That First Glide (SUP Movie) – Interview with Mike Waltze



From the looks of the trailer, this is going to be a SUP movie worth seeing. I should be seeing it soon and when I do, I’ll post a review. In the meantime, here’s an interview with Mike Waltze, the producer of “That First Glide“.


(click thumbnail to launch video)

What is the story behind the movie, what inspired you to make it?

I actually had no Idea I was going to make a movie when the project began. It’s kind of a long story but I’ll try to keep it short. I had just purchased a new long lens for my RED camera and heard that there was a (first ever Stand Up world tour) SUP event being held on Oahu at Sunset Beach. I’d been doing SUP for years already on Maui, and thought it would be a fun venue to test my lense, and see what was going on in the rest of the world. Needless to say, I was blown away on a few fronts. First, I had no idea that so many of Hawaii’s top level surfers had been migrating to SUP boards. Also, Kai Lenny decided to enter his first SUP wave event and I was very impressed at how well he surfed. I was also amazed at how far the boards had progressed as most guys on Maui were still on 12 footers. Guys like Kai, Robby Naish and Peyo Lizarasu, were riding these really progressive boards in the 8′6 to 9′6 range and for the first time ever, I looked at the surfing side of the sport a different way. The surfing side of the sport was making a huge shift right then and when I got back to Maui and looked at the footage I shot, I wondered if there was enough substance in the sport to support a documentary film.

What is the movie about?

The movie is about the history of the sport, where it came from, how it’s progressed, all the different aspects, and the many benefits the sport has to offer. On the history side, after doing a bit more research, and collecting stories from some of the athletes that had been in the sport for a while, all the pieces of the story began to come together. Quite of few of Oahu’s watermen like Gerry Lopez, Brian Keaulana, Dale hope, and Todd Bradly, all had memories of guys like John Zapotocki and Pops Ah Choy, doing stand up way back in the 60’s in Waikiki. Id been doing SUP since 2000 and didn’t even know this. Then, when those guys got old, the sport just kind of faded away on Oahu….until Laird and Kalama played around with paddles on their big tandem boards on Maui. That is where the movie really begins to take off because a few years after that, the sport began to transform in a bunch of different directions.

When did you start the project and where was it filmed?

That first SUP event at sunset beach on Oahu was in February of 2010. April of that year Kai Lenny invited me down to Tahiti, I went to Namotu Island with him and Robby Naish in May, and then the Battle of the Paddle in June back on Oahu in Waikiki. That trip to Oahu is really where the movie began to take shape and direction. Like most Documentary films, the movie begins to take on a life of its own after you sit down with a camera and start collecting stories from people. I interviewed over 30 people for the movie. The Maui sceens were filmed that summer, and the last interview i did with Laird Hamilton was back on Oahu in early November. Then the real work started in the edit bay.

How long did it take to complete?

We spent another 6 months in the edit bay, finding archive footage, and finding music. My friend Phil Marshall who’s been composing music for major movies for the past 20 years offered to do an original score on portions of the film. That is really what took the project to a feature documentary. All in all from the first day of shooting, to the last day of editing, it took me 18 months.

Did you have any funding or sponsors in the movie?

Kai lenny bought me an airline ticket to tahiti, and the Naish importer down there really looked after me. Robby Naish rented me a water housing for one of our Namotu trips in Fiji, and Namotu Island Resort put me up when we shot there. Other than that, the entire project was self funded.

What would you say is the main reason why you made this documentary on Stand Up Paddle?

For me the project has two main reasons. One is that it is clear that this sport is going to be all over the world, and I wanted to educate as many enthusiast about the history of their sport, where it came from and it’s ties to early polynesia and especially Hawaii. Although a lot of the flat water racing influence came out of California, and they are the ones spearheading equipment design for that discipline, This truly is a Hawaiian sport. No matter where you are or what type of water you are on, if you do SUP, you have a connection to Surfing and outrigger paddling, and that is as Hawaiian as you can get. You know when Laird first began playing around with a long paddle, he only did it for exercise, doing long paddles down the coast on Maui. And that in essence is what most people will be doing all over the world.

The other reason for the movie is to inspire people to get out there and do it, and the film seems to have that effect on people. I does not matter if your a SUP fanatic, or have never been in the water, after you watch the movie, you want to go out and get a board and a paddle and just do it.

What were the most challenging things when producing this movie?

Honestly the most challenging part was financing it on my own. By the time I got 3/4 through it, there was no turning back. I just kept my head down and kept charging to the finish line.

What’s in your SUP quiver and where do you ride?

In 2000 Jimmy Lewis made me my first board. basically a 12′6 clark tandem blank that he skinned and glassed. I still have that board. It weighs about 50 pounds and its the loaner you get if you come visit me. It goes down the coast great, and surfs great, and is super floaty. Mostly in the waves, believe it or not, I still ride a 12′ Micky Munyos tandem board. I never really liked the feel of super wide boards, especially when the surf gets big, and that tandem surfboard is only 26″ wide. I did recently try a 10′ Donald Takiama and really liked it and wish I could get something like that in my quiver. For downwinders on Maui i ride a Jimmy Lewis 12′6 all around board. Its great because it catches chop and if the outer reefs have waves, it still surfs good. I would like to add a 17′ race board to my downwind quiver though.

I ride pretty close to home in Maui. I live on the water in Kuau and we have a head high right and left hander right in front of the house, and when the surf gets bigger, that wave stays the same size but then there are 4 – 5 breaks on the outer reef that get really good. Hookipa is only a mile away. Then from our house in the summer, we shuttle a truck 5 miles down the road and do coast runs out the back yard. I can look out my window from the edit bay and see the wind and or waves peeling by so from that perspective I feel pretty spoiled.

What’s the most memorable moment from producing the movie?

The first live showing we did on Maui had about 450 people show up. Having a live audience like that all hooting, and chuckling at the same time, and applauding at the end was a very memorable moment.

What’s you favorite personal memory from your own SUP experience?

I probably have my best waves memories from Namotu island in Fiji. Ive been Supping down their on my Micky Tandem board for years and the waves there are just so perfect for Stand Up. That and I love that i can do it with my wife Alyssa. We are on similar levels on Snowboards (she’s faster in the steep stuff) and with SUP, we can go ride small waves together on the south side or in Fiji, and we do coast runs together a lot in the summer months. Its nice having sport activities that you can enjoy with your mate.

Where do you think SUP will be in 10 years?

I think it will be huge…Here is how I look at it. There 2.5 million surfers in the US, all confined to coastal areas. There are 7.8 million Kayak paddlers. A lot of surfers are already moving towards SUP and when the Kayakers realize that the can get off their buts, get better exercise, and get that surfing sensation, even in flat water…well… it seems pretty obvious where the sport is headed.

Where can people buy or see the movie?

You can purchase the DVD online at We also have affiliate programs and wholesale accounts on our home page as well. We are currently working our the final details for a screening tour this fall in Cali, Florida and Texas. Then there will be more film festivals and another tour next year. We are already planning That Second Glide…

Here’s what Warren Miller has to say about the film:

“Congratulations to Mike Waltze who first put a windsurfing sail on a small surfboard and revolutionized the sport. He has done something again with a well crafted feature length film to introduce Stand Up Paddling to the rest of the world. It is a must see for anyone with access to water with or without surf to ride.”

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