SUP: The Wave and You

Have you read Susan Casey’s book, The Wave? (Seriously awesome video based on the book)

Casey, 44, editor of magazine, traveled the world experiencing waves close up and personal. Casey, who wrote The Devil’s Teeth, a 2005 best seller about white sharks, didn’t want to write a book just about surfing. She was driven to write about waves, some almost mythical in stature.  To do this, Casey needed a guide to “open up his world to me” and provide a “glimpse of the ocean with its gloves off.” One of her guides to waves, like Jaws on the North shore of Maui, was the waterman, Laird Hamilton.  Her encounters with the famous Jaws were described so vividly, it felt as though I was there as I read.  Even accompanied by big wave surfer, Laird Hamilton, (another cool video) would I charge the face of Jaws in a jet ski or dive below and witness the sea-floor configuration that causes that incredible wave? I certainly hope so!

Auhtor of THE WAVE, Susan Casey, with her guide to Jaws (Maui), Laird Hamilton.

Author of THE WAVE, Susan Casey, with her guide to Jaws (Maui), Laird Hamilton.

Casey told Hamilton about a freak North Sea storm in 2000 that battered and nearly sank a research ship — the opening scene in her book.

“He wished he had been there,” she recalls.

 Hamilton explained, “What’s hell for some is heaven for others. A storm like that  can stir up “the ultimate playground” for big-wave surfers.

Have you ever been schooled by a wave just a degree or two (or 3) above your skill level? One that held you down, knocked the tar out of you and was fodder for stories for weeks after? For some, that wave is calf high, for others a triple overhead at Pipeline.  I found my limit one cold October morning doing dawn patrol with my husband, Ed, and our buddy Randall.

Pipeline - December 2011

Pipeline – December 2011

After a 40 year hiatus from surfing it was the third fall I’d been SUP surfing, 2011. We’d only planned to sit on the beach at Pacific City (Oregon) with a coffee. Out in the light fog about 1/2 mile offshore a set of big fat and beautiful glassy waves wrapped around the point at Cape Kiwanda and solidly marched through the deep water. Rather than crashing or closing out, they simply diminished before re-building on the more shallow reef onshore. A setup that rare had to be experienced. Wetsuits donned we paddled out.

Holy cow – heart in throat time…what was lurking under the glassy beds of seaweed out by the rock? Would I have the nerve to really go for a wave that seemed to swallow up Ed and Randall as they disappeared behind the overhead walls they took?  The third swell of a set loomed up. I was bit further in than the “safe” zone – having sort of tried for the first wave.  That made the wall and takeoff a bit more steep – but something made me dig for it an GO!

My skills are very limited and bottom turns – not so much.  Yet something clicked on that wave, I dug my KIALOA paddle hard into the face and powered a nice right that lofted me up the face at a speed that  I’d never felt before. The board vibrated under my feet with a shattering sound that serenaded with whistling wind, and filled my ears. “Wooooohooooooo!” Yeah! There was nothing but an amazing rush. In a few seconds when time stood still that was a ride to remember. Then the shoulder flattened out in a deep water channel close to shore and I cruised over the top and paddled back out. I caught two more waves before reaching the edge of my “courage”envelope. I went in way before anyone else – but it was enough.

Brit Oliphant using her skills to backdoor a section on her backhand, Sweet use of her KIALOA GL ULtralight HULU paddle

Brit Oliphant using her skills to backdoor a section on her backhand, Sweet use of her KIALOA GL ULtralight HULU paddle

Totally amazing and I haven’t ridden anything like that since.  Yet, it is cool to have some experience so that when I see someone tackling a nice sized waveI I can  have a small sense of what’s so incredible. The photo to the left shows Brit Oliphant, a Surftech team rider, ready to dig her KIALOA Hulu GL Ultralight paddle to backdoor a section on her backhand.

Imagine the sounds and feel of the speed and wave power as Brit maneuvers across that overhead face.  Surfers everywhere and at every ability level share a common set of awe and experience for the waves they’ve ridden and waves they been thrashed by. The most important thing about the ocean is that we explore it. It’s our source and where we’ve evolved from — it’s spectacularly beautiful, and it’s really, really powerful. Whether we ride the big ones or live extreme moments vicariously, we share a common energy.

Respect your skill and respect your ocean – love your moments and your abilities on your waves. A very wise surfer, one whose spirit of aloha graces all he does, is Gerry Lopez. In his book, SURF IS WHERE YOU FIND IT, he shares five rules. The fifth and final Lopez rule, “The best surfer in the water is the guy having the most fun.” Like Gerry, we can all try to remember that one.

A great shot of Gerry Lopez originally posted in 1859 - Oregon's Magazine.

A great shot of Gerry Lopez originally posted in 1859 – Oregon’s Magazine.

Okay, grab your paddle and your board – have some fun and dream of waves! Then share your stories with us – via e-mail or on Facebook.

SUP Muse: Brit Oliphant

What’s the mental image your mind imagines when you hear about a teen spending a year on the beautiful rainbow island of Maui? Lots of fun, surfing, beach days and frolic?  You bet! But if you think that’s all the possibilities you have not met one of the most amazing young waterwomen – Brit Oliphant. Brit knows how to play but she is also a force to be reckoned with when it comes to focus, dedication, training and making dreams happen.

Don't let this laid back image confuse you - Brit's got focus and a passion for excellence.

Don’t let this laid back image confuse you – Brit’s got focus and a passion for excellence.

Just out of high school (a year early by doing her junior and senior year simultaneously), Brit has a love of life and maturity that’s rare at any age. While disciplined training has provided the fitness background needed to compete at the highest levels in the sports of standup surfing and paddling, an absolute love of oceans, rivers and people adds a special something else. So during the past 6 months as Brit lives life her way in Maui, she’s brought her SUP paddling and surfing skills to a new level.

Generating confidence and having a blast - Go Brit!

Generating confidence and having a blast – Go Brit!

A winter of “whoa that’s big” surf, balance training on the slackline, running, running and more running and miles of windy to wonderful standup paddling has honed some serious talent to something more.  Still full of fun and grins, Brit powered into the 2013 Surftech Shootout @ The Lane.  She had an impressive performance, taking second ahead of Morgan Hoesterey.  Surftech team rider, Candice Appleby held the top spot on the podium.  Gracious and grinning, exuding the essence of waterwomen, it was very cool to see Brit and Candice celebrating the results of much hard work and dedication.stbritcandice

Four amazing waterwomen at the March 2013 Surftech Shootout

Four amazing waterwomen at the March 2013 Surftech Shootout


For about a minute and a half I considered getting a slackline to practice my own balance after hearing Brit talk about how much fun she has with that part of her training. Then it occurred to me that the 47 years’ difference in our age – maybe there was something more valuable about balance to learn from my buddy, Brit.

Keeping things in perspective and following the path that’s a balance of fitness, competition, travel, family and fun is Brit’s forte.  Appreciation, an eye for opportunity and a willingness to move beyond the “comfort envelope” and work hard is a solid message for any of us.

So, why did I choose to profile Brit Oliphant as one of my favorite SUP Muses (along with Karen Wrenn and Suzie Cooney)? A “muse” is a catalyst for both change and a vision forward toward becoming our own best selves. Authentic and consistent, that’s pretty much how Brit lives her life and shares her aloha.

Who is YOUR SUP Muse? We’d love to hear from you via e-mail or simply connect with us on Facebook.

Take a look at the full event video – super fun for enjoying the event while planning to be there to watch next year.


2013 Surftech Shootout: Surf & Sand Duel SUP Race Results

Elite Race Women
1st: Candice Appleby
2nd: Brit Oliphant
3rd: Morgan Hoesterey

Elite Race Men
1st: Slater Trout
2nd: Chuck Glynn
3rd: Matt Becker
4th: Anthony Vela
5th: Chance Fielder