Butterflies, Big SUP Event and Breath

Anticipation or fear of the "what if" in an event might de-rail our joy and anticipation

Anticipation or fear of the “what if” in an event might de-rail our joy and anticipation

Each day we have a choice as to how to spend our time and energy.  Often our time is planned so that we can fulfill responsibilities and carve space for our “my time.” When we choose to include a SUP event as part of our practice, we set goals and design a training plan. It seems clear and straight-forward, right?

There’s always something that comes up – our time can get segmented, pulled in many directions and we might procrastinate away some paddle opportunities because of (fill in the blank).

We might spend the months before an event we registered for with great anticipation and excitement being influenced by less than confident thoughts or fears,  It might not be a lack of time, focus or discipline that de-rails our intention. We might simply need a reminder  to inhabit each moment, rather than being led around by our thoughts and focus on our fears.

Training to the next level is attainable when we are present - and aware of our breath

Training to the next level is attainable when we are present – and aware of our breath

Framing an event as an opportunity to “learn” rather than being forced into expectation or agenda can be refreshing.  Yes, when we stay in our comfort zone or wander away from challenges it is much easier to live in the moment. The real opportunity for learning or growth comes when you reach and stretch, when outcomes could be way different from what we would have chosen or preferred.

Plan a training session, plan something that will lead you toward your goals and set out to do it. During that session be aware, be present. Do you want to flee when things get tough? Do you fear you can’t complete a speed, a distance or a challenge? Notice when fear takes over your ability to be present.

One of the best tools that can help us stay more present is our breath.  When we are stressed or in our fears, our focus is most certainly not on breathing.  We often hold our breath when we get anxious or frustrated.

Take a moment to return to your breath and awareness when needed

Take a moment to return to your breath and awareness when needed

It is fine to interrupt a training session and bring your attention or focus back to your breath. Something happens when you consciously bring your awareness to each and every breath.   This has an amazing way of shifting our energy and bringing it into the present…even if that moment is very challenging.  You may still feel your fear or whatever it is that took you out of the present, but you are taking action to return to being calm, strong and present.

You will discover what you need in order to focus on your breath. You will develop a stronger mind-body connection. One way might be to close your eyes and shift your attention to your inhale and exhale.  Allow them both to lengthen.  Keep your focus there for as little as 20 or 30 seconds and see how that changes your energy.  Many of the POWER OF PRESENCE SUP (P2SUP) audio programs provide a meditation designed to hone your skills for being present and focusing on breath.  These are powerful tools for both training, competing and – life.

Image by Melanie Weidner (http://www.listenforjoy.com/)

Image by Melanie Weidner (http://www.listenforjoy.com/)

Dave Kalama: Keep it Fun & Keep On Going

dave-kalama-is-48_fe

Born in 1964, Dave trains, paddles, surfs, innovates and appreciates the waterman life to the max

Dave Kalama  has been around since day one of stand up paddling (literally) and has competed in the ocean for over 30 years. He consistently innovates and helps create the equipment he uses from boards to paddles – and he’s still got the passion, wonder, gratitude and sense of “awe” that creates a legend. It was an honor to chat with Dave recently. You’re gonna love his stories and perspective.

It started on Maui in 2012: If you have ever done a down wind run you know what I mean when I say – “Holy cow! What a rush. I want more!” With one down wind experience at the 2012 Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge under  my belt,  I headed to Maui for the Olukai Ho’olaule’a Fun Race.

dave waveAt the post race luau I was fortunate to find myself in line behind Dave Kalama who was chatting with friends, talking technique and sharing his expertise with a passion. Overhearing some tips I picked up information that fueled my journey to learn-learn-learn all I could over time. Over time following events, news, videos, training and Kalama Kamp adventures some “talk story” questions inspired this article.

We started on the topic of fitness which is relevant at the M2O approaches this Sunday.  Dave shared, “Fitness is accessible to all who are dedicated and willing to work for it. It’s an attainable part for those who are passionate and dedicated to their sport. Irregradless of skill, a person can be fit for an event.”

Dave explained further that in a down wind event there are so many other variables and factors in play. It’s like the most physical game of chess you’ll play. Your experience and decision making skills will ultimately drive your success. “You must make constant decisions based on what you think will happen based on your past experience.  A body of water being influenced by wind, swells, waves, currents and depth will look chaotic. You must learn to read the chaos as you ride, glide and connect to swells.”

Preparation and experience leads to down wind fun (Photo by 808Photo.me)

Preparation and experience leads to down wind fun (Photo by 808Photo.me)

A down wind run is a fluid situation that is constantly in flux. No wonder it takes enormous amounts of time on the water to learn the language. As Dave says, “The water is literally speaking a language, telling us what we need to know and we need to learn to recognize those cues.”

Every body of water interacts differently with wind waves. A gradual beach, a steep cliff, refraction off rocks, how bumps are moving, speed of the current and the depth of a river or lake all combine as the “language of water.” You don’t need to know how hydrodynamics works, but with awareness during your time on the water you will begin to understand that language.

With the upcoming Kalama Kamp at Hood River Oregon, Dave used the Columbia River of one example of how local knowledge and experience play into hearing the language the water is sharing, “Around Hood River the waves seem to criss-cross. You can notice that where the current is fastest (down stream and into the prevailing wind) the actual waves are slower. As the wave pattern horse shoes in the middle you can feel and see that the waves on the sides are faster.”

Speaking of Kalama Kamps (and register early because they seem to sell out) Dave injects his philosophy of fun into deep learning opportunities. He stays connected to each participant making sure that they get what they need and have plenty of “aha” moments. For Dave, the most satisfying part is hearing from people a few weeks after the camp when they have had some time to reflect on the experience. Such testimonials help Dave continue to hone the Kalama Kamp experience over time.

Keep motivated by finding the fun!

Keep motivated by finding the fun!

Dave explains, “I love teaching SUP technique and stroke but the most important thing is to deliver the information in a way that makes the whole experience fun. When I explain technique and specific movements I relate the movement to something a person might already know from life or other sports. That way things are familiar and they can adapt from a point of what they already understand.”

One of the reasons I was very compelled to interview Dave was the message he shared, from the heart, in a speech just before the 2014 Carolina Cup. (video below)

All of us havehad those moments when we thought we were:

    • Too tired or busy to complete a training we planned
    • Too overwhelmed, scared or beaten up by an event or race
    • Having a tough day and just wanted to quit

Kalama told a story of “his worst day on the water (video below) and how he turned that day (and his thinking) around by reflecting on a group of kids who managed to keep going in spite of the demands and struggles of Cystic Fibrosis. Thos kids didn’t have a choice of quittung when things got tough – they fought on every single day. Kalama closed his speech by saying his message was meant more for the racers who find themselves anywhere from the middle of the group, all the way to the back. He said, “You can always come up with good reasons to quit but no matter what, “you don’t get in the boat. You don’t quit. You keep going.”

A training run just this week as Dave prepared for the 2014 M2O reminded him not too take things so seriously that they were no longer fun. He said, “Just as I was pushing really hard and trying to go my fastest I remembered to take a moment, just a moment, to look around and appreciate where I was, what I was doing. I took those maybe 20 seconds, that was very cool. Then it was back to work!”

Kalama reminds us, “You don’t have to get the most or the best out of every day or every effort. It doesn’t matter what it takes, just keep going with what you planned to reach your goal. No matter what it takes – even if you have to crawl. If crawling is the best you can do, then crawl on and keep moving. Think about those who simply can’t give up – it’s motivating. When you leave the house to train or race you set a course, a plan or an intention. Honor it, finish it – and have fun!”

Stand Up Paddleboarding | Sunplay.com

 

BOO and the 2014 Gorge Distance Race

Screenshot (69)On July 19, 2014 the Bend Oregon Outrigger Canoe Club (BOO) competed in the Gorge Distance Race hosted by Waterwalker at Stevenson Washington. The race was approximately 12 miles and is one of the most challenging races of the year. Check out the map for details.

The Columbia River Gorge is a canyon of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest and is well known for its extreme wind and fast waters.  In Bend, OR practice is held from March into the Fall in the relatively calm waters of the Deschutes River. Even though many members have experience in the open ocean and in the conditions of the Columbia River, the conditions in Stevenson, WA on July 19 were very challenging.

boo-huiCut to a pre-race huli – and the men’s open OC-6 team got a hasty and wet warmup. One of the more experienced of the BOO men’s team, John Von Gaertner was very pleased with how the team calmly got the canoe upright and back ready to paddle.

One thing he did mention was that the iako was set at 69 inches. In the wind and wave conditions it might have been better to set it out a bit further.  As it was, there was little extension of the iako past the hull so when they tried to stand on the end to counter-balance and right the canoe there was very little footing.  Some of the teams had added weight to the ama – which is allowed. That and other strategy decisions are part of what makes racing in challenging conditions so compelling.

SUP athlete and guest paddler, Glenn Haupt (Bend) explained, “We managed to right the canoe and get back in fairly easily. It was good experience for me to huli – and then get my mind back into thinking about paddling, timing, keeping up my power and focusing on my stroke.  It was my first time catching waves from anything larger than a SUP raceboard.

We would catch swells and bump our speed in the process – but from Seat 5 I felt in the middle of 2-3 troughs and swells, not feeling us catch the glide like I am used to. It was exhilarating and fun – and exhausting!”

Coming from Oregon you cross the Bridge of the Gods to get to the little town of Stevenson, site of the Gorge Outrigger race.  Here you will find one of the most beautiful views in the Pacific Northwest and definitely one of nature’s most challenging race courses.

With the wind and waves delivered last Saturday, the start was a very tricky time for a steersman and the crew.  Glenn had a bit to say about the experience, “As we made our final turn back into the wind, we encountered the largest swells yet….head on.  It was pretty gnarly trying to turn the canoe. I thought it would be easier since we were with the current at that turn – not so.  Several times I flew out of my seat only to be caught by the spray skirt which held me in tight.  The final leg was definitely the hardest. I gained a ton of respect for the skills and fitness that outrigger racing demands.”

BOO coach and stroke for the Gorge Race, Jason Tedrow,  was very pleased with how the crew performed in very challenging conditions. The crew was comprised of a mix of experienced and novice paddlers. Reflecting on decisions he had to make as far as stroke pace, power and strategy he had this to say, “Thinking back on what I might have done to create an overall faster boat and maybe a better experience for all might have been to slow the frequency of the stroke a bit. This might have given the less experienced paddlers more time to get their return and catch completed. That could also have improved our overall timing – and as a result improved our hull speed.”

The BOO Women’s team paddled the gnarly 12 miles in 1:51:15 – which is a long time to stay focused, tough and fast in big winds and waves. They scored a 4th place finish among 12 starting canoes – huge shout out for an amazing race!

Here are some photos from the 2012 and the 2013 race – view and enjoy.

Train Smart – Train Safe: Annabel Anderson

Annabel trains smart - and it shows. Photo © Ben Thouard :  - www.benthouard.com

Annabel Anderson trains smart – and it shows. Photo © Ben Thouard : – http://www.benthouard.com

That sound when the catch just doesn’t catch, that “gurgle.” That, “Ouch,” when your neck, traps, lower back or shoulder lets you know something is tight or off in your technique.

During standup paddling, as we work on technique, getting the “reach and catch” solid is a direct driver of our speed and power. While  a great coach and lots of water time can provide improvement, really refining the catch is a long term commitment. In order not to get bad habits, consistent feedback is a must.  When the feedback is discomfort or pain, you know you need some technique tweaking.

I FOLLOW many elite standup paddlers via their Facebook, blogs and the great publications that allow us to gain information. A recent interview with Annabel Anderson (Starboard) by SUP International was packed with exactly the sort of information we need to train smart and avoid injury. (Full article here)

Preparing for SUP demands with balanced training is key. © Ben Thouard :  - www.benthouard.com

Preparing for SUP demands with balanced training is key. © Ben Thouard : – http://www.benthouard.com

Harry at SUP International asked Annabel,Can you talk about signs symptoms that a paddler should look out for that would suggest they are over reaching?
By over reaching I am assuming you are meaning that the entry point of the blade is too far out in front? A stroke that does not engage power as soon as the blade touches the water may be suffering from ‘over reaching’. There are many different philosophies associated with perceived ‘stroke technique’ in this sport. Due to the lack of credible and biomechanically sound information people have sought refuge in references from the internet.

Annabel Anderson (Starboard) connects advice to experience - to our benefit

Annabel Anderson (Starboard) connects advice to experience – to our benefit

Annabel advises, “Be careful as to who you reference information from if it is from a free source. My suggestion is to ask yourself what and who the source is where the information is from. If you’re in pain or are feeling uncomfortable, something is likely not as it should be and if you continue to do it repetitively, you will do damage over time.”

Great insights – very relevant for me. How about you? Take the time to read the entire interview with Annabel . You might just save yourself from an injury and the resulting “down days.” Each step of the stroke is important and needs to be practiced.  Good reach and catch are important before applying the power.  A reputable and experienced coach and reliable online information can help us all train smart and reach our goals.

 

Molokai 2 Maui: Train with Peggy King

Peggy King has put in the training and downwind miles needed for the downwind racing season

Peggy King has put in the training and downwind miles needed for the downwind racing season (photo credit: Jeff Chang)

July 12, 2014 – Peggy King will be on the  starting line ready for the Maui to Molokai SUP race. This event, which begins in Honolua Bay, covers a stretch of water often described as “The Best Downwind Run On The Planet.” With her 60th birthday in the rear view mirror, Peggy King’s M2M training had been well-planned and solid. She feels ready for her second solos M2M.

We had a blast at the 2014 Olukai!

We had a blast at the 2014 Olukai!

I ran into Peggy at the start of the 2014 Olukai Ho’olaule’a. She looked fit and with 20 fewer pounds on her lean frame she was an inspiration to me! Curious about her training (and ready for some lean muscle and more endurance) I asked her to share some details.

Peggy King’s Training Summary:  My training for this event was planned and actually started way back in September of 2013. My main focus was on improving my overall fitness and accomplishing some weight loss( 20 lbs since July 13!) The strategy included attending classes at Crossfit Upcountry Maui 3-4x per week.

I am not a nutrition expert, I simply used common sense. For example, my diet plan began with the eradication of a favorite –  Triscuits and cheese. It was the start of a few habits changes that made a big difference. Diet was rounded out with meats,veggies fruits, and what we all know is important, less sugar, processed food, and alcohol. Portion control is the magic.  Athletes need water – so I was more conscious of that.

pk-hawaiikai1

Time on the water is Peggy’s favorite training routine (photo credit: Jeff Chang)

My XFit class formed a training base that I supplemented with SUP surfing, uphill walking with my dogs, and some double exercise sessions to mimic the time and intensity of  e what is required on a double Maliko Run.  It was important for me to include scheduled rest days! When I’m tired I overeat, am clumsy and risk getting hurt! Noooo! I do not want an injury.

Paddle season is upon us now- I did some of the Kahului Harbor circles in calm water- not fun! I am aiming for a double Maliko run at least 1 x per week. Since February, I have been doing downwinders to the Kahului Harbor(not just ending my Maliko runs at Kanaha) 4-5x per week.

Falling during the M2M not only wastes a lot of time, but also energy. Paddling upwind into a body of water in the nasty wind is important- and a skill required for M2O( I’m not doing that one!) and M2M.  After paddling 26 + miles of open ocean when you are tired it is necessary to have a solid base of skills and endurance.

Jeff Chang from the Wet Feet company took Peggy on the Hawaii Kai Run while she was on Oahu last week

Jeff Chang from the Wet Feet company took Peggy on the Hawaii Kai Run while she was on Oahu last week

Jeremy Riggs has helped me with my down-winding and paddling skills for 2+ years now,”being my chaperon” when conditions were really windy and nasty. As a result,my confidence has improved tremendously. I also sought out some wonderful coaching on my paddle stroke from David Kalama. I love and respect both these guys so much!

Since paddle/ downwind season has started, I’ve been challenged with the tiredness overeating/ training syndrome,but it’s getting better as my body adjusts to this workload! This is not easy for a 61 year old post menopausal broad like me.

I’m feeling both anxious and excited now as M2M approaches. I want to improve my time and qualify as a finisher sooo bad. They let me through last year at 5:34 although  I fell a lot the last 5 miles. I did a fair race. This means I didn’t cheat by going to my knees or sitting down.

I am much more prepared mentally and physically this year. Who knows what the conditions will bring. It could be light or 45 mph! I could be “yard sale” falling across the channel! I’d like to think with all my training and weight loss I’ll do better than that! Fingers crossed and hope for the best.”

We wish the same for you, Peggy!  (Note from Elder SUP- I have taken a clinic from Paddle with Riggs and you can too! Launches your skills to an entirely new level)

 

SUP Lessons from Seat 2

Timing and “The Catch”

That sound when the catch just doesn’t catch, that “gurgle.” Something about that sound screams, “Wrong!”

During standup paddling, as we work on technique, getting the catch solid is a direct driver of our speed and power. While  a great coach and lots of water time can provide improvement, really refining the catch is a long term commitment. In order not to get bad habits, consistent feedback is a must. When I train for standup paddle races and events I do my best to get the stroke right, but what is missing is a constant feedback loop so only my good technique and habits stick.

oc6-1When reach, the power stroke and a hasty return is perfect in timing, the feel and the sound is pure music and synchronicity. While we can practice these parts of the stroke while standup paddling, every aspect of our technique is even more easily analyzed while paddling with your team in an OC-6. A team provides feedback on so many levels: feel, tips and visual cues from others.

I have had the good fortune to paddle in Seat Two behind one of our more experienced team members, Lisa Jakubowski, as she brings us through a practice as stroke in Seat One. We don’t talk while training but recently she mentioned how she was trying to refine her stroke to avoid the “plunks” and “gurgles.” Being so close behind her, mimicking her style and technique, working on timing the best i could, I decided to work to eliminate the gurgle as well.

Focusing on the one thing was amazing. It began with watching her upper arm and shoulder as she moved through her power and return phase. As if we were connected, my upper arm/shoulder attached to hers. I began to get some solid timing, great for seat 4 and 6 to follow.

Next I matched her hip rotation, working to drive with my forward foot and hip at the exact same time that she did.  Mid way through our 10-mile training drills she mentioned, “When I really drive with my hip, rather than over – reaching with my upper body, I actually get an ideal amount of shoulder rotation. That results in a greater reach. I pause that nano-second at the reach then make sure i get a solid catch.” (Here is a great coaching video from KIALOA Paddles ‘Elele Luke Evslin – coaching Lisa Jakubowski. Thanks to Lisa for sharing it)

Lisa gave me a few tips on how to “feel” that perfect moment between momentum and power when the catch can be ideally executed. At that moment the canoe seems to be moving with exquisite smoothness. The paddle matches the speed of the boat. As I began the return with my paddle I gave a gentle punch with my lower arm. This momentum opened my joints  and stretched my muscles.

The energy of following the action of Lisa in front of me and the timing of the entire team in the canoe fed my ability to maintain speed, power and intensity as needed for all 4 laps of our 2.5 loop on the Deschutes River.

Luke Evslin demonstrates the REACH

Luke Evslin demonstrates the REACH

KIALOA Paddles ‘Elele Luke Evslin demonstrates the Catch

 

 

SUP Racing – The Power of Confidence

Confident and ready to do the Olukai Ho'olaule'a with my 12'6" Naish Glide, my KIALOA rash guard and Sweet Waterwear Women's Pro Elite Performance tights

Confident and ready to do the Olukai Ho’olaule’a with my 12’6″ Naish Glide, my KIALOA rash guard and Sweet Waterwear Women’s Pro Elite Performance tights

The unknown – it’s exciting, scary and often avoided. In 2012 while reading a blog post by Suzie Cooney (certified personal trainer – Suzie Trains Maui) I heard about an open ocean, down wind race event. It was the Olukai Ho’olaule’a – and Suzie inspired us to give the 3 mile “fun race” a try.

We were hooked after the fun race (luau, music, sailing on the Olukai sailing canoe and the spirit of aloha) and started training for the 2013 full Olukai Ho’olule’a run from Maliko Gulch to Kanaha Beach Park.suzie fun 2014

The conditions for the 2013 event were the worst(according to many locals) in the five years the event had been run. Winds was light or from wrong directions and the swells were breaking huge on the inner reefs. Deep ocean swells were coming chaotically from  directions that didn’t invite an easy connection of glides.

I was riding the Naish Glide 14′ (27 1/4 inches wide) after a week of practice. It was rocket fast and – for my skills – something I could handle in consistent friendly small swells, but not THAT DAY. Yup, I was in the water a LOT! Just the same the experience was exhilarating and I could hardly wait for the 2014 event. (video here)

Blue hat is me at the N1SCO World Championships in 2013 (Lake Las Vegas)

Blue hat is me at the N1SCO World Championships in 2013 (Lake Las Vegas)

Here’s where confidence made all the difference. Living in Oregon, far from Maui and the type of conditions I selected for my favored racing environment,  many resources allowed me to be fully prepared for absolute fun and my best Maliko run to date. I continued to train with motivation and advice, stories and smiles from Suzie Cooney. The team at Naish Maui Pro Center listened to my adventure with the 14′ race board and helped me select the 12’6″ Naish Glide for this year’s Olukai Ho’olaulea. The video below shows highlights. I was confident, stable and caught dozens upon dozens of swells and glides. After almost a year riding and paddling, catching waves and racing on my inflatable 12’6″ Naish ONE I hit the water ready for fun!

The wind was more fresh (Yay) than expected and it was a headwind workout to get to the starting line. I put my head done and started cranking up my speed to get there in time for the start. Confidence-builder =  hearing the cool, calm voice of Suzie Cooney who’s always ready to share her expertise on the water. “Slow down, stay calm, and save your energy for the event,” she said with a grin.

And before I knew it, we were off – and it was SO MUCH FUN. I placed better than I expected among the top 30 women – and what’s more. I gained so much confidence that my next down wind races will be on the newly designed Naish Glide 14.0 GS. Locally I can rent one from Big Winds for the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge and reserve one on Maui at the Naish Maui Pro Center. Read more on 5 Steps to Build YOUR Racing Confidence.

5 Steps to Building SUP Racing Confidence (Click for Full Article)

5 ways to Build SUP Racing Confidence

bopstartjudy9If you want to be a writer – write! If you want to gain confidence in racing – race! Here’s a short list that can help, especially if you live far from the sort of water you’ll be racing in and if you will need to rent top-quality equipment for the event.

1. Practice on the  equipment you will be using for the event  – I went from using an 11’3″ all round SUP board to using a 14′ Naish Glide (the 2013 27 1/4″ wide 14.0 foot Glide). I got to Maui 6 days before the 2013 Olukai Ho’olaule’a and went directly to the Naish Maui Pro Center where Coach and Jay listened to what my husband, Ed, and I wanted to do. With every type of SUP surf and race board available for rent, they analyzed our skills in order to match us with what we could handle. A half hour later we were headed to the water with the 14′ Glides on the roof of the rental car. boo3

Hours of practice on that equipment gave us both an eye-opener (27 1/4 inches demands a new balance skills!) and time to gain confidence on the boards we would be using in our Maliko run event. (see the story that explains why I chose the Naish 12’6″ Glide for the down wind event this year and why I will be riding the newly designed Naish Glide 14.0 GX or GS for my down wind events moving forward).

We had a hundred questions and they had both the answers and the patience to share with us even though we were in town for just a week. Find the local team with that degree of customer service and expertise.

2. Plan ahead and talk to experts you can trust – The moment we completed our practice “fun” short Olukai Ho’olaule’a event in 2012 we began planning for the full 2013 event.  Completing that event let us know where the “holes” in our skill set were.  We started planning for the 2014 event immediately. Having the resource of Steve Gates and the team at Big Winds in Hood River, Oregon is awesome. We participated in their downwind clinic with Jeremy Riggs and gained more time on the 14′ Naish Glide.

Elite racer (and overall women's winner) Fiona Wylde and friend ready for Naish ONE fun

Elite racer (and overall women’s winner) Fiona Wylde and friend ready for Naish ONE fun

At the Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge in August 2013 we were able to try the Naish ONE, the inflatable 12′ 6″ SUP board. Thanks to Charlie Burwell and the Naish team members on site, particularly Chuck Patterson, we saw how versatile and absolutely cool the Naish ONEs were (and bought 2 of them!)

Over the year leading to the 2014 Olukai Ho’olaule’a we communicated often with Coach and Jay at the Naish Maui Pro Center planning which board we should rent for the event. Since we were spending so much time on our Naish ONE boards we decided to use the 12’6″ Glide. Our goal was to stay on the board (talk about ultimate stability and glides!) and not worry so much about speed.

After the event we were able to reflect on the experience with Jay an determine that the newly designed Naish Glide 14’0″ GX and GS is going to be the board for us – as our skills dictate, for the 2015 event. The newly designed Glide is 29 1/4 inches wide which will give a sweet stability along with the speed we want. Luckily, Steve Gates at Big Winds has reserved that exact board for us to use for the August 2014 Naish Columbia  Gorge Paddle Challenge. We plan to do some down wind training runs with his clinic leaders.

Find your local experts and experts at your travel destination. It makes all the difference in confidence.

3. Practice in conditions similar to your event – Living in Oregon’s high desert does not provide lots of opportunity to practice in the conditions that Mother Nature delivers in open ocean down wind races.  We are fortunate to be able to travel about a 3-hour drive to get similar challenges in the mighty Columbia River.

When we need to be more local we check the weather report for windy days on local lakes and reservoirs.  Four friends, two cars and a shuttle plan can provide a great day of fun – and the practice we need.

Suzie Cooney (CPT) of Suzie Trains Maui lives the training advice she shares both on Maui and online.

Suzie Cooney (CPT) of Suzie Trains Maui lives the training advice she shares both on Maui and online.

4. Train for the demands of the event -Winter! What a perfect excuse to forego paddling and take up couch surfing (Noooo!), skiing or snowshoeing. If you are serious about your paddling technique – paddle. If you are serious about your strength, endurance, flexibility, balance and speed – get a trainer who paddles.  We have an area in our garage filled with TRX equipment, Indo boards and a spin bike.  We fear we would not be either skilled at how to train or motivated to stay with it without the inspiration of Suzie Cooney. Check her blog for examples. 

5. Leave your expectations at the door – Every event delivers as much of an adrenaline rush as it delivers a chance to connect with like minded SUP athletes. SUP is unique in that you are right there in the watery “arena” with the most elite paddlers in the world – so often. We compete in the most beautiful waters on the planet. Sometimes the sun doesn’t shine or the wind blows snot or the temps drop to some crazy cold level, but if we show up, compete and finish then we win. We win the fodder for “talk story” and plans for next time. As Connor Baxter says, “Always have fun and never give up.” That works for me!

SUP Lessons from Seat One

Yesterday most of the paddling I did was going for a wave – and did I ever catch a ton of them. There was an offshore wind and no organized swell, but the warm water of Oahu’s Waikiki break called Four’s was all fun.

Well, it was all fun until my husband, Ed, wiped out from a steep takeoff. The powerful off shore wind caught the edge of his board and flipped it fins up just as he hit.  The gashing bruises delivered enough pain and swelling to keep him out of the water today. boo3

A sweet south swell meandered in by 7 am and the wind was about as calm as we could wish for. I didn’t have the heart to take the SUP surfboard out while Ed couldn’t paddle, so I decided to do a solid 4 miles on my Naish ONE.

That’s where the “SUP Lesson from Seat One” made itself known.I took the first 1/4 mile to warm up a bit,weaving through the low tide reefs. Using what I learned from SEAT FIVE (article here) rotation, catch and driving my board forward rather than pulling my paddle back was my mantra.

The water was so glassy that I easily got into a groove. As my Naish ONE gained speed and glide I noticed my stroke BPM increased. As I moved through the water with acceleration, I noticed that it was too easy to miss the catch and let my paddle slide without any real power though the water. What was going on?

boo1Then I remembered. Just last Monday night at Bend Oregon Outrigger Canoe Club practice I was in Seat One. A very similar situation played itself out as we went 70% of race speed for 8 minutes, then 80% for 4 minutes then 90% for 4 minutes.  As stroke person I had to work hard to make sure I maintained a solid catch even as paddle strokes per minute increased.

No one would be better to remind me of what to do than the steersman, Jason Tedrow.  A skilled and versatile water athlete and rabid competitor, Jason coaches with purpose (to catch the canoe in front of us and get to the highest speed we can maintain).

boo6After each pyramid of percent of race effort he would critique our technique and remind us-

  • Keep your stroke up front and lively
  • Maintain your catch
  • Rotate from the hips and drive the boat forward
  • Timing, timing, timing

As the hotels of Waikiki whipped by in my peripheral vision, as I worked to stay steady and balanced. Sideways swells reached for my ankles I recalled the lessons from Seat One!

nata9The bow wake of my Naish ONE invited a paddle stroke pace that was much quicker than my usual. My reach and catch was a rotation and drive combination. The faster my board went the more quick and sharp were my paddle strokes.  Before I knew it I was turning at Diamond Head for the return 2 miles.

Natatorium nata2

 

 

 

 

This practice delivered some solid cardio intervals and a huge measure of stoke! Headwinds greeted me on the return trip and I was getting fatigued. This was a perfect scenario for another “Lesson from Seat One.” When we were doing those sprinting pyramids I was often feeling “too tired to go another exchange.” Yet, focusing on the voice of the Seat 3 “Hut, Ho” and the encouragement of the steersman we all remained calm and maintained speed. I did that same thing as I worked fast and steady back into the wind.

nata6Who knew it could be outrigger practice that refined me into a better SUP paddler!

SUP Lessons from Seat 5

I am tired, sun-burnt and pretty darn happy.

  • Feeling grateful for the chance to be on Oahu for the week before my second Olukai Ho’olaule’a.
  • Feeling jazzed that flying from Oregon to Honolulu with our Naish ONEs in a duffel with some clothes and a KIALOA paddle bag with 4 paddles was a breeze!
  • Feeling strong and comfortable on a 12’6″ Naish ONE in 20+ mph side winds and a confused small swell even though I have paddled SUP just 4 times since October (thank you Oregon Winter)

meg-ocNow, to the title premise, “SUP Lessons from Seat 5.”

A few weeks ago I had my 4th Bend Oregon Outrigger Canoe Club practice. On this cold, rainy, windy (typical April) evening I was assigned seat 5 just ahead of the steersman, in seat 6, Meg Chun. Lucky (but tentative) me.  I have been standup paddling for 6+ years and have had some success – which Meg was aware of – and now I would be paddling for 90 minutes right under her watchful (and quite expert) eye.megoc4

Meg has been coaching novice and experienced outrigger paddlers in Bend for more than two decades.  She spices the learning with a cool passion, always a sense of fun and patient expertise.

It was WONDERFUL being the closest person for Meg’s critique and observation. No, really! (LOL) After about 45 minutes of me doing my best effort at reach-catch-return with a wonderful rotation of my core I heard Meg say, “Judy, you need to rotate your body.”

Me, (to myself) “WHAT?????”

Meg: You are turning, mostly your head and shoulders, but you need to show your back to the opposite shore, then dig for the catch. Engage your core and really move the boat forward with the rotation of your hips coming back to center. That’s it, you are never coming back to center before your next stroke. Try that.”

So try that I did – and it ROCKED. The areas of my shoulder and upper arms that usually limited my endurance by pure muscle fatigue were not feeling a thing. It was a core and lats experience.

OK, back to SUP. Today on my Naish ONE I used the very technique that I have been practicing at outrigger practice. The gnarly offshore wind and the confused swell did its best to intimidate ad toss me off balance.

megoc2

Thanks for sharing your expertise with me and my beginner outrigger paddling skills

Never happened. What a fantastic 5 mile “into the wind” paddle to Diamond Head and beyond. What a cool late afternoon surf session at Pops on the Naish ONEs.

Olukai Ho’olaule’a, I can hardly wait. Thank you Bend Oregon Outrigger Canoe Club! Thank you, Meg Chun!