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)

Archie Kalepa: Walk the Talk -TEDx

archie-canoeaerila

The first time we saw Archie Kalepa was at the 2012 Olukai Ho’olaule’a event at Kanaha beach on Maui. We were on the beach waiting for our turn to ride on the new Olukai sailing canoe, Kamakani Eleu (the spirited wind). Lots of the Olukai team were sitting around talking story and we were fascinated. Little did we know the legendary watermen surrounding us, including Archie. By the time we flew across the swells we had a solid appreciation of the culture and spirit behind the teams who race these sailing canoes – and the Olukai team that brings the Ho’olaule’a experience to us all.

 What a surprise to find Archie’s presentation at Olukai’s TEDx Maui online. (see video below). Archie Kalepa, one of Hawaii’s greatest ocean sports pioneers, Hawaiian Lifeguard, and Director of Maui County Ocean Safety Division recently retired and joined the OluKai marketing team full-time as the Konohiki (caretaker). As the Konohiki, Kalepa will support and direct the brand in remaining authentic to the ocean lifestyle and respectful of the Hawaiian culture through hands-on participation in marketing activation.Who could be better at maintaining strong ties to the Hawaiian culture?

Settling in front of my computer with a cup of coffee this cold Oregon winter morning I got both butterflies and inspiration from Archie’s compelling style of story-telling. He explained, “In surfing as in life you need to know where you need to be.” On a surfing canoe there is a huge difference between “riding” and surfing. To truly surf you need to know the lineup, study the wind and be where you need to be. We need to be adaptable and “crack the code” or find the formula for both challenging surf spots and – life. Archie’s true passion is using his skills to share the experience with friends while keeping them safe. archie-board5

With more than 30 years as a Hawaiian Lifeguard, this elite and humble waterman has saved countless lives, revolutionized lifeguarding today as one of the pioneers of personal-water-craft (PWC) and PWC sleds for use in tow-in surfing and ocean rescue, and became the trailblazer in establishing long distance SUP racing. In August of 2012, he was inducted into Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation’s Hawaii Waterman Hall of Fame, the highest honor a waterman can achieve in Hawaii.

archiek-canyonIn call to us all to reach for our dreams and risk taking the steps to achieving those dreams, Archie noted that we are becoming out of tune with nature. By using technology instead of our instincts we miss many authetic and life changing opportunities. One such opportunity came Archie’s way and he grabbed it – going 187 miles in 17 days he was the first to SUP the entire length of the Grand Canyon. (video and story here)

“Connect with your culture,” advises Archie. As a waterman or in everyday choices, life is like a big ride. Talk about a big ride, Archie shared the story of his favorite ride on the iconic wave off Maui’s north shore, Pe’ahi. Because so many people visit Maui and go to the trouble to make their way through muddy and gullied dirt roads to take their place on the cliff to see (or more often not see) the break, Archie poses the idea that as a wonder of the world Pe’ahi should be recognized as such.

Archie Kalepa surfing Pe'ahi - photo by Damian Antioco

Archie Kalepa surfing Pe’ahi – photo by Damian Antioco

As a member of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Archie has traveled to Tahiti on both the Hokulea and the Hawaiiloa traditional voyaging canoes, and is dedicated to resurrecting interest in the traditional Hawaiian sport of canoe surfing. 

As a public-safety expert, a big-wave surfer and a Hawaiian Waterman, Archie Kalepa is driven to help others and spread what he calls the spirit of “aloha,” the Hawaiian greeting. “Sharing the spirit of aloha is always giving somebody a helping hand, always giving somebody a kiss. Always when somebody needs help, you help them, show them how to be good people,” he says. “That’s what the aloha spirit is, showing people love. It’s what people from Hawaii do. It’s how we live our life.”

 Archie Kalepa: Foil Boarding from OluKai on Vimeo.

Olukai Ho’olaule’a: Recap by Connor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Awesome shot captured by Terry Marie Galpin

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

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

Mahalo to all the event organizers and volunteers.”

Aloha, Connor Baxter

SUP MUSE: Karen Wrenn

There are many meaning of “muse” – both as a noun and as a verb. One meaning I like is describing a muse as an inspiration, a catalyst for change. We can have many muses on our journey in life, in sport and adventure. Karen Wrenn inspires many  – an active “verb” of a person. She’s also a true catalyst for change. Do you want to be better at something and reach new goals? I know I do, and I know that I can do it better when a muse helps along the way. Karen, Naish team rider, seems to always be on the move sharing her spirit and aloha for standup paddling.

KIALOA captured the determination and drive that Karen Wrenn harnesses during winter training

KIALOA captured the determination and drive that Karen Wrenn harnesses during winter training

Ask a busy person! I did, and Karen generously shared some time and insights. First, some background: Few are more busy than Karen – wife, mother, friend, athlete, teacher and SUP superwoman. We all know that honing our skills and keeping whatever our personal “athletic edge” might be is a full-time effort. In the cold and wet Pacific Northwest, staying trained and motivated takes a bit more psyching up. The recent photo used in a cool ad for KIALOA paddles captures that “brace yourself for a cold an challenging training run” moment perfectly.

I have been less determined to brave the wet and cold through January and February – then March arrived with a few days that shouted “SPRING” with abundant sun and little wind. No question! It was time to head to the Deschutes River and take a few loops. No one else was out that day. It was a visual and sensory wonderland to be gliding up-current and getting cobwebs out of arms, trunk and legs. Luckily, I had my GoPro with the board suction mount. It stayed on solidly and could be shifted from front view to back view easily.

The next day was full of OUCH! I watched the video of my paddle (see above) noticing a strange inward rotation of my knees and a waggle of the hips that seemed out of place. I had just gone through my first of three series of knee injections (yup, the old meniscus has apparently vanished). The last thing I want to do is annoy my knee further. So I sent off the video to Karen for some insights. We had connected at the Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge last year when she encouraged me as I tried the fast and sleek Naish Glide for the first time.

You may want to have your own technique guide do what Karen suggested, film from behind for a better view of body mechanics. The second suggestion was to adjust my stance from time to time. Karen explains, ” One thing I do all the time when something is bothering me is to play around with my stance. I think with a bit of a narrower stance you might not be able to lean the knee in so much Or, possibly a slightly staggered stance might help to. If you haven’t already… play around with that. Try a narrow, try a wider than usual and a slightly staggered stance and see what happens.”

Karen’s next suggestion reinforced my commitment to the twists and stretches of yoga, “Try to also focus on the torso rotation being a little higher making it happen through the rib cage instead of  by your hips. When I am paddling really hard and efficiently I feel sore through my the sides of my ribcage. If the rotation is happening a little higher you might find that your hips stay a little more fixed and that would cause less inward knee movement. It would give you the torso rotation and take it out of so much arms.”

There is no doubt that I will take these few suggestions to the river and to my indoor TRX training. Motivated even more – it’s only 56 days until Ed and I head to Maui, get our Naish 14′ Glides and prep for the Olukai Ho’olaule’a Maliko Run. Yipppeee! And thanks so much for your suggestions, Karen!

Talking Story – Maui

This will be broadcast live on January 13 from http://www.olukai.com

This will be broadcast live on January 13 from http://www.olukai.com

We have written a number of articles based on “story,” – yours, mine and the collective “ours.”  Humans love a great story and we all can recall a time when we were enlightened or entertained by an excellent story-teller.  If any of you have heard of TEDx or follow the amazing short videos available online, you know the vast depth of topic and talent participating. One of my personal goals is to attend a TEDX in person. Fortunately, there are many opportunities for people in cities around the world to host their own, local version of the TEDx experience. We enjoyed TEDx Bend (Oregon) last year for the first time – and it was an exhilarating, sold-out event.

On January 13, we all have an opportunity to experience TEDX Maui, sponsored by Olukai. We’ve walked a lot of miles in our comfortable, top-notch Olukai sandals and shoes, and we’ve written numerous times about their “give back to community” company culture. It’s doubly fun to invite you all to join us in watching TEDx Maui online. Message us on Facebook if you plan to view and/or Tweet during the event. We’ll link to you.

From the Olukai website, “A live broadcast of the TEDxMaui event will be accessible through www.olukai.com with opening ceremonies beginning at 9:00 a.m. Hawaiian Standard Time / 11:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. People across the country and beyond can also follow TEDxMaui live on Twitter at @tedxmaui and participate in live conversation by using the #TEDxMaui2013 hashtag. (If you are on Twitter, using the hashtag and following live discussion is great fun.)

Similar to the mission of OluKai’s Talk Story series (an original collection of short videos and photography curated to inspire and connect people across cultures), the day-long conference will encourage global thinking and positive action with luminary speakers such as Archie Kalepa, mentor to OluKai, big-wave surfer and innovative waterman recently inducted to the Hawaii Watermen’s Hall of Fame; Alex Grey, visionary medical illustrator from Harvard Medical School whose art has been featured in Time, Newsweek, on the Discovery Channel and albums of Tool, Beastie Boys and Nirvana; Quayle Hodek, renewable energy expert named one of the ‘7 Hottest CEO’s’ by Treehugger.com and one of Red Herring’s ‘Top 25 Entrepreneurs Under 35;’ Jenelle Peterson, an inspired teacher who has taught in classrooms from Compton to Maui; and Kim Rosen, MFA, author of Saved by a Poem: The Transformative Power of Words whose work has been featured in media such as O Magazine and The New Yorker.

“OluKai is the founding partner of TEDxMaui and we are honored to continue in helping create an enduring platform for inspired thinking,” said Kerry Konrady, Director of Marketing for OluKai.

It’s all great – especially planning for the upcoming Olukai Ho’olaule’a May 11-12, 2013.

Gotta Get a Glide (Go Naish)

The Journey to Maliko Gulch continues. We have been posting numerous articles since October 2012 documenting the on land training routine two 63 year-olds are following in order to be physically ready for the demands of the Olukai Ho’olaule’a race from Maliko Gulch to Kanaha. No matter how much land training we do,  water time with the right equipment is crucial.

Right now we own three standup surfboards (an 11’6″, a 10’6″ and an 11’3″). With winter closing in on our home town, water time on the snow-closed lakes is over. We can still paddle the quick-moving Deschutes River in temps above 35. Below that, ice on the deck pad (not to mention in the river) makes a SUP run less than desirable.

Fortunately, we managed to save for a trip to Maui the first week of December (Happy Birthday, Ed and Merry Christmas to us both!). Our plan was to get some time doing down wind and some glide-training using the Naish 14′ Glide GS and the Glide 14’0 GX.

Both of the 14’0″ Glides feature a low rocker displacement bow and a flat rocker bottom shape to increase acceleration with each paddle stroke. I am not the strongest paddler in any mix so when I get my technique as right as possible I want maximum ZOOM from the effort.  Reading about increased acceleration with each stroke in one thing, putting together 10-20 paddle strokes that seem easier and more power-producing with each return – now that’s ZOOM!

Happy times in Maui with Naish Glide 14'0 GS and GX

Happy times in Maui with Naish Glide 14’0 GS and GX

Maui is one windy place. Between the swells and the wind chop, I had some trepidation about going a long ocean distance on a race board with 27 1/4″ width.  Standing still in wind chop did require a nice deep flex of the legs and a paddle in the water for stability. But once I got a rhythm going I was jazzed by how stable the Glide was.  According to the description page on the Naish website, “The recessed deck provides a lower center of effort for stability to increase paddle power and gliding distance.” I’m glad the Naish designers got it right.  The result is a ton of fun and very confidence-building.

The Glide 14’0 GX features a carbon construction with wood reinforcement in the stance area. My experience and ability to perceive nuances between the Glide GS and the Glide GX is minimal.  The carbon construction of the Glide GX really became dear to my heart when I lifted it for a carry up the beach or to load onto the roof racks. That GX is well-balanced and light. the hand-hold grip in the deck is set off center. I tried carrying with the grip high and then with it toward the low side. The low side worked well for my arm length – and the board carried so easily.

The easy-to-manage feature of the Glide GX is just one reason to give the board a try.  We all look at our budget and price during the decision-making process when it comes to adding boards to our quiver. The more I try and the more I learn, the “big picture” of function-fun-value has become the primary decision-driver.

Okay, now for the high point of the first day on the Glide 14’0.  At the halfway point of our 8 mile paddle, we were at a break called Rainbows off West Maui. The wind was relatively low and a swell of glassy, waist-high waves was charging toward a shelf reef at mid tide. It was a brilliantly clear mix of sea, sky and surf. I turned the Glide toward shore and waited for the second wave of the set. Paddling hard, I felt the Glide engage in the wave and before I knew it I was surfing sweetly toward shore. Stable as anything, I rode that small wall to the right until it began to fold into more turbulent foam. Uh oh, I was not on a surfboard and no amount of wishing was going to give me a bottom turn to the left. I bailed out far enough from the reef to be safe.

Exhilaration! I know that when I’m on a down-winder with the Glide 14 I’ll be able to do what its name suggests: catch and connect the glides.  And that’s what its all about!

View from the nose - first wave caught on the Naish Glide GX 14'

View from the nose – first wave caught on the Naish Glide GX 14′

For a short video via GoPro: Disclaimer, it was my first day filming and first try at editing. Fun but not for prime time!

Right Name – Excellent Initials

Sometimes fate seems to send a subtle message in ordinary observations. This time it came from a name and the resulting initials – Suzie Cooney, SC.

Ed and I are in week 8 of our “Eddie Will Go on the Olukai Ho’olaule’a” race – comeback from extensive shoulder surgery. Week 8 is the best one yet. We are actually in Maui and are SUP surfing and doing sweet down-winders every day on our Naish 14′ Glide GX. Last night we had dinner with our trainer-from-a-distance, Suzie Cooney, CPT of Suzie Trains Maui. IMGP0149

There’s nothing like a face-to-face conversation over ono burgers at the Fish Market Restaurant in Paia, especially after all the support we’ve gained from Suzie over the past months. How did two 63 year olds from Oregon come to be trained by Suzie Cooney on Maui? That’s quite a story.

We were casually playing at down-wind riding while on vacation in Maui in May 2011. Hearing that the Olukai Ho’olaule’a offered a “fun race” of just 4 miles we grabbed our rental surfboards and registered. The day of the race we were all butterflies and doubt.  Ed was having shoulder surgery 4 days later and we were second-guessing everything. Then the announcer gathered us all for a pre-race warm-up, and we met Suzie.

suzierace_00001With a warm smile and ultimate encouragement she talked and moved the nervous group through breathing, stretching and a warm-up. Surprisingly, by the time we were done the group had a relaxed and solidified feel. Then we were off for one of the most exhilarating fun-runs ever. We decided that when Ed was able to train after his surgery, just seven weeks ago, we would start training with Suzie. We set a goal to do the 8-mile run from Maliko Gulch to Kanaha. Suzie’s regimine has been just what Ed needed.

Meeting up with Suzie last night confirmed it, she has the absolute best initials for her spirit and talent:

  1. SC – Sincere compassion: Ed is coming back from an injury and Suzie’s compassion for the struggle is obvious. It takes quite a bit of digging to gain the information that might attribute to that. Suzie is no stranger to injury, rehab, set-backs and the value of dedication and solid training. She has walked the talk, and then some.
  2. SC – Social commitment: Much like Olukai, the sponsor of the Ho’olaule’a, Suzie has always had a strong commitment to her community and sharing her expertise and talent. We love that and it sets the same tone that we go for at Elder SUP
  3. SC – Strategic communication: Suzie is about the busiest person I know. There is no place for the luxury of time wasted. When we use SKYPE or e-mail to gain insights and training strategies Suzie is always ready to communicate, but to the point and with disciplined replies.  It is a great way to allow her expertise from Paia, Maui to reach out to wherever clients are.
  4. SC – Solid collaboration: Suzie spends time with a diverse group of peers from both the fitness and surf/SUP/paddling disciplines. She’s an avid listener and seems to have an uncanny ability to tweak out information and then share-collaborate easily. These skills are obvious if you cruise her website, see the photos, read the articles, and watch the well-edited videos.
  5. SC – Sea Connection: Suzie is a waterwoman and is undeniably connected to the sea. Her stories, grins, and passionate dedication to sharing this connection is a gift. We are better at our SUP dreams because of her inspiration. Better yet, we are determined to return home and make the most of the next 5 months before we launch into the sea from Maliko Gulch.

Please share your training, come back and dream-event stories with us.