfing is near the mouths of these rivers and conditions were not good for our favorite water play. So we hiked and explored for eight amazing days.

On our final day we took a hike that hadn’t been advertised much, and we took off through the wonderous forest without much expectation – and then we came upon Indian Sands Beach. The 3 hours we were held spell-bound flew by. The video captures a bit of the adventure but you must see it for yourself.

Below the video is a collection of links to all of the articles which journal each day of the “2015 Great Winter SUP Trip.”

Great Winter SUP Trip Great Winter Trip Day 2SUP Travel: Expect Wonder Rainy Days and Sunday: Cozy FoodHere Comes the SunWinter Glassy Surf: Brookings OregonStories from Under the Waves –SUP Adventures:  Nature Dictates –

 

Winter Glassy Surf: Brookings, OR

brsunsetTuesday night’s sunset over the surf break in Brookings, OR was breath-taking. The waves were chest high to just overhead and glassy good.  In this light all looks idyllic. Can we finally hit the water and SUP surf, paddle up river and explore?

Talking to rangers at the beach and a few other locals we learned, “Increased pathogen and fecal bacteria levels in ocean waters can come from shore and inland sources such as storm water runoff.”

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Surfer at dusk, enjoying the first sunny day in a long time. (Photo by Ed Shasek)

In short, we can surf – but maybe we should wait a few more days for some clearing of the water to take place. It’s not easy to watch these waves roll in, but in the daylight the obvious amount of river run-off has turned each wave a brown muddy color. Water and various bacteria issues are common world-wide. Caution, a hot shower after a dip in the seas affected by run-off, make all the difference.

We were on Maui and Oahu a few times after winter rains flooded rivers driving golf course and farm run-off into the sea. Warning signs at the beaches were very clear – DO NOT GO INTO THE WATER. Both bacteria and other (think shark) risk occur while the water is murky.

As we drove up the coast from Brookings, past Gold Beach to Port Orford we passed numerous rivers and creeks, all coursing their way to sea. The beaches are carved with picturesque pools and sandbars from the fresh water sculpting. But the browns of these waters contrast sharply with the clean green-blue of the bays away from the rivers. Ore-South-South-Coast

For that reason we decided to do our crabbing off the working dock at Port Orford. Good decision! It was informational, fun to talk with the local crabbers and staff on the dock.

Seals played and the male crabs eluded us – but we grabbed our share of fun.

So, no surfing for a day or so. Thinking water should clear considerably by Thursday – and the waves are predicted to be chest to head high, our favorite. Winds, calm. Even better!

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Naish ONE: Alpine SUPping Robby Naish Style

Naish ONE inside, some snacks and a camera! Ready to go Alpine SUPping
Naish ONE inside, some snacks and a camera! Ready to go Alpine SUPping

Fall has hit the latitudes affected by winter snows and that shoulder season brrrr.  It’s our last chance to grab a backpack and hike to the alpine regions that are absolutely stunning this time of year. Our backpack gear is cool-to-the-max because tucked inside the pack is a Naish ONE!

Robby Naish says, ” I am constantly telling people about the many benefits of our inflatable stand up paddle boards.

Robbie Naish ready to Alpine SUP - Photos by Filip Zuan (www.filipzuan.com)
Robby Naish ready to Alpine SUP – Photos by Filip Zuan (www.filipzuan.com)

Here are a few shots from an Alpine SUP adventure in St. Moritz, Switzerland that never would have been possible with a composite board!

Where in the world is Robby Naish
Where in the world is Robby Naish

Every day on the water is a good day and with one of these, you can make that happen a lot more often!”

Find YOUR nearest alpine lake and let the hike-in Naish ONE adventure begin
Find YOUR nearest alpine lake and let the hike-in Naish ONE adventure begin
Secret Lake by Broken Top - Oregon Photo by Tyler Roemer
Secret Lake by Broken Top – Oregon Photo by Tyler Roemer

Our first Alpine SUP adventure to a breathtaking, incredible “secret” lake tucked behind Broken Top in Bend, OR was an adventure. (Story here). Discovering these lakes and taking the hike set the stage for the sweetest of paddles upon arrival. All you need is a map and a plan to discover these treasures.

We drove through frozen, rutted snow at the edge of a 3,000 ft drop cliff in the Steens in Eastern Oregon to find our alpine lake. We were headed for Wildhorse Lake but the 1,100 foot steep drop of the trail covered in ice was not something we wanted to attempt. (video below). Instead we found a terrific alpine lake to hike to – Fish Lake nestled among the Steens at an elevation of 7400 feet. Surrounded by a healthy stand of willows and aspens, here a wide variety of wildlife can be found including beavers further down Lake Creek below the lake. It was glassy calm, with the only ripples provided by the lake’s namesake – fish! And plenty of them.

Thanks to Naish SUP for sweet inflatables, KIALOA Paddles for design and technology, and the Beatles for the tunes in the video below.

 

Do It! – Your Bucket List SUP Event

Have you got that SUP dream, that event that fuels your dreams and motivates your training? Do you have what it takes to make it happen?

Got a dream? Let's talk story with Steve Gates, GM Big Winds and coach
Got a dream? Let’s talk story with Steve Gates, GM Big Winds and coach

We’ve heard it before, “Access to success is through the mind,”  – but for Steve Gates access came through the heart, spirit, absolute grit and gumption, as well as the mind! I had a great conversation with Steve, GM of Big Winds in Hood River and coach of the JET team, yesterday. We chatted about his recent three-person team crossing of the Ka’iwi Channel at the 2014 Molokai2Oahu (M2O). Rob Dies, Gregg Leion and Steve made a plan to do the Molokai to Oahu – and they did it! But let’s back up just a bit.

I first met Steve, now a strong, tall, fit guy sharing smiles and stoke, in August 2012 at the 2012 Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge. That event was his baby. A health issue had him terribly underweight but he was working hard and cheering on his JET team even though he was almost too weak to stand. By December he was fighting for his life. In June of 2013, about six months after Steve had been frighteningly close to death’s door,  we went to Hood River for a down wind clinic with Jeremy Riggs. As we grabbed our glides and rode the 8 miles of Columbia River from Viento to Hood River there was an “energy bunny” paddling ahead and back, from paddler to paddler, joining Jeremy in on-water coaching with relentless grins and technique tips – Steve Gates.

According to Steve, “I was still denying the physical limitations of my body and was running on enthusiasm and joy just being out on the water and paddling.” And here’s the story  too cool not to share. Six months before, in December of 2012,  when Steve was too weak to either hold a paddle or stand he articulated a dream. As we rang in 2013, Steve shared his dream of doing the Molokai 2 Oahu in 2014 from a hospital bed while continuing his battle with a dire health situation.

Big Winds JUnior Elite Team (JET) loving their tough practices and huge stoke
Big Winds JUnior Elite Team (JET) loving their tough practices and huge stoke

As a life long water athlete and coach, Steve never asked others to do what he would not do. Ask any JET team member and they will tell you that they didn’t mind the early morning summer practices (well, not too much) because Steve was always there and he did what they did. He sweated with them and panted after a tough interval – and he made it fun. Steve always asked his team to follow their dreams and aspire toward what they really want – and so he did the same.

In early 2013 Steve, Greg and Rob were making plans for an escort boat, for local support they would need for M2O and for a training plan that would let them reach their dream.

A powerful moment - Photo by 808Photo.me
A powerful moment – Photo by 808Photo.me

There were plenty of ups and downs. One bout of dehydration nearly dashed all hopes for Steve to get to the physical level of strength and endurance he’d need. “Access to success is through the mind, ” and in Steve’s mind he was at M2O – and by July 2014, he actually was there.

According to Steve,”The morning flew by and before we knew it we had finished all preparations and were at the start point on the beach ready for the start.  Soon, I was in the water, sitting on my board next to Connor Baxter. Neither of us knew what the day would hold.” For Connor it was a record-breaking win, for Steve and his team it was the culmination of a long journey from the start of a 32-mile paddle across the challenging and treacherous “channel of bones.”

Rob Dies, Gregg Leion and Steve Gates just before the start of M2O
Rob Dies, Gregg Leion and Steve Gates just before the start of M2O

The conditions did not deliver the usual tradewinds and nice push toward glides the paddlers dream of. In fact the swells were smallish and every glide was the result of hard work, sometimes against both wind and current.

Greg Leion getting a glide Photo by 808Photo.me
Greg Leion getting a glide Photo by 808Photo.me

Steve, Rob and Greg made their changes in and out of the escort boat. Their escort boat captain, Jeremy Wilmes and his helmsman and first mate Josh made everything possible. Steve shares, “You couldn’t ask for more, these guys are as good as they come.”

Rob Dies making his way past the China Wall
Rob Dies making his way past the China Wall

The hours flew by and they were at the China Wall and final legs of the race.  Rob Dies put the hammer down and pounded past the gnarliest area of the race. The changes came more often and before Steve realized it was his time to jump in, get on board and paddle to the finish.

We all watch events and the competitors launching toward the finish. Sometimes we wish that we were competing or accomplishing some long dreamed-of adventure. Imagine, if you can, the enormous wash of emotion, satisfaction, happiness and awe that had to encompass Steve as he made his way across the finish line for the team.  The journey had been long, and often seemed impossible.

A happy Steve Gates crossing the finish line for the team at M2O 2014
A happy Steve Gates crossing the finish line for the team at M2O 2014

From that day when simply standing was a challenge to this moment paddling strong across the M2O finish line. Steve was standing, tired and beat, but never beaten. Got a dream, got a goal? Think it is impossible? It’s there for you if you put your mind, heart, spirit and the support of friends and family into the mix. Now – GO FOR IT!