Sports Imaging: Stehlik Glides

About 18 months ago we visited Oahu and were fortunate to discover Blue Planet, an SUP center just a few miles from Waikiki. Blue Planet is owned by Robert Stehlik, a talented paddler consistently sharing his time and expertise to all levels – from rank beginner to the downwind experts. We had a great time at one of the many free clinics he offers and loved trying out race boards for the first time in 2011.

 

 

Robert Stehlik of Blue Planet has a wealth of open ocean crossings as the foundation for teaching others.

Robert Stehlik of Blue Planet has a wealth of open ocean crossings as the foundation for teaching others.

Robert Stehlik combined his talent with a GoPro video and decided to  paddle the Hawaii Kai downwind run on Oahu while narrating it. With a summer full of all sorts of downwind runs (with the Wickiup in Central Oregon coming up soon) we decided to take some time to really study Robert’s videos.  It is really insightful to hear the coaching tips and tricks as he is actually doing them.

Wide open downwind spaces - heading toward Waikiki

Wide open downwind spaces – heading toward Waikiki

While the tips on paddle cadence were definitely valuable, the tips on reading waves and increasing the opportunities to ride glides both left and right really hit home.

I absolutely agree with Robert when he says, “Downwind runs are exciting and fun.   In the surf, you are often waiting for a set or your turn to catch the next wave.  On a downwinder, there are no crowds, you have long windswells that stretch across the whole ocean to play with, you are always on the move, going from one glide to the next, surfing the bumps.

Plan ahead, know the waters, route and weather before heading out on a downwinder.

Plan ahead, know the waters, route and weather before heading out on a downwinder.

There is no doubt that doing any length downwinder requires preparation, planning, a partner and the appropriate safety gear.  The pre-downwinder prep including balance training, awareness and a depth of open water experience can make all the difference in the experience.
Robert advises, “It can also be dangerous to head out into the open ocean unprepared, so make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.
I enjoy sharing what I have learned and have been offering coaching to paddlers that want to experience the joy of downwind paddling.   For more information on SUP lessons and coaching offered by Blue Planet, please visit the website for more information.

 

56 Years – Coolest Board Shaper

Raft riding in Hollywood, FL circa 1955

Raft riding in Hollywood, FL circa 1955

Fifty-six years ago this month, when I was 13 years old and living in Hollywood, Florida I was bitten by the surf-bug. None of my friends surfed, we had mush for waves at our beach, so I’m not quite sure what got me so obsessed. It was probably from the millions of waves my dad set me riding using a hard canvass raft that I loved from age 5.  I could never get enough of the beach, of waves or water.  It does follow that by the early 1960’s if I saw someone riding a wave while standing on a surfboard I’d want to give it a try.

Hollywood Beach and baby waves

Hollywood Beach and baby waves

There were no surf shops at the time, but my dad was a general contractor, a wood-worker to the core. I dragged him to my junior high school shop and together we begged for a spot in the January 1963 semester shop class so that I could build myself a surfboard. “Absolutely not!” was the reply. Girls took Home Ec and boys took Shop (Seriously???? My reaction was an entirely different story, but we won’t go there right now).

There was also no Internet in those days so we couldn’t just Google a set of plans. So, on a large sheet of butcher paper my dad drew a “sorts” shape of a surfboard and proceeded to load me into his truck so we could head off to Mack Lumber Company to buy some marine plywood. Many weeks of cutting, sanding, gluing and painting later I saw my first surfboard come to life. Never having seen or touched a “real” surfboard I found no fault in either the design (absolutely flat bottom, no rocker) or the weight (a good 45 lbs – dry).

A nice frame for my first surfboard

A nice frame for my first surfboard

Dad had provided the infrastructure to keep the board solid and hollow.  In spite of side seams sealed with a nice band of duct tape and marine paint (navy blue) the surfboard had a habit of filling with water after every ride. It was pretty hilarious to see a bunch of skinny-legged 13 year-olds dragging that beast ashore, pulling out the cork drain plug and draining sea water after every ride. We didn’t care, we were SURFING!!!!!

A few years later a small Greg Noll surf shop opened at Hollywood Beach.  It was 1965 and I had just started dating Ed.

Judy and Ed in 1967

Judy and Ed in 1967

The big blue wooden surfboard was beginning to show some wear and Christmas was approaching. Did I beg for one of the used fiberglass boards (ever aware of limited gift-budgets)? Oh YES!!!! Well, Mom was not so excited about my surfing obsession and she generously gifted me with holiday dresses, a record player and a small transister radio.  Mmmmmm, what’s a kid to do? Work and earn the $35 needed to get my surfboard asap!

judycoolwave

By February I had my 8’6″ Atlantic surfboard and Ed had saved enough for his Dewey Weber (wow! was it beautiful) and we surfed our way through high school.  College loomed ahead, budgets were tight. By the end of Summer 1967 both boards were sold as we headed north for school. Our surfing days seemed over.

Thank goodness for standup surfing and the surf culture in land-locked Bend, OR. By 2007 we rode our first waves in 40 years.

Happy Father's Day Dad! here's to plenty more water fun days

Happy Father’s Day Dad! here’s to plenty more water fun days

Now, almost 56 years to the day that my dad took on the surfboard project our water fun is boating on the Deschutes and Elk Lake. He (in that photo age 92)  loves to hear every detail about every surf adventure Ed and I enjoy. He watched YouTube videos of every sort of surf and paddle story he can find. I know that he always secretly wished he could stand on a board some how. My goal – on a warm  day at Elk Lake this summer I would have loved to get Dad on a board, even if just for a few minutes. He’s my favorite board shaper and I’d love to see the grin!