Oregon Coast: Gotta Go Fish

pc20153We packed our trailer and headed out from Bend, OR in mid-September with iflatables for cruising adventures and a couple of boards for SUP surf. Pacific City – here we come. The weekend kicked off with the annual Longboard competition. Saturday offered up some sweet waves, glassy and chest to head high. Riding a swell all the way to shore in the shadow of beautiful Cape Kiwanda on a warm sunny day is just about paradise.pc20151

In spite of dozens of trips to Pacific City and a few days catching salmon in both the spring and fall runs, we had never paddled the branch of the Nestucca River that flows east from town all the way to the inlet where the Pacific comes roaring in.

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Screenshot (152)On our first trip we knew we were paddling out on an out-going tide. With a spinning rod on Ed’s board and my net strapped to my board we planned to fish at the inlet where all the boats seemed to have the most luck. After a few hours of fishing, the tide would be incoming, making the paddle back a breeze.

We put in at “Guardrails,” just across from Bob Straub State Park. The trip was idyllic – seals sunbathed by the dozens on untracked sandy beaches, forested cliffs reached high to the south and the closer we got to the inlet the more clear and marine blue it became.pc20159

Currents swirled with plenty of energy as we approached the south side of the inlet. Absolutely wear your PFD and use a leash. There were so many combinations of eddies, waves and powerful current that it took concentration to get from the inlet area to the pocket beach we founf on shore – but was it ever WORTH IT! pc201522

After about an hour of casting, Ed hooked in to a HUGE salmon. As it leaped, guys in the 16 boats fishing the inlet gave a thumbs up and the fight was on. Just as Ed was about to get spooled, the fish began to turn. Then, unawares, a boat cruised across the inlet and cut the line. We lost the fish but gained some friends among the fishermen.

A few days later we were back for the third time and one of the guys from the first day – the BIG fish day – offered to put Ed in his boat and take him out for a salmon. They had caught their limit and had to admire Ed’s presistance. I also think they admired our trips up and down the river stretch paddling our SUPs in all kinds of conditions over the week.

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The one day that an incoming tide couldn’t match the 20-25 mph headwind on our return home was something we would not like to repeat. Even the best laid plans come up against good old Mother Nature. Be prepared, know your waters, tides, winds and currents and stya with your paddle buddy.

pc20157Our last night in Pacific City with fresh grilled salmon, a beach walk at sunset and a local brew could not have been better.

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Paddle Like a Girl – KIALOA Tiare

There is a description on the KIALOA Paddles website that describes their Tiare adjustable paddle – but it barely begins to describe the unique features of this woman-specific paddle. Just because so many “girl” versions are pink, I chose the blue for my Tiare. Immediately after getting it I hit the water on a blustery late winter day in Oregon.tiare11

The product description states, “Traditional adjustable paddles are male minded.  Not this one. We combined a Slim Shaft™ that fits like a glove, an 80 square inch blade, and our LeverLock® adjustable technology with a range of 66”-82”.  By doing this we’ve created a lightweight paddle that is ergonomically designed for women.  Adjust the height for varying conditions or share it with your friends.”

I went to the water that cold day expecting a nice paddle with my husband, Ed. I was coming off a hard training day (TRX and insane intense yoga) from the day before so I told Ed I would just be enjoying an easy paddle.  As the miles clicked by I found myself enjoying such a solid “catch” with every stroke – true power connection.  On the pull the blade moved through the water with smooth acceleration. I found a quick rhythm that gave me a surprising amount of speed for the rate of perceived exertion (RPE). Ed commented, ‘Thought you were going to do an easy paddle today,” as I zoomed by. mmmm, that had been my plan.

elk-1The next time we went out we had been talking about paddle length for surfing, flatwater, thick race boards vs slim surf boards. Noticing the freeboard on my Starboard Astro Deluxe Touring board, I thought I might add an inch to the length of my Tiare paddle before we headed out, just to compare. Oh, the joy of an adjustable paddle! Yes, great to share with friends but so cool to learn something about my paddle stroke, paddle length and efficiency.

Once again comparing my RPE to speed I was delighted. I moved through the water with ease, both upstream and downstream, into the wind and with a sweet downwind the other way. I knew the Tiare was designed for a woman, but I decided to check with Dave Chun to learn more about the details. Dave designs KIALOA paddles with a lot of research, innovation – and conversations with the target user. In the case of the Tiare and the new Mekana outrigger paddle those conversations took place with women paddlers.

I asked Dave why I might be noticing an increase in speed and a decrease in perceived exertion with the Tiare blade.  Dave explained that even though the Tiare is smaller in square inches, the bottom third (where the catch takes place) is wider. This allows me to really feel and accentuate the catch of my paddle stroke – thus gaining more effective power as the stroke plays out.  In addition, Dave explained that the flex of the blade allows me to “feel” the water more effectively throughout the stroke.tiare-adj-l

Dave shared this in more detail, “I feel a good paddle needs to flex. The flex gives feedback to the paddler, which makes for a more efficient catch and pull. What the blade is doing in the water is important if a paddler wants to continue to develop their technique. I believe stroke technique is a lifelong journey. Many paddlers only think in terms of fitness when training. But, consider how most athletes are trained for their sport. Components of the sport are broken down in to small segments and drilled over and over again. Practicing an inefficient paddling stroke will get you fit, but it will limit the threshold of one’s overall speed.

The stiffness or flexibility of the paddle must be scaled to the strength of the athlete. Generally speaking, men are larger, and thus stronger. The typical woman, cannot “load” a blade or a shaft designed for a man. It is not simply a matter of building a blade with less surface area. The blade, as well as the shaft, must load under a woman’s energy output. 

The Tiare was designed during the tooling/molding phase as a women’s paddle. The rib is narrower and lower in height than the Insanity. It was scaled to a women. On our part it was a commitment to our women’s program. The Tiare mold or “Shorty” as we nicknamed it, will never be used for an all-around or man’s paddle.

During the design phase we decided that a women’s shaft should be less than 28mm. 28mm is the standard diameter of a men’s Olympic weight lifting bar. 25mm is the standard for women. 25mm is pretty small for a paddle shaft. We settled on the 27mm-27.5mm range. Round shafts flex more than oval shaft, dimensions  and material lay-up being equal. Like designing a pair of gender specific blue jeans, we started with a clean slate when we designed the Tiare – for women.”

I gained enormous insight from Dave’s explanation. The circumference of the paddle shaft is just right for holding in the curve of my fingers – in a relaxed grip.  All in all, I am in totally jazzed about having the Tiare adjustable for racing, recreation, traveling and surfing.

Go now – check out the Tiare at KIALOA Paddles. DESCRIPTION: KIALOA is proud to introduce a new paddle designed to give the female paddler the best experience possible. The blade is designed for optimal catch at the front of the stroke and the Slim Shaft™ with plumeria graphics is a visual stunner. But more importantly the carbon wrapped fiberglass shaft fits a smaller hand perfectly with just the right amount of flex. Conventional thought is to shrink and pink a paddle and ladies will buy in, but we created this paddle from the ground up based on your specific feedback. YES! Thank you for that KIALOA Paddles.

Rainy Winter Coast Trip: Yippee!

Me and Ed at Hollywood, FL beach in summer 1965. Yup, 50 years together.

Me and Ed at Hollywood, FL beach in summer 1965. Yup, 50 years together.

During the 52 years we lived in South Florida there were norms. You didn’t go to the beach in the rain, you wore bathing suits to the beach, not raingear and fleece, and you didn’t go to the beach when it was cold (think less than 65 degrees) out. Now, after 14 years in Oregon we are packing up the trailer and heading to the Southern Oregon coast from Florence to Brookings.

I “get” the mascots chosen by Oregon State and University of Oregon now. The Ducks and the beavers. As I pack I make sure to have down and water repellant gear (Go Ducks). I have warm shoes, boots and my SUP paddle for exploring the rivers and bays (Go Beavers).

Naish ONE inside, some snacks and a camera! Ready to go Alpine SUPping

Naish ONE inside, some snacks and a camera! Ready to go

The crab trap and fishing gear is packed. We have our Naish ONE inflatables tucked into the truck and our Hokuas bagged and on the roof. KIALOA paddles for surfing and exploring are in their bags. We have a huge crab pot, a grill basket for fresh fish, GoPro and cameras. We have wetsuits and booties – OK, let’s GO!

kiawandastorm2A winter beach trip in Oregon may not promise balmy, sunny days – who cares? We expect wonder, awe, beauty and surprises. Stay tuned for “talk story” as these former Floridians get their gray-wet-winter coastal baptism.

Great Winter SUP Trip Great Winter Trip Day 2SUP Travel: Expect Wonder Rainy Days and Sunday: Cozy FoodHere Comes the SunWinter Glassy Surf: Brookings OregonStories from Under the Waves –SUP Adventures:  Nature Dictates –

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)

5 ways to Build SUP Racing Confidence

bopstartjudy9If you want to be a writer – write! If you want to gain confidence in racing – race! Here’s a short list that can help, especially if you live far from the sort of water you’ll be racing in and if you will need to rent top-quality equipment for the event.

1. Practice on the  equipment you will be using for the event  – I went from using an 11’3″ all round SUP board to using a 14′ Naish Glide (the 2013 27 1/4″ wide 14.0 foot Glide). I got to Maui 6 days before the 2013 Olukai Ho’olaule’a and went directly to the Naish Maui Pro Center where Coach and Jay listened to what my husband, Ed, and I wanted to do. With every type of SUP surf and race board available for rent, they analyzed our skills in order to match us with what we could handle. A half hour later we were headed to the water with the 14′ Glides on the roof of the rental car. boo3

Hours of practice on that equipment gave us both an eye-opener (27 1/4 inches demands a new balance skills!) and time to gain confidence on the boards we would be using in our Maliko run event. (see the story that explains why I chose the Naish 12’6″ Glide for the down wind event this year and why I will be riding the newly designed Naish Glide 14.0 GX or GS for my down wind events moving forward).

We had a hundred questions and they had both the answers and the patience to share with us even though we were in town for just a week. Find the local team with that degree of customer service and expertise.

2. Plan ahead and talk to experts you can trust – The moment we completed our practice “fun” short Olukai Ho’olaule’a event in 2012 we began planning for the full 2013 event.  Completing that event let us know where the “holes” in our skill set were.  We started planning for the 2014 event immediately. Having the resource of Steve Gates and the team at Big Winds in Hood River, Oregon is awesome. We participated in their downwind clinic with Jeremy Riggs and gained more time on the 14′ Naish Glide.

Elite racer (and overall women's winner) Fiona Wylde and friend ready for Naish ONE fun

Elite racer (and overall women’s winner) Fiona Wylde and friend ready for Naish ONE fun

At the Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge in August 2013 we were able to try the Naish ONE, the inflatable 12′ 6″ SUP board. Thanks to Charlie Burwell and the Naish team members on site, particularly Chuck Patterson, we saw how versatile and absolutely cool the Naish ONEs were (and bought 2 of them!)

Over the year leading to the 2014 Olukai Ho’olaule’a we communicated often with Coach and Jay at the Naish Maui Pro Center planning which board we should rent for the event. Since we were spending so much time on our Naish ONE boards we decided to use the 12’6″ Glide. Our goal was to stay on the board (talk about ultimate stability and glides!) and not worry so much about speed.

After the event we were able to reflect on the experience with Jay an determine that the newly designed Naish Glide 14’0″ GX and GS is going to be the board for us – as our skills dictate, for the 2015 event. The newly designed Glide is 29 1/4 inches wide which will give a sweet stability along with the speed we want. Luckily, Steve Gates at Big Winds has reserved that exact board for us to use for the August 2014 Naish Columbia  Gorge Paddle Challenge. We plan to do some down wind training runs with his clinic leaders.

Find your local experts and experts at your travel destination. It makes all the difference in confidence.

3. Practice in conditions similar to your event – Living in Oregon’s high desert does not provide lots of opportunity to practice in the conditions that Mother Nature delivers in open ocean down wind races.  We are fortunate to be able to travel about a 3-hour drive to get similar challenges in the mighty Columbia River.

When we need to be more local we check the weather report for windy days on local lakes and reservoirs.  Four friends, two cars and a shuttle plan can provide a great day of fun – and the practice we need.

Suzie Cooney (CPT) of Suzie Trains Maui lives the training advice she shares both on Maui and online.

Suzie Cooney (CPT) of Suzie Trains Maui lives the training advice she shares both on Maui and online.

4. Train for the demands of the event -Winter! What a perfect excuse to forego paddling and take up couch surfing (Noooo!), skiing or snowshoeing. If you are serious about your paddling technique – paddle. If you are serious about your strength, endurance, flexibility, balance and speed – get a trainer who paddles.  We have an area in our garage filled with TRX equipment, Indo boards and a spin bike.  We fear we would not be either skilled at how to train or motivated to stay with it without the inspiration of Suzie Cooney. Check her blog for examples. 

5. Leave your expectations at the door – Every event delivers as much of an adrenaline rush as it delivers a chance to connect with like minded SUP athletes. SUP is unique in that you are right there in the watery “arena” with the most elite paddlers in the world – so often. We compete in the most beautiful waters on the planet. Sometimes the sun doesn’t shine or the wind blows snot or the temps drop to some crazy cold level, but if we show up, compete and finish then we win. We win the fodder for “talk story” and plans for next time. As Connor Baxter says, “Always have fun and never give up.” That works for me!

SUP Lessons from Seat One

Yesterday most of the paddling I did was going for a wave – and did I ever catch a ton of them. There was an offshore wind and no organized swell, but the warm water of Oahu’s Waikiki break called Four’s was all fun.

Well, it was all fun until my husband, Ed, wiped out from a steep takeoff. The powerful off shore wind caught the edge of his board and flipped it fins up just as he hit.  The gashing bruises delivered enough pain and swelling to keep him out of the water today. boo3

A sweet south swell meandered in by 7 am and the wind was about as calm as we could wish for. I didn’t have the heart to take the SUP surfboard out while Ed couldn’t paddle, so I decided to do a solid 4 miles on my Naish ONE.

That’s where the “SUP Lesson from Seat One” made itself known.I took the first 1/4 mile to warm up a bit,weaving through the low tide reefs. Using what I learned from SEAT FIVE (article here) rotation, catch and driving my board forward rather than pulling my paddle back was my mantra.

The water was so glassy that I easily got into a groove. As my Naish ONE gained speed and glide I noticed my stroke BPM increased. As I moved through the water with acceleration, I noticed that it was too easy to miss the catch and let my paddle slide without any real power though the water. What was going on?

boo1Then I remembered. Just last Monday night at Bend Oregon Outrigger Canoe Club practice I was in Seat One. A very similar situation played itself out as we went 70% of race speed for 8 minutes, then 80% for 4 minutes then 90% for 4 minutes.  As stroke person I had to work hard to make sure I maintained a solid catch even as paddle strokes per minute increased.

No one would be better to remind me of what to do than the steersman, Jason Tedrow.  A skilled and versatile water athlete and rabid competitor, Jason coaches with purpose (to catch the canoe in front of us and get to the highest speed we can maintain).

boo6After each pyramid of percent of race effort he would critique our technique and remind us-

  • Keep your stroke up front and lively
  • Maintain your catch
  • Rotate from the hips and drive the boat forward
  • Timing, timing, timing

As the hotels of Waikiki whipped by in my peripheral vision, as I worked to stay steady and balanced. Sideways swells reached for my ankles I recalled the lessons from Seat One!

nata9The bow wake of my Naish ONE invited a paddle stroke pace that was much quicker than my usual. My reach and catch was a rotation and drive combination. The faster my board went the more quick and sharp were my paddle strokes.  Before I knew it I was turning at Diamond Head for the return 2 miles.

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This practice delivered some solid cardio intervals and a huge measure of stoke! Headwinds greeted me on the return trip and I was getting fatigued. This was a perfect scenario for another “Lesson from Seat One.” When we were doing those sprinting pyramids I was often feeling “too tired to go another exchange.” Yet, focusing on the voice of the Seat 3 “Hut, Ho” and the encouragement of the steersman we all remained calm and maintained speed. I did that same thing as I worked fast and steady back into the wind.

nata6Who knew it could be outrigger practice that refined me into a better SUP paddler!

Naish ONE Hikes and Adventures

All over the world people are enjoying the SUP Perspective on lakes, rivers, bays, streams and the open ocean. We take our boards and paddles exploring, surfing and racing. For those of us with a history of back country skiing, hiking and backpacking there is another sort of SUP adventure that calls us. We have all found those hidden or remote  places that are not accessible by car and are too demanding for trekking in with our standup boards.

btnaishAll that changed for my husband, Ed and me when we got our Naish ONE inflatable 12’6″ board. Sure, we will be using it for race training and racing the N1SCO way, but it’s going to be for much more than that.  The Naish ONE comes tucked into its own backpack that fits comfortably on most anyone. It’s got room for the pump, fin and even your snacks and extra jacket. Take a look at out first exploration to an amazingly clear lake nestled in the volcanic wonderland that is Central Oregon.  Three thousand years ago lava flows from the High Cascades dammed the McKenzie River, creating a lake so clear, cold, and calm that ghostly tree snags are still visible under its 100-foot-deep waters. The stroll around Clear Lake offers lots of variety: huge springs, lava crossings, old-growth forests.  The paddle from the standing perspective is even more exquisite.

Take a look at our short video and then send us your story or video link – Where will YOUR Naish ONE take you? Endless access = endless wonder.