Naish ONE: Fun!

In about 6 weeks I’ll be leaving on a jet plane for Battle of the Paddle. I missed it last year and cannot wait to be part of the biggest SUP celebration around. Nearly six MONTHS ago I started looking for a 12’6″ race board to rent. The initial quest was quite specific – and within a few months I was regretting the purchase of a plane ticket and the long long drive was starting to seem like the best bet. There were no boards of any kind, any size to rent (beg or borrow) for the event.  I was thinking of dumping the plane ticket and strapping my surfboard to the car and heading south to be a part of the OPEN Surfboard class.

Then I had the chance to talk with Steve Gates at Big Winds in Hood River, Oregon.  He had the answer for me – and for many others, most likely.  He invited me to come on up to take the Big Winds shuttle and give his demo/rental Naish ONE a try on my favorite down wind run from Viento to the Hood River event site.  Better yet, I thought I’d buy one – but these inflatable one-design standup 12’6″ boards are so popular that they’ll be sold out for another week or so.  I will have to wait until I arrive in Hood River for the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge to get two Naish ONEs – one for me and one for hubby, Ed. We travel a lot by air – I think these Naish ONES will get more air miles than even water miles!

naishone1I carry way more baggage than what’s in the cool carry case for the Naish ONE. Rather than fill in the back story of the board specifications here, you can find out everything on the website.

What really has me jazzed is the opportunity for one-design racing, youth racing, family activities, and travel adventure and exploration that the Naish ONE can drive. (Follow Naish on Facebook)

One early entry in hosting a one-design event was the Weymouth Ecover Blue Mile, held at the 2012 Olympic water sports venue. It proved a resounding success with an amazing 467 people taking part in the Naish N1SCO One design SUP races and free taster sessions.  Naish UK put up £1,000 in prize money for a series of races, in which all riders used the Naish ONE 12‘6” N1SCO Inflatable board. The event included an intermediate race (400m), sprint races (100m), and a 1,500m course – the Ecover Blue Mile. Watch a recap of the event here: http://vimeo.com/71723598

Hundreds take part in Ecover Blue MIle Weymouth 2013

Hundreds take part in Ecover Blue MIle Weymouth 2013

Alex Tobutt, a representative of Naish UK, said the weekend had introduced SUP to brand new enthusiasts,  “The really nice thing was that the SUP racing wasn’t elitist; anyone could take part. “We had people of all ages and experience and some people had never done it before – and all of them were able to do it.  Another great thing was that although everyone was competing, they were also helping each other and supporting each other. ”

pramI grew up sailing and surfing, doing the juniors one-design sailing back in the 50’s. Then as our family grew up enjoying swimming and one-design sailing in a yacht club setting, the extensive value, family connection, sportsmanship and camaraderie around wind and water sports was priceless.  As yacht and sailing clubs begin to adopt standup paddling as a youth and family program option for sport and fitness, it’s important that the same careful consideration put into selecting one-design sailing craft is invested into the SUP purchase.

I have talked with a good number of sailing coaches and program managers who have bought a small fleet of standup boards based on the “flavor of the month” suggested by an eager retailer. It’s a real shame to miss the “boat,” so to speak on the powerful trend and historical value of the one-design class. If you have influence on a decision of this type, share this information and support a wise, long term investment.   It’s easy enough to locate a Naish dealer in your geographic area and get some solid information about the future of one-design and the versatility and performance of the Naish ONE.

Important, too, is to understand the organization behind this trend.  Take a look at the event home at N1SCO.  It’s exciting. Who knows, perhaps a young person you know (or you yourself) might just find themselves on the podium at an upcoming championship (Event Page)

 

SUP Inspiration: Candice Appleby

One of the most unassuming leaders of the SUP mentoring/give-back culture is Candice Appleby.  In a most round-about way, she inspires even the non-SUP folks among us.  Here’s a story:

In 1998 we bought property in Oregon after 52 years in South Florida – the polar opposite in culture and environment. From malls and crowded beaches we met rivers and coasts where fleece replaced bikinis.  We met the architect who’d design our new home high above a river canyon, Rick Wright. Little did we know the gift he’d give us in the form of white-water kayak training and fun. Eventually we became “family” with the entire Wright clan in spite of the fact we ditched white water kayaking for standup paddling.  rickw

ricksurfWhat’s Candice got to do with this? Well, Rick Wright is a highly skilled, first class white water kayaker. He’s happiest maneuvering down gnarly stretches of river. Yet, in March, he went to the 27th annual Santa Cruz Paddle Fest where he entered and rode amazing waves in his surf kayak. “Totally stoked” best describes Rick’s take-away from the event and his two sessions at Cowells. Since Candice rocked it and won at Steamer Lane – what’s the connection?

Rick had the chance to watch the SUP events at Steamer Lane and he had the chance to observe first hand the pure determination and athleticism that drove Candice to her win.  As an avid and dedicated student of Tai Kwon Do and a local Class 4-5 mainstay in Bend Oregon, Rick knows excellence and practiced honing of natural skills when he sees it.  When a quarterback throws that impossible pass, when a golfer drops the challenging chip 2 inches from the cup – we’ve all seen athletic greatness in action. For standup paddling, the televised spots are few and far between. That’s likely why the live-action Candice was so impressive. While Candice wasn’t the only amazing waterwoman (or waterman) in the event, her prowess and performance struck our friend Rick.

crunTonight, over margaritas and bridge (yes, we old geezers play bridge for fun) the conversation turned to our next trip together. Without question we are determined to all be at the Santa Cruz Paddle Fest in 2014.  Rick is a solid 14 pounds lighter than he was in early February. He’s training hard and eating well.  What will be keeping his fitness-stoke alive from now until the next time we all surf some practice waves at the Oregon coast for freezing-pounding surf?  It’s a memory of a competition and an image of training.

Rick described his fantastic kayak-surf session at Cowells but his absolute awe was obvious when he described the grace and power of Candice Appleby in her heats at the Santa Cruz Paddle Fest. “She was bent at the waist and digging hard – steadily and endlessly throughout her heat. She rode waves with so much style, strength and beauty.”

The picture to the left is one that Rick saw on Facebook. To him, it is a perfect example of strength and gracefulness, power and motivation.  Because a leader in the world of SUP has honed her expertise so well – and captures images of the process – a 6th decade white water kayaker/kayak surfer is inspired to reach his own limits and potential.

Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and all the social media opps might seem stale and over-used at times. But because we have the chance to connect with excellence through that same media we can be motivated and inspired. We celebrate the power of social media and the story our sport is creating one champion, one Candice, one Rick, at a time.

What’s your story? Share with us on Facebook or Pinterest!

SUP Surf: Yin andYang

groove_yoga_teachers_3_2373079703

The instructor team at Groove Yoga Bend

The high desert town of Bend Oregon is blessed with a mighty volcanic peak, Mt Bachelor. Surprisingly Bend also hosts a strong surfing and ocean-loving community. In an excerpt from the SRF Mission statement, Bend local, Gerry Lopez, explains, “Even though the sea is Yin and the mountains Yang, a person can seek and find a balance of harmony while enjoying both worlds.” We are glad to enjoy that balanced life with him.  Last Friday evening several dozen lucky yogis met at Groove Yoga Bend for a 90 minute yin yoga class with Gerry.  Every teacher at Groove is uniquely gifted, but there’s no doubt that Gerry’s life experience and commitment to his practice provide a treasured experience. As Gerry encouraged us to allow the postures move into our bodies, rather than pushing our bodies into postures, we had plenty to focus on as we held poses for … a very long time!

Gerry encouraged our focus on breath and allowing thoughts to simply pass through. As we moved toward the balance yin yoga can provide, Gerry’s calm narrative taught us much about the yin and yang of yoga, life and – even surfing. During one segment of pigeon, my wandering mind overcame every attempt at focusing on breathing. I tried to imagine the calm yin one could experience while surfing even while a wave might be a swirling of yang surrounding.

Photo by Jeff Devine

Photo by Jeff Devine

The iconic images we’ve seen of Gerry’s elegant and super-cool style on a wave flashed through my mind.  Within the yang power and seeming chaos of a wave, Gerry is a dot of calm yin a midst it all.   Folded in pigeon pose, my wave images flashed back to wonderful surfing trips at Oregon’s Pacific City. “Breathe, be the yin within the ride,” I said to myself. A few images sprang to mind. At first it was that fear-panic that arose trying to paddle out in short interval, fast moving whitewater. Slowly images morphed into those blue-sky-sunny-glassy day rides that soothe the soul.

Am I a dot of yin among that whirling yang?

Am I a dot of yin among that whirling yang?

Over time in that pigeon I could feel my breath flow into my skiing-punished knee and a tight hip. Breathe in, allow the breath to flow where tightness resides, breathe out and allow relaxation and lengthening. The long time in the posture was like a long time underwater after a washing machine wipeout. Fighting it doesn’t help at all. Allowing a yin sense of calm and focus to drive thoughts and action/inaction opens the door to what we seek – AIR! BALANCE! CALM!

When it comes to standup surfing – or any surfing for that matter – I am pretty much a novice.  But like you, there is a compelling call of water – liquid or frozen, salty or fresh – that we simply can’t ignore.  Like life, we might look at a situation, or sets of waves pounding in at fast-paced intervals and believe, “there’s no way!”

Study and breath - patterns are there

Study and breath – patterns are there

Just like agitation or fear can creep in during a yoga posture, we react similarly in life.  Maybe the next time life – or the surf – throws a scary set your way you can do what you do on the mat.  Allow your breath to calm you. Take time to see where fear or resistance resides. Find a way to discover patterns and order amid the chaos.

We’ve been inspired by Lopez over the years through both surfing and yoga. He explains, “Surfing has a lot of answers to most of the questions in life. Surf is where you find it.”
You might want to find Gerry at one of the many clinics and retreats that host his classes. A great opportunity is provided by Dennis Oliphant and Sun Country Tours

 

Take a moment to enjoy the video:

Body MIND and Spirit: TRX

As I make progress toward a handstand this is what I imagine I will accomplish one day (soon?)

As I make progress toward a handstand this is what I imagine I will accomplish one day (soon?)

With January comes the opportunity to make lofty resolutions and move toward growth in body, mind and spirit. I sometimes wonder if what I imagine to be my progress counts as growth in the area of MIND, or is it pure delusion?

On February 3, a 28 day “Flight Club” challenge at our local Groove Yoga Bend concluded. I absolutely enjoyed taking the 6 X a week classes for 4 weeks.  The elusive handstand is still out of reach but I was able to at least move toward getting both feet off the ground and in some semblance of a handstand for one, then two nano-seconds.  The massive number of yoga classes last month took quite a bite out of my TRX training routine in preparation for the Olukai Ho’olaulea in 12 short weeks.

Yesterday I returned to suspension training in full force and today my down dog might have to resemble “sleeping dog.”  Even as my body creaks and resists, there was enough progress in body, mind and spirit over the past 4 weeks to instill some hope that one day I might be able to enjoy the position shown in the photo on the left.

karen visions

Karen Wrenn consistently inspires many of us with her discipline and attitude in SUP and life.

Taking a page from the dedicated training and mental preparedness of Oregon’s Karen Wrenn, I am planning to set up some inspirational images around my home exercise area.  There is really little need for my mind to be present 100% in a rather cold garage where I work out.  Karen posted an amazing photo on Instagram that demonstrates exactly that – her vigorous indoor training matched with visions of an amazing place to SUP.

Ouch! Hamstrings....and then soon, strong, flexible hamstrings.

Ouch! Hamstrings….and then soon, strong, flexible hamstrings.

Thought for today: As I prepare for the 6 am Groove yoga hour and then create space in the day for a river run with the grand-dog and 30 minutes with the TRX suspension trainer, I know where my mind will be while my body is surviving a suspended plank – The Berry Island chain of the warm and wonderful Bahamas.

 

Addendum to this post: 2 hours later I am re-energized and raring to go in my day (and with my training). Groove Yoga was exactly what body, mind and spirit needed.

Additional inspiration: fun-loving Dave Kalama shares a video waterman workout we can stick with.

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.

Are You RED-y For Fall Paddling?

Flip flops and bikinis, shorts and suntans – summer paddling has a personality all its own. Late in the summer, we did an article on the awesome colors we experience while standup paddling. The summer focus was blue.  Now that the clouds across much of the globe are more gray and the temperature more chilly, paddling on our rivers, lakes and bays has morphed from a world of sun and blues to the brilliant reds, oranges, gold and grays of fall. While those in cooler climes tend to have a bad case of “tropical-envy” during the long dark months of winter, there is a treasure of color during our Fall season.

I usually try to capture some of these colors while paddling. Last weekend, local standup paddler Dennis Oliphant took some pictures while hiking along some of our favorite sections of the Deschutes River in Central Oregon. It’s much more common to see Dennis, owner of esteemed Sun Country Tours,  paddling rivers, rapids, surfing oceans, and down-winding lakes.  Dennis has been on and around the water both as a professional and as an athlete his entire life, but on this day he was on the shoreline.

The transition from summer to fall catches us by surprise, often with a cover of clouds banking across the usually cloudless skies of the high desert region. In the next three photos, the blue of summer is toned with the gray of impending fall. With a few frosty nights under our belts, we are now being treated to the flaming reds and golds that reflect on the water and make every paddle almost sensory overload. Dennis captured a series of photos that share the diverse personality of the Dillon Falls section of the Deschutes River south of Bend. Celebrate the energy of this season. Put on your booties (and your safety gear, brrrrrrrrr if you do fall in) and immerse yourself in the brief, but exquisite, gift of fall color. Don’t forget the camera.

Elk Lake in the Fall. Photo by Peter Simons (Bend, OR)

Dennis Oliphant captures the serene mood of glassy water.

Healy rapids near Bend, Oregon

Photo by Dennis Oliphant

Photo by Dennis Oliphant

Photo by Dennis Oliphant