Sunshine on a Rainy Day: SUP Magic

The day before we planned to head off on a 3-day camping trip – a trip with rain predicted at 90% the entire time (and 50 degrees) – I took a yoga class. This was not just any yoga class. It was the noon “Rejuv” taught by the brilliant, cool and gifted Cynthia LaRoche (GrooveYogaBend).  As she does so well, Cynthia led us through our restorative poses with wisdom and humor. Somewhere in the midst of it all she said something to the effect, “let what you don’t like be the teacher.” That was not the theme of the class, or even a large part of the message – but that is what resonated for me. clear4

I was going in to three days of camping in the rain with an attitude as bleak as the weather report.  For the most part, i do not like rain. Give me those blue sky days any time.  I was the prime example of what Sorine Cerin (Wisdom Collection: The Book of Wisdom) said, “Rain drops are not the ones who bring the clouds.”

clear5It was time for me to switch gears, be grateful for the opportunity of three days with friends, in the outdoors and in an incredibly beautiful part of the world. It was time for me to be open, to learn from what I basically did not believe that I liked.

Dana Arcuri says it so well, “The more you are grateful for what you have the more you can live fully in the present.”  That is my life journey, so practicing gratefulness and celebrating the present moment whatever it might be became my roadmap for the weekend. clear-lake-spring

What a gift!  In a 43 degree drizzle I dropped my husband and two buddies off to play golf and headed to Clear Lake, OR for a morning of paddling.  The experience was beyond expectation (what a truth) and a powerful lesson.

As Louise Erdich said, “I was in love with the whole world and all that lived in its rainy arms.”  From the light mist that welcomed my first paddle stroke, to the chilly downpour mid-paddle. Solitude and stillness, lush greens and every imaginable blue created magic.clear2

And guess what. The sun actually came out!

This post is a re-post of my story originally on my “Power of Presence” blog – meditations for SUP and Walking. Much mahalo to KIALOA and Sweet Waterwear for supporting P2SUP from the beginning.

Enjoy the video of the experience here: If you want to enjoy our P2Walk meditation, “Walk with Gratitude” explore this link.

Sweet -Race Jersey Next Generation

sswjer-proIf you followed the inaugural 2015 Pacific Paddle Games you may have noticed everything about it was bigger than life, from the oversized waves to the above-average temperatures. The best was the creme de la creme athletic talent that showed up from every corner of the world to compete for the biggest number of all: a record-setting $55,000 prize purse. With all the photos and live coverage of the event, one other thing that literally stood out – was the bright Sweet Waterwear jerseys worn by the athletes – from the world’s top Pro paddlers to the XXS groms.

With many more top athletes enjoying the performance of Sweet Waterwear jerseys throughout 2015, it seemed like a good time for Elder SUP (ES) to go behind the scenes of this unique specialty Hawaiian brand based out of Honolulu. We were fortunate to have this chat with Sean Sweet, founder and visionary behind the brand.

ElderSUP: Sweet Waterwear was the official PPG race jersey on the estimated 450+ Open & Elite racers at the 2015 Pacific Paddle Games, the successor to the Battle of the Paddle. What a format and what an event for the inaugural year!  How did this all come about?    

SweetWaterwear:  As soon as news broke about the PPG I approached Andrew Mencinsky (Marketing director at SUP the Mag & race organizer for PPG ) early on. Andrew has known about Sweet Waterwear & the high quality of our gear for quite some time.  He knew many of the top SUP racers already use and swear by our gear. He’d also seen our Men’s Nirvana Race jersey at other prominent races and from team jerseys that we’ve done for many of SUP’s top board brands.  Andrew and the team at SUP the Mag & TEN (The Enthusiast Network) really wanted to step things up at PPG. They were quite determined they were not going to just follow in the footsteps of the Battle of the Paddle. They wanted every aspect of PPG to be “Bigger & Better.” One of the most obvious “on-screen” ways to do that was to upgrade and outfit ALL of the athletes in beautiful custom PPG jerseys. (video teaser here)

Andrew wanted different colors by gender and group. We are one of the few companies that was large enough to do that and still be flexible enough to produce within a somewhat tight time constraint. For all these reasons, Sweet Waterwear was an obvious and easy, quality choice that met all their objectives.  

ES:  The vibrant colors on all the Sweet Waterwear jerseys we saw at PPG were exceptionally bright and highly visible in varied ocean conditions, at a distance & on the webcast. 

SW:  Stepping out of the box and pushing the bright colors was key essential goal for PPG.  I’ve had these colors available – but no Race Director had ever ventured out of the color norm with us, before PPG.  Fortunately Andrew knew well the live and telecast value of adding bright colors to the mix was far more than just a safety consideration – he recognized that the bright colors would really “pop” on the webcast providing a much richer and vibrant visual experience.

ES:  We noticed right away that the Women’s jerseys at PPG were trimmer and a different cut.  What brought about your developing a women’s specific race jersey? 

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“Our constant goal at Sweet Waterwear is to raise the bar in fashionable, functional activewear,”

SW: With the huge success of our Men’s Nirvana jersey, it was a logical extension for us to make a (literally) “more fitting” Women’s paddlesport tanktop.  Women are far more fashion, fit and style conscious. We realized that wearing a downsized boxy men’s jersey just wasn’t really cutting it.  The difference is more than just color. It fits better due to details like binding versus wide trim along with subtle, but noticeable, hourglass shaping.  Now, the ladies look more flattering and feel better about how they look in our Sweet Waterwear jerseys while enjoying the same ultralight breathing performance of the Mens jersey, but in a more feminine, fashionable tanktop.  

ES: Everyone performed to the max at the 2015 PPG but  looking for the true stars of the day, they were also some of the smallest. The future of the sport is growing up on waves around the world, and we got to witness it during the Grom and Junior Pro races.

SW: Absolutely, as the PPG event showcased so very well, the future of our sport is a powerful field of youth. And for the first time ever, we made sure they had race jerseys designed specifically with the smaller sizes in mind.

sswjerkids The kids were not an afterthought (as they often are at most other races).  We offered size XXS jerseys for the first time ever to accommodate the keiki (children). With the kids we made the Boys Red and Black while  the Girls had Red and White. It was subtle, but still made a perceivable distinction.  The kids were super stoked to have their “very own” special kids jerseys.  We were equally stoked to provide the kids with something “just for them” to enhance their performance and the PPG race experience.  

These custom PPG jerseys have become a proud keepsake and talking point long after the race has been over.  The kids are especially proud to wear their PPG race jersey at other races and while training no matter where they may live and paddle.  We often refer to the robust “Retention Value” of our high quality race jerseys that get “great mileage” of exposure long after the event is over.  sww-kids

ES:  What is your background and how did you develop the Sweet Waterwear brand from your past expertise? 

SW: I have 30 + years in the apparel industry, most of it in casual and active sportswear. Shortly after moving to Hawaii it was quickly evident to me (as a new paddler) that the SUP market was very much under-served, especially on the Women’s side. I had just come off an 11 year stint at well-known Women’s sportswear company. So I knew how to bring a lot of technical fabric and sourcing expertise to the table.  Being based in Hawaii helps enormously. We can test year round. I have access to all types of wind and watersports, as well as, all  levels of paddlers including several of the world’s elite racers. Many of these elite water athletes  have become ambassadors for our line after testing out our gear.

Since Day 1 – when we launched at the one (and only) Battle of the Paddle Hawaii (in 2010) we have offered a more highly evolved line and more technical detail that both athletes and everyday paddlers can really appreciate – so it stands out in the marketplace.  Our race jerseys are well received by so many elite and fitness paddlers.  Pro racers have the opportunity to wear and try many different styles and brands, but the feedback we get and then incorporate into our designs demonstrates how we are meeting the trifecta or “Sweet Spot” of paddler’s needs in style, function and performance.

ES: How is Standup Paddling gear different than, say, Surf gear?

SW: Stand-up paddleboarding is not like surfing in that it is largely an “on-the-water” activity versus often “in-the-water” like surfing. Tight rashguards don’t work as well. They are skin-tight, which by design will help keep you a little warmer. In stand-up paddleboarding, you are burning calories, and most paddlers want & need to dissipate that heat. Furthermore, you are also fully exposed to extremely high levels of sun when you are standing on the water. The combination of direct sun and indirect sun reflected off the water surface really intensifies your exposure. We are a core SUP brand and have pioneered crafting far more fashionable, superior quality, sun-protective gear specifically made for stand-up paddleboarding and other similar paddle sports like outrigger canoe paddling, kayaking, canoeing, dragon boat, etc.  We are also very proud to be cut and sewn in the US using high quality European spec fabrics. There are hardly any Surf brands that can say that – most all are produced offshore in Asia with cheap labor and heavy “cost consideration” given to margin – which inevitably compromises on garment quality.

swteamhi

We already have what is perhaps the most popular men’s stand-up paddleboard racing jersey on the market. We offer custom printing and even co-branding opportunities. It’s market that we got into early and one where we have established a high profile & strong presence.  If you happened to catch all the ISA World Standup Paddle and Paddleboard Championship action last May you saw Sweet Waterwear jerseys on Team Hawaii.  Zane & Matty Schweitzer have both declared them “Best jerseys EVER!!” Looking at the Sweet Waterwear ‘ohana I guess that is the opinion of many of the best in the world.

ES:  I have noticed a lot of detail and innovation in your latest styles. like in my Sweet Waterwear Ka’iulani Zip long sleeve performance top with the neck zipper, thumb holes & big zippered back pockets, especially as the days turn cooler here in the Pacific NW.  How did you come upon the name you chose for that style? 

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Check out the bold print on the back of the Ka’iukani (also available in white-sky-turquoise)

SW:  Ka’iulani loosely means, or implies, ‘rich in health, spirituality and prosperity.’ The meaning resonated with me because, in my opinion, so many standup paddlers seem to reflect these qualities and values.  Further Princess Ka’iulani was/is an important historic figure in Hawaiian history & culture. The Kaiulani is our our top-of-the-line full featured long sleeve so you could also say it’s fit for royalty.  

ES:  What can we expect next from Sweet Waterwear?
SW:  We are driven to excellence, so we will continue to combine high quality performance fabrics with thoughtful superior design & our special “Handcrafted in USA” manufacturing.  We are getting deeper into prints as accents & adding more styles like dresses & hoodies.  Further we are very excited to announce that this summer we will be rolling out a complimentary special collaboration – a new line called “SWT KSS”.  It’s sort of a double entendre & acronym for a limited collection  designed by Kimberly S. Schamber and made by Sweet Waterwear.  Look for the SWT KSS collection to launch in Spring / Summer of 2016.     

SUP Play: Turns and Practice

A few decades ago a friend of mine raced Ferraris – as a hobby. He trained hard and practiced often. Somehow the strategy for making an “S” turn came up and he explained, “The fastest way through an ‘S’ turn is a straight line.” So often in sport, the most effective approach isn’t always easy to execute. I filed that away until recently as I tried to negotiate a few buoy turns in a local race. The leaders made a turn shaped like a sharp “V” – At buoy, quick tail turn, then past buoy. Just like that!  The slower buoy turns, like mine, looked more like a huge looping arch – widely past the mark and inefficient. T needed a new strategy and technique.

A few weeks ago I saw a clip of a TV show Candice Appleby taped just after her prone division win at the 2013 Surftech Jay Race. Candice took Ali Fedotowsky of 1stLookTV (New York) out for a SUP lesson – and tons of fun. They were joined by Chris Aquilar (cinematographer) – Video link

At just about the 3-minute mark in the video, Candice easily and gracefully performs a tail turn. Out of the entire TV clip that scene stuck with me for weeks.  In between, we had a few races around the area. It was obvious that the paddlers who had perfected their tail turn – with accompanying paddle technique, foot-work and balance – made up time at every buoy turn.  We all work hard to perform at our best in events – maybe we should take a page out of Candice Appleby’s book – her “play book.”

Photo by Gail DeSoto DeMarco

Photo by Gail DeSoto DeMarco

I have never seen someone do so much hard work and practice all with an amazing sense of joy and play.  This is just one example of fun times at Race the Lake of the Sky during the “Sweet Moves” contest presented by Sweet Waterwear. Credit to Gail DeSoto DeMarco for capturing the photo.

A few other photos shared by Candice on her Facebook page continued to inspire me to take some risks, take some time and go play at tail turn practice.

candice tailturn1  candice-headstand-wild

The headstand – I am still just 20% of the way on that one. But on a warm sunny day last week the tail turn played along with me and I began to get the groove.  Practice – I did a few dozen but it’s obvious that hundreds will be executed before I have a bullet-proof turn. Can’t wait to get on the river this week and hunt down something to turn around – a buoy, a rock, another paddler – whatever can make it a game! Thanks for the inspiration and sense of absolute play, Candice!

Summer Sun: SUP Performance Wear

Midway through a 12 mile paddle in my Sweet Waterwear paddling top and compression pants

January warm in my Sweet Waterwear paddling top and compression pants

As temperatures rise we slap on the sunscreen and savor summer SUP fun.  As the paddles get longer, as your skills drive the quest for more adventures, more exploring, more down-wind wildness there’s another key item to consider – performance paddling gear. It’s not just a cozy layer to keep the chill off – the right gear makes all the difference as we push our endurance, challenge our muscles and work our joints.

The first thing we did was to check out the Naish 14′ Glides we’d be using all weekend.  Steve Gates and Jason at Big Winds took great care of us.  Hood River (Oregon) looks like Naish Central whether it’s SUP, windsurfing or kite-boarding. naish2naish-flga

We enjoyed a clinic by Jeremy Riggs of Maui as part of the fun provided by Big Winds in Hood River, Oregon. On Saturday the wind was a rare serene breeze allowing us to do a glassy down current run from Mosier back to the Hood River event center. Sunday roared in with steady 25 mph winds cranking up the Columbia River Gorge spiced with gusts of 30 mph or more.  The river provided sweet glides, a good bit of chaos with side chop and sets that encouraged us to try connecting glides and soaring.  It was epic for all 25 of us!

Candice Appleby shows us how it's done!

Candice Appleby shows us how it’s done!

Hauling my drippy self onto my board again and again was an effort. Instead of being chilly, as the wind quickly dried my Sweet Waterwear performance top I warmed up easily.  After the race while we chatted and enjoyed a local “cold beverage” my legs felt hugged and cared for in my Pro Elite Performance Tights.

We love to look toward our favorite elite water athletes for tips on gear and training – it just makes good sense to notice what they’re wearing for enhanced performance.  In the video below the silver arms of my performance top is just the half of the cool fuschia I love!

Saturday: Glassy Goodness ( see video here)

Sunday: Epic Columbia River Downwind

Maliko Musings: Olukai Ho’olaule’a

When experienced standup paddlers describe the downwind run you are about to do the very next day and they say, “It’s going to be harrowing, huge swells and very little wind,” that does not build confidence!

The start of the 2013 Olukai Ho'olaule'a at Maliko Gulch

The start of the 2013 Olukai Ho’olaule’a at Maliko Gulch

Those very conditions greeted 336 SUP downwind racers at the 5th Olukai Ho’olaule’a on May 11.  Little did I know as I paddled out of the Maliko Gulch what was in store.  The tide was flowing in, the swells delivered confused chop and the wind clocked toward our faces as we paddled past the reefs and cliffs about a mile and a quarter straight out to sea and the starting line.  I believed the waves would be my nemesis, but one wave in particular delivered the defining moment of that all-round incredible event!  Here’s the story:

Like most of the participants, I spent a great deal of time paddling on my knees, really getting a challenging balance workout while going for the glides or taking some head-first dunks into the confused sea.  When I had feet under me, eyes on the horizon and my paddle technique cranking out smoothly, holy cow, the Naish 14′ Glide I was riding accelerated with glee and practically begged to connect those glides. Exhilarating stuff for sure. Light as a feather, my KIALOA Hulu paddle powered me through chop and (YAY!) let me brace, balance and avoid plenty of wipeouts.

From the very first paddle stroke, as fellow participants were lifted – then disappeared – behind the swells, my fear was that I’d not be able to negotiate the beach landing. All along the shoreline from Hookipa to Kanaha and points in between the swells met reefs and created a wall of crushing white-water challenge. About 75 minutes into the race Kanaha and the life guard stand was in view. I was paddling near Sean Sweet of Sweet Waterwear when I heard him say, “Judy, look right!”

Defining moment, uncaught wave of the day. And that was a good thing!

Defining moment, uncaught wave of the day. And that was a good thing!

I braced my paddle in the water to my right, swung my eyes over and looked straight up into a building and breaking wall of gray-green and foaming wave. There was just one reaction, and it surprised the living daylight out of me – I was like, “Yeah!” and went for it. Went for it as in, “I want to catch this thing.”  Lucky for me, very lucky, the water was deep enough that instead of crushing right onto me, it re-built as a pillowing swell and swept neatly under my Glide. Also lucky for me, I realized how much I love being in the ocean, riding waves, being part of a huge community of like-spirited paddlers and enjoying the fruits of much practice and training. It’s all a very cool journey.

It’s tough to put into words the impact an event like one’s first Maliko Gulch downwind run delivers. Instread, here’s a 4 minute video that tells the tale. Much appreciation (listed in the credits at the end) go to Naish International  (Haiku), KIALOA Paddles, GoPro, and Suzie Cooney, CPT.

Gray November to Sunshine SUP

Fall colors invited plenty of Elder SUP paddlers out on the water to collect those rare sunshine days of brilliance

After five days of unbelievable Indian summer sunshine and 60-78 degree ranges in temperature, the gray (bring some snow to Mt Bachelor) days of November have returned. We had some serious frost for a few weeks in October which turned our leaves a brilliant array of color. A number of you shared pictures and e-mails describing how cool it was. We featured some photos by Dennis Oliphant of Sun Country Tours in Bend, Oregon.

With the forecast predicting highs in the mid-40’s, rain and possibly snow flurries at high elevation, the long darkness of winter seems daunting. Yes, we love to ski and play in the fluffy white stuff – but when standup paddling and water fun is #1, we start to think warm!

I spotted  this picture on a Facebook page today (sorry, I cannot locate the source). This amazing warm, tropical spot is incredibly compelling – yes, I wish I knew where it was so I could add it to my bucket list! How about you? 

Soon after I spotted that image, I followed a few Facebook posts from Sean Sweet of Sweet Waterwear and that lead to a few posts by the gracious and incredible Candice Appleby. Candice recently won the Hennessy’s SUP and Paddleboard Racing series for 2012. After getting 1st in the Elite Course Race and 2nd in Distance, she was crowned the Hennessey’s World SUP Champion for the 3rd time.

When the string of amazing performances Candice has accomplished in the most competitive events in standup paddling racing and surfing it’s likely that she spends enormous  amounts of time in diverse training and water practice. Many of us relegated to the colder climes for the next 5-6 months might breathe a heavy sigh and wish for those tropical waters.

Candice Appleby and some of the kids in the kids clinic – Los Cabos Classic Hennessey’s SUP and Paddleboard Race Series

There is an alternative, a way of creating a diverse experience around our SUP.  Off water training and other outdoor sport time is one way. Another: Take a look at the ways Candice has chosen to participate in the sport she loves. A great deal is genuine enthusiasm for sharing our sport with youth and supporting causes dear to her heart, like Anti-Bullying campaign called “Stand Up for the Children.” Sharing expertise with kids, well that’s something we can all do. Why not take some time this off-season and get to know what events your local SUP club or shop are planning for spring and summer? Get inspired, and have some fun with like-minded friends.

Please share your stories – the more the merrier.

Candice is nominated for SUP Woman of the Year again. And why are we not surprised!

Fitness Journey Back

All summer long I have been paddling about 5 days a week but feeling a bit bad about all the fun. My husband, Ed, had a summer doing PT for rotator cuff repair, Lifting a 1 lb weight and pulling a red TheraBand just didn’t equate to fun. While staying in cardio shape hiking the incredible trails and peaks are Central Oregon has been terrific, we prefer our water sports. Last Saturday he got the okay to get on his board – but “take it easy,”  said surgeon Cara Walther. The spectacular first day of fall weather agreed with a casual cruise with friends up at Elk Lake.

According to Ed’s first paddle back after 5 months shoulder rehab

Since Ed will be training under the expertise of Suzie Cooney (Suzie Trains Maui, a Naish team rider– you can too, just set up your Skype training – left column on her blog) he decided to give the shoulder a nice long warm up. After that, he paddled along the shoreline observing which muscles seemed to be engaged – abs and lats more than the shoulder.  Balancing on the board on the lake seemed easier than balancing on the Indo board that he plans to use this upcoming week.

Why did we get an Indo Board? Some training examples using the Indo board can be found on Suzie Cooney’s website.

According to information we found online, “Indo Board Balance Trainers are the most effective land-based means of training for SUP racing, SUP surfing and Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga. Standing on an Indo Board simulates the instability that a rider experiences when riding a stand up paddle board and allows for repetitious functional exercises that directly enhance the user’s abilities.” With cooler weather and snow on the horizon for the next 6 months, that’s going to be a fine addition to our training mix. You just can’t get enough core strength and balance.

Going for my headstand while comfortable and cozy in my Sweet Waterwear performance paddling top

Balance was on both our minds. I had set a goal of doing a headstand on my board sometime during the summer. In spite of lots of yoga and headstand practice I could only muster a halfway headstand. We all know the mantra, and it’s true, “it’s a journey.” There is no place in which we simply get fit and then remain fit. Balance is a practice, just like most things that are important. The fact that I completed the partial headstand and remained dry simply means I held back a bit and didn’t quite go all the way to my edge. (Next warm day we’ll have another go at it!)

Rick’s got the reflection both on the water and in his mind

Another important thing we celebrated while paddling on Saturday was the one year anniversary since our good friend, Rick, was surprised by a sudden stroke. Fit, healthy and active, that health incident came as a complete shock to Rick. Perhaps his good health gave him the start point for full recovery and the ability to resume standup paddling with all the confidence he’d had before.  All four of us have been more aware than ever of the need to stay focused on an exercise program that includes cardio, balance, flexibility and strength. Now that we’re heading to our mid-60’s we’ve got a lot of inspiration to keep the active fun a central part of how we live.