Tradition, Technology, Together… Living It!

Again and again, island by island, the KIALOA spirit bumps into us as we travel.  Ed and I are 42 years into our marriage but a solid 48 into the life we love together. From the early days we were in, on and around the ocean (Atlantic in S. Florida) and Hawaii dreaming from the beginning.  We both wonder at what twists and turns our lives would have taken if we turned our back on the scholarship/college route that was the “right” choice and instead, headed off to Hawaii like Meg Chun did.

If you don’t know the story, it’s a great one. Meg met Dave Chun and over many years the amazing company called  KIALOA evolved. Sure, they share a great line of paddles with the world, but more than that, they share a spirit of ohana. They live and breathe technology and tradition together on the water. It is so much more than an accurate marketing message, it is real and we bump in to it on every island we visit. One example: Check out this link.

Most recently we visited Maui and were staying on West Maui. Ed and I planned to stretch the envelope of what our 62 year-old selves could do on the ocean – we planned to prepare for the Olukai Ho’olealau during our vacation (some people rest on the beach and enjoy “umbrella drinks.”)

Each morning we drove our car 4 miles down Kaanapali Beach and parked it. We walked back to our hotel along the cool walkway at 6 am.  The plan was to put our boards in the water and do a sweet down-winder back to our car (with a few surf sessions along the way). One morning we met Barry as he was prepping some paddlers for an outing in his outrigger canoe. What caught our eye was the “KIALOA” logo on the side and a quiver of brand new Kialoa wood outrigger canoe paddles. It was obvious that Barry was providing a top-of-the-line experience.

We chatted with Barry for a spell and learned of his personal paddling aspirations. Like many other pros we have encountered, Barry was especially grateful for the support and sponsorship of Meg and Dave Chun at KIALOA. We stood on the lawn as the early morning light brightened the skies and illuminated Lanai out to our right. Like many of the paddling athletes we’ve met in the past, Barry could “talk story” about the spirit of Kialoa endlessly.

He had so many tales to share, and experiences to remember. It was cool to see so much enthusiasm for taking the casual “tourist” out on a traditional outrigger experience. For Barry, the few hours he had with each guest was simply a chance to instill an appreciation of the sea, of the Maui traditions and of the paddling culture. 

An hour later when we were deep in to our down-winder we saw Barry and his paddlers working their way upwind on what would sure to be a treasured memory of Maui.  Even in the hands of first time outrigger paddlers it was great to see that Barry provided the best. Each member of the day’s outrigger “team” was using a quality KIALOA paddle made of fine woods and exquisitely finished. The feel, the balance and the beauty all added to the experience for the all. It is his way, it is the way Kialoa inspires.

Summer SUP – Winter Training

Sitting here in the wintery world of ski-season, quads wonderfully shredded from 3 days finding off-piste fun, I started thinking about some compression tights to wear pre and post exercise. I remembered that Karen Wrenn was wearing something when she visited one of our river races last summer so I took a quick look at her website to determine what brand was good for SUP. Bummer, I can’t tell from this photo.  No problem though. I had the chance to explore Karen’s website and blog – great information right when I need it.

Just in time for paddling season this year I will be turning 63 (for real???) and staying ready to paddle in races and long tours is a priority. I “enter” races but I don’t “race.” While every stroke is the strongest I can muster at the time, and the camaraderie of the race is so much fun, I am usually the last to cross the finish line on my 11’3″ Amundson.  Occasionally I borrow a race board, most recently from Dave and Meg at Kialoa, but my agenda is all about the paddle in the water, the connection between heart/lungs/muscle/sights/sounds and friends on the water. Training for all that is important.

Reading about Karen’s busy life as mother of three and the off-season whether she deals with in Portland was inspiring.  She suggests ways to stay motivated and carving out the 45 minutes or so needed to stay in shape.  Especially interesting is her explanation of her cross-training routine.

On her blog, Karen explains,  “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 ( and then 20 tri-cep dips then 20 reverse crunches ( 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.

Bye, for now! I am heading to the gym and then to the trail. SUP season will be here before we know it. How do YOU train off-season?

SUP Spectrum: Colors

A recent post on the Kialoa Paddles Facebook page caught my imagination (and made me really want a new paddle!) Their 2012 line reflects technology and tradition with a SUPer dose of awesome design.

That collage of color reminded me of a shot we took back in the summer of 2009 when the Central Oregon sport of “sarong sailing” was (maybe) invented on Hosmer Lake.  Local artist, Cristina Acosta, had created exuberant designs on silk. It was a sunny day and we had a few of her sarongs with us as we headed out for a paddle/picnic day. As we entered the widest part of the lake, coming into view of Mt. Bachelor we were chatting excitedly about how the snow melt we were paddling on had been sweet spring snow under our skis just a few months before – when suddenly the wind picked up! Ed, the most dedicated sailor among us, wished out loud, “Too bad we don’t have sails to harness this breeze!”

Coming at us from the side it was perfect for a broad reach. Without a moment’s hesitation, Cristina whipped out a few of her sarongs, which immediately caught the breeze and shot us forward in a blaze of color and design.  Greens, blues and yellows filled the sky – along with giggles and woohooos.

During our lunch in the middle of Hosmer Lake we had a chance to hear about the silk-screen process Cristina used to create her variety of silk sarongs. We debated the pros and cons of possibly refining methods for attaching the sarong for more technical “sailing.”  That idea quickly went out the door by the end of the afternoon. The pure casual ability to take a sarong from around our waist and hoist it into the wind for a few minutes of “wind-surfing” won out. Ed crusied toward his favorite ski mountain while Cristina and Judy tried the “catamaran” method. 

Not long after our day at Hosmer, we took a SUP along the Deschutes River at Sunriver and paddled into Spring River, a cold and clear finger of exploration opportunities.  The day was sunny again but as afternoon approached the wind turned brisk. Of course we had our sarongs.

Isabella and Cristina harnessed some breezes – what a picture! We probably took 30 shots of the reflections of color and paddle boards in and below the crystal clear water.  

Solid Roots: Ka’ai Bruhn- Traditions and Canoes

One of the best known beaches in the world, Waikiki was the favorite playground of Hawaiian royalty in the 19th century. At the time, Waikiki was an area of wetlands fed by streams from the valleys above Honolulu.  We spent this week at the Hilton Hawaiian Village eager for a week of stand-up paddling and surfing. It was our third visit but we had never heard how the Waikiki wetlands gave way to the resorts and beaches so popular today. This visit included a true bonus. We met Ka’ai Bruhn in his Duke Kahanamoku Canoe Stand right on the shore of the nearby lagoon.

He didn’t start with the story of his passion for 6-man outrigger canoe racing, but we teased it  out over a conversation around our favorite paddles.  We had shipped our Kialoa SUP paddles over to Hawaii – and coincidentally Ka’ai mentioned that he uses Kialoa paddles when he races. Then the story evolved. His favorite race is the Molokai-Oahu that takes place yearly in October.

In 2004 and 2005 as a member of the Lanikai Canoe Club, Ka’ai’s team won the race. That 42 mile route is always full of wind, swells, uncertain conditions – and according to Ka’ai, an amazing experience! This photo shows the 2004 team after their victory. That’s Ka’ai in the back on the left – pretty happy group.

We connected easily, tied by stories of “the good old days” when shrimp and lobster were abundant in the wetland that is now the lagoon.  Our Florida/Bahamas past paralleled Ka’ai’s – and he found us as an eager audience to some local history.  He respects the strong connection between Duke Kanahnamoku and the exact geographic location of both the resort and the lagoon nearby.

It’s great to hear what Ka’ai loves about running his business throughout the 16 years he’s been at the resort. “The lagoon is a wonderful place and the nearby safe beaches allow people of all ages and all abilities to learn to swim and enjoy watersports in salt water. It’s rare to find a place like this. Visitors can safely learn a respect for the sea while having fun.

The connected-ness between this part of Waikiki and water sports became known worldwide because of Duke Kahanamoku. His family had a four bedroom home nearby and Duke learned to swim right here – like so many others from around the world.  The difference? Duke trained and had both the skill and the drive to become fast enough to break the world record for swimming in several Olympics. Not satisfied just breaking records, Duke gave swimming and surfing exhibitions and popularized both sports – and his Waikiki home.”

As you would expect from a waterman, Ka’ai comes from a family with deep respect for Mother Earth – land and sea.  In the yin and yang of life, mixing water sports and family, the tradition of love and respect is simply part of life. Ka’ai’s grandfather always said, “People say we should be careful so that we don’t ruin Mother Earth. The truth is, in the end, Mother Earth will always win. It’s us, humankind, that should be watchful and caring for our own survival.”  Powerful perspective!

Of Smiles and Pipes

I get this question a lot – “What’s an elder SUP – I am just 43 (or 36, or 51). am I an elder?”

This excellent video story of mom, Heather Baus, accompanying her daughter, Savannah, on an open ocean down-winder provides an answer. In this story, Heather is an “elder SUP.” Her powerful relaxation on her board and grinning cruise-rides on the swells are exquisitely mirrored in Savannah’s adventure.  At a time when getting kids active seems next to impossible, when technology and virtual sports seem to be the choice of the digitari-kids these days, all it takes is a caring, committed, passionate “elder” guiding the way toward exquisite, empowering fun.

Balance, awareness, courage being so far out to sea, trust that companions are nearby for assistance, training, practice and a really beautiful and cool Pipes paddle (great shot at minute 3;30) all add up to experiences Savannah won’tt forget.  Her active life has included a number of SUP race wins – many in line-ups of youth much older.  As described in her blog, she certainly is a sup’r grom. When Savannah settles down at home-school and writes the expected, “What did you do this summer?” essay, words will be hard-pressed to describe it all. When she studies waves, currents, the environment, weather  or phys ed she’ll have a vast store of experience to draw from.

Take a quick look at the home-schooling project posted on Savannah’s blog.  That’s the awareness of nature, resources, caring for the environment that we can always use more of. With Mom, Heather, as the teacher the classroom is expanded from desk to ocean seamlessly.  So, Heather – young as she is – is an “elder SUP.” Are you? If so, please join our discussion and share a video or comment.