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.

A Sense of SUP Play

I had an amazing time at the Elk Lake Resort -Gerry Lopez Race Series kick-off race on July 14. With both KIALOA paddles and StandUp Paddle Bend as sponsors it was a true “hometown” event. Armed with my cool Pipes KIALOA paddle and a sweet Hobie 12’6″ raceboard borrowed from Chip Booth at Standup Paddle Bend, I was eager to get to the water. I’m still quite a novice at turning the bigger board around the race buoys. Luckily, Gerry Lopez was on the shore and quickly tossed a few stance and balance tips my way just before the start (Note to self: Need a LOT of practice!)

The weather was stellar. Sadly, I was the only woman competing in the race. “Competing” is a loose term – because I was simply out on the water on my board paddling hard to get my technique and endurance a little bit better.  I came in last place after all the men – but “won” first place for women. It would have been a lot more fun with some other women to laugh, paddle and race with. I have a laid back outlook on competition as a community building glue for the fast growing legions of standup paddling families and friends. I have a notion that the format of competitive racing may have limited the number of people participating. It was not a WPA sanctioned event, it was meant as a fun race – but still, the format was “race.”

We often point to competition as a tool to bring out the best in people. You will run faster or work harder or fight more ferociously if there’s someone breathing down your neck or a record to be broken.

The problem with competition for a great percentage of most people “playing at a sport” is that it holds them back from leaping into the “game.”  For many, competition takes away the plain old playful fun, the invitation to invent your own method, to find a new way. Competition is great for gathering energy, audience and refining our skills to new levels. But if a huge momentum of new participants in events is a goal, there might be a complementary opportunity for race directors and organizers.

When you have competition, it’s the pack that decides what’s going to happen next, participants merely try to get (or stay) in front. Elder SUP will be designing a new addition to the standup race menu of choices.  We will design 15-30 minute SUP-Ventures, game-like short quests on the land and water for all levels and abilities of standup paddlers.  Generating lots more “race” and event participants, providing an entertaining extra show for spectators, involving more people while building a strong standup paddle community is our goal. We’d love to hear your ideas and comments on this topic.

Meanwhile, as we design and plan new ways to flatwater SUP play, enjoy this smile-generating video – the joy of SUP play!

Who’s “Saving the World” in 2012?

Just read a disturbing article that included a picture of a sad-faced beach-goer who had collected a huge black float that drifted ahead of the massive amount of tsunami debris. Disasters like that tsunami are horrific events generating devastating human and personal loss. The side effects ripple out in thousands of ways. Like many disasters and challenging events, there is also the opportunity to join together and create community and positive impact from them.

One example is the non-profit group Stopping Oregon’s Litter and Vandalism says it’ll be ready when that debris does wash up. The group already organizes two massive Oregon beach clean-ups every year. “We know that we can organize people to get out and help take care of the problem once it’s there,” said SOLV executive director Melisa McDonald. Peterson anticipates debris from the tsunami will continue to show up on our coast for about three to five years as it keeps circulating around the Pacific Ocean. Alone, the few things we might pick up in a river, lake, stream or ocean as we engage in our sport amount to a drop in a bucket – but there is amazing power in our collective efforts.

Jim Moriarity, CEO of the Surfrider Foundation, shared how Surfrider which is comprised of 250,000 supporters and 84 chapters across the U.S will Change the World in 2012 by protecting the coasts through engaged activism and by scaling effective ideas across a connected learning network. “A network becomes stronger, more valuable and more potent when it consistently learns from itself,” said Moriarity.

As 2012 opens we’d like to showcase and report on other water-efforts that you might be involved in. We can promote your websites, blogs and links so that more people can make a choice and make a difference – collectively.

Let us know if you are on Twitter so @eldersup can follow you.