SUP Muse: Suzie Cooney

The grin and enthusiasm are a constant! Suzie Cooney, CPT, lives her expertise!

The grin and enthusiasm are a constant! Suzie Cooney, CPT, lives her expertise!

It was almost a year ago that Ed and I had the chance to meet a virtual whirlwind of expertise and energy, Suzie Cooney (CPT) of Suzie Trains Maui. We tentatively tested the waters of the Olukai Ho’olaule’a by doing the “fun race” of three short miles and emerged from the water wanting only MORE! We knew that there was no way our “almost-ready-for-Medicare” bodies were trained for the wind and waves of the full run from Maliko Gulch, so we stayed in touch with Suzie.

Great plan! You too can enjoy her training no matter where you live via a SKYPE session or you can enhance your Maui vacation paddling by booking a local session. Be sure to plan well in advance. Suzie works hard sharing her training and expertise from large group workshops, articles and private sessions.

Being among the tribe of “Wounded Warriors” now and then, we were delighted to discover solid advice on the Suzie Trains Maui website and on the Naish surfing website. We are most recently doing some interesting core work that’s fun and challenging. We want to be ready when we grab our Naish Glides and Mana series surfboards in 63 short days. Yes, drooling can commence when you see the image (below).

The Glide and Mana series are calling my name!

The Glide and Mana series are calling my name!

 Over the winter months we have been training with TRX and the Indo Board. Guided by Suzie’s video and e-mail support we make progress. Since we’re rarely actually out having great fun standup paddling these last months (but the skiing has been great) the most important part of Suzie’s connection with us is an unabashed love of the ocean, the wind, the waves and the glides! We can easily use the GoPro HERO to film segments of our technique, then have a variety of people give us input. Editing clips of GoPro footage is easy – easy to edit and easy to share.
Suzie’s regular e-mail updates and blog articles are almost as good as being there. Yes, we wanted to be there when she paddled with whales. No, we didn’t want to be there when a large north shore winter wave smacked her onto a reef (yes, there was some blood). Through it all, enthusiasm reigns!
Recently we exchanged an e-mail, I had some concern about my technique and an old series of knee injuries. Suzie replied, “I bet you’re getting excited!  Train, train and train! The ol’ knees will be warmer here, so don’t worry.” That connected to our balance, strength, agility and power routines will get us there (did I say 56 days?)
I can see Suzie on the Glide now. She described a recent workout, “Surf is huge still and I caught a long wave on the Glide yesterday. I was coming into the harbor after my laps.  It was waist high. Too fun!”

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.

GoPro – No Need to Be a Pro

Chuck Patterson, early GoPro sample of awesome! This is at Teahupoo

Chuck Patterson, early GoPro sample of awesome! This is at Teahupoo

The best thing about the relatively lame minutes of edited footage I have been gathering from our last SUP vacation is that they were just that – relatively lame. Sure, I’d love to produce the absolute awesome-ness that someone like Chuck Patterson shares – but it just ain’t gonna happen in this lifetime. (Follow Chuck on Facebook to stay current on his GoPro Hero 3 projects) No matter!

OLur GoPro Hero 3 captured the fun, for sure! In our minds we were charging sets like maniacs, drenching our senses in incredible sights as we paddled long runs in West Maui and experienced cool wipeouts. Like most “my vacation” videos, the footage left a lot to be desired. So, why are we so jazzed about the GoPro?

The Go Pro Hero 3 came along like an unobtrusive buddy, joining in on all the fun and easily capturing the images. Once home, because we can edit out slices of the footage with ease using the free CineForm Studio software, the fun began. Rather than sequestering myself away in my office, nose to the editing grindstone, editing the GoPro footage is good group fun. (Warning: Be sure you have a thick skin. The great stance you believe you display while catching that thigh high swell may seem absolutely hysterical to your kids).

But that’s the point. Seriously, who wants to see a regular “SUP Joe” riding a wave. You are the only viewer for which that experience is incredible. But that funky stance and maybe a few wipeouts later you could have fodder for a short film friends and family will enjoy – and maybe even share. be bold!

So yesterday I sat with a beer (Deschutes Brewery Jubelale, if you’re wondering) and our daughter, son-in-law and my husband, Ed for an editing session.  I watched them watch the clips I had made with the CineForm Studio software. Yup! They found many things hysterical.  We labeled those clips and added them to the “media bin” in the Sony Movie Studio software I had. That software is not exceptional, I just happened to have it. Many people enjoy using iMovie or even Windows Movie Maker. Premeir is also another choice – we’d love to hear what you use for your final film.

Back to our editing fun. We took one wave that was Ed’s favorite and sliced sections of it to play over and over in 5 second repeats. “Ooooh, cool, ” our editing team replied. Then we took a smooth off the tail wipeout that was relatively nondescript and played it about 6 times in a row. It brought a chuckle every time. The resulting one minute 45 second clip was much cooler than the raw footage. With music added it became even more fun.

The point is- without the ease of the GoPro easily fastened to our chest or to our boards we wouldn’t have had any video at all. Instead, we had a great family gathering creating a video project instead of dozing while watching the full (gotta admit it) boring raw footage. I am pretty lame at music, but my son-in-law, Joe, and daughter are great at remembering pieces that might fit well in our SUP films. They promise to share a playlist. The whole experience is cool – and the learning curve is absolutely part of the fun if you play it that way.

Do we have that sweet 20 minute “my vacation” action film? Nope! But after the first view, who watches them anyway. Go get a GoPro and see how much fun reviewing and editing can be. If your editing team laughs at your “talent,” buck up, get a thick skin and be sure to add that to your final project. That’s part of the audience fun and who knows, you might go viral.

What editing software do you like? What have you posted online? What’s your favorite online platform? Share a link to your best effort GoPro film – we’d love to see it.

Naish: Organically Cool Culture

Marti'n grabs all the board sports with gusto

Marti’n grabs all the board sports with gusto

In early December, Ed and I went to the Naish Maui Pro Center to get a couple of SUP surf boards.  We planned to mix up our water fun as we already were loving time on the Naish Glide. We were greeted by a warm smile and limitless expert help from Martin Verrastro. In no time, we felt like old friends as he showed us various boards, inquired about our abilities and where we’d be surfing. By the time we drove happily away with two Naish Mana 9’5″ boards on the roof of the car we’d learned so much about all the cool Naish options. Martin provided one more example of the sort of watermen (and women) who are part of the Naish culture.

Naish team riders come to mind when we think of “the face of Naish,” but it’s the entire Naish team from corporate, to store, to the water that live and share the vision and mission.  I’d like to introduce you to Martin, as an example.

First and foremost, Martin is a windsurfer who loves watersports, including Stand Up Paddle boarding, kiteboarding, surfing. Back when he learned to windsurf in Buenos Aires, Argentina, SUP and Kiteboarding didn’t exist. But even back then, according to Martin, “like most of the windsurfers at that time, Robby Naish was our big Hero. I still remember I used to call my windsurfers friends “Robby” to make them feel important and to motivate them when they were trying new tricks using a big long board. I’d say ‘good job Robby’ or ‘Robby, the wind is up, let’s go windsurfing’ when I called them by telephone. It was fun.”

Marti'n with Robby Naish and Dave Barral

Marti’n with Robby Naish and Dave Barral

In May 2009 as a network engineer at an IT company in Orange County,  Martin felt it was time to follow the dream he had when he first began windsurfing – to teach windsurfing and Kiteboarding in USA like he had during summers in Argentina.

martincruisIn May 2009 Hood River Oregon seemed the “perfect place” to start his adventure. There is no mistaking the excited amazement Martin had as he shared the story, “I called Jak Wilberscheid, owner of Hood River Water Play. He offered me the chance to teach during the summer of 2009 for his school. Judy! Let me tell you, when I discovered the beauty of Hood River  while working  at Jak’s school, that experience changed my life.”

I heartily agree with Martin’s  wish that I might meet Jak one day. I have no doubt he’s as an amazing person as Martin described.

The Gorge is where Martin discovered SUPing. Many events take place at Waterfront Park on the Oregon side of the Columbia River.  He used to paddle with his friends from the event site, in the Oregon side to the hatchery in Washington side when the wind was off.

By the end of September along the Columbia River as the weather changes to Fall, wind conditions aren’t so stellar. The changes sent Martin back to California full of great memories and experiences. He set his sights on Hawaii and teaching windsurfing and kiteboarding  for “Action Sports Maui” owned and operated by the training director of IKO “international kiteboarding association” David and Suzie Dorn. At the same time he did fiberglass repairs for Kanaha Kai, a windsurf and SUP, surf shop in the north shore.

Martin explained, “In September 2011, “Coach” Jeff Hughes, manager of Naish Maui Pro Center  offered me the chance to work at the shop. Of course I accepted. Naish has the highest standards and is by far the best company in the world  in windsurfing, kiteboarding and Stand Up Paddle.  As a watersports instructor I’m pleased that most schools around the world are using Naish gear and of course, that is what we use in our school.”

martinteach

Marti’n has the experience, passion and personality to make a windsurfer from a “newbie. martin3

The icing on the cake, Martin says, “Robby Naish is my personal hero. It’s easy and enjoyable to work for someone for whom I have so much respect and admiration.”

Marti’n’s Favorite Naish Products:

Windsurf:

For Beginners, when I’m teaching

Board: Naish Kailua 230L

Sail: Naish Scout 2.5 SE

In Marti’n’s opinion, this gear should be the standard for entry level windsurfing in all the schools around the world because it makes learning windsurfing really easy and enjoyable.

When Marti’n winsurfs he uses:

Board: 80L Koncept

Sail: 5.0 Force

Harness: Moto 2012

Harness Lines: 26”

Boom: CB wave pro 140-190

Kiteboarding:

When I’m teaching Kiteboarding and when I’m riding myself I love the new ride. It is an all-round, entry level kite that offers great low end, effortless water re-launch and has a 2-strut design. Kiteboard: Naish Gun 6′ 2012 (Full Carbon Sandwich Construction) is my favorite.
It’s the perfect board for the Maui gusty winds and waves, it offers outstanding control in strong winds and choppy water with excellent stability.

Stand Up Paddle (SUP)

Board: Mana 10’0 wood sandwich (bamboo)

Paddle: Kaholo 9.0 fixed SDS (full carbon)

I really love the Mana 10’0, for small surf and flat water. It has an exaggerated tail rocker  for great turning performance. It’s wide and easy to maneuver, has 210 Liters, and a single-concave bottom shape.

For a downwinder when I’m doing t the “classic  9 mile Maliko Run, from Maliko Gulch to Kahului Harbor” in the northshore of Maui,  I prefer  the Nalu 11’6.

“As a watersports Instructor, I know that when I  ride a Naish, I am not only riding the best, I am riding with the best. Naish No Ka Oi. Aloha!”

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.

Crush on a Hero (GoPro)

There was a time when golf was not a televised sport. Logic had it that watching a bunch of golfers whack a little white ball around a golf course, no matter how beautiful the course, would not be entertaining. Millions of rabid viewers later, the power of a great story woven into well shot images made all the difference.  We engage with diverse characters (pros) developed across their careers whether we play or not. Watching golf is adventure and drama when the story and filming is exceptional.

With the amazing digital and video tools available we have a chance to “film life.” We can see the images and become engaged in stories of all types created by pros-and people just like us. As in golf, some are going to gain a huge audience – others, not so much. For example, put the best set of golf clubs in my hands and bring the best video team on site to film my round of 18 holes, no one would care to watch. There’s no way I could deliver the shots or drama viewers need.

Similarly, I actually do own “the best” in equipment – the GoPro. Based on my skills and needs I selected the HERO3 Silver Edition. Armed with chest mount and surfboard mount I set off to document an 8 mile flatwater paddle down the incredibly beautiful coast of west Maui for my first Go Pro experience.  Ed and I took off, taking turns paddling the Naish Glide GS 14 where we’d mounted the GoPro surfboard mount.

The best equipment can’t counter boring footage and inexperience. We had a chest strap to mount the GoPro – but didn’t use it. The surfboard mount can be turned to face the surfer – we didn’t do that. We aimed the GoPro forward and simply let it run for 90 straight minutes of mostly downwind paddling.  The Go Pro Cineform Studio software is easily learned, even by a techno-phobe like me.  Thanks to lots of YouTube and online experts sharing insights every question that came to mind had an easy to access answer. All of that couldn’t make up for my relatively boring footage and lame editing skills.

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′

Do I mind? Not really. No matter what, I have documentation of that very first, massively exhilarating ride I got on a chest high glassy wave on the Naish 14′ Glide GX in the few seconds before I bailed out. It was nearly dead low tide and a reef loomed too close to the surface. Editing that first set of Go Pro footage is the start of a cool new hobby. Priceless – and day one on my learning curve.

Connecting Across Generations

For the third time in as many years, Kai Lenny has won the overall title on a Waterman League World Tour.  Battle of the Paddle Champ Danny Ching calls Kai, “the best paddler in the world,” for his prowess in both wave and race competition. Lenny wrapped up his Standup World Series overall win this past October at Turtle Bay on the North Shore of Oahu during the Standup World Series Finals.  Kai Lenny dedicated his first ever sup race world title to memory of Naish’s Harold Iggy whose unexpected passing last January saddened all who knew him. 

Iggy has made boards for over 50 years. He was behind many of the best known Stand Up Paddleboard shapes in the world today, including race boards like the Naish Glide and Javelin. There is about a 50 year span in age between young Kai Lenny and his mentor and friend, Harold Iggy. Connecting across generations is a strong tradition deeply embedded in the Naish culture.

Anyone who’s ever ridden a Naish SUP board has probably seen his unique signature right above the fin.
In a few weeks we will be heading to Maui to do some downwind and surf training, looking forward to the Ho’olaule’a in May. We will be fortunate to have Naish Glides for the week. We may even have the chance to try the Javelin 12’6 LE – that would be fantastic.  It is no small thing for us to be using boards designed, shaped and modified with input from the extraordinary watermen and women of the Naish team. Seeing Iggy’s mark on the boards will be a reminder of the traditions and connections across generations that influence excellence.

“The surfing world lost an icon, a legend, and a friend to many, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a mentor.”
said Randy Naish, who was with Harold on the water that tragic day.

No matter what your skill and experience level might be, having the best equipment and personal mentors always make a positive difference. Our skills, our confidence and our experiences over time all contribute to our connection to standup paddling.  In like manner, who looks to YOU for mentoring and inspiration?  No matter what your level might be, you can connect generations and reach new levels of confidence like Kai Lenny does.

There were times when the conditions at Turtle Bay were more than challenging.  Kai used his experience to move past any mental block that might have generated, “If I can handle Jaws mentally, and I feel super scared out there, I shouldn’t be scared pushing hard out here!” said Kai, who attributes his experiences at Jaws to helping him win that series of races. The mentors and powerful influence from Naish team riders added to that experience.
Experience, mentors, reflection and connection make all the difference. It’s great to observe a team like the Naish Team, and build those same traditions in our own “SUP TEAM.” We’d love to hear how mentoring or having a mentor has shaped your SUP experience.