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.

     

BOP Honors – Inspiration of the Paddle

The ultimate SUP “game” envisioned by Gerry Lopez and his buddy Sparky Longley is called ‘Battle of the Paddle.” When the elite racers fall, flail, and maneuver their way around the yellow marks placed right in the surf break it has to look and feel like one huge foamy battle.

The reality of the SUP contenders battling out for top spots in the one-of-a-kind BOP comes through best in other moments in and around the event.  If you’ve ever been to an event when any of the top ten contenders, male or female, for SUP athlete of the year have been present you know what I mean.

In football you never get to sit with the best quarterback, on the bench before a game but in SUP the beach is open to everyone. Interaction with Candice, Conner, Karen, Suzie, Heather, Kai, Jamie, Chuck, Slater, Dave, and many others is easy and quite inspiring. The absolute passion for their sport and water, waves and wind they live by is contagious! They are a no excuses, hard -driving competitive bunch who train like there’s no tomorrow – but will share a pointer, a word, a smile and encouragement as needed. Clinics, blogs, movies – they share!

If you were like me, it was pretty tough to decide who to vote for in the various SUP awards offered to the public for input.  I have a hand full of favorites all with top-spot accomplishments. In the recent 2012 SUP awards by Body Glove tough decisions were made. Candice Appleby was awarded top honors for women while Conner Baxter won for the men.

The one thing that struck me as I enjoyed the stories, tweets and Facebook updates was this quote from Candice, ““I want to thank the other athletes- you inspire me.”

That camaraderie and mutual respect may not be unique to the sport of standup paddling, but it is one powerful, compelling aspect of how the best of the best live their sport.

Gerry Lopez was presented with the SUP magazine Lifetime Achievement Award for his influence on the sport

No matter where you paddle or SUP surf this weekend you can charge or chill with the attitude of those at BOP. Anyone can grab the attitude  of Gerry Lopez who won the SUP magazine Lifetime Achievement Award for his influence on the sport. He accepted his award and said, “I hope it makes a difference in how we all think. Surf with aloha and live with aloha.”

Okay, it’s Saturday! Grab your board, your paddle,and a friend then look for surf and inspiration – wherever you find it.

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.

Surf is Where?

A few weeks ago a group of friends headed off to Pacific City, Oregon for one of the last summer weekends. With temperatures cooler in the easterly cities, we hoped to avoid the ubiquitous fog that generally shrouds the Cape Kiwanda shoreline. Not so – we had foggy conditions throughout the weekend. The picture to the left shows one of the big sun breaks and an average of the wave conditions. Sure, the occasional larger set rolled in. and so did the wind. The picture to the right shows the chaotic sets we enjoyed for most of Saturday. 

An interesting thing to note is the lack of crowds on the water. Many who came to check out the surf left grumbling about this or that, fog or wind or chill or wave speed. When we got out about 9:30 there were a few prone surfers and about 5 standup surfers. The sets were fairly infrequent so paddling out wasn’t too difficult, staying up while waiting for a wave – more so!

Looking over to the southerly side of the haystack rock, just off the south corner of the Pelican Pub, I noticed a silhouette and surf style that’s not easy to miss. It was Gerry Lopez. He’d been out long before any of us.  With ease, he’d caught dozens upon dozens of rides that made the graceful most of every wave.

The exact same waves deemed not good enough for many who’d visited the shore that day, were providing plenty of rides for one of surfing’s greatest – and for hours on end.  In the few hours I was out there honing more standing and balancing than surfing skills, I watched Gerry watch the waves. Patience to look for the right wave is not my forte, so I learned as I watched him watch. Observing his easy-powerful paddle strokes and graceful rides provided some serious lessons. On each wave, Gerry decided when to cut out of the wave to both avoid getting tousled in the washing machine shore break and to make the paddle out an easier task. Simply being aware of that important phase of riding the wave – exiting it at the right time – can save a lot of hard work.

I finally scored a wave that allowed me a very sweet ride. It seemed like so many I had missed so far, then out of the blue it held up and invited me to dig in for those last few strokes.  Once on, I let it direct me right – so easily.  Catching the second build of the shore break, I decided to end on that note and go ashore to warm up and watch some more. I was still perched on the tailgate of my truck when a few hours later a friend came in plenty exhausted. He commented on how cool Gerry was, giving a few pointers and generally bolstering confidence among some of the SUP surfers sharing the waves. The foggy, windy day warmed – maybe it was just the “aloha.’

I reflected on that surf session today at noon, oddly, while stretching into a forward fold at Groove Yoga. Instructor Cynthia Latimer was giving just the class my mind and body needed. She was bringing our breath and focus to the mat with the unique spirit she shares via her teaching I looked at my mat below my bare toes and considered if riding my breath and movement in this yoga class was really so different from riding a wave. This just right class seemed in many a bit like the ONE wave last Saturday.  Similarly, that wave was just naturally, easily right too.

My thoughts turned back to watching Gerry on some fairly mediocre waves last week riding, playing, sharing aloha with the other surfers and being in the moment. Truly living what he shares in his book, Surf is Where You Find It. Gerry explained in a recent interview that was part of his book tour,  “So I would like to say that we are all here in this life to LIVE. Life is moment to moment, if somehow one moment escapes you, if you haven’t lived it to the fullest, live the next one too. Keep paddling, keep breathing through your nose, live with aloha.”

In the moment when you get to your favorite surf beach and it is too flat, too hot, too windy or not enough of something, consider making the most of that moment.  If there is a way to go with the flow in a manner different than the agenda that brought you to that beach or that moment, consider making a considered, aware choice on how to live it.

In various studios and retreats in which Gerry shares insights and guidance through his yoga classes, you are likely to hear him say something like this, “This is why surfing is such a great metaphor for life. Life doesn’t hold still for us. If we don’t move with it, life just passes us right by, it leaves us behind. Surfing teaches you to be in that moment spontaneously, go with the flow smoothly. That’s how you get the most of the wave and it’s also how you get the most out of life. 

At work, at play, on your yoga mat, and of course in the ocean, surf is where you find it. And being a “surfer” is what you make it.

License to Play!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sup Friends Make the Sport

Saturday was a glorious day at Elk Lake in Central Oregon with a few dozen standup paddlers (2 OC-1 and one prone) ready for the Gerry Lopez summer race series. My plan had been to do the open class on my 11’3″ Amundson surfboard but when my friend, Randall Barna called late Friday with the offer to borrow the Amundson 12’6″ race board I eagerly accepted.  Five years ago on my first tentative paddle on the Deschutes River, Randall and his family were out for a Friday afternoon paddle. Seeing how sketchy my skills were, he stayed with me for about an hour, providing technique tips and encouragement that made all the difference. Standup paddling in Central Oregon is what it is because of friends like Randall Barna and Cristina Acosta who authored the first and very comprehensive standupflatwater.com blog). 

It’s fairly easy for us to give a casual word of advice or support when encountering an SUP newbie. It’s quite another thing to keep a high level of generous enthusiasm for graciously sharing the sport over a span of more than 7 years – but that’s Randall, all the way!

In his sixties, he’s still got competition in his blood, but always with a grin. Drafting and pulling, often neck and neck with buddy, Tom Burke, Randall’s dead serious about his training and racing. More than personal outcomes, he’s always been ready to share expertise in organizing races, helping with courses, all the way to designing and maintaining local race buoys.

  

It’s not difficult for anyone living near any sort of body of water to notice that standup paddling has taken off like crazy. Everyone and his grandmother can – and seems to be – standup paddling. Inherent to the spread of our SUP culture is a spirit of aloha that can help the sport through growing pains and some hiccups as prone surfers meet standup surfers.  As the cool company, KIALOA paddles, demonstrates as a company mantra, we can be “together on the water.”

If you know someone who’s made a difference and shares the spirit of aloha around your SUP experience, please share your story with us in the comments.