Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stand Up Paddle Racing: Kiwi goes to the head of the class... Homework plus Extra Credit!

There's one central truth to stand up paddle racing- nothing prepares you like time on the water (TOW). Kiwi's been logging TOW racing hours for three years now and his work ethic has been paying off.  This summer race season, he earned podium finishes in his division at both the Hennessey's International Paddle Championships and the Battle of the Paddle. Want to get an idea of what he considers a quick paddle workout? Here's the Kiwi report for the paddle route that I call Homework: 

I got off a little early today and was eager to try out the Home Depot GPS holder that I put together yesterday. I loaded the Demon and headed up to your patch, thinking I would run into you doing your "homework". 
Kiwi's Stu Kenson Demon... locked and loaded.
There was no one around so I unloaded the board, turned on some Gangstarr and headed north into the 12-15 mph cold ass santa ana wind. I got to your turnaround and wanted a little more so I chugged my way up to "Sand Island". A little north of the island there's a pylon sticking out of the water, it looked like a cool turn around mark so I powered up to it. On my way there I noticed a Navy patrol boat idling towards me with flashing lights.  
Let the Homework begin... just start paddling north.
 I thought to myself, "I'll show them a drop tail turn at the mark.". Halfway to pulling it off I got caught by a gust and in I went. Bloody freezing when you're just wearing a pair of trunks and a race jersey. I popped up to see my board drifting away so I put my head down and swam for it, retrieving it after a short sprint. I grabbed the board, jumped up and away I went. Downwind was a blast. I angled out into the bay to get bigger runners and flew (that's what it felt like) back down to the beach. On the way back, several choppers buzzed me- they were probably wondering what the F?
Kiwi's Home Depot GPS mount.
Here's the data off my GPS: 
Total time up 54min- 3.8 miles
Total time down 41min -3.8 miles.
Top speed 8.5 mph
Average overall speed 4.81
Upwind speed 4.22 mph
The GPS never lies.
Didn't see you this time- maybe we'll run it another day? 

Monday, November 29, 2010


Sometimes the best thing to do, the only thing you can do, is just drive away.

Head south. Stretch out under blue palms and skies.
Take a walk in the evening.
Laugh at the hopelessness of the situation,
paddle out
and let it go.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A little break from all this paddling... NBA baby!

What a killer weekend! This one had a little bit of everything: sun, fun, competition, surf (small but clean) and today... it was all about the NBA. A friend invited me to drive up to the Staples Center, sit behind the Clippers bench and watch soon-to-be superstar Blake Griffin go off (he was a couple assists away from a triple double, scoring 35 points and pulling down 14 rebounds... what!). 

That's Blake Griffin with the towel around his neck... that's the view from my friend's seats... close enough to hear the coach work a couple plays out on his tablet.
I'm not a Clippers fan, I don't follow the team but Blake Griffin's story is compelling. He was the first overall draft pick in 2009, unfortunately he had to sit out the season when he blew his knee out. I first heard about him a week ago while I was checking the surf. Blake was being interviewed on the radio, the interviewer wanted to know how he felt after another thirty point game. His response was, "I'm just happy to be able to play". Awesome... the humility, the love of the game- that's an NBA star worth supporting. They ended up losing to Utah (who, by the way, looked great.. except for Kirilenko's mid-80's, Soviet Union, I-love-Def-Lepard, mullet hair-do) but they just might have earned a new fan.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

28th Annual JR Memorial Contest: 2nd Place... I'll take it!

Thanks for an awesome contest and a killer awards ceremony/party. I ended up with second place and I'm stoked- Kelly Kraus took 1st, that guy is unbeatable!

28th Annual JR Memorial Contest: Sunny Skies, Small Waves... good times!

Just got out of the water from the JR Contest in Coronado. I love small town surf contests, they've got tons of heart and feel good to them. The surf was really small but it was sunny, flat glass and cool to surf with a bunch of your friends- even if the colored jerseys transformed them into your mortal enemies.

I'm not sure how I did yet- we don't find out until the awards ceremony/party this evening but I'm looking forward to it- all you can eat tacos whipped up by a couple of taqueros, a live band, awards and sudsy beverages. The fun starts at 5pm at the VFW Hall in Coronado- stop by if you're in town, I'll see you there! 

The Ramble Machine... in full effect.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Next Race, next weekend! On-line sign up available NOW!

Get on it people- online sign up for the this race is up. Click here and get registered!

Early morning race in O-side harbor... let's do this thing! Rauber, Elmer, Flowers, Ranjo, Kiwi, Ferris... where you at?

8'6 x 30" Stamps Grim Ripper: My new one... just in time for southern Baja!

Here she is just finish shaped... off to get a spray and then back for glassing. I'm super excited for this one especially since I should have it for my trip down south. I rode one just like this a month ago, went home and immediately ordered one up for myself. Can't wait to see it all finished!

Clean lines, light and set up as a 2 + 1

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Take a second and be stoked for what you have: family, friends, health, shelter, hand-made, custom shaped, stand up paddle ripsticks, carbon fiber, light-as-a-feather paddles, Gerry Lopez Future Fins, combo-swells with North-Easterly winds, beach break wedges, point break reelers, reef break death pits, modern wetsuits, costa rican coffee, cheesecake, mashed potatoes, digital photography, west highland white terriers, spam and four wheel drive trucks. That should cover it.

Always count on surf for Thanksgiving morning. Here's what I got on...

After four days of gray and rain- here's what Thanksgiving Day brought to us. Stoked... and thankful. 
Art Curtis was thankful for his back-up stando after his go-to board went pinballing through the pier.
The JR Surf Contest in Coronado is on for Saturday, 27th. If you're into it, get down there at 7am to get registered for the stand up paddle division. I'm out there!

Paddlesurf.net is on Facebook... check us out... "like" us... be my friend... whatever. Look for extra photos and content on paddlesurf.net FB!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Baja Paddle Surf Equipment, Part I: Wet Okole Seat Covers

I'm only three weeks out from my annual, warm water pilgrimage to the tip of Baja California. When a trip like that starts to get close, it's time to begin your prep work. The last thing you want to do is be up until 2 am the morning before you pull out for Cabo San Lucas. Get smart, start prepping early.

I checked one item off my list today, seat covers. I went with Wet Okole covers- I've used them before, so I know they are the best out there. Wet Okole (Okole means "butt", so wet butt for us haoles) covers are waterproof, made to order seat covers. These things fit so perfectly that you'll think they installed new seats in your rig. Best of all, they're made of wetsuit material so not only are they water tight (in my old truck I'd jump right into the front seat in full soaking wetsuit for the short drive home) but they insulate your butt, I mean okole, making them nice and toasty on cold mornings. They're also comfy enough to sit in 'em with your shirt off (or in your bikini) which is nice when you're just jamming down to the beach for a surf check in the summer.

The covers are fairly expensive ($250 for my front two seats) but I think it's worth it- the fit is so perfect and the workmanship so solid. I jammed up to Costa Mesa today to have them installed (installation is free), check 'em out:

The Wet Okole mobile right out in front of the factory/showroom/installation facility. Nice people there too.
I was able to snag the first appointment of the morning. All I had to do was pull the Ramble Machine into the bay and let the boys go to work. Now, I know what you're thinking, "How hard could it be to install some seat covers?" Well, you've got to see these things- they fit like a glove. These guys install seat covers all day and it still took them a half an hour to do the two seats.
I went with black on black. There are all kinds of floral, hibiscus, camo and colored panels that you can select for your seat covers. I've seen a bunch of different ones and they look great, I just wanted something understated, something that would hide a lot of dirt, dust and spilled orange juice. There's two parts for each seat and a cover the center console.
I also opted for zippered, mesh pockets on the seatbacks... pretty cool looking, actually.
One of the owners of Wet Okole saw that I was snapping pictures of the guys installing my covers, he asked me if I wanted to walk around the factory and take some pictures of the fabrication of the covers. Cool! I was able to go behind the neoprene curtain and see how it was done. Check out all of these cardboard templates- each is the pattern for a particular make, model and year of automobile. This was only half of the template library- it was pretty cool and reminded me of the outline templates that shapers have hanging in their shape rooms.
This guy is cutting out the panels for a seat cover. I told him I was a stand up paddler- check out his face, I don't think he was too impressed. I later found out he was a Newps local- a shortboarder, go figure.
It was a giant place with tons of sewing machines whirring, people snipping and big pallets of neoprene everywhere. Check out the camo and black and white hibiscus patterns.
Here's just a few options- there were tons more.
This one was a little too wild for me- but I could sense it was probably pretty cool. I could just sense it.
Here's one called Real Woods or True Woods camo or something. My favorite part of the set up? There's a little handgun pocket hanging down right between the legs of the driver. It's kind of hard to see here but, believe me it's there. Better have that safety on, one unfortunate bump and you're going to be leading an interesting life.
Back at the Ramble Machine the guys were just finishing up installing the seat covers. They came out really nice- I'm stoked on them. They're perfect for Baja too- spill some salsa, smear some guacamole, break a beer bottle, or ride home soaking wet- it's no problem for me, I've got your okole covered!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wooden Boat Build: My project continues!

I finished up a boat building project last summer. I worked on a 14' wooden boat called a wineglass wherry which is similar to a dory but has a wider transom shaped like, you guessed it, a wineglass. Check it out:

Here she is finished out at the end of the summer- well, not exactly finished. There's a lot of fine touches left to be done- sanding, varnishing... painting.

I've had her out a couple of times (I still haven't named her)- paddling this boat is really fun. First of all, you've got two eight foot oars, traditionally wrapped in leathers, powering you along- you can really get jamming on this thing. Secondly, wooden boats are just style masters out on the water; the thing attracts all kinds of attention. And finally, it's stupidly satisfying to pull through the water in something you made with your own two hands (shapers in the house... am I speaking your language here?).

I've known that I'd eventually have to attend to the remaining chores of the build- but I was having so much fun paddling her around that I kept putting off those duties. The most important task was protecting the epoxy and fiberglass skin from the sun's UV rays. Epoxy is broken down by UV so it's important to either varnish or paint the boat. My plan was to keep the outside in it's natural wood state- chicks were just digging it too much to cover it up with paint. But, since the boat was meant to be used and not just stared at I decided that I'd paint the inside of the boat to cover up scuff marks from oars, anchors and beer cans. So that's what I started working on today.

I started by sanding the inside of the boat to scuff up the fiberglass and to take down some of the major runs and drips. I did a good job of scuffing things up and a not so good job at getting all the runs and waves out of the glass. Oh well... work boat.
As you can expect, sanding is the big job here. This was pretty back breaking because you have to lean into the thing to sand all the nooks and crannies. Oh well, had to be done!

Somebody thinks they're funny...
Eventually, I got the thing to a point where I was semi-satisfied... it looked smooth enough for me to lay down some paint. I went with a high quality, polyurethane boat paint- which, translated, means: this shit is expensive! Thirty five bucks a quart! Ouch. At least the color was cool, Hatteras White.

Pricey stuff... but worth it for my girl.
Here's how she came out after a quart of paint. I've still got all the detail work to cut in around the seats, gunwales, bow, thwarts and transom but I'm pretty happy with it so far. I'll let her dry tonight and then look to see if a second coat is needed tomorrow. The outside will be next- I'll sand that much more carefully and then do a few coats of varnish when it warms up.

I'm seeing a lot of brushwork and contorted body positions in my future.
Be sure to check out the paddlesurf.net page on facebook for even more minute-by-minute, facebook style updates about stando surfing, race paddling, boat building and semi-useful information about what's going on in my life.

Monday, November 22, 2010

River Delta Paddlers: Meet Captain Jack

One of the great things about carving out a little spot in the stand up paddle world is getting to meet the characters that inhabit the place. Captain Jack came to me with all kinds of insights into hull shapes, fluid dynamics and secret hoodoo-voodoo, mumbo-jumbo race stuff that I promised to keep on the hush-hush. I asked Captain Jack to pen his introduction to the p.net audience- this is what he sent me:

I live in a world of boats.  Friends call me ‘captain’, because I own a lot of boats.  My home on the water is surrounded by my boats and my neighbors’ boats.  The first time I saw a stand up paddle board, I knew it was for me.  The first time I paddled one, I knew I could do better.

SUP boards are small human powered boats.  Like sailboats, they are not accelerated enough to make them plane on top of the water.  The history of displacement design is primarily the evolution of sailboats.   My board shapes borrow from racing sailboats, kayaks, and the ‘big guns’ of the sixties.  The nose and tail are designed to track and make maximum use of the length of the board.

I’ve spent a lot of time on the bows of boats listening to the sound of the water at the entry point, and  watching water move around the hulls.  Surf board shapers are trying to think “boat”.  I am ‘boat’, surrounded by my personal boat yard and my shape shop for SUP.

Two of Jack's boards: 12'6" and 14"
I currently have blanks with cutaway forefoot (bow) or plumb bow.  Custom shapes, particularly bow and stern, will be developed for individual paddlers and waterways.   Good design comes from an exchange of ideas with the end user.  Talk to me about what you need in a board.

The Delta is as good as any inland paddling venue in the world!  We have 1000 miles of waterways with new experiences to be had at every turn.  Come paddle with me and get fitted for your new board.  

Jack Hanna, Hanna SUP

I guess the question is, "How bad do you want it?"

Wow. Check out this photo sent to me from Dave at Boga Boards up in Northern California:

"No electricity, white stuff all around- heading for the coast!" 

Check out my last post: Whining about a little rain and cold. Well, here's the real thing and these guys are on it... racked and strapped and charging! Go get 'em Dave!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Suck it up and start paddling

More rain and wind and getting a little bit cold; a whole load of reasons not to get out there and lay down some miles. It doesn't help that my house is killer for rainy days. It's warm, comfy and we've got lots of nice, rainy day things like hot chocolate and Godzilla movies. So I really didn't want to do my "homework" (my code for the four mile course I plotted on the Bay side of Coronado Island) but the thought of coming in last at the next race (December 4th) is usually enough to get my ass moving. For the record, I'm okay with second to last.

Homework? Head north for 2.2 miles, U-turn at Fiddler's Cove, paddle past Crown Point Aquatic center and you're home. Easy- now get off your a#! and do it. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Baaaaaah, baaaaaah.... I'm on Facebook check me out!

Join in on the fun... paddlesurf.net on Facebook.... brought back from it's dormant phase.... CPR/mouth-to-mouth and some Dr. Frankenstein shenanigans thrown in to bring her back to life... Check it out!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Board Sale! Custom, handshaped Stamps Viking Bump: 9'10 x 29" x 4.5"

Wow! This one looks like it was made for me, those are my colors. I'm thinking this would be a mid-range, step up board for those overhead juicy days. I'm digging the width number. I'm a big fan of 29" wide for us bigger guys (I actually ride my boards at 30" but I'm thinking about whittling that back down to around 29 - 29.5). I haven't paddled or surfed this board but from the outline it looks like it'd fly- and the little bumps back toward the tail keep it loose when you get your foot onto the back quarter of the thing. Tim told me that this thing has barely been used- steal it at $1000. Contact Tim at stampssurfboards@gmail.com.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Paddle Surf Video: "Living the Stoke"... Get a copy, this is a killer film!

I was blown away to come home from surfing this afternoon and find this in my mailbox:

I knew the Von Piros crew, the minds behind the film, had pulled off an unreal stand up paddle trip to Papua New Guinea. A film was rumored to be in the works, we'd all seen the photos leaked to the internet. The boys contacted me a couple of weeks ago asking me for my address- they'd finished the film and wanted me to take a look at it. Are you kidding me??? Next thing I know, I'm standing in the kitchen with my very own copy. Stoked! 

The film follows a group of friends as they paddle surf the remote (and shallow) waves of Papua New Guinea. Hide your credit card and passport, after you watch the film you're going to want to book a flight to this tropical paradise of beautiful waves and people. The guys score super fun looking waves, surf with the eternally smiling children of the islands, sample exotic fruit from the local farmer's market and spend time touring the beautiful jungles, estuaries and beaches of the country. One really cool aspect of the trip was the idea to deliver books, clothes and other gifts to needy locals- I thought that was pretty darn cool.

The film is so much more than a mish mash of paddling footage chop-cut to music. It is, in every way, a super slick, professionally edited and expertly composed paddle surf travelouge. I'm not sure if these guys are professionals in the film industry but if they're not they may want to consider a career change. I loved the "accessible" feel of the film- there's no big name pro stand up paddlers just guys like you or me having an awesome adventure. The effect is that you get the feeling that you could pull off a trip just like this one... which get's me way too fired up, my passport starts crying!

I really enjoyed the film, "Living the Stoke". If you get an opportunity to grab a copy, don't hesitate- I'm sure you'll love it.

Get more information at: www.vonpiros.com

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Like to stand up paddle race? Here's a great site for race dates and information.

I just found this site- it's the best I've seen for stand up paddle race dates, registration and information. Cool to see all the winter race dates here in California- I've got a new Stamps stand up paddle race board on my horizon... getting stoked! Check out this site:

Vegas in Africa

A limousine, Africa, bribes, cocaine smugglers, a couple of guys from San Francisco. And Vegas- that's the limo.

Read this -let me know what you think (and the Vegas reference will be revealed to you).

My feelings? There's still adventure out there- it just depends on your level of creativity. And your level of tolerance for discomfort. It's not for me- bribing my way through multiple time zones without any perfect waves at the end of the journey doesn't sound too appealing (I'm shallow, I know). Put a perfect left hand point at the end and I'd go full Shackleton-mode, endure almost anything and get there. This one's not my cup of tea but definitely an entertaining read. You've got admire the moxy of these two guys. And I dig the limo- that's style.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Kalama Kamp in Turks and Caicos- Part I

Ok, just a short intro, my name is Mike, I live and work in Coronado. I had the unique opportunity to attend Kalama Kamp in Turks and Caicos (British West Indies/
Carribean) hosted by none other than Dave Kalama. The camp took place from November 13-21st of this year. I wanted to share my experiences so I decided that PaddleSurf.net was the idea place as John is the most enthusiastic promoter of stand up paddling that I know! This was the second Kalama Kamp that Dave hosted, the first camp was in Florida. I originally heard about the camp after a couple months of following Dave's blog.

I was intrigued by his blog's on the Tahitian stroke technique that he's adopted from the Tahitian outrigger paddlers. It seemed from what I had read/ heard that this particular technique might offer some much needed efficiency in my own stroke. I asked Dave during the trip why chose to develop this technique to others? His simple answer was that "when somebody using a different technique could beat the Tahitians, he would consider something else". In addition, Dave just believes that this particular stroke is the most efficient he's found and since paddling requires so much repetition of movement, the smaller you can make each movement the faster and more efficient you will be!

So after talking to other paddlers that have personal instruction from Dave, I pulled the trigger, booked my flight, paid for the camp, and counted the days until I would leave for T&C. I will admit, at first I was a little hesitant because of the cost but after factoring in that all the food, booze (yes all the booze you can drink), equipment and transportation was included, the camp seemed to provide good value. Besides, how often do us mere mortals get to learn from one of the best at what they do, and in paradise nonetheless?

As an avid SUP racer and surfer, my initial motivation was primarily to increase my speed for racing and improve my surfing technique, but little did I know the simple lessons about life that Dave would pass on to us.

I arrived on the island of Provo on Sunday around 2 pm, November 14th. After a quick ride to Club Med, I was greeted by a beach scene that can only be described as "spectacular". I had never seen a beach and crystal blue/ green water anything like this my life!

After a quick bite
at our hotel, Club Med, I hopped a ride with a few others to Big Blue Unlimited's headquarters. Big Blue is the adventure company that is providing us equipment (all Naish and the good stuff) and local knowledge, transportation (boat and auto) etc. Myself and a few other hit the incredible turquoise water and paddled for a few hours checking out some of the mangroves, beaches and small islands. We were also introduced to a small island inhabited by thousands of iguana's. Pretty cool!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Back into the mix... finally!

I don't know who has the John Ashley voodoo doll and I have no idea why they've been sticking pins into it but I can tell you this- that black magic is nasty stuff. I've been down and out with two different colds (a head cold that migrated down into my chest), a throbbing left elbow (that one's the product of some over enthusiastic dory rowing) and some perfectly horrible timing that had me sidelined while some of the best surf of the fall came rolling into town.

It's been tough- being so out of it. Most of all,  I realize I've been taking my good health for granted (this happens every year, right after the flu season's first cold hits me). The old saying's true, you don't know how precious it is 'til it's gone. And I wasn't made to watch life lying on my back in a Nyquil induced stupor. So I fired up and got myself to the beach this morning determined to surf, regardless of how the conditions looked.

What a surprise! Overnight, we picked up a nice little impulse of swell that, once again, comboed up with excellent, offshore, Fall conditions. I got to the beach a bit later than the usual suspects (credit for that goes to last night's multiple beers- PacMan WHAT?) but I didn't miss anything. In fact, the surf improved as the morning went on. And I was on it: I scored four or five absolutely stellar, overhead, left-handers that came rumbling through the outside shore break.

Riding those big blue lumps on a loose, light stando is like snowboarding a big open bowl. It's a carve factory, you link S-turn to bottom turn, top turn to cutback. The best wave I picked off ran itself into an inside wave and formed a thick, top to bottom, double-up section. I dropped in on the first peak, looped into my first bottom turn and realized that the double up was going to throw ten yards in front of me. Time to jam! This is when having a super light, finely foiled board really pays off.  The boards we're riding now are light years ahead of the molded monster stand ups we were riding three years ago. We've found that foil (the distribution of foam from nose to tail) is hugely important. All of our boards are thin in the nose and tail allowing them to respond quickly to even small shifts in weight; get over your front foot and it's like snapping the throttle on a two stroke dirtbike- POW, you're gone.

And I was gone, driving my board, milking that thing for all it was worth. Legs pumping, I was getting a rhythm going: compress off the bottom, extend and release across the face, over and over as fast as possible, eating up huge section of open face- racing for the safety of the shoulder. The bottom dropped out, the lip heaved and the impact right next to my outside rail shook my fins free of the face. The tail of my board got sketchy, washing out, putting me in a really bad position. Fall off here and you take the rest of the lip right on your chest, pile driving you straight down into the cobble reef, you end up tumbling as giant water hands push you deeper and deeper.

Black magic. Voodoo dolls- bad stuff... but not today. Today, I was loving it all- brutal wipeout or victory cutback on the shoulder it wouldn't have mattered to me. I was healthy, paddling, surfing and laughing with plans on the horizon and adventure just a couple of weeks away. Most importantly, I was back in the mix- in the thick of it and, to me, that's all that matters.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Couple From Down South: Winter Season Kickoff Swell

Bumped into John at the beach just yesterday and he was nice enough to make me a guest poster on his blog. I figured if I'm gonna post it better be good so here you go and hope you like it.

If you had the good fortune of surfing during the run of perfect wind, waves and weather we had last week you most likely scored. I had a chance to sneak down south of the border with my stand up paddle boards and surfboards and grab a few. Here are some shots of the trip. Enjoy

Photo: Just enjoying the views from the safety of the channel

Photo: You know its a positive sign when its 730am and its 85 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, big swell and sheet glass!

Photo: Another cool shot..almost looks like i am in deep trouble but its really just an optical illusion.

Photo: Had my GOPRO HD and took a couple sick shots from the safety or not so safety of my stand up paddle board , the key is to get close to the action but not too close. You gotta look out for the sneaker sets out the back.

Photo: Another Kid in our crew Nik Rosa. Was his first time out and already snaggin a couple meaty ones. Its funny some of the waves just slightly throw and some literally hit the shelf and pitch top to bottom.

Photo: After watchin from the standup in the channel i figured it was time to go out and get some. I just got a brand new 9'2 gun and was stoked to get a couple runs in. Ive been out there a few times and this day was just an all time classic day. Warm weather, light offshore, and big perfect peaks all afternoon.

Look like from reading Johns earlier blog post he was stuck on an Island Somewhere during this swell with a bunch of high schoolers. Don't worry John theres always next time....hahahaha