SUP: The Wave and You

Have you read Susan Casey’s book, The Wave? (Seriously awesome video based on the book)

Casey, 44, editor of magazine, traveled the world experiencing waves close up and personal. Casey, who wrote The Devil’s Teeth, a 2005 best seller about white sharks, didn’t want to write a book just about surfing. She was driven to write about waves, some almost mythical in stature.  To do this, Casey needed a guide to “open up his world to me” and provide a “glimpse of the ocean with its gloves off.” One of her guides to waves, like Jaws on the North shore of Maui, was the waterman, Laird Hamilton.  Her encounters with the famous Jaws were described so vividly, it felt as though I was there as I read.  Even accompanied by big wave surfer, Laird Hamilton, (another cool video) would I charge the face of Jaws in a jet ski or dive below and witness the sea-floor configuration that causes that incredible wave? I certainly hope so!

Auhtor of THE WAVE, Susan Casey, with her guide to Jaws (Maui), Laird Hamilton.

Author of THE WAVE, Susan Casey, with her guide to Jaws (Maui), Laird Hamilton.

Casey told Hamilton about a freak North Sea storm in 2000 that battered and nearly sank a research ship — the opening scene in her book.

“He wished he had been there,” she recalls.

 Hamilton explained, “What’s hell for some is heaven for others. A storm like that  can stir up “the ultimate playground” for big-wave surfers.

Have you ever been schooled by a wave just a degree or two (or 3) above your skill level? One that held you down, knocked the tar out of you and was fodder for stories for weeks after? For some, that wave is calf high, for others a triple overhead at Pipeline.  I found my limit one cold October morning doing dawn patrol with my husband, Ed, and our buddy Randall.

Pipeline - December 2011

Pipeline – December 2011

After a 40 year hiatus from surfing it was the third fall I’d been SUP surfing, 2011. We’d only planned to sit on the beach at Pacific City (Oregon) with a coffee. Out in the light fog about 1/2 mile offshore a set of big fat and beautiful glassy waves wrapped around the point at Cape Kiwanda and solidly marched through the deep water. Rather than crashing or closing out, they simply diminished before re-building on the more shallow reef onshore. A setup that rare had to be experienced. Wetsuits donned we paddled out.

Holy cow – heart in throat time…what was lurking under the glassy beds of seaweed out by the rock? Would I have the nerve to really go for a wave that seemed to swallow up Ed and Randall as they disappeared behind the overhead walls they took?  The third swell of a set loomed up. I was bit further in than the “safe” zone – having sort of tried for the first wave.  That made the wall and takeoff a bit more steep – but something made me dig for it an GO!

My skills are very limited and bottom turns – not so much.  Yet something clicked on that wave, I dug my KIALOA paddle hard into the face and powered a nice right that lofted me up the face at a speed that  I’d never felt before. The board vibrated under my feet with a shattering sound that serenaded with whistling wind, and filled my ears. “Wooooohooooooo!” Yeah! There was nothing but an amazing rush. In a few seconds when time stood still that was a ride to remember. Then the shoulder flattened out in a deep water channel close to shore and I cruised over the top and paddled back out. I caught two more waves before reaching the edge of my “courage”envelope. I went in way before anyone else – but it was enough.

Brit Oliphant using her skills to backdoor a section on her backhand, Sweet use of her KIALOA GL ULtralight HULU paddle

Brit Oliphant using her skills to backdoor a section on her backhand, Sweet use of her KIALOA GL ULtralight HULU paddle

Totally amazing and I haven’t ridden anything like that since.  Yet, it is cool to have some experience so that when I see someone tackling a nice sized waveI I can  have a small sense of what’s so incredible. The photo to the left shows Brit Oliphant, a Surftech team rider, ready to dig her KIALOA Hulu GL Ultralight paddle to backdoor a section on her backhand.

Imagine the sounds and feel of the speed and wave power as Brit maneuvers across that overhead face.  Surfers everywhere and at every ability level share a common set of awe and experience for the waves they’ve ridden and waves they been thrashed by. The most important thing about the ocean is that we explore it. It’s our source and where we’ve evolved from — it’s spectacularly beautiful, and it’s really, really powerful. Whether we ride the big ones or live extreme moments vicariously, we share a common energy.

Respect your skill and respect your ocean – love your moments and your abilities on your waves. A very wise surfer, one whose spirit of aloha graces all he does, is Gerry Lopez. In his book, SURF IS WHERE YOU FIND IT, he shares five rules. The fifth and final Lopez rule, “The best surfer in the water is the guy having the most fun.” Like Gerry, we can all try to remember that one.

A great shot of Gerry Lopez originally posted in 1859 - Oregon's Magazine.

A great shot of Gerry Lopez originally posted in 1859 – Oregon’s Magazine.

Okay, grab your paddle and your board – have some fun and dream of waves! Then share your stories with us – via e-mail or on Facebook.

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!

Winter SUP Training

January warm in my Sweet Waterwear paddling top and compression pants

January warm in my Sweet Waterwear paddling top and compression pants

Just took a virtual tour drooling over the Naish line of Glide raceboards (have you ever seen that GX? Yeah!)and Mana line of SUP surfboards.  It seems like forever until we head to Maui for some surf and downwind fun at the Olukai Ho’olaulea.  In reality, it’s just about 100 days.  With so much snow and ice on our local paddling locations, we are waiting until late May to get our Naish boards. Meanwhile we prep and dream. I did have the pleasure of going a few miles in the Deschutes River on a recent 50 degree afternoon. It was the first time I’d paddled since our fun in Maui in early December. Other locals, like Randall Barna paddle regularly – every freezing month of the year. naish randall winter

I was paddling on my Amundson 11’3″ all round fun board.  Everyone knows that I have had endless hours of flatwater and surf fun with that board.  Heading up river on a calm day I was surprised to notice – my Amundson just didn’t have that “glide!” In Maui we had been blessed with a few glassy days with small surf so the actual glide of the Naish 14′ Glide was obvious. A set of 6-8 strokes on one side generated some serious acceleration with minimal effort.  It reminded me of some technique suggestions from KIALOA paddles’ Dave Chun.

When asked about paddling technique, Dave Chun says, “Listen to the board, Don’t worry about what you look like. Listen to the water coming off of it. Feel what makes it go fast and smooth.” I was doping that observation during my January paddle and realized how much the design of a board impacts the glide, the sound and the result of a series of paddle strokes.  Even though I love the sound of the chop-chop-chop as the bow skims across the ripples in river current and breeze bumps, having aboard that slices right through all that with more of a “swish” is simply faster! So glad we’ve got a 14′ Naish Glide reserved for the Ho’olaule’a.

We don't have the beach (and I certainly don't have the body) but we can train and prep with guidance from Suzie Cooney, CPT

We don’t have the beach (and I certainly don’t have the body) but we can train and prep with guidance from Suzie Cooney, CPT

While a great board is key to having a great experience during SUP events, the bottom line is getting ourselves ready to be strong, safe and prepared for the physical and mental challenges. To that end we have been poring over Suzie Cooney’s SuzieTrainsMaui website for ideas and training tips. Luckily she has SKYPE sessions available for some true custom training opportunity. I know we will be filming some sessions with the GoPro to get solid feedback that we need.

Since Karen Wrenn experiences much similar winter weather we looked for some training tips that power her fitness and competitive success.  This is from Karen’s blog with a link to Stand Up Paddle Annapolis’ blog

“I do a lot of cross training in the gym in the Winter. Circuit training is great because you can get your heart rate going, build muscle and muscle endurance. I will first do something that elevates my heart rate followed by a couple exercises that include strength and balance. For example, I might do 20 double jumps (or you could do 100-150 single jumps) with a jump rope and then move right into 20 kettle ball swings (from a squat position swinging the kettle ball to shoulder height coming to a standing position) and repeat. Then I would move into a plank position with elbows on a ball and roll the ball forward and back for 20 reps. I would do this circuit 3 times and then move on to another circuit.

Another idea of a circuit is to do 15 split jumps on each leg (http://www.livestrong.com/video/5310-split-jumps/) and then 20 tri-cep dips then 20 reverse crunches (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVVlXA0dqGg) and repeat this circuit another two times.

Basically, come up with some circuits of three exercises. Have the first exercise of the series be something that will elevate your heart rate ( jump rope, running stairs, sprints on a rowing machine) add a strength exercise (kettle bells, push ups, tricep dips, pull ups, etc…) then add in a core exercise ( reverse crunch, plank, medicine ball sit up and throws). After you finish one circuit of three then move on to another.

I run a lot during the Winter. Running is a great way to keep up your cardio endurance and a great thing to do if you only have 45 minutes to spare. If you are not a runner… biking and swimming are great options too.”

From Naish Stand Up Paddle's Facebook page

From Naish Stand Up Paddle’s Facebook page

Excuses for not getting ready? NONE! Have fun, just be sure to be safe and paddle with a buddy when the water and weather is cold.

The Power of the Feather: HULU

Hulu means feather in Hawaiian. We sometimes leap to compare a feather with “light as a feather,” but that would ignore other powerful components of a feather. Birds’ feathers are designed to be light but very strong, tough and flexible. Feathers are some of the lightest but strongest materials in nature. When Dave Chun of KIALOA Paddles named the newest in the KIALOA line of paddles the Hulu, the name was an immediate fit.

Before going into detail  about the Hulu line, I’d like to share some bits from a recent conversation I had with Dave in his Bend, Oregon office.  An avid student of nature, water, paddling, observation and the “wisdom of crowds,” Dave provided some fascinating background around his journey toward understanding what creates great paddle design.

While outrigger canoe paddling is the sport of choice for Dave, he has spent a substantial amount of time underwater. It’s not uncommon to spot Dave neck deep in water at a crucial buoy in a race where he’s grabbing some cool action shots. But it’s not such common knowledge that Dave spent many years deep in the ocean spear fishing and designing spears.

It was in that environment that a super-creative, full-of-ideas guy like Dave began to recognize the value of slowing down and being calm. Instead of going fast and chasing a fish, Dave realized that hovering low and quiet by the smaller tropical fish would eventually draw in the larger game fish.  The same would happen when a myriad of ideas tumbled in his head – simply slowing down and being quiet would allow the best ideas to flow into consciousness. 

Experiences in spear fishing allowed Dave to become quite competent at designing spearguns. Years of experience in the world of outrigger paddling also allowed Dave to learn from the bottom, putting real experience to use in developing unique and highly effective paddles. There was no “school of paddle design” or books to read at the time, so Dave’s path to refining his skills to the digital and highly refined level they are now did not include engineering or degrees.

Dave’s formal training was in social work. At first glance there would seem to be little connection between excellent skill for social work and transfer to paddle design. Here is where the “wisdom of crowds” comes into play.   As a social worker, Dave was keen to really listen to what his clients were saying. He encouraged story-telling and let people weave the tales they wanted to share. In almost every case, somewhere deep in a story a nugget of important information would be shared – and Dave honed his listening skills over time.

Instead of doing formal “market study” and test groups, Dave refines designs by getting KIALOA paddles in the hands of diverse types of paddlers. After trying the paddles people tell the story of their experience, sharing things they felt, saw, thought about, wanted, liked or disliked. The “wisdom of crowds,” from the top paddlers, racers, surfers and pros to the everyday paddler all contribute to a distinct line of versatile KIALOA paddles.

The majority of the testing for the Hulu happened in the Pacific Northwest so KIALOA could keep the paddle project on the down low. Karen Wrenn and Cyril Burguiere in Portland, and Beau Whitehead in Bellingham all had prototypes of the Hulu out for a spin. Chuck Patterson was used later in the project as a strength tester – who better?

Chuck with an earlier KIALOA paddle – looking strong as usual.

According to Dave, “Much of the testing was focused on the strength to weight ratio. We wanted the paddle as light as possible, but we did not want to build a ‘disposable’ race item. Our goal is to keep our product out of the landfills. Since we work with plastics, a long service life for our products is necessary. I feel a super light paddle which is disposable is irresponsible.”

Dave explained further, “The Hulu features a brand new shaft, called CST. It currently is available in 2 versions. Light and Ultra Light. The shafts are built with pre-impregnated carbon fiber and are oval in cross section. The system we used to build the shaft is proprietary to KIALOA. The Hulus are our lightest SUP paddles. Some of our racers converted 100% of the time to the Hulu. Others use it as part of a quiver. But most have adopted it as their default paddle. The Hulu is designed to be a race paddle specific to the unique structural demands of racing.“

Personally, I am so eager to get my Hulu paddle that I can barely wait until the January 1 launch date.  I am an “everyday” paddler, far from being either elite or top ranking in any venue.  The need to have the best tool for the job (go straight and go fast) that racers want is not less important for us “everyman” paddlers. The Hulu is just right for me (and you, and your best friend, and Chuck and Gerry and Cyril and on and on).

 Dave and his good friend, Gerry Lopez, work in close proximity. (Be sure to check out the video link) It’s natural for them to check in with each other on a pretty much daily basis. As the Hulu evolved, Gerry’s ideas connected with Dave’s and the paddle became a collaboration of input.  The light sharp edges providing a clean entry and a stiffness ideal for maximum energy transfer made for the pure purpose of the paddle as a race paddle.

As we were talking, Dave reached over to a line of paddles leaning against the wall and pulled out one of the most stunning paddles I’d seen (this from someone hooked on the Hinano and Plumeria designs of the Pipes and Methane).

Dave held out the Hulu Ultralight GL model, GL for Gerry Lopez, for me to see. WOW! Gerry’s name is signed in his trademark script below the logo we all recognize. In bold black and gold colors, the paddle is a work of art. Dave has taken years of ideas and concepts that buzz around in his creative mind, he tempered the ideas with “wisdom” from crowds and from his good friend, Gerry. Hands on digital refinement and observing from experience, life and other pursuits collectively aligned to  result in the Hulu. Focus on using the newest in high grade carbon fibers with a high modulus of elasticity connected to a willingness to try, fail and re-design has brought Dave to the point where he is confident to launch the Hulu. For one, I am jazzed.

Connect with KIALOA or a dealer in your area.  Your Hulu is ready.

Brr & Cold = SUP Fitness Challenges

For a huge part of the world October delivers astounding Fall colors and freezing nights. Unless the palm trees are waving in the breeze where you live, unless you bundle up in neoprene booties, your SUP days are more challenging this time of year.

SUP fitness might be on your mind. You might:

    • Miss the easy whole body workout that SUP delivers to keep you fit all season
    • Want to stay in SUP fitness training so you’ll be ready for next season’s events and fun

This is exactly the time of year to be thinking this way. Fitness is an illusive sports partner – now you have it… and (way too soon) now you don’t. 

A great resource can be found at your local Naish SUP retailer. Often there is a fitness professional available to provide some solid off season training. We have learned quite a bit from  Christian Cook at NRG Salt in Madeira, FL. He’s got a great philosophy about SUP training – get your training on the board or through in-the-gym sessions that mimic the flow and smoothness of SUP. He’s always looking for ways to grab a few fitness (strength, flexibility and balance) moments during a paddle. The last time I paddled with Christian we were grabbing the sides of docks as we passed under them and doing a few pull-ups as we cruised by. Cool factor: not 3 minutes later a huge bottle-nose dolphin rolled across our bow wake. That’s Tampa Bay for you!

We have been fortunate to find Suzie Cooney, CPT of Suzie Trains Maui and a Naish team rider– 3000 miles across the Pacific Ocean from us, but as close as a quick SKYPE call.  A free SKYPE account and a computer with video capability is all you need for a distance training session. Once you contact Suzie you’ll discover many ways she can enhance your fitness and SUP performance on the water.

How do you train? What’s your favorite off-the-water fitness routine? Have you got some shoulder, back or core exercise that have helped you rehab after an injury – or remain injury-free?

Let us know what inspires your off-season off-water workouts.

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.

Don’t Run a Marathon in Flip Flops

Some background: I am just a regular person doing a little surfing, touring, racing, and recreational paddling.  I could get one paddle that is versatile enough to do most everything, or I could start to build out my quiver of more specialized standup paddles. The size and shape of the blade, length of the shaft are just a few things to consider when choosing a paddle. Choosing a board is even more complex and one size for all types of water and surf or purpose gets complicated. I always go to an expert for advisement when making a decision about sports equipment and SUP equipment is no different.

Sometimes people ask me, “I am just a recreational SUPer. Why do I need an expensive paddle?” First of all, “expensive” is a word that’s not easy to quantify in terms of comfort, freedom from injury, pure enjoyment, efficiancy and “feel” while enjoying your sport.

I usually answer, but it is a silly answer, “You don’t run a marathon in flip flops. Sure flip flops are the ultra comfort shoe, but not for running or even for much all-terrain walking. The $100 shoe you get for hiking, running or walking is “expensive,” but it is a huge value. The same goes for paddles.”

Being up on the right board is so much better than being dunked with a “faster’ but maybe less stable board choice.

I was talking to Steve Gates, owner of Big Winds in Hood River, Oregon a few months ago. We were discussing which Naish board I should use for an upcoming down winder on the could-be-gnarly Columbia River. We discussed balance, ability, glide and surfing.  He advised me to use the Naish Glide 12′ 6″ which is forgiving and competitive (even if I am not so much). I had wanted to try the Naish Javelin (14′) like a friend has and one I have enjoyed in the flatwater. I thought that the faster the better was a good idea.  Steve explained that I would be more stable and endure fewer swims – and therefore enjoy the race more and probably be faster with the Glide. Great equipment and great advice make all the difference for an enjoyable experience no matter where you finish in an event. Either way, Naish was the hands down choice.

When out on the water, talk to others who share your interests – even if their abilities far surpass yours (for now). Try their equipment. If you have a heavy, poorly designed paddle prepare to get paddle-envy.  If your paddle is not the right length, prepare for a huge “aha” moment if you try a paddle better suited to you. If you have a few members of the family who’ll be sharing one paddle, why not get a top of the line adjustable paddle that will be exquisite fun for all? The KIALOA  Pupu paddle is a fine example.

So why am I about to add to my quiver of standup paddles? I have  one paddle I dearly love. For 5 years it has taken me over lakes, streams, oceans, bays and rivers – but like any piece of well-used sports equipment, it could break at some point. So I went shopping. Don’t ask me about square inches of blade size, blade shape, shaft length or blade design – I leave that to the experts.

Discussing things with the team at KIALOA (awesome customer service and rich online information) I learned that for my size, age and skill level I might find the KIALOA Pipes to be a great downwinder and flatwater paddle. It was fun to learn that many pros – even big strong young men – love the Pipes as well.  There is plenty to learn about getting equipment right – again, I always defer to the experts.

My current paddle, with a shorter shaft and larger blade size can still be my go to paddle for surfing. For my down winders and probably most races I may be better off with the Pipes. I tried the Pipes on the same 5 mile training run I have been doing for about 6 weeks, maybe 3 times a week.

In my last race I noticed that my heart rate was a full 20 BPM more than I wanted. I decided to do some training closer to my “fat burning” zone, topping at 136 and some segments in my  “aerobic” zone – which tops at  154 BPM.  I have been doing my 5 mile loop with my older paddle so I know my speed per mile and my average heart rate at that speed.  Yesterday when I used the Pipes my heart rate was easy to keep in the 125-140 BPM range. My fear was that the “feeling easier” paddling would result in a slower average speed per mile.

Holy cow! I use Nike+ to measure my miles and gather my splits per mile – I was 12-18 seconds faster per mile – a full minute faster for the total 5 miles while the entire workout felt easier. It was also actually easier – as demonstrated by my reduced heart rate. For a 63 year old chick just playing at being an athlete this is both fun to explore – and an incentive to get that Pipes in my quiver very soon. The only tough decision remaining is which of the beautiful graphics do  I choose – the blue or the green plumeria? Maybe blue to match my cool new Sweet Waterwear paddling top or my  Hawaiian blue Tiare Tee. 

SUP Paradise

Writing, creating, developing marketing strategies and such in my “day job” often sends me to the river all foggy-brained.  Recently I made a playlist for a friend heading to the Yukon River Paddle Quest (go Pam and Karen, both age 50 and doing great in the race today). The drive from Oregon to the race was long enough to beg a special road-trip playlist. With that playlist on my iPod I headed to the water on an overcast, windy day a bit cooler than “summer” should be.  The goal, 5 smooth miles in the aerobic zone.

Elder SUP paddling with Coldplay musicReally, how long does it take for the “should be doings” to drop away and the rhythm of paddle strokes, breathing and savoring the energy on the river to take hold. Not long. Rounding a large rock covered with a gaggle of curious geese, iIdid a nice tail turn across the Healy Rapids. Scuffling water swooshed over my standup board, barefeet would have smiled if they could! Whipping into the current and soaring the final mile or so back to the car Coldplay came on with “Paradise.”  The lyrics maybe didn’t fit as much as the pure tones – ahh, my mind took the time to savor the experience.

Loading board and paddle back at the car I was a thoroughly different person a mere 90 minutes later. Access to “walking on water” is available in almost any town where a river, lake, bay or ocean beckon. It’s paradise! Got paddle? Got a board – make your own paradise wherever you are.

 

Chip Booth: Standup Guy

Chip is not only the owner of StandupPaddle Bend, but he is one community minded all-round standup guy. He and his wife, Lainey, worked long and hard throughout this spring in order to deliver an awesome community event on June 16th, 2012. This was the second annual Bend Paddleboard Challenge – and a challenge it was. As with many local events, sponsorship is a tough aspect of delivering an amazing event. When one key sponsor was unable to p[participate, the Booth family reached deep in both time and financial support to make the event happen.

With the help of our favorite KIALOA paddles, all participants and many others enjoy an amazing luau lunch after the race from Kona Mix Plate. After a morning of sun, fun, paddling and racing it was a welcome way to refuel deliciously.  With vendors from Nayad SwimGym, Standup Paddle Magazine, Progressive Screen Printing and Bend Parks & Rec there was plenty to experience all day long.

For a full list of sponsors please go to the website.

In the water the competition was top-notch. The results carry all the details, but can’t capture the energy, smiles, camaraderie and energy. The MC, Al Paterson, did a great job of keeping all up to date with stories, details and race updates throughout the morning.

Difficult to capture, because of his very humble nature, is the degree of commitment that Chip Booth has for the recipients of this community-connecting fundraising event. So many locals have been working for years for the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance. No less dedicated are those who work for the Deschutes River Conservancy – and many are active for both important river initiatives. In this economy, it’s not so easy to reach deep into our own pockets for causes – even when we believe in them with a passion.  We’re all very busy, and investing weeks on end to a community event can be as challenging – as the long course in the Bend Paddleboard Challenge – maybe more. 

But Chip Booth stayed the course and we appreciate the opportunity to enjoy our favorite sport together with paddlers and spectators right in the heart of our home town. If you enjoy our wonderful Deschutes River recreation and sport environment on any sort of floating, fishing, hiking, or other way, take the time to explore the ways you can help Chip, and all the river-lovers in Central Oregon to make our river environment the best it can be.

Just as Chip is a great person-resource for our hometown, so is the beautiful Deschutes, Go out, play and enjoy!