Zen Waterman

Zen Waterman » How to Stand Up Paddle with Verena Mei

Posted 14 months ago

Learn how to SUP with Verena Mei and Blue Planet Surf. Verena is a professional race car driver. She grew up in Hawaii and recently moved back to Oahu. She got into Stand Up Paddleboarding and has been a great customer and supporter of Blue Planet Surf Shop. In this series she is getting tips on safety, technique, board handling and more from Blue Planet Surf founder Robert Stehlik. We will post regularly new videos on our blueplanetsurf youtube channel and plan to release the parts of this series in the Spring of 2016. For new videos please check back here and subscribe to our youtube channel. Watch the first video in the series:How to Stand Up Paddle Board with Verena Mei, Part 1: Safety

SUP is a great, fun, health and safe sport if practiced with some common sense.Basic points covered in this video are:1) Be aware of conditions. Light wind and protected water are the best conditions for beginner and learning quickly. Light winds are fine but the chop created by the wind will make balancing more difficult and you should always make sure to paddle into the wind first to make sure you can get back to where you started. Don't go out if the wind is strong, offshore winds (blowing you away from the shore) can be very dangerous as they can carry you out to sea and usually get stronger the farther out you get.2) Always wear a leash. In Hawaii we are not required to wear a personal floatation device when Stand Up Paddle boarding but you should always wear a good leash and make sure it is attached securely, that way your boards is always attached to you and acts as your floatation device.3) Know how to swim. This should be self explanatory, but before you learn how to SUP, you should learn how to swim first. The rule of thumb is: don't go out further from shore than you could swim back on your own power.This is the second video in this series: board handling and gearIn this video you learn how to protect your board from heat and fin damage, how to safely lift up and carry your board and some things to consider when choosing your first board. At Blue Planet we always recommend trying several SUP's before choosing one as nothing beats trying a board to get an idea of whether it will work for you or not. Balancing should be challenging at first, as your balance quickly improves. We often talk to customers that bought their first board without trying it first and then finding out that it is just not a good board for their needs. Let's face it, it does not matter how cheap a board is or how great the deal seems to be, if you don't enjoy using the board and it sits around collecting dust, it's a waste of money. We want you to get out on the water and enjoy your board, so we want to make sure you get one that is right for you. Click here for more information on how to choose the right board and watch the video. Click here for more information on our free SUP Clinics for Blue Plane customers.Keep watching the playlist to see all 11 episodes on "How to Stand Up Paddle with Verena Mei"

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Zen Waterman » Stand Up Paddle Technique Drill: Catching Bumps and Waves on a SUP

Posted 16 months ago

Re-posted from this Blue Planet Blog posting:
http://blueplanetsurf.com/blogs/news/75266693-sup-tips-catching-waves-and-bumps-flatwater-drills-to-help-you-get-ready-for-open-ocean-stand-up-paddle-boarding

If you are new to downwind stand up paddle boarding, and want to get ready to do some open ocean downwinders, these are some tips and drills you can practice in flat water to help you get ready for riding bumps on a SUP. Check the bottom of this page for information on coached downwinders. This post is focused on downwinders and catching/ gliding on bumps, but this drill is also helpful for catching breaking waves if you want to learn to stand up paddle surf.In this first video I'm showing how to take a few quick accelerating strokes and then pause, glide and skim/ brace the paddle to keep you stable and balanced while gliding. If you are doing a downwinder in light winds, this is what you will end up doing: a few quick accelerating strokes, then pause and glide while you are getting pulled along by the bump in front of you. In light wind you usually won't have to move the feet back, you can keep the parallel stance close to the center of the board. It's good to practice this drill in flat water to break the habit of paddling with long, powerful strokes at a steady pace. Downwinders are about quick sprints and glides, so you have to learn to break up your pace. The first step is to practice taking 3,4, or 5 quick strokes and then let the board glide for about the same amount of time, so you are only paddling for about half the time. Don't worry about moving your feet at first and just get into a good rhythm of accelerating and then gliding and skimming your paddle for balance. Try to skim it as far out to the side as possible with the paddle at a low angle to the water for side to side stability and behind you for front to back stability. Just skim the paddle lightly over the surface, you don't want to break, just keep the paddle very close to the water or skim very lightly over the surface. While skimming the paddle acts as a third leg which will give you more control and will allow you to feel more comfortable in rougher conditions. If you do loose your balance you can lean on the paddle and push your center of gravity back over the center of the board.
This next video shows how to start in "first gear" by taking quick, short strokes for powerful acceleration. You want to focus on keeping your stroke in front of your feet and using quick bursts of power to accelerate. Practice this in flat water as well as you will not have time to focus on this when conditions get rough. When the wind is stronger and the bumps get steeper, you will also have to move your weight back on the board to keep the nose from piercing and to allow your board to release and accelerate by planing on top of the water surface and to reduce the amount of wetted surface. So, once you are good at stroking quickly to accelerate and then gliding while skimming the paddle, the next step is to also practice moving your feet back as you stop paddling and glide. As the board slows down and the tail starts to sink, you then have to move your weight back forward close to center quickly and take some more quick acceleration strokes. The video below has some helpful tips for moving your feet around on the board without rocking the board and loosing your balance: If you do this for a while, you will notice that these quick sprints followed by pauses of gliding will actually be very hard work and your heart rate will go up to a higher rate than when paddling at a steady pace. I find that my heart rate goes up significantly higher in downwinders than when flatwater paddling which is why it is so important to relax and rest while you get a free ride when gliding on and connecting bumps. If you don't rest it is hard to catch the next bump. There is a misconception that when the wind blows hard you hardly have to paddle anymore. The reality is that you have to accelerate more quickly and paddle even harder to catch the faster moving bumps on the really windy days if you want to keep up with the really fast guys. The goal is to move as close to the speed of the bumps as possible and the stronger the wind is and the longer the fetch (the distance the wind has to create bumps), the faster you have to move to catch them.The next video covers the five most common mistakes made by first timers on downwind runs and will be helpful to watch as well if you want to improve your downwind stand up paddle technique.Thank you for watching!Aloha,Robert StehlikCopyright Blue Planet Surf 2016, you are welcome to re-post or share this content but please credit Blue Planet Surf and put a link to www.blueplanetsurf.comResources mentioned in the videos:For more information on our weekly SUP training group, please visit:
http://zenwaterman.blogspot.com/2012/10/weekly-time-trials-in-hawaii-kai-video.htmlFor information on SUP lessons and downwind coaching by Robert Stehlik, please visit: http://blueplanetsurf.com/collections/lessonsFor information on downwind coaching with Jeff Chang/ Wet Feet, please visit: http://www.wetfeethawaii.com/pages/lessons-tours.htmlFor information on coached downwinders with Jeremy Riggs on Maui: http://paddlewithriggs.comSafety first: Downwinders can be dangerous. Always go with a partner or group and if you are going for the first time, go with an experienced paddler or coach. Have a plan and set up meeting places if you loose sight of each other, with can happen quickly in open ocean conditions. Take a cellphone in a waterproof case and/ or a EPIRB. Always wear a leash and make sure all your equipment is in good condition.Equipment used in the videos:Rasta downwind board: 14' x 28" 2016 Bump Rider: http://blueplanetsurf.com/products/140-x-28-bump-rider-2016Blue downwind board: 12'6 x 28" 2016 Bump Surfer: http://blueplanetsurf.com/collections/2016-blue-planet-sups-2/products/126-x-28-bump-surfer-2016Paddle: Kai Zen with 88 blade: http://blueplanetsurf.com/collections/paddles/products/blue-planet-2016-kai-zen-cf-paddle-early-bird-pre-orders-until-12-31-15

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Zen Waterman » Catching waves and bumps in First Gear: Quick Acceleration strokes

Posted 16 months ago

When I first started Stand Up Paddling, I was struggling to catch waves. I was pulling on the paddle as hard as I could and figured the harder I pulled on the paddle and the more the shaft was bending, the more power I was applying and the faster the board would go. Despite pulling as hard as I could I was missing a lot of waves, I also kept breaking paddles. It seemed to make sense that the harder I pulled and the more the paddle shaft was bending, the faster I would go.A big breakthrough for me came when Brian Keaulana gave me this tip after watching me try to catch a wave: "You are starting in third gear!" He explained that first gear is short, quick strokes, way up in front, just tapping the water, not long, hard pulls. That was a turning point for me, I learned how to use these quick accelerating strokes and it worked like a charm. Not only was I no longer breaking paddles but my board would accelerate with just a few quick strokes and I started catching more waves. This technique also works well in downwinders, whenever you need to accelerate to catch a bump. Even in flatwater races you can use them at the start, after turns, or to catch up to a draft. So I encourage you to watch the video, try this first gear acceleration stroke, and you will be a more well rounded paddler. Not all strokes are the same, learn to use different gears when paddling and switch them up as needed. The gear analogy works: everyone knows that if you start in third gear, you will wear out your transmission and clutch and no matter ho hard you gas the engine, you will not accelerate quickly. So take it easy on your body and gear and accelerate more quickly and easily by starting in first gear!Continue watching after the video ends to see more SUP Tip videos in the playlist.This video demonstrates how to accelerate quickly on a Stand Up Paddleboard by "starting in first gear". Quick, short, strokes create lift and smooth acceleration that will help you get the board on a plane to surf a wave or catch a bump in downwinders. We hope you enjoy our videos, please give us a thumbs up, check out the other SUP tip videos on our channel and subscribe for our latest videos posted weekly. For more information on our weekly training group mentioned in the video, please click on this link: http://zenwaterman.blogspot.com/…/weekly-time-trials-in-haw…Also check out our private coaching offerings here: http://blueplanetsurf.com/pages/lessonsThank you for watching,Aloha, Robert Stehlik
www.blueplanetsurf.com Quick, short bursts of power will help you get up to speed to catch a wave or bump On downwinders the goal is to get the board to plane over the surface of the water and surf the open ocean wind swells. Gear used in this video: Kai Zen paddle with 88 blade, the blue board is the 2016 12'6 x 28 Blue Planet Bump Surfer, the rasta board is the 14' x 28" Bump Rider. Drone video shot with the Hexo+ drone, land video by Evan Leong of standuppaddlesurf.net

Aloha,
Robert Stehlik
www.blueplanetsurf.com

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Zen Waterman » Taoism and Surfing: Go with the flow. By Len Kelemoana Barrow

Posted 23 months ago

Zen, The Tao and, The Ocean

Zen Buddhism has bean historically a fusion of early Indian Buddhism and Chinese cultures. As Buddhism migrated to China it naturally took on Chinese characteristics. This being the indigenous tradition of Taoism. Hence the character of Zen is both Indian and Chinese in manifestation. It later migrates to Japan and takes on a Japanese natural sensibility.

Well what has this got to do with us? The ideas of Zen and Taoism are a treasure trove of understanding and happiness in and out of the surf. How can we adapt these ideas in the surf we may ask? How may we adapt these on land?

Taoism is partially based on flowing peacefully with the energies of the universe. This is called Wu-Wei. What this simply states that if you force things arrogantly, and depend on your ego you will ultimately fail miserably.

It quite simply can be observed in reality. Go with the way of Wu Wei. In this light please let me give you an example: I used to have a 78 year old Aikido teacher who could throw 10 competent attacking male students with the minimum of movement. It blew my mind! I mean he launched them! As I learned Aikido we were taught to meditate (my first experiences with meditation). We were also taught that sometimes four fingers carefully positioned with the proper utilization of your opponents movement and energy can make him fly upside down for six feet. This seems impossible yet I have seen it and honestly done it (not as well as the 78 year old). You see, If I fought a large man arrogantly as I am a small man…but 5'9, I would be beaten to a pulp. If I utilize his attacking energy to good effect I weave around his blows and catch him. Amazingly to throw him using not my weakling force but his tremendous strength. This is an example of using energy with the best defensive effect on land and in the martial arts. This has its parallel in the water!

Arrogance and ignorance in the water, in other words, not going with the energy of the ocean can be conducted by surfers and suppers on a daily basis. I have made these mistakes before. Firstly the worst mistake you can do is to show up at the beach and paddle out. This is the normal approach in a hurried modern world. Go, go, go. Time is money supposedly money in Western Culture.

When you do this you may often run afoul in to all types of energy that nature represents. I have seen surfers paddle out directly into coral heads and reef shelves that the water had “hidden”. This could have been avoided if if the individual just took some time to pay attention before surfing to the tide and how the ocean was flowing.

I sometimes surprise other surfers and suppers at the speed to which I get up in the line up. This is not because I am a strong paddler. It is because I utilize energy of the ocean in an observant way in the same way my Akido teacher used the minimum amount of energy to throw his opponents. We use a type of Wu Wei. All of the energy of a breaking wave moves toward the beach and has the tendency to find it way back to the ocean and its deeper water. If you are fighting this concept you are fighting the energy of the universe. Again watch the water. Which way is the water moving. Time and time again, I see surfers that try to paddle through the middle of the break. This is like fighting a 300 pound boxer. You will usually loose. Side step this energy like an Akido teacher. Find the channel. As the energy of the wave is moving back out to see, jump in it, side step the energy coming in and catch the current the energy current coming out. The channel. Sometimes the channel looks like the long-way out, but again, go with energy of the universe in a Taoistic manner.

When you get drilled the worst thing to do is fight it. After all you cannot defeat the ocean. I was once taught by Mel Kinney how to flow with a pounding. I thought that he was kidding when he told me what to do as it was completely opposite to how I would try to escape a drilling. As 20 foot wave would break in front of me I used to dive for the bottom. My thinking was that this was the safest thing to do. I used to fight the wave. Unfortunately the opposite happened. Instead of flowing with nature in a Taoist manner the inevitable would happened. I would be beaten violently underwater as I did multiple cartwheels.

This was unfortunate in that I would often break my board in half. Mel Kinney taught me something that was very Taoistic in manner. These were his instructions. He told me to just lay the board to my side and go 1 foot underwater with my hand pointed above my head. Imagine superman going strait up! Well that was what he told me to do. I call this a reverse superman. How this works is that when the wave grabs your board you get pulled back towards the shore at high velocity in
that you are shaped like a streamlined pencil. This has two functions. Firstly you are pulled rapidly out of the impact Zone using the waves force. I mean this is very Taoistic in practice. When you pop out of the water you literally can end up 30 yards in. The second function is a little less subtle. If you become an anchor by diving for the bottomYour board will often break as it has nowhere to move one the leash is taught. By doing the reverse superman you and the board become a single flowing unit thus preventing board breakage.

I hope this little article can help you flow with the ocean. After all the ocean is a manifestation of the Tao itself. Why fight it. Move with it. Until next time! Aloha from Hawaii

Dr. Len Kelemoana Barrow [Link]

Zen Waterman » SUP in Venice: Stand Up and Gondola paddling through this amazing City

Posted 2 years ago

Copy of post originally posted here on the blueplanetsurf.com blog:

Being able to go Stand Up Paddleboarding in Venice was a dream come true. I had it on my bucket list for a while so when we took a family vacation to Florence this January I planned a day trip to Venice despite the cold weather. I contacted Eliana from SUP in Venice and even though her SUP business is usually closed for the winter she agreed to not only take me on a tour but also arranged a Gondola ride and Gondolier's lesson for the rest of the group as well as a Venetian style lunch and walking tour of the city. It was an awesome way to see Venice. Here is the narrated video of this fantastic experience:
Stand Up Paddling in Venice with gondolaWhile Eliana and I were on SUP's, the rest of our group was on this beautiful gondola
Stand Up Paddleboarding in VeniceGroup picture at the Ponte dei Sospiri (bridge of sighs), connecting the courthouse and prison after the SUP paddle tour
SUP in venice hotel entrance by canalThis hotel, like most buildings in Venice, has the main entrance on the canal side where guests get dropped off by the water taxis.

Everyone got to row the gondola, learning from the gondoliers
After paddling we had a traditional Venetian lunch at the boat house. The red flags on the walls are first place finishes at gondola regattas.
SUP and Gondola tour in VeniceWarning: Please do not paddle in Venice without a guide, these are their roads and if don't know the rules, you are likely to be a safety hazard and will probably get completely lost. So if you plan to paddle in Venice, please contact Eliana at SUP in Venice

Aloha,
Robert Stehlik
www.blueplanetsurf.com

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Zen Waterman » Dealing with a Stand Up Paddle related shoulder injury

Posted 2 years ago

Stand Up Paddling can be hard on the shoulders, here is a video with some tips for dealing with an injury:

In these two videos I talk about a shoulder injury I have been dealing with for over a year and what worked for me. I hope this helps others. I will not repeat everything in the videos but some things not mentioned are the many things I tried to treat the injury, including: rest, icing, heat, stretching, chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, massage, taping the shoulder, pain relieving gels (Arnica gel) and rubs, not sleeping on the affected shoulder, and more.While all these helped, I feel like the main key to recovery are the PT rotator cuff exercises shown in the video. I'm not saying not to try everything else, especially to relieve pain and discomfort but in my experience, the exercises were the most helpful to recover. My doctor thinks the pain is caused by Bursitis, as well as possible damage to the rotator cuff muscles and tendonitis. This link has good information on Bursitis and how to treat it, if you are interested in reading more about it: http://physioworks.com.au/injuries-conditions-1/bursitis_shoulderMy doctor recommended trying a Cortisone injection if the PT did not help but since my injury has improved greatly since starting the exercises I have been able to avoid and injection. So, if you think you may have a similar injury caused by paddling, or if you want to prevent this type of injury, I highly recommend making these rotator cuff muscle strengthening exercises part of your training regimen.Please note that I am not a doctor or expert on this subject. Since your injury may be different than mine, I recommend seeing a doctor and/or physical therapist. Don't do any of these exercises if they are painful and make sure to keep good posture and form when doing the exercises. When I was doing research on this subject I found that these physical therapy exercises were not posted online, it is how the PT's make a living after all, which is why I decided to make this video, I hope it helps others treat and prevent injury sooner. I'm happy to answer any questions, feel free to post a comment.Aloha,Robert Stehlik
www.blueplanetsurf.com

Here is another video that explains the importance of strengthening the rotator cuff muscles and I totally agree: [Link]

Zen Waterman » Stand Up Paddle board volume explained- ways to determine the proper board volume

Posted 2 years ago

We are often asked: "What SUP board volume is best for me?"The short answer is: "It depends. For beginners we recommend a volume of about twice your body weight."Here is a longer explanation of our board volume recommendations:First of all, you need to know your body weight into kg.
To convert from pounds to kg divide your weight by 2.2 (1 kg = 2.2 lbs)Using myself as an example: my weight is 195 lb. divided by 2.2= approx. 88 kg.The metric system makes it easy to calculate lift created by volume as one kg is equals to the weight of one liter of water by definition (note that salt water is slightly denser so the same board will float slightly better in the ocean than in freshwater). Interestingly most board dimensions are quoted in feet and inches but volume is always quoted in metric liters for this reason.Basically: one liter of volume displaces one liter of water and therefore creates one kg of lift, so one liter of board volume will float one kg of weight.For beginners, we recommend body weight in kg= liters x 2 (approximately) or about 176 liters volume for my weight of 88 kg. This means that when I stand on the board, it will be pushed about half way under water to displace enough water to float my body weight plus equipment weight. Please note that more volume will not necessarily make the board more stable. Side to side stability is a result of the width of the board and the thickness of the rails and to a lesser degree the length of the board. A thicker board can actually be less stable as the feet are higher off the water, raising the center of gravity.For racing and touring you can go with a higher volume as thicker, high volume rails can add secondary stability to a narrower hull that has less resistance than a wider board. In downwinders especially, high volume in the front of the board works well to keep the nose from plowing deep into the trough.If high performance SUP surfing is your goal, as you improve you can gradually lower the volume of the boards you use since a lower volume board will generally surf better but will also be much harder to balance on and control, making low volume,high performance boards very difficult to learn on. Expert SUP surfers can use a board volume as low as their body weight plus board, paddle, clothing and gear weight plus a few liters extra, or about 100 Liters volume for my body weight. At this volume the board will barely float when not moving. Some pros even use boards that don't float them when standing still, they need the dynamic lift created from moving through the water to keep them afloat, the board will sink if they stop paddling, with the board volume in liters slightly less than their body weight plus board and equipment weight in kg. Once again: The body weight times two is only a rough guide to recommended volume as the width and volume distribution of the board has a bigger impact on how stable the board will be. Although we recommend buying a board that is challenging to balance on at first since your balance will quickly improve with practice, don't make the mistake of buying a board that is too small for your skill level as that can be very frustrating. The point is to have FUN! SUP board volumeThe 14' x 28" x 6" Bump Rider is a downwind board with 284 Liters of volume
Aloha, Robert Stehlik
www.blueplanetsurf.com

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Zen Waterman » Surfing on SUP raceboards is FUN!

Posted 3 years ago

Jeff Chang surfing his 14' Wet Feet Raceboard

Surfing on raceboards is a lot of fun and a great skill to practice if you want to get faster on downwind runs, since it's all about surfing the bumps. Surfing these big, long boards also allows you to catch and surf waves that others can't, which opens up all kinds of uncrowded spots and smaller waves that are barely breaking that you can catch from way outside,surf and ENJOY without a crowd.

These two videos are from our weekly SUP training group, in the first one we go over some tips on how to surf waves on long raceboards (sorry, the sound is not the best as the microphone was picking up the wind noise). The second video has action on the water with a voiceover going over some of the tips. We hope you enjoy the footage. If you like our videos, please subscribe to the blueplanetsurf youtube channel!

Part 1: On land coaching:

Part 2: On the Water- Surfing SUP race boards:

Aloha, Robert Stehlik
www.blueplanetsurf.com

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Zen Waterman » SUP tips for beginners: Videos that will help you avoid the most common mistakes

Posted 3 years ago

Between our Blue Planet SUP clinics and private and group lessons, we have helped hundreds of beginners learn how to SUP (stand up paddle). The best way to learn the basics and start having fun on the water with minimum frustration is by taking a lesson with a well qualified instructor that can help you learn proper technique from the start. If you don't have the opportunity to do that, the next best thing is to read up and watch instructional videos that will help you avoid common mistakes and don't let bad habits become engrained. Remember to make sure to learn the basics in calm, protected water before attempting to SUP in the surf, even if you are an experienced surfer, you are learning a new sport and have to learn the basics of using the paddle and balancing first.

One of our most popular videos on the blueplanetsurf youtube channel (please subscribe to our youtube channel to see our latest videos) is titled Introduction to Stand Up Paddling.
We recently added three more videos to our channel to help beginners get started in this great sport.

The first video is titled: SUP tips: Common beginner mistakes
This video goes over some of the common mistakes we often see when people paddle for the first time, including: getting on the board before it is in deep enough water, trying to stand on the board before kneeling first, going with the wind instead of into the wind, holding the paddle straight to go forward, holding the paddle backwards, hands too close together on shaft, not standing in the middle of the board.

The second video is titled: SUP Balance Tips for Beginners
This video gives some pointers to beginners that are struggling to stand up and balance on the board (it's not as easy as it looks!). Some of the points covered in this video: getting on the right equipment, centering weight over middle of board, getting the board moving before standing up, different ways of getting from kneeling to standing, using the paddle to brace and lowering center of gravity to help balance, balancing on smaller boards, moving around on the board, getting upright and looking forward, not down.

The third video is titled: SUP tips for beginners: Stoke Technique Drills
This video shows how to practice your stroke while standing in knee deep water and goes over getting good catch with the blade, getting good reach and ending stroke by the feet, feathering the blade at the release and during the recovery as well as using torso rotation to make your stroke more powerful.

This fourth video shows how to fall in safely, flip the board over and get back on easily:

Playlist: Watch our Introduction to SUP- tips for beginner Stand Up Paddlers playlist to watch all the videos we have put together to help you get started.

For more videos, including more advanced technique tips for intermediate and advanced paddlers, please also check to our playlist titled SUP technique videos (some of the videos are in both playlists).

Thanks for watching and remember to have FUN!

Aloha

Falling in is part of learning and part of the fun. This is the right way to fall if you do fall in: hold paddle away from body, fall into water, not onto the board, fall flat on the water surface so you don't go deep in case it's shallow.

Aloha, Robert Stehlik www.blueplanetsurf.com [Link]

Zen Waterman » A Short Note on the Recent SUP Surfing Controversy

Posted 3 years ago

Everyone both stand up surfer and surfers on longboards and shortboards have been up in arms over the recent proposal to ban stand up surfing in traditional surfing areas. Here are a few things we should take into account. In a quick note, I do not SUP surf yet I believe SUP surfers can go where-ever they want (within reason). Why?

1) The surfing areas are regarded by law as a public commons. Thus technically all citizens have access to these public commons no matter what surf craft they ride.

2) Surfers already have and informal code on how to deal with stand up surfers who take too many waves.

3) Certain breaks allow SUP surfers culturally, and some breaks are hyper specific in relationship to who can surf SUP boards. NOTE! I don't make the rules, nor am I am saying if they are right or wrong.

Example: Tommy Chun Ming Is a Sup surfer at Kewalo that everyone loves.

A Note to Newcomers on SUPS

1) Before going out find an old time SUP surfer and ask them the specific cultural code in regards to etiquette on an SUP in relation to the specific surfing break.

2) Share the waves.

3) Wait in line for waves (refer to Social Surf Intelligence 2 in this blog)

4) Know your limits. If it's Hawaiian 6 feet and you don't know if you can handle, DONT GO OUT. I was run over by a QUAD SUP on a large day. It hurt. 4x the pain. The guy was a novice and should not have been out on a large day.

In the end we all have rights to the waves. Let us all pay attention in a Zen manner.

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Zen Waterman » Social Surf Intelligence 2

Posted 3 years ago

Social Surf Intelligence 2

There has been a lot of buzz about what is proper etiquette in the water. As an Anthropologist, I have noticed that surfers have their own set of un-said rules. These rules are set far apart from common law and are overlaid on public surf areas. I am not saying they are correct or incorrect. I just wish to indicate to a beginner what they are as they are customary.

1. When you paddle out at a semi uncrowded spot don't bring a “crew”. A crew is a bunch of people. Their is nothing worse to some surfers than seeing five people, Stand Ups or Regular Surfers paddling out at once if you are in the break. The usual rule is two people max. Three is pushing it but is possible. A trick to avoiding this unsaid rule is that if you come with a crew of 3+ people, paddle out in a staggered manner. Everyone trickles out, one or two people at a time with around 10 minute intervals. When it comes to myself, I usually surf by myself. This makes me popular.

2. If you are new to a break, start your surf off from the inside of the break. Many people don't realize that there is a line of people waiting for the waves. As we would not cut in line at the supermarket, we should not cut in line while waiting for the waves at the surf break. One off the most offensive infractions to some surfers is to observe another surfer paddle out and not wait in line and by sitting in front of everyone.

3. If you are on a Longboard or SUP you need to realize that you have an exponentially easy time catching waves. Because of this, make sure to observe who is getting waves and who is not getting waves. When a nice wave comes in, let the guy or girl not getting waves have it, even if you are in line to get the next set. People notice little “cool” acts like this and you will develop a good reputation.

4. Think in the long term. As I am on a longboard, I get waves easier than others. I can literally snake every single set that comes in during a 2 hour session and have a wonderful time at the cost of others. Yet that two hour greed-pig-out will make everyone hate me forever. I can take that same 2 hour session and wait in line share waves and cheer people on and be welcomed every time I choose to surf for the rest of my life.

Which will you choose?

Len Barrow
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Zen Waterman » How to install fins on a Stand Up board and which fins to use.

Posted 3 years ago

If you have a new SUP or surf board and are not sure how to properly install and set up the fins, watch this video for tips on how to properly install them, different set up options, and how to set up the fins for different conditions.

Click here for more information on some of the fins shown in this video.

If you have fins that don't fit well, also check this post:
“If the fin don't fit"

Aloha, Robert Stehlik www.blueplanetsurf.com [Link]

Zen Waterman » Group downwind run videos with voice over coaching tips

Posted 3 years ago

Downwind coaching runs are most effective with one on one instructions but doing downwinders as a group is fun as well and a great way for those newer to downwind paddling to get into the sport and learn the fundamentals in a safe environment. When we have enough people interested in a group run, I offer coached runs for groups of up to 5 people. Last week we did two group downwinders, the first with five participants, the second with two (plus myself). Watch the videos for some tips for the fun downwind run from Portlock to Kahala.

Here are two videos of group downwinders from last week with coaching tips voiced over:

January 7th downwinder with Peter, Kyle, Allan, Linda, and Patricia:

January 10th downwinder with Sean and Hopper:

January 29th downwind group with:

Kyle, Jenn, Brett, Robert, Natalie, Sean

for more information on coached downwinders, visit this post: http://zenwaterman.blogspot.com/2013/10/information-on-coached-downwind-runs.html

Aloha,Robert Stehlik

Please let me know if you would like to be included in the coached group downwinder updates e-mail list: http://blueplanetsurf.com/pages/contact-us

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Aloha, Robert Stehlik www.blueplanetsurf.com
[Link]

Zen Waterman » A Short Water Poem: Tears in the Rain

Posted 3 years ago

Here is a fairly random freestyle poem that I thought about while I was surfing. I thought that it would be nice to share on our blog. Enjoy!

Tears in the Rain

There was a tear.
The tear was angry, sad, frustrated and full of misunderstanding and fear
One day the tear realized that it was a drop of water in its original nature
Yet the tear was still angry, sad, frustrated and full of misunderstanding and fear

One day the tear saw the ocean
The tear angrily asked the ocean
Why are you so large?
Why are you so vast?
I hate you!
Why do you only have the nature of infinity while I must disappear?

The Ocean smiled in loving compassion and told the tear. “Those are only signs and symbols that you apply to me. Dear tear, do you not know that language makes all obscure. I am but you and you but me”.

The tear was startled yet with deep courage and tremendous
compassion; the tear dove in to the sea and found the truth.
No longer to suffer in anger, sadness, frustration and misunderstanding
Serenely and playfully abiding in inter-being and bliss.

[Link]

Zen Waterman » Stand Up Paddle Technique Part 8: Buoy Turn, Pivot turn, Crossbow turn

Posted 4 years ago


Buoy turns

In SUP races with many turns you will find that most changes in positioning often happen in the turns, not in the straightaways, where it can take a huge amount of physical effort to pass another competitor. Fast turns require mostly good technique, balance and skill and less physical conditioning, so practice is important.In Hawaii, most races are straight downwind with few turns involved. When I went to my first Battle of the Paddle, I realized how important the turns and transitions were in these races and how my skills were lacking in that department. I started to really focus on practicing faster turns.
Fast turns require skill, strategy, the right equipment, and luck.
Pivot Turn

Turning fast is an important skill to practice. Training for speed in the straightaways is not enough to do well in many races, you need to practice the turns and transitions as well. Good turning skills will also help in the surf. Generally speaking, the more you can move your weight back on the board, the easier it will be to turn it. The goal is to move your weight to the back of the board, with the back foot close to the fin and lifting the front of the board out or the water. This will allow you to swing the board around quickly. The pivot turn takes good balance and lots of practice. The goal is to smoothly walk or jump your feet back without rocking the board side to side while keeping your weight over the centerline of the board to keep it level in the water. You use your paddle to make a sweeping steering stroke to swivel the board around the fin and then quickly move your weight back forward to your trim position to accelerate out of the turn. Brace with your paddle and bend your knees to stay low for balance. The pivot turn takes a lot of practice to master so if you are not comfortable with it yet, use the crossbow turn until you are.
Crossbow Turn

While the pivot turn is the fastest, it is also risky ask it puts you in a tippy positions where you can lose your balance or get knocked off. Whatever you do, you want to avoid falling in, so depending on your equipment, conditions and skill level, it may be safer to keep your weight forward in a parallel or slightly staggered stance and complete the turn using your paddle. The goal is to avoid paddling backwards at all costs as this will really slow down your forward momentum. The crossbow or cross-over turn works well to initiate the turn. The paddle is reached past the nose to the other side of the board without changing the grip position. The blade is pulled towards the nose of the board then lifted over the nose and followed by a sweeping steering stroke. The angle of the blade to the water is very important when turning and you want the steering action to be as close to the front of the board as possible to make it most effective.
Strategy and luck come into play when many competitors try to make a turn at the same time. Generally speaking the inside line closest to the buoy is preferable and you should plan ahead and set up your approach to the buoy in a good position relative to your competitors if possible. Approaching the turn is no time to be feeble, you want to assert your position and not let yourself get pushed aside. That said, being close to the buoy also puts you at risk of getting rammed, boxed in or stuck behind another board or paddler in the water. When a turn gets very crowded, a wider turn that avoids others can be the fastest route. At BOP style races, waves are another factor that need to be considered. It’s always a good idea to paddle the course as a warm up and make yourself familiar with the turns. Make sure the rope holding the buoy can’t snag the fin, I have seen that happen a few times.

Equipment is important too, wider boards with wider tails make pivot turn easier while narrow boards with streamlined pintails may be faster in the straightaways, they make it much more difficult to balance on the tail in a pivot turn. Likewise, big fins with wide bases and lots of rake may make the board track better in a straight line but also make the board harder to turn. These are some compromises to consider and in a race with lots of turns you may want to sacrifice some straightaway speed and choose a more stable board with a wider tail and a smaller, easier to turn fin.
Races can have many different kinds of turns: left and right hand turns and variables such as wind, current, waves and the angle of the turn, some are 90, others 180 degrees. It helps to be prepared and practice many variations of turns to make sure you are comfortable turning the board you will race on. Practice makes perfect.
Here is a video from one of our weekly coaching/ time trials where we practiced buoy turns with narrated coaching tips. This is not a demonstration of perfect buoy turns but rather a demonstration of common mistakes.

This is a good video of Straboard team rider Beau O'Brian demonstrating the kick turn:

Links to the paddle technique series posts on Zen Waterman:

Paddle Technique Part 0: Introduction to SUPPaddle Technique Part 1: Choosing the Right PaddlePaddle Technique Part 2: The Three Ingredients of a Powerful Stroke
Paddle Technique Part 3: Stacking the ShouldersPaddle Technique Part 4: Reach and CatchPaddle Technique Part 5: Recovery, Paddle Length and GripPaddle Technique Part 6: Turning the Board
Paddle Technique Part 7: Catching Waves

Aloha, Robert Stehlik www.blueplanetsurf.com [Link]

Zen Waterman » Zen, Compassion and the Ocean

Posted 4 years ago

Zen, Compassion and the Ocean

I came upon a beautiful story. A well to do individual managed to get an audience with the Dalai Lama. He asked the Lama how to become a Buddhist as the individual wanted to become a practitioner. The Dalai Lama gave him an amazing answer that informs me to this day. He stated “We don’t need any more Buddhists, we need more compassionate people". I think this is key to understanding any tradition including Zen Buddhism. In the end, with Zen Buddhism, there really is not too much to talk about. I believe that the Dalai Lama was indicating that we don’t necessarily need more Buddhists or Zen folks,or whatever religion may manifest. What we do need is more kind and compassionate people to solve the problems of our being and the horrendous thing we are doing to the physical and social environment.

An incident reminded me of the need for more kind folks in the world. In our current social state, many people are concerned only about their selves. It is very difficult to come across a truly compassionate person. When I do run in to a wonderful being like this I really take time out to see how they are helping the world. This should be one of the inspirations of any person who is studying the Zen path, as Zen done for one’s own self benefit exclusively is akin to drinking the worst poison to destroy your life. Therefore, If we are on the Zen path, let us become filled with compassion and dedicate ourselves to the others wellbeing in the fashion of a bodhisattva, or being of great compassion.

The following story is a wonderful vision that I had some time ago which involved a very ill girl and a kind man. My observation of this behavior filled me with joy. It was as if I was watching a saint or bodhisattva at work. This is how the experience played out.

One day recently, a woman asked me if I worked with Na Kama Kai (A Foundation to promote Hawaiian culture and ocean awareness and safety). She said that I looked familiar. I quickly remembered that she was the mother of a severely ill and handicapped girl of about 10. She had come to NaKamaKai as no one would take her child into the water due to liability/fear or what have you. No School, no one. The child really wanted to get into the water. Despite her illness she was very bright minded and sought Duane Desoto out as she was determined to attain her goal. The little girl literally asked Duane if she could take her out into the water. Without hesitation, Duane quickly responded “of course” and grabbed a large board. He gently placed her on the board and began paddling with one hand. She sat securely with Duane holding on to her with his right arm as he used his left arm to paddle the board. I was watching intently at Duane’s behavior and I was delighted by it. I observed him quietly teaching her about the ocean in a soft tone of voice. They went out quite a distance in Moanalua bay. It was so beautiful that it happily brought tears to my eyes.

The mother has since told me that her daughter was unfortunately quite ill and in hospice. But she told her mother something wonderful and this is the message that she wanted me to convey to Duane Desoto. The mother said that,Duane taking her into the water was a changing point in her life. She told her mother “I was never able to walk, I was never able to stand up, but I got to be in the beautiful ocean thanks to that nice man.” Duane, you are a saint, bodhisattva or what have you.

It really does not matter what religion you are. Again as the Dalai Lama said, we don’t need any more Buddhists (or what have you) we need more compassionate people. Right on Duane. Let’s all take a little time to go out of our way and consider the other that is less fortunate than us, and follow the examples that kind people set all over the world. Let us make this one of the foundations of our precious life. I believe that this is one of the keys to Zen.

My father’s last words: “You find the truth in yourself, kindness and compassion”. We will all be on our deathbeds. Let us live well so we may manifest the seeds of kindness beyond death. It is really quite simple. [Link]

Zen Waterman » Information on Coached Downwind Runs with Blue Planet

Posted 4 years ago

If you are interested in learning how to do downwinders on Oahu or want to improve your bump riding skills and timing to go faster with less effort, please consider a private downwind coaching session on Oahu's south shore with Robert Stehlik. The most common south shore run for experienced paddlers is the Hawaii Kai to Kaimana Beach (Waikiki) run.

For beginner downwind paddlers, the Hawaii Kai to Kahala run is better suited for learning downwind paddling as going around Black Point and Diamond Head can be very challenging when you are starting out.
Hawaii Kai to Kahala downwinder GPS track, approx. 5 miles
For the coached Kahala run, we usually meet in Kahala at the Waialae beach park and take a look at the the reef to go over where the channel is and what to look for when coming in. Coming in through the reef at Kahala is one of the most challenging parts of the run and can be dangerous, especially on a low tide, so please don't attempt this by yourself without someone that knows where to go.
We leave one car at the finish in Kahala then drive to Hawaii Kai where the downwind run starts. We then spend some time going over some downwind basics, tips, drills, equipment, and stretching before going into the water. Below is a map of the meeting place in Kahala and a google map that shows the run. You can zoom into the meeting place called Waialae Beach Park, just before the Kahala Mandarin Hotel.
Waialae Beach Park, the meeting place for the Hawaii Kai to Kahala Run

View Kahala beach downwind coaching meet here in a larger map

Below is a video of a recent coached downwind run:

If you are planning to do a coached downwinder, click the link and watch the videos with downwind tips for the Hawaii Kai to Kaimana run:
http://www.supthemag.com/videos/downwind-coaching-while-downwinding/

For pricing and to book a coached downwinder, please call Blue Planet Surf Shop at 808 596 7755 or visit:

http://blueplanetsurf.com/products/downwind-coaching-hawaii-kai-to-kahala-downwinder

A video of your downwinder is available on request (please ask to have it filmed at the time of booking).

Posing after a successful Kahala run with our 14' Blue Planet Bump Rider boards

For referrals from past participants, please check some of the reviews on Tripadvisor:
13 reviews of Private SUP lessons/ coaching with Blue Planet in Honolulu

Aloha, Robert Stehlik
www.blueplanetsurf.com [Link]

Zen Waterman » 3D tour of the Blue Planet Surf Shop

Posted 4 years ago

You can now virtually visit our shop on Google, move around the shop, and get a 360 degree view as you move around. Make sure to check out the vintage surfboard collection on the roof of the garage.
Click here for the 3D shop tour on Google maps

Or just use the window below. To move around, click on the floor where you want to go next. Can you find the vintage surfboards hanging from the garage ceiling?

View Larger Map

Aloha, Robert Stehlik www.blueplanetsurf.com [Link]

Zen Waterman » Grand Canyon SUP River Trip- August 2013

Posted 4 years ago

I recently returned from a River trip through the Grand Canyon. It was truly a trip of a lifetime. I put together two videos documenting the trip. The first is video is the shorter one, showing just the most difficult rapid in the Grand Canyon, called Lava Falls. I went through the rapid with my Stand Up Paddleboard (note: I said with the board, not on the board :) . My 14 year old niece, Emily Williams rowed through it on a big raft and may be the youngest girl to have rowed through Lava Falls rapid.

To see how not to go through Lava Falls, watch this video which shows what happens if you drift into the biggest hole sideways instead of punching through the wave nose or tail first. You can watch it happen to two rafts in a row, major carnage.

Here is the longer (33 minute) video documenting the whole trip with many of the rapids with my commentary on the trip and some takeaways from whitewater SUP'ing.

I’m planning to add more information to this post, so if you are interested in a SUP trip through the Grand Canyon, please check back as I plan to post more information. For now, here are some helpful links:

National Park Service information on permits and the River Trip orientation video:
http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/whitewater-rafting.htm

PRO river outfitters, this is the company that supplied our food, gear and logistics for our group of 16 for 16 days, which is not something you want to do on your own:
http://www.proriver.com

I purchased this River Guide which had good maps as well as lots of interesting historical and geological information on the Grand Canyon:
http://www.nrs.com/product/3353/grand-canyon-river-guide-book

Aloha, Robert Stehlik
www.blueplanetsurf.com
The group celebrating on Tequila beach after making it through Lava Falls
Ferrying across the river
Sitting on a perch under Deer Creek Falls is amazing
My daughter, Jaime Stehlik at Havasu Creek


Shist Camp in the inner gorge
Panoramic Shot at Nankoweep Camp
Havasupai Creek Going into Horn Creek Rapid on the Grand Canyon SUP river trip

The SUP's were great for crossing the river when we camped across Deer Creek Falls

[Link]

Zen Waterman » No title

Posted 4 years ago

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Zen Waterman » How Do Surfers and Waterpeople Utilize Zen Ideas Honestly? Part 2

Posted 4 years ago


Author Studying Buddhism in the Barrel!

Zen for Surfers and Water people. How Do We Utilize Zen Ideas In An Honest Manner?
By Dr. Len Barrow (Asian/Polynesian Religion Specialist)

Note Please Read Part One as this Article Is Prefaced by It

Part 2

The historical Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) noticed and elaborated on a linguistic mismatch between how reality is described by language and how reality actually manifested. As an example he noticed that a chair is not actually a chair even though it was represented by the word- ”chair”. The chair was just a linguistic convention, a common referent, that everyone agreed upon (in common language convention) to call this otherwise random “pile of wood”. The Buddha rather saw the chair as it was in the ultimate reality of inter-being or emptiness which is explained in part one of this series.

(Note: A chair is used as a approximate example for explanation purposes)

Buddhist Logic reveals the following. The chair is actually an amazingly vast ecosystem of sorts. The chair included parts of the tree that it was made from. The tree itself, from which the chair was made, needed the nutrients of the earth for it to grow. The nutrients needed the geology of the whole earth to manifest! The tree also needed the sun to grow. The tree needed a woodsman and a craftsman to make the chair and all their ancestors to bring the craftsman to be hence the chair into being. The sun needed other stars to hold it in perfect position (via gravity) to shine on the tree. The list of inter-relationships, ecosystems,social ecosystems and interbeing are endless. In this manner the Buddha rather saw the chair not as a chair but rather as "interbeing" or as what is called emptiness.

The Buddha was careful to point out that chairs do indeed exist on a conventional level (as we sit on them in conventional reality) but asked us to look beyond the linguistic convention of the chair to the whole universe of inter-relationships behind it (ITS ULTIMATE EXPRESSION) which is termed inter-being by the great Vietnamese Monk Mr. Han and emptiness by his holiness the Dalai Lama.
It is important to note that in this this argument there exists absolutely no “chair substance” that exists in the chair to make it an individuated, individual chair. This is a key point as we progress to Buddhism’s analysis of the self.

Just as the chair manifestation elicited linguistic problems the historical Buddha noticed and elaborated on a similar linguistic mismatch between how the self is conventionally viewed by language and how the self actually manifests in reality. So let us look at this issue like this. We conventionally refer to each other as selves. We have linguistically agreed with each other via shared language that we will call this pile of flesh and bones and so- on a “self”. One must ask if this is a logical view of the self.

Well if a self truly existed on its own power, by itself (as conventional western reality has it), it would have to have a type of “self-substance “; which would allow us to exist as individuals. This is the philosophy of the Westerner Renee Descartes which we blindly accept today. It is summed up “I think therefore I am”. In short this is the philosophy of “individualism and dualism” which is held in such high regard in western society. The self is set apart from nature as an individual on its own power which controls nature and others through manipulation, force and sometimes violence. If you have any doubt about this, look at what western culture (among other cultures) has done to its environment and its tragic history of wars. All cultures (whether Asians or whatever) fight but the westerners took it to another level in WW1 and beyond. This follows the Western philosophy of individualism and dualism. As surfers we have a better chance to see through this profound ignorance which is termed “Avidya” in Buddhism. If this is irritating you, you should stop reading this now as here is where the Buddhist philosophy gets very profound and truly mind blowing.

Buddhist and many hard core surfers like myself find the argument of individualism and dualism to be extremely flawed and a source of great suffering. I suppose Zen Buddhists notice something while meditating while surfers notice some different reality by surfing. Let us take a Buddhist argument of how a self exists in its ultimate logical manifestation.

If I am Len in individualism and its related philosophy, a Len substance or soul must permeate my body in acccepted model of the theory of Renee Descartes. In individualism where the individual cannot be divided, and dualism following the Philosophy of Renee Descartes which we blindly follow; ” what is in my body is called Len” and “what is outside of my body is not Len”. Yet is this reality possible?

Let me do a funny thought experiment to analyze the above question. Let me take my liver or "Len's" liver (My first “Name” is Len) Do the cells have little labels on them that say Len’s Liver? No; that is ludicrous. Does my liver have a little soul or self-substance that exists in it. No. No one has ever found one. In fact the liver can be transplanted into another individual. Let us say that that liver gets transplanted into “Fred”. Does it become Fred’s liver (for it is his body?, or is it?!). Do little signs appear on the transplanted liver cells saying ‘this is now Fred’s liver”? No. Does the Fred’s liver, attain a new Fred’s liver self-substance or soul. No. No one has ever found one.

Thus the liver completely and totally lacks a self or self-substance and can be transplanted into another individual. The kidneys lack a self, soul or self-substance and can be transplanted also. Arms have been transplanted! Arms lack a self and a self-substance or individual soul. IN FACT NO PART OF THE BODY HAS AN INDIVIDUAL SELF SUBSTANCE; THUS A SELF IN AN INDIVIDUALISTIC AND DUALISTIC VIEW (AS HELD MY WESTERN MATERIAL REALITY) IS COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE. This is Buddhism’s basis of the idea of Anatta or no self.

In the end we find the self is made totally of non-self-components. Our selves are an inter-being of proteins, minerals, carbons among other amazing nonself things and forces! How exciting. This is amazing to me. Not one part of us can be said to be made of our own self element. We are empty. It is that simple. We are empty as we are filled with everything in the entire universe!

As surfers, I think we can notice this in the ocean. Have you ever been floating in the water and gotten a feeling of complete unity with the universe in the ocean. The self simply disappears into interbeing. This is honestly one of the reasons why I surf. My Roshi (Zen Teacher); the eponymous Zen Master Aitken Roshi once told me “you have some understanding…….because you surf” Maybe? Could it be so? Let’s take our sport and really try to understand what we are doing in a Zen manner. More importantly let us let what we learn in Zen and the surf influence how we treat nature and other humans even if they seem different to us! In the end, let us be honest, kind, devoid of greed and harm. The other alternative is violence against Mother Nature other humans and the like. What kind of world would you like? Look in the mirror.

What I am getting at is very abstract and complex yet really quite simple. I will stop here to keep things at least partially understandable. There is still more to come. Stay tuned for part three in a few days! If you are a bit shocked at the above analysis, don’t worry. I still blow my mind to this day when I think of this matter.

Dr. Len Barrow (Polynesian and Asian Religion Specialist)
Occasional Letters, July 22, 2013

[Link]

Zen Waterman » Molokai Race training video with team mate Greg Pavao

Posted 4 years ago

This is a video of training with Greg Pavao on the Blue Planet 14' x 28" Bump rider preparing for the Molokai2Oahu two man team race this coming Sunday. Filmed with the tail mounted camera setup which is shown in the beginning of the video. The video was shot on three different downwind runs from Hawaii Kai to Kaimana. Although I was trying to avoid waves due to the big camera mount and no leash, a wave was breaking and I had no choice to catch it. Luckily I did not fall in and got a long ride at the end of the video coming in by Tongs and shooting right through the reef outside of the Elks Club. Filmed and edited by Robert Stehlik, enjoy!

Getting close to Portlock, the last 5 miles are the toughest part of the M2O race
Aloha, Robert Stehlik www.blueplanetsurf.com [Link]

Zen Waterman » Zen For Surfers and Water-People. How Do We Utilize Zen Ideas Honestly in Life and the Ocean: PART 1

Posted 4 years ago


Part 1

By Dr. Len Barrow (Asian/Polynesian Religion Specialist)

As a Doctor in Anthropology I have academically studied Zen Buddhism extensively. Zen Buddhism is hard to explain namely because it is very stereo typed and clichéd in western culture. Zen monks staring at walls or “navel staring” are common misconceptions of what Zen folks do in general . As surfers and water people I think we have a slight advantage in understanding Zen ideas due to the fact that we are constantly running around in the water and engaging other humans in natures ocean arena as opposed to being completely submerged in urban oriented centers (where “the bottom line” is gospel) and all of the aggression that goes with it. As surfers and water-people we chose to escape this in some way. Zen can be vastly helpful in making sense of this fast paced materialistic western world that we were born into.

The worst thing you could do in Zen is to try to describe it as I am doing now. If this is true , the question arises, where do we begin in an honest manner? Well I believe an honest place to begin in our understanding of Zen is through Zens view of the self. Zen folks assert that the self cannot be found in a natural system. More specifically Zen people refute the existence of a soul or “self -substance” (the idea is called “Anatta” or “No Self” to Zen folk). In Zen the idea of a self as a nominal referent is the basis of much suffering and ignorance. To be free of misconceptions of the self is a component in ultimate freedom termed Nirvana.

Well lets for the time being accept “No Self or anatta” is a logical fact, whether it is true or not . What if there were No Self as the Zen Buddhists posit in their analysis. What are the logical consequences if there existed “No Self?”

1. There would be no other (!) ; as the idea of “others” logically requires the existence of other selves. As there are no others we would exist in a type of harmony alluded by Zen. This harmony is called “Playful Smhadi”. To Zen folk this is a type of “freedom from ignorance inspiring freedom and playfulness in life”. I like this idea as a lifelong surfer. Would that not be nice?

2. If there were no self we would live with a great sense of inter-connection with the sea, nature and other humans. This great interconnection is called Inter-being (By the great Vietnamese Zen Monk Thin Nhat Han who is still alive today) or emptiness by others. Western scientists have discovered it also, amusingly 3,000 years after the Buddhists. They are called ecosystems! They are called cultural systems to Anthropologists and social scientists like me!

This great sense of interconnection with all beings and humans would generate a great compassion and love for all things if you really “got it”. You would think twice about snaking a wave from someone or driving overly aggressively or having harsh words with someone in the water. You would think twice about being a DICK. You would think twice about ignoring the homeless person as you are he and he is you. I am truly not a saint nor claim to be one, in fact my behavior can be quite unruly at times. Yet I actually take interbeing to heart as the Zen concept of interbeing shapes my behavior. I am not bragging but I have Senatorial Civil awards for helping the homeless (I am a homeless advocate) and coach high school surf teams without pay (As I love the Keiki as they are me and I am them in Inter-being). I drive around in a dilapidated VW van. Friends and collogues are perplexed by my lifestyle but I suppose it is somewhat logical within the Zen framework . Zen is completely useless if it is not integrated into ones daily life consistently. In many ways Zen is fashionable today but is being utilized in a completely degraded manner as a buzz word, or worse as a personal “front or façade”. This is a perversion of the Zen tradition that I truly wish to avoid.

3. This great compassion that is developed through knowledge of inter-being is called Bhodhichitta to Buddhist folks. If one realizes that we are heavily connected and interpenetrate each other and other things, we will see other people as ourselves, despite their outward differences. If we recognize this interpenetration we begin to realize that the trees of the worlds our lungs, and the oceans, our blood. In fact all of nature would be our body. We would only defend it, not rape it as modern western society is guilty off in some manners. This develops a wonderful sense of intimacy with all. In fact the Chinese character for Zen is “intimacy!” Stay tuned for Part 2 in a few days. I have split this article in two peices as some people may find the ideas a bit confusing and suprising. Stay Tuned All!!
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Zen Waterman » Speed is Everything: Pendulum Surfing

Posted 4 years ago

I was watching surfing in town a few days ago. A thought struck me. The surfers that looked good managed to keep a type of speed and flow in their surfing. They were easy to look at. Conversely, the surfers that looked jerky and rough failed to maintain speed throughout their ride. They were hard to look at. This leaded me to the question: “how does one maintain speed through the whole ride?” It is a simple question yet a very difficult task. My conclusion was that one must surf as if they were a pendulum! Here are a few tips.

I was once told by the famous shaper Ben Aipa that surfboards were like airplane wings. This is true. If you look at your tail; the upper rails are rounded and the lower rail section is usually flat (in modern surfboards). As the water wraps around the rail there is more friction on the top rounded rail and less friction on the lower edged rail. This causes lift. If you are surfing with no speed, you are handicapping yourself as your board wants to lift but cannot as you are going to slow. It is as if you are on a jet airplane that is going down a runway yet cannot take off due to low speed. The question becomes, “how do you create speed?” if your board only works at a certain threshold of speed?

The Take Off

The take-off is key to good surfing. This is your initial burst of energy as you start off at the top of the wave and gravity accelerates you down to the bottom of the wave. Utilizing this speed cannot be understated as it is the first event in a process of speed “nurturing” and “continuance”. You carry this speed into your first maneuver. If you fail to use the speed in your drop, you are destroying the potential of the wave to be surfed in a pendulum fashion. The drop sets up for your fist turn; the bottom turn.

The Bottom Turn

After you drop to the bottom of the wave, you will usually have a great deal of velocity. You must utilize this speed or lose it. The best way to transform the speed from the drop in to a maneuver is to bottom turn. A bottom turn literally means turning off the bottom of the wave and heading towards the top of the wave where you prepare for your top turn. Classic speed surfing is an activity where you move the board from top to bottom of the wave, bottom to top of the wave and top to bottom of the wave (that is a mouthful, yet it is key to understand). Like a pendulum, you do not bleed off any speed! Up, down, up, down. You utilize the force of gravity, as a pendulum. It is really that simple!

The Top-Turn

The top turn has many variations. Yet any good top turn is set up by a solid bottom turn. A top turn is done, as the name entails, at the top of the wave. A top turn can be an off the lip, floater, or snap at the top of the wave. The important fact is that it is done in the top ¼ of the wave face. By turning at the very top of the wave you start heading back down to the bottom of the wave gaining a great deal of momentum and speed. This speed is then used again in the bottom turn to project you up the face for another top turn. In this way, you do not loose speed throughout your entire ride.

Top turn—Bottom turn—Top turn—Bottom turn = FLOW!

A surfer who is able to utilize this type of Pendulum speed, moving from the top of the wave to the bottom repetitively, gains what surfers call “good flow”. If you look at Kelly Slater surfing, he is continually manipulating his speed in this pendulum, yoyo fashion and he draws a beautiful line in the process. No one can argue that Slater does not have good flow in his surfing. We can create flow like he does by surfing like a pendulum.

Don’t surf the bottom of the wave

Some SUP surfers and long-boarders make the mistake of surfing the bottom 1/3 of the wave. By doing this they miss the “power pocket” of the wave. Because they are not continually climbing and dropping, they lose speed and fall off or bog a rail. They are not utilizing the “gravity potential of the wave” as they don’t climb high enough up the face to gain speed dropping down the face. This is a common mistake of beginners that I wish you to avoid.

Don’t worry if you can get pendulum surfing right off the bat. It takes a lot of time to master. Yet once you get it down, your surfing experience will be greatly enhanced. Also, I believe that drawing a good line in ones surfing is like being an artist. The wave is your canvas. Why just use the bottom third of your art piece? Use the whole canvas to draw out your dreams! Until next time, practice you pendulum surfing!

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Zen Waterman » Random acts of Kindness, Best South Swell in Years

Posted 4 years ago

Random acts of kindness: I will be forever grateful to the surfer that gave me his leash after mine broke on my first takeoff attempt. He just paddled up to me and said: "I'm going to give you my leash, I had enough waves for today". That just blew me away. He saved my session and I ended up getting lots of waves like this one. I promise to pay it forward. Mahalo!


This video shows the board going over the falls, snapping the leash:

Thanks to mother nature for providing us with the best weekend of south swell waves I can remember. Here is some video of Sunday, May 19, 2013, I used a harness mount that I borrowed from a friend in the morning and the nose mount in the afternoon. I was using the GoPro 3, the wifi remote is nice but the battery life is way to short, it ran out halfway through both sessions, will have to buy the extended battery, I guess.

Aloha, Robert Stehlik www.blueplanetsurf.com [Link]

Zen Waterman » Surf A Big Board. Don't Just Ride it. By Len Barrow

Posted 4 years ago

Most people just “ride” their SUP or long board. Ben Aipa, the famous coach, always told me to “surf” a big board and not to ride it. Well what does this mean, you may ask? Most surfers just half turn and don’t think much of truly engaging the rail. Engaging the rail means holding a cutback on your SUP for more than just a second, to fully sweep the board in a 180 degree arc toward the white wash. This is Surfing, not riding. This is what looks good.

Yet this is easier said than done as a SUP or long board has so much rail and thickness compared to short-boards. On a short-board, it is easy to make mistakes as you can recover easily as the rail is so short (less rail to dig) and the board is so rockered. On a SUP or longboard there is no room for error due to the sheer volume of the board. This is how you do it.

The Sweeping “20%” turn:

Most people turn their big board using too much rail. This means that they engage about 40-60% of the rail in the wave while they pivot into turn. The end result is a turn that is slow, sluggish and a “Half turn” due to loss of speed. This is called bogging, or weak surfing in surfing terminology. That is why most expert surfers are horrified to see sup surfers ride. Most Sup -surfers don’t surf with speed power and flow because they are engaging to much rail in the water and rapidly bleeding off to much speed.

The solution to this is literally what I call “wheelie” surfing. When you pivot on your tail to cutback, the rear 20-30% of the tail should be in the water and engaged. This is where the sharp “edge” of the rail is (chime) and the most lift of the board comes from. As your board is designed with sharp, chimed rails in the rear, use it! This allows you to keep speed through the turn. If you pivot on the forward rounded rail you lose too much speed as the water wraps around the full, non-chimed rail. That is why experienced shapers keep a high edge in the tail of the boards rail.

More importantly, as you engage so little rail friction becomes your ally not your enemy. More specifically; the rail that is designed to lift is on your tail-block. Due the sharp chimed tail edge of your tail-block, your board loses no speed and you are allowed to “surf” a 180 degree turn. This allows you to surf with speed power and flow. Use the least amount of rail when you pivot a big board.

Pop release the board

After conducting a longs sustained turn simply Pop the board by literally jumping lightly of your board like a skateboard “olly jump”. When a skateboarder olly’s his board literally gets off the ground as he is lifting his weight off the board briefly. You see, after conducting a long sweeping turn, you lose speed. To counter this, you must unweight the board to regain momentum again. This maintains speed power and flow. This sounds weird, yet any good surfing coach knows the value of “surfing Light” by popping the board.

The above techniques center around small to moderate waves. My next will address utilizing the full length of the rail as a type of fin to power surf. Stay tuned. This is a another story!

In the end, do you want your surfing to look weak and soft? Professional Coaches call this “limp wrist surfing (yes with all of the obvious connotations)”. Or, do you want to be a “Carvin Marvin with a Pocket Pistol?” The choice is yours. It’s not as hard as it seems if you follow these tips. Surf your Board, don’t just ride it. It’s all good! See you in the water! [Link]

Zen Waterman » Paddling around Oahu on a SUP- 124 miles in 3 days- by Robert Stehlik

Posted 4 years ago

Ok, we did not do it on consecutive days and it was not a circumnavigation but Jeff Chang and I paddled around the entire coastline of Oahu, 124 miles total in 3 days, here is the story.

Originally we had talked about circumnavigating Oahu in 3 consecutive days, we were waiting for good conditions (light wind) to be able to paddle all the way around Oahu. Unfortunately it is very rare for the winds to shut off for three days in a row and for us to be able to make time to do it.
So, this mission started as just a long day of paddling, we wanted to see how far we could paddle in one day and how we would feel afterwards. After Stand Up Paddling all day for 47 miles, we decided that we would try to paddle around the island in three days, just not consecutive. We would wait for good conditions and choose a day when we would both be able to go.

Jeff Chang was training for the OC1 Molokai race so he paddled on his outrigger while I was using an 18' Ohana SUP board that Jared Vargas left here when he moved back to California. This board is not very good for downwinders and quite tippy but it's fast and smooth in calmer waters, one of the fastest SUP boards in flat water I ever used, actually. We launched at Pinky's Restaurant in Kailua before sunrise and started paddling towards the Mokulua Islands. The wind was light and the water was fairly calm until we got closer to Makapuu, where the water was rough and choppy, as usual, and I had to paddle on my knees around Makapuu point.

Here are some pictures and GPS tracks of the three day journey:
Sun rising behind the Mokulua Islands outside of Lanikai Day one: 47 miles from Kailua to Ko Olina

Day 2: 42.6 miles- Kailua to Haleiwa

Our launch area on day 2 was where President Obama comes for his Christmas vacation, you can see the Mokulua Islands in the distance before the sunrise.

The point at the Kaneohe Marine Coprs base reminded me of Ireland for some reason
Paddling along the Windward coast, the straight line took us pretty far out. Finally approaching Turtle Bay after paddling almost 30 miles. Re-fuleing stop at the Turtle Bay resort
Day 3: 35 miles- Haleiwa to Ko Olina
Launching in front of Surf 'N Sea on our third day Launching in Haleiwa

There were some big waves rolling in at Avalanches
The channel marker outside Haleiwa An efficient stroke is key when paddling for 8 hours+
Coming around Ka'ena Point
Getting closer to our final destination, Ko Olina



A pod of dolphins passes directly in front of me outside Mokuleia

Coming around Ka'ena Point to the Westside was spectacular

We saw lots of sea creatures, including whales, sharks, dolphins and turtles. A huge whale surfaced about 20 feet away from me, which freaked me out. GPS summary of the three days of paddling
Day 3: Haleiwa to Ko Olina


Aloha, Robert Stehlik www.blueplanetsurf.com
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Zen Waterman » Stand Up Paddle Technique Part 7: Catching Waves

Posted 4 years ago

You were probably wondering when I would finally get around to how to catch and surf waves on a SUP. Ideally, everyone would learn the basics first before even attempting to go into the surf to catch waves. Unfortunately many head straight into the surf without basic skills and little knowledge of surfing etiquette. I hope you are not one of them. Please make sure you have a good grasp of all the basic skills covered in the first 6 technique posts and knowledge of surfing etiquette before even thinking about catching waves, especially if there are others in the waves with you.

For a pretty good summary of SUP etiquette, check out: http://www.supright.com

I worked with a class from Hawaii Pacific College that made these videos as part of their business school projects.

This first one is about how to catch a wave and how you want to approach the wave differently when you are Stand Up Paddling than when you are surfing without a paddle, this is a playlist, so keep watching for more videos!

Thanks for watching. Again, please remember to make sure you first master the basic concepts of SUP before attempting to go into the surf zone:

Links to the paddle technique series posts:Paddle Technique Part 0: Introduction to SUPPaddle Technique Part 1: Choosing the Right PaddlePaddle Technique Part 2: The Three Ingredients of a Powerful Stroke
Paddle Technique Part 3: Stacking the ShouldersPaddle Technique Part 4: Reach and CatchPaddle Technique Part 5: Recovery, Paddle Length and GripPaddle Technique Part 6: Turning the Board
Paddle Technique Part 7: Catching Waves

Aloha,
Robert Stehlik
www.blueplanetsurf.com

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Zen Waterman » Surfing and SUP are Not a Fast Food Experiences

Posted 4 years ago

By Len Barrow

A few days ago I was watching a surfer. The man zoomed into the parking lot at the surf break. He literally ripped his board off the surf racks in his haste to get to the surf. Oddly enough he was wearing a type of “sling”. To my surprise he inserted a cell phone in to the water proof sling and rushed off to surf. I watched him notice and ignore some garbage on the beach as he ran across the beach.

In the water the, this man was aggressive, paddling under people to get position. He would not wait his turn. It seemed that the man thought that the world revolved around him and his rushed schedule. The locals at the break were getting a bit irritated but the man was tolerated. Everyone almost felt sorry for him. He completely missed the point of surfing. He was not paying attention and by doing this he degraded his surfing experience.

Surfing is sport that should be regarded as sacred from my point of view. How do you treat the activity of surfing as being sacred? You pay attention and make surfing a type of ritual, not a fast food experience. Here are a few tips on how to pay attention to the whole surfing experience; and not be limited to parts of it.

When you arrive at the beach make it a habit to slow down. Stop and study the conditions. This act is actually very soothing and calm. You can ask yourself: ‘what is the tide like?; where is the swell focusing or defocusing?; how are the winds affecting the surf?” By doing this, you slow your mind down and turn surfing into a type of focused meditation. This is the joy and magic of the surfing experience. To just enjoy the moment by paying attention to it!

Engage in activities at your local beach. It is so important to give compassion to the beach which brings you so much happiness. If you see a piece of garbage, pick it up and throw it away. I know locals who routinely pick up garbage. Duane Desoto has a little rake and dustbin! If you see a piece of garbage floating in the water, pick it up and stick it in your shorts to throw away later. If your beach has a ”clean up” day, participate. By treating the beach and ocean with respect, you turn your surf-spot into a place which helps to purify your thoughts and soul.

Respecting other people is key to enjoying the whole surfing experience. Smile and take the time to say hello to other surfers. Pay attention to who has not been getting waves. When a set comes, let this person have it. Take care of the little kid surfers at the break. They will become older and one day and take care of you. Be that person that people want to see. I go to the beach every-day and just see genuine smiles as people want to talk to me. This is a wonderful feeling. Don’t be a “DICK”. Keep the karma flow positive in regards to other humans!

Don’t multitask! Multitasking is the opposite of single pointed attention. As a trend, more and more people are bringing cell phones out into the water. It is still rare, but it is an alarming development from my point of view. People are forgetting that surfing is a sacred experience and turning our wonderful sport into a fast-food experience. How can you enjoy something if you cannot pour your whole soul and attention into it single pointedly?

The above ideas may seem a bit idealistic. Despite this, you need to remember why you started surfing in the first place. Most “old-school” surfers that I know, believed that surfing was a type of magical, if not sacred experience. It was something that you cared about and even worshipped. When you treat the sport and everything around it like any other ”rushed” modern day activity, you lose the point of surfing and turn it into a fast food experience. Let’s re-enchant ourselves and slow down and pay attention. I guarantee that this will enhance your surfing experience tenfold and you will remember why you started in the first place!
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Zen Waterman » Narrated downwind run- Hawaii Kai run tips by Robert Stehlik

Posted 4 years ago

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.

It's not easy though, it takes balance, timing, patience, good paddling skills, fitness, and experience which comes from lots of time on the water.
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. Click here for more information on downwind coaching with offered by Blue Planet.

I was inspired by a video from Jermey Riggs (click to watch it) on Maui doing a Maliko run to do a narrated downwind run while talking about some of the things I try to teach on a coaching run. Watching these videos will not replace a good coach but it will be helpful before doing your first downwinder, especially a Hawaii Kai run on Oahu. I split it up into 3 videos to keep them shorter, enjoy!

This is another video of a run a few days earlier,
no narrating in this one but more action showing other paddlers with music. The paddlers shown in this video are: Greg Pavao, Joey Napoleon, Ed Wheeler, Jimmy Fitt, Scott Gamble, Charlie Herr, and Jennifer Fratzke

Here is an older video with some more tips for the Hawaii Kai run, filmed and edited by Morgan Hoestery:

This is the Hawaii Kai run GPS track from the Blinker Buoy (last channel marker in Hawaii Kai) to the Windsock outside Kaimana Beach.

Here is the data of this run from my GPS:
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/281329873

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Zen Waterman » What Does Good Surfing on a SUP or Longboard Look Like? by Len Barrow

Posted 4 years ago

Commitment, this is what it looks like. Photo: Paul Teruya

As a professional surfing coach, I am sometimes asked what does it take to be a good surfer. I always reply “the basics”. Powerful surfing that looks “good “relies on a few simple foundations. There is nothing fancy. Here are a few base points that a SUP or long boarder can always rely on to improve their surfing.

Surf in the Pocket
One of the most basic mistakes that I see is when surfers don’t “pocket surf”. The pocket is where the most power of the wave is. It exists on every breaking wave and the pocket is directly next to the breaking portion of the wave. It is where the wave bowls up the most. By surfing the pocket one can utilize the natural power of the wave in the most efficient manner. Many surfers and SUP surfers miss the pocket and get too far out on the shoulder of the wave. As the shoulder is not as steep as the pocket, it lacks power to push your board and hence you lose speed. This leads to ugly surfing that is slow and jerky. When you pocket surf, you look as if you are integrated with the wave and flowing. When you miss the pocket, this flow is interrupted and bad form is the result.

Sweep your Board
Many surfers new to the sport of SUP or longboarding fail to Sweep the board. What does this mean? When you don’t sweep the board you “half turn”. A half turn is just that, a short turn. A short turn which is held for only a second creates an ugly surfing style. When you half turn the board only does short arcs. Your surfing will lack flow. That is why sweeping your turns looks good. When you sweep your turn, you engage your maneuver a full 180 degrees in a long arc across the wave. You start off with your turn with your nose pointed towards the shoulder and you cutback a long arc where you boards sweeps and face the whitewash in a full ½ circle turn. This may sound confusing but watch Kai Lenny cutback or Kelly Slater cutback. They sweep their boards around in beautiful arcs. Kai and Slater certainly don’t half turn and the result is beautiful surfing that is as smooth as silk.
Commitment is Key
Some people surf as if they are almost afraid of the wave. This is called safety surfing. It is boring to watch and gets repetitive. It also destroys your style. Good surfing relies on commitment! One day I was surfing a contest and the head judge jack Shiply came up to me and told me to get more committed to my maneuvers. What does this mean? If there is a lip in front of you attack it with an aggressive off the lip. Don’t go around it. Yes, you may fall off but at least you committed to it. This commitment will transform into “power surfing” with time; where you are engaging the wave in a confident and controlled manner. You don’t want to be known as the surfer with a weak style, where one is always avoiding the lip and re-entry sections.

If you can apply these three points to your surfing approach, your surfing will definitely improve. Don’t worry if you cannot get these techniques overnight. It takes years of practice. By following this simple approach to surfing you will most surely look like a better surfer or Super. Commitment, Sweep and Pocket Surfing has always been my mantra. Not only does it look good but you can get more out of your surfing experience.
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Zen Waterman » How to set up the SIC ASS (Assisted Steering System)

Posted 4 years ago

When you unpack a new SIC production board, you get the steering system in the form of a bunch of loose parts in a nice bag with no instructions. If you have never seen a rudder system installed it can be quite difficult to figure out how to do this correctly.
You don't want to find out that you did not do it right in the middle of a race or when you are a few miles offshore.
I have put quite a few of these together over the years and took some pictures to help others assemble it properly. Ask your dealer to do this for you if they know what to do, or you can do it yourself by following these steps.

Since I wrote this post, SIC has come out with this video on how to install the rudder, so watch this (in addition to checking the photos in this post) and you will have no trouble installing the rudder system.

The SIC ASS- make sure you have all the parts The SIC board will have cables installed for regular and goofy foot steering. Pull out the cable you don't need and save it in case you want to switch the steering in the future. The cable can be re-threaded later. Put the rudder in the board and check to make sure it is square. Sometimes the rudder tube is not exactly square. This one is slightly off, if it was exactly square it would be parallel with the grey wood trim behind it but it slants a little to the right. Not enough to have an effect on performance, so I did not worry about it. If it's way off, you may have to put the rudder in a padded vise and bend the rudder stem with a steel pipe that fits over the stem. You have to be very careful not to damage the rudder when doing this, don't attempt to do it without a vise. You can do the same thing if your rudder stem ever gets bent (can happen if you hit the reef or the rudder gets bent in the shore break). If the rudder itself gets damaged, it needs to be replaced.

These are the parts needed to attach the rudder wheel to the rudder stem. I find it easiest to attach the wheel to the rudder stem with the board upside down so the rudder can't drop out of the board. If you have it right side up, you will need someone to hold the rudder while you attach the wheel. Put the plastic washers on the rudder stem as spacers, then attach the wheel by screwing the bolt into the threaded hole in the rudder stem.
Turn the board right side up and loop the cable around the wheel twice. Once under the screw and once over it.


Line up the cables so they are the same length on both sides with the rudder centered, then tighten the screw and make sure the cables get held under the washer. Don't tighten the screw down all the way yet, so you can adjust the wheel position later by allowing the cables to slide under the washer. The next step is to install the steering arm, these are the parts needed. Use the right size bit to tighten center screw into insert in board with the two big plastic washers underneath the arm.
Attach the steering batten like this

Put the black plastic tubes over the cable ends and then thread the ends through the tightening bolts like this.
Once tension is added, the loops tighten themselves down.

Adjust the cable length before tightening down the loops. You want the adjustment screws to go onto the bolts with light tension so that the tension can be adjusted. If there is too much play, you have to shorten the wire loops to a good length.

After the length is adjusted properly, tighten the knots and insert the excess cable ends into the black tubes. Use needle nose pliers to hold and tension the bolts while tightening the screws by hand, try to get about the same amount of rotations on both sides, so you have space left to tighten the cables on both sides later. You will find more tips on fine tuning the rudder in another post linked below.
After the cables are tightened properly, you can adjust the angle of the rudder by twisting the rudder wheel. With the rudder screw not tightened down, the cables can slide around the wheel to the right position. Once the wheel is adjusted properly (fine tuning is done later with the hand screws), tighten it down well, so the cables are held tightly in place and the cables can't slip.
The last step is to stick the carbon sliding plate under the rudder arm. The plate provided is quite big and can be slippery if stepped on, so for my board I cut out a smaller strip that will do the same job as the bigger plate. The sliding plate is placed under the tip or the steering arm in the shortest setting, then peel back the adhesive backing and stick down.

Note: If you have to cut the rudder cable, use a SHARP wire cutter to avoid fraying of the cable.

All pau, for tips on how to tune the rudder, please visit this older post:

Fine tuning the rudder

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Zen Waterman » How a Blue Planet veneer board is made- Factory tour January 2013

Posted 4 years ago

Last week I visited our factory and shot this video that shows a Blue Planet board being made from start to finish, I hope you like it.Aloha,Robert Stehlik

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Zen Waterman » A Few Words On SUP YOGA by Len Barrow

Posted 4 years ago

I was flipping through a surf journal a few months ago and I saw a number of photos of what seemed to be people doing yoga on their SUPs. At first, I was aghast at where the “trend” was going. But upon further contemplation, I thought is it was a great idea.

Over the past few months I have seen friends gathering into two camps in regards to surf Yoga. One group roughly thought it was a corruption of the sport, while another group felt that it was a positive trend. As to myself, I shall explain.

I have always had a concern that SUP sports are easily popularized. No one can deny that the SUP sport gives quick access to the sport of surfing or ocean paddling for people who have not had a long background in the ocean sports. In fact, some surf breaks our over run by SUP surfers and conflicts do arise yet is surf Yoga a good development, and not a “corruption of the sport”?

I think it is a good development. In the context of this blog “Zen-Waterman” it is appropriate to investigate this phenomena. In Zen the control of one’s attention, into a laser-like focus is key to the practice. That is why Zen folk of old meditate. The Abidharma written 2,500 years ago (literally translated “super-dharma”) has a theory of Zen psychology that is remarkably modern and dealt with the control of attention. They regarded the mind as an infinite field with every possible seed. These included seeds of anger, hatred and frustration and the like. The field also included seeds of equanimity, happiness, calmness, kindness and compassion. Conscious focused attention attained during meditation was regarded as a “garden watering pot” of sorts. If you watered angry seeds with attention, you would become an angry person. On the other hand if you watered the seeds of happiness, compassion and the such, you would become a more positive person. That is literally why Zen people meditate, to control their attention so can be careful as to what seeds they water.

So let us apply this to Stand Up Yoga. I must admit, I thought it was a bit silly and a corruption to our sport. I then looked at the “sport” more closely. Yoga on flat ground takes a great deal of attention to physical posture and breathing. I once entered a yoga class thinking it would be easy only to have been schooled by “nimble humans” who were really into it. It was hard for me and required a lot of attention. I then thought to myself, “that to do this on a Sup would even require more attention”. Remember a Sup surfboard has a center point and can tip one over into the water. Yoga on a Sup must be exponentially harder on a Sup than it is on flat land, as you have to be literally absolutely centered or you fall off thus it must require a great deal of attention. This is where I came to my endpoint. This new sport requires focused attention and therefore it is a benefit to all involved. This focused attention can be used to water positive seeds of the mind and the person can “cultivate” a life with more equanimity. Therefore SUP Yoga is a legitimate sport with great physical and especially mental benefits.

I suppose I will have to give it a try one day.
But then I still think it is funny looking, and dorkey thing to do…but after all I am a dork! Haha!
Related post: SUP yoga at Surf Expo
[Link]

Zen Waterman » If the fin don't fit- fitting a center fin that is too tight or too loose

Posted 4 years ago

The US center fin boxes that are installed on most longboards and SUP's are supposed to be a universal fit. In real life, however, there a small variances in the width and depth of different boxes and fin sizes, so sometimes the fin won't go into the box or fit too loose. We are often asked about this and here is what you can do if the fin does not fit well:

If the fin fits too loose, the fix is to use a shim. This is an easy fix. At our shop we use some packing tape and fold it on itself so no sticky tape is exposed. You can adjust the thickness of the shim by using more folds if the fit is very loose or less if you just need a little shimming.
Put the shim under the base of the fin and push it into the finbox as you push down the fin, like in the pictures below, you should have a tight fit with the shim, no wiggling. If you still have some wiggle with the shim, pull it back out and add a couple more folds of tape to the shim, if it's too tight, make a thinner shim with less tape.

If the fin is too tight and won't go into the box, you can carefully sand the sides of the fin base to make it fit, this takes a little bit more time and patience. Carefully check where the fit is tight and slowly sand the area down until it fits tightly. Often it is the bottom of the fin that is hitting the bottom of the box. In that case, you have to sand the bottom of the base to make it fit, not the sides. The other option is to find a fin that fits the box without sanding.

Another tip: You can use the fin key used for the side fins to put the fin plate into the box and to line it up with the screw hole so the screw goes into the plate easily. That's it, enjoy!



[Link]

Zen Waterman » Is Paddling in our DNA? by Robert Stehlik

Posted 4 years ago

I have been thinking about how easily paddling comes to many and how calming and natural it feels to propel yourself along with a paddle. If you think about it, humans have been paddling for a long time, a crude paddle is probably one of the first tools used by humans. So, perhaps paddling is such an engrained human behavior that it has become part of our DNA. Maybe we know how to paddle in the way that migratory birds instinctively know not just how to fly but when it is time to fly south for the winter, where to go, what altitude to fly at, where to stop to rest, how to fly in formation and work as a group to get to the destination. Some of it is learned behavior but it is also engrained in their DNA and they know what to do without being taught.
Paddling is certainly engrained in Polynesian culture, the paddle was basically used to populate the vast Pacific. Humans have used paddles for thousands of years in all cultures and in many forms.
As an instructor who coaches people on stroke technique, I sometimes wonder if paddling is something everyone already knows how to do instinctively, you just have to help them discover something they already know on some level. Maybe thats why it feel it so natural and soothing to paddle.

Paddle on!

Canoe Drummond getting back to his roots
photo credit: http://www.legendarysurfers.com/2011/10/canoe-drummond.html
I posted these thoughts on the Standupzone as well, where some others commented on it, click here to read more.

[Link]

Zen Waterman » The Upside and Downside of Ocean Competition by Len Barrow

Posted 5 years ago

Surfing competition or any competition can have its upsides and downsides. As a former US Champion and Professional surfer and coach I would like to explore some of the benefits and pitfalls that can “manifest” when you begin competing and succeeding.

One of the benefits to competing whether SUP racing or surfing is that you can really focus your mind. In Zen Meditation, one is taught to have an object of meditation. This is usually ones breath. When we compete we can use our surfing technique, or stroke technique as the object of our meditation. This is a good thing as we learn to enhance and use our attention like a flashlight to solve our problems of technique and form. You can then shift this “acquired attention” to benefit many other areas in life. I use the benefits of attention partially acquired in competing to ” focus” on many things. Use see, when we have the ability to keep our attention on just one thing we can analyze it and can come to creative solutions. I have solved many problems in this method in relation to work, personal relationships and anthropology using this technique (I am a doctor in anthropology also). Our primary problem in modern life is that we don’t pay attention, or don’t have the ability to focus our attention for long periods of time. We Multi-task and grovel our absent mindedly way along the path of life. This can make us frustrated and sad. Surfing and Sup competing can ” turn on” our gift of attention. If we can transfer the gift of attention to other areas of life, we can be happier, and more creative people.

As proof of this, look at Kelly Slater. No one could rationally argue against Kelly Slater’s freakish ability to observe and understand (pay attention) to any ocean condition. He has won in 1 foot waves to 30 foot waves at the Eddie Aikau surf meet and this has resulted in his 11 world titles. What a lot of people don’t know is that Kelly Slater applies his freakish attention to other projects. He has designed a circular wave-pool that creates a never ending wave when it is turned on. Kelly created a plan for an alternate to the ASP surf tour that utilizes a different competition format (if he retires, don’t be surprised to see another tour). Slater created the 2 man, 4 man heat system (Yes it’s possible!!?) that is used at Pipeline to allow more Hawaii surfers into the event as well as a quick event completion. He is a genius in my opinion as he uses his attention gained in the ocean, and competition to be creative in life. I don’t know him personally but no one can argue that he has not been a humble and intelligent ambassador for the sport of surfing. That he stayed humble is amazing which leads to our next segment of the article about the flipside harmful side or of ocean competition.

One of the downsides to competition is that it can transform you into a monster and in many ways destroy your attention-abilities. One of the most common ways that this happens is after we have repeated competitive success, some of us become arrogant. This is the complete opposite of the “goal of attention and practice” of Zen tradition. Just a drop of arrogance destroys any of the “attention -benefit – gains” we have made during our successful competition and training.

There is the famous story of a competitive surfer in the eighties from California that illustrates my point. Let us call him “Jon Edward”. Jon had an amazing talent. He was a wave magnet which means he could pay attention to the waves so deeply that he was in the right place at the right time to get all the sets. It was almost as if he had his hand on the telephone to call waves in. We used to call him “jealously” 1-800-DAIL A BOMB”. He could summon all the biggest waves in a heat (Big wave in surfing =bomb). In competition, we call these guys “freaks” in a good way. As he had repeated success he became exceedingly arrogant. In Zen, Arrogance turns a person into a Demon, or Hungry Ghost metaphorically. He soon dropped out of high school and went full time on tour, oddly with huge sponsorships from corporations. He soon began destroying the top pros and after each success he got more arrogant. This destroyed his ability to pay attention and his wheels metaphorically fell off. He lost his super powers gotten by paying attention suddenly due to his arrogance. He ended up imploding using his sponsor’s money to finance rabid binges on hard drugs, destroying his mind.

I think the moral of the story is if you start to win and get arrogant and stuck up (Whether in SUP racing or surfing competition); you will lose in the end. I have seen this time and time again as a professional coach. If you do well and truly be humble, you can cultivate the gift of attention that you have gained to help yourself and others in many aspects of the life that is ahead of us.

As some Locals say in Hawaii: “BE HUMBLE, NO GRUMBLE”……..Lets all pay attention! [Link]

Zen Waterman » Weekly time trials in Hawaii Kai, video coaching

Posted 5 years ago


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Blue Planet and Wet Feet are holding a weekly coaching/ time trial group training event in Hawaii Kai every Wednesday, this page will have the latest updates, results and coaching videos/ information posted.

Wednesday until further notice: We are meeting by the Hawaii Kai boat ramp. Meeting place for the Wednesdays training group: This sign by the Hawaii Kai boat ramp
For the winter training season, when the days are shorter, the start time is 5:00 PM. The rest of the year we start at 5:30 pm.
Please note that although we welcome anyone to join our weekly training group, these sessions are targeted for intermediate and advanced paddlers to improve their technique and to improve fitness through regular high intensity training. We will usually run the regular time trial course but sometimes will also do shorter sprint training sessions. If you are a beginner, we recommend taking some private SUP lessons first as our coaching topics are geared towards more advanced paddlers.
Click here for information on SUP rentals. Click here for more information coached downwind runs. Click here for information on private SUP lessons.

This is the time trial course, approximately 2 miles.

Results from first time trial:
http://racesplitter.com/races/627262FEE

To see the results from all the time trials, just click on one of the links above and then click on the dashboard tab in the top right corner on the Racesplitter page, then you will see a list of results from all the time trials held so far.

This spreadsheet shows the results from past races:
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B-9qxAnW7ZMdczBNdnItbWlQSXc

When the wind is good, our training group does a Kahala run downwinder instead of the time trial. Please sign up for the newsletter to know when to meet for a downwinder instead of the time trial. Downwinders are only for participants that have downwind experience. If you have newer done a downwinder, please sign up for a private coached downwind run before you join the group runs.
Here is a video of a recent group downwinder on 1/29/14:

Video stroke technique analysis held before the second time trial on Oct. 17th, 2012:

Below is the latest video analysis from Dec. 26th:

This is the video analysis of our Faster buoy turn coaching practice:

Guest coaches Candice Appleby and Anthony Vela from performancepaddling.com talk about paddling into the wind and crosswinds:

Below is the video from last weeks class, taking another look at stroke technique. Everyone has been improving their technique. We will watch this as a group and talk about things we notice, this video has no narrating or music, just raw footage. I edited the footage to put each paddlers clips together. Watch yourself a few times and see what you can learn about your own stoke. Look at the reach, catch, lower hand grip position, stroke rate, shoulder twist, lean, exit, feather, relaxed recovery, breathing, etc, all the things we have talked about.

We hope to see you next Wednesday for the weekly coaching/ time trial.
Where: East end of Hawaii Kai boat rampWhen: 5 pm this Wednesday and every Wednesday (please sing up for weekly newsletter at the bottom of page)What: We will start with signup, technique coaching on the grass with a different topic/ focus each week, drills, warmup, paddle to the start. The time trial will start on the beach at Portlock. We will keep track of name, race number, board class (12'6, 14', unlimited, other watercraft welcome to join) and male/ female, no age groups.

Why: The goal is to improve technique, stay in shape and boost performance. Comparing times will allow us to see improvements in conditioning, the effect of using different technique and gear, and the impact of the conditions/ wind. Times will be recorded and posted online after each time trial and we will have a spreadsheet that will make it easy to compare performance. We want to encourage some of the younger paddlers and help them become competitive racers. Please join us and forward this email to any friends you think might be interested, the more the merrier. Although the coaching/ time trials are geared towards more advanced paddlers, we always welcome less experienced paddlers that want to improve their skills.Payment information:
The first time trial is always free to newcomers. If you are attending for the second (or more) time, there is a charge of $15 per meeting or $100 for a pack of 10 ($10 per coaching/ time trial attended). We don't take payments at the event, so please go to either the Blue Planet or Wet Feet store to pay, or you can pay for it online here:
http://blueplanetsurf.com/collections/lessons/products/weekly-wednesdays-coaching-and-time-trials-pass http://blueplanetsurf.com/collections/lessons/products/weekly-wednesdays-coaching-and-time-trials-pass

If you need a board, please let Robert or Jeff know and we can bring a demo race board ($30 rental fee includes transporting board to and from time trial).

If you purchase a 10 pack, we will use the time trial results to keep track of how many time trials you have attended. Jeff is keeping a spreadsheet of who paid and how many credits you have left. . Mahalo!

All participants are required to sign this waiver form before participating. We will have forms available or you can print the form and bring it to the next meeting:

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[Link]

Zen Waterman » Waves Can Be Our Zen Teachers, by Len Barrow

Posted 5 years ago

We have not done a philosophical article for a while here at Zen Waterman so I thought I would have a go at it, as this blog is about Zen, whatever that means. My late Zen Master Aitken Roshi actually commented to me that (approximately) “some surfers have some realization{in Buddhism} as they engage with waves”. I thought that this was rather odd but I kept thinking about what he said and came to a conclusion that his statement actually made sense.

We can learn a lot about the Zen and by extension ourselves by just paying attention to waves. In Zen Waves are dependently originated. This just means that many natural causes comes together to cause a wave to “become”. The waves are not on their own individual power. They are an aggregate of nature and various causes and conditions. Waves do not have “selves” that steer them around in a scientific view. They logically have specific causes and conditions in nature that cause them to manifest or become.

Let us take a clean 4 foot wave on the south shore. To get a South Swell on the shores on Oahu (Hawaii) you need a storm in the southern hemisphere. The storm has to be in just the right swell window. This takes specific weather patterns by New Zealand and Australia to keep the cyclone pointed at Hawaii’s swell window. To get a storm in the southern hemisphere you need the Suns energy which drives weather patterns on earth. For a clean 4’ wave to manifest you need the right tide and offshore winds as well as correct reef shape. In other words the wave that you see as independent and on its own power is actually highly dependent on many causes and conditions in nature. It is as if the whole universe is behind it. There really is no wave per se but an aggregate of causes and natural conditions. This is what Zen Buddhism argues and this wonderfully correlates with the western scientific view.

Theich Nhat Han, the Vietnamese Zen Master who helped stop the Vietnam war and was nominated for the noble peace prize by Martin Luther King, clearly states the above phenomena in the following statement:

“People normally cut reality into compartments, and so are unable to see the interdependence of all phenomena. To see all in one and one in all is to break through the great barrier which narrow’s ones perception of reality, a barrier which Buddhism calls the attachment to false view of self”.

In relation to the above quote, let us look at our conception of self from a Buddhist manner. Selves manifest in the same ways as waves! Science has shown us this. This idea is not even controversial.

What are the causes and conditions that cause you to be dependently originated like the wave. What natural conditions and causes lead to the manifestation of yourself? This list is almost endless that it boggles the mind. Let us see look at some of the factors that allow “you” to come into being. To start off with the absolute basics, you need oxygen and water. You even need trees to create oxygen which we breath. If you don’t have these natural factors you cease to manifest as yourself. You also need your mother and father, not to mention their ancestors. You need wheats, cows, etc., (if you are not a vegetarian) that become food. Cows need grass to graze on. To have your personality you need the culture around you which helps shape it. If you are surfers you obviously exist in relation to the ocean which also shapes your mentality. You even need bacteria for you to manifest. In fact Scientific American (August issue) just stated that bacteria outnumber your cells in a ten to one ratio in your body! To many scientists the question of a self independently existing is ludicrous and incorrect as bacteria seem to be at least partially running our bodies for their benefit! The famous biologist Dr. Margulis stated that “the idea of a self is warped, we are a walking feeding trough for Bacteria and Cells”. What “is” you? According to Zen we are a matrix of nature and its causes and conditions. Like the wave, we completely lack a self due to dependent origination. This is the Buddhist concept of Anatta or “no self”.

Remember that the western view of the self relies on a self-phenomena that is unchanging and concretely existing on its own power. The western philosopher which structured our current view of the self, Renee Descarte, stated that “I think, therefore I am”. A trained Zen Buddhist would indicate the opposite by saying “I think therefore I am not”.

In the end Zen argues that there is no self (Annata) but just an aggregation of causes and natural conditions. This may sound terrifying to some as your individuality becomes “shattered” yet this is pure freedom, for there becomes no real reason to be angry or fearful at anyone or anything. If there is no self on its own power then logically there can be no death, no life span (stated in the Diamond Sutra…sutra or “bundled writing” which forms the basis of Zen!). We can live in peace. We are but wonderful manifestations of the “play of Nature” just as an ocean wave is. What a noble heritage! I find this view to be most gratifying and it gives me reason not to be too attached to things and people. This is very important as Buddhism argues that attachment to things, people and events (Buddha’s 1st Noble Truth) are our primary cause for suffering. The antidote to this suffering is to see dependent arising (Buddha’s 3rd Noble Truth) thus we become less attached and free (Nirvana or cessation of suffering). The above discussion may seem a bit abstract and even bizarre yet test the logic scientifically. I was actually pissed off when I found the logic (I study western logic) to be sound as I had to give up my conventional western view of self. Despite this the happiness crept in after time.

People wonder why I am happy driving a dilapidated VW van and living a surfing lifestyle that barely involves money yet involves tremendous unpaid public service (I have received civil awards for my homeless programs and work my ass off to enrich other people’s lives). Many people think that my choice of lifestyle is bizarre and stupid but thanks to my teachers the waves, and a bit of Zen I am honestly content and happy about things!

Let us realize this. We can modify our behavior and be more kind and compassionate. We already recognize a wave as being dependently originated and without a self. That is why after the wave pounds us, we don’t say that “it” did us wrong. We do not personify the wave and say “Hey Bob the wave, I hate you for what you did to me….and I will hate you forever Bob the wave”. This is what a deluded mind does in Zen theory. Let us be free from this thinking. We don’t think the wave is a concrete entity with a separate soul or self –substance. Instead we view the wave as being dependently arisen.

Let us do the same with people and events. They are just like waves.

Let us see them as dependently arisen, as an aggregate of causes and natural conditions. This will allow us to live in freedom just as the waves are free and perfect. Why not be happy?

Let me leave you with this Zen Koan (type of riddle): “What was your original face before you were born”.

Or better yet, a Koan that I have created: “What was the wave’s original face before it was born”

And “Is there such a thing as Zen……..what is there to talk about?”
I must warn you, I am an exquisite liar!

Haha! [Link]

Zen Waterman » Maui to Molokai race 2012, race recap by Bill Boyum and Robert Stehlik

Posted 5 years ago


The Maui to Molokai race was my favorite race I have competed in to date.
Most of the content in this post has already been posted on the standup zone in this thread:
http://www.standupzone.com/forum/index.php?topic=16792.0

Here is the GPS data of the race:
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/199292338

Bill Boyum from Maui did a great writeup along with excellent videos, which I will re-post here:

Race Recap written by Bill Boyum:

As Blueplanet reported, he came over friday morning, I picked him up and we did a fairly smokin' Maliko run to the oil tanks. BluePlanet (Robert) was going to be racing on Sat so he just wanted a cruise run which was perfect since he was going with me and Victor. Robert's a great guy and very good DW paddler. He sandbagged considerably on his very first Maliko run to allow me stay with him and certainly seemed ready for the next day.

TS Daniel had just cleared south of the BI Friday night and pressure gradients had tighten significantly. I wasn't going to even be racing, just shooting vid from the Baxter team boat but I was just as excited. Wind whistled in my window all night long, sleep was scattered.

Arrived in Lahaina at 6:45 and our skipper, Mike Holmes from Molokai reported a very rough crossing. The Baxter team posted along with a very jovial Chuck Patterson, keen to do his first Pailolo, M2M. Conner was stretched out below while Chuck and I swapped old stories on the deck and laughed. He's a guy who must have the biggest grin on the planet. That grin grew bigger as we blazed up the coast on glassy seas, finally crashing into a very solid wind line off Kaanapali. Yep the conditions were outasight.

We pulled into a glassy Honolua Bay, which for old surfers like me, is a sacred place of untold beauty and an incredible spot to begin a race. Most of the racers did preliminary a warm up paddle around the bay and I was able to shoot some close ups of all who came around our boat to drop stuff and chat. Young Dylan from South Africa posted in one of the smallest escort boats I'd seen, with the SA flag waving. Fun stuff. He was using the same SB he's been using so far on his trip, without a rudder, an ambitious undertaking for the Pailolo.

Start was the usual sprint blaze but soon there was a break out pod of around eight paddlers which quickly turned into a pod of four following, not drafting mind you, Conner. Conner, Dave, and Livio from Maui and Dave Kssa from Sydney OZ(Kssa on our forum) Dave Kssa had already proved his worth in previous runs and despite his jovial personality, a closer inspection of his eyes would inform you that this guy is a very keen competitor.

However within that first mile, the Conner and Dave show separated from Livio and Kssa. Kalama maintained a constant charge on Conner's burst regime and the two were quite close with a see-saw for around 8-9 miles. The channel was as good as the channel could be. There were very tall and massive broad swells moving through deep water as usual but what wasn't as usual was that the wind speed allowed Dave and Conner to chop glides off the crest tops and make a turn to the right. My GPS on the boat showed 7.5-10mph during this stretch for these two, which is phenomenal for deep-water open ocean speeds on an SUP.

I found it interesting, even in the first early miles, to see how each of the two leaders adjusted to bodily stresses. Dave would catch glides and do Lance Carson type soul arches to alleviate some of the static contraction building up in his back, looking graceful in a hardcore situation. Conner on the other hand, would squat down so low his butt was almost touching the board as he pulled into almost hollowed out sections of crest tops. Who has legs like that? Only the young. In this channel environment the two seemed a remarkably even match.

But as we neared Molokai, almost ten miles into the race, out of nowhere, Livio began moving up fast. Soon he was within the camera frame with Conner and Dave. I was very excited. As someone shooting video, more racers means better footage. Livio was risking all by fully dropping down the face of a few monsters instead of only riding the top. It appeared to be paying off. I bet his GPS was spiking very high.

Racing this distance (28 miles) absolutely requires hydration and nutritional help. Support boats can carry those supplements and this was where the Baxter team (Conner's parents, Keith and Karen), excel. It's a well-oiled machine. Karen mixes the shake and Keith throws on a pair of swim fins. After signaling to Conner, Keith leaps into the deep blue, a true ‘leap of faith’. (kind of what I think of as blundering into south central LA and running out of gas). Keith didn't even flinch. Well away from the boat, Conner was able to squat down and pick up from the outstretched hand of his father, his go-juice or bar. Then we in the boat would double back for the Keith retrieve. It was an exceptional thing to witness.

I was looking for Dave's method but failed to see what he did because separation had slowly begun to occur. Conner was pulling away.

Before we hit outside Kamalo, the sea surface had changed dramatically. Glides were slowing down and growing relatively steeper as the bottom grew shallower. Large scalloped bowl sections lined up and with breaking crest tops. Still, these glides weren't what you might consider easy entries. The faces were still initially shallow faced as they stood up (by Maliko standards) and Conner was hammering down race start speed sprints to drop in. But once in it was quite a sight. The faces would open up like no ones business, and the fancy and fast foot work was in full gear. He dropped so many that were ‘toenail clinging’ and which I thought were a for sure wipeout but somehow he would pull out the drop. He wasn't perfect and did finally crash very hard, the kind of crash that would take the starch out of a guy like me, but Conner was up in a blink and if you've seen that race vid from Haliewa then you know how fast that is. Conner maintained his knee pumping, energy bunny routine throughout this final 15-mile stretch of the race. How fast? Wicked fast. My guess is around 11mph average for this section. I bumped my GPS somewhere along the channel section so I don't have that speed but I do know this. Our boat had a cruising speed, which wasn't sufficient to keep up with the kid. Sometimes the boat would drop in along with the kid and we’d keep up but otherwise we'd have to throttle up to catch him almost every 40 seconds. As Peter posted a 9.2 average is blazing fast for his record time. The word from people have been doing that particular run for as long as it's been done on an SUP, is that yesterday was the best conditions yet.

Open ocean inter -channel racing is still a very fringe wing of the sport of SUP and the logistics for doing it, while maybe not as much as a mountaineering expedition, are still significant with all the incumbent dangers that the open ocean can bring. Like powder skiing in the backcountry, the very elements that can enhance the experience, can be the same that could be your undoing. All the participants in these kinds of channel crossing are heavy hitters and have a strong enough focus to keep going a marathon distance, navigating through mountainous seas. I've seen some stuff in my life, some really impressive shit but this was right up there among the top.

I’m not great on boats but drank alot of ginger tea the day before. I was doing fine until the shooting starting getting very intense. Dave Kalama wore his famous racing red shirt and was easy to spot in my frame and since Conner was near him during the first half, it was good. But Conner had a white shirt and during the high-speed Kamalo stretch, it was straining to find him. Like reading a book in a car, I began to suffer some nausea. I’d heave a bit and Keith would take over and then I’d be back on it. In any case the thought of going back to Maui upwind on the ferry, as I originally planned, were thrown quickly out the window. Pounding into those size seas upwind would have been torture for me. So I went back with Karen and Conner on the small puddle jumper and was treated to a stunning ride along the north shore cliff side of Molokai at sunset… fitting end to a very long day.

Already had a look at the vid and pics. Looks very good. Working on them so stay tuned….

Here are Bill's videos of the race:

Below are Interviews I did before and after the race for Radio Chum with some of the top finishers and the event organizer.

I did not have video to go along with these audio interviews, so I made a slideshow of the event, all four interviews have the same slideshow playing.

Rodney Kilborn da Handsome Bugga : http://handsomebuggaproductions.com

I’m looking forward to doing this race again next year.
While the distance it is almost as long (27 miles) as the Molokai to Oahu race (32 miles), this race is just so much faster and funner. While the M2O race keeps getting harder and harder as you get closer to the finish, the M2M race keeps getting better and better. If you are interested in doing a long distance channel crossing solo for the first time, I highly recommend this race.

Aloha,
Robert Stehlik [Link]

Zen Waterman » Livio Menelau showing the SIC line and Ion camera at Surf Expo, Sept 2012

Posted 5 years ago

Livio is a Brazilian who made Maui his home. He is one of the fastest SUP racers and a funny guy to hang out with. We ended up sitting next to each other on the red eye flight from LA to Orlando. We arrived in Orlando at 6 am and headed off to the Surf Expo demo day, which was a great event. Despite the sweltering heat and humidity, being outside and on the water was more fun than being inside the convention center all day at the Surf Expo for the next 3 days.

At the show I visited Livio and got a tour of the SIC booth, also got some information on the new Ion action video cam which has some cool features.

Check it out in the video:

The SIC production boards will be available on the mainland early 2013, prices are about the same as 2012, I have a price list. Let me know which models you are interested in and I can post the msrp prices.

SIC is now owned by Flow and will be distributed out of California, so they should be easier to get for anyone not in Hawaii starting next year.

To download the new SIC catalog, click here [Link]

Zen Waterman » Corran Addison showing his new Inflatable SUP at Surf Expo

Posted 5 years ago

This is another video from the Surf Expo in Orlando, Sept. 2012.

There were lot's of new inflatable models on display at the show. In this video, Corran Addison shows his latest creation, probably the most elaborate and innovative inflatables on the market. The "combat" model features an "exoskeleton" batten stiffening system and innovative two part deck with lowered standing area. Corran talks about it while demonstrating it in the SUP demo pool. I shot some more video of him talking about the rest of his line later but unfortunately the battery on the microphone was running low and the sound was terrible, so I could not use any of the footage I shot later that day, bummer.

[Link]

Zen Waterman » SUP Yoga at Surf Expo Sept. 2012

Posted 5 years ago

Our booth at Surf Expo was right next to the demo pool and they had a demonstration of SUP yoga every day. I must say that I was really impressed. I never thought much about SUP yoga but after witnessing some of the amazing balance and flexibility demonstrated by the Yoga instructors, I am now convinced that Yoga on water is here to stay and has a great future.

The beginning of the video has a short interview with Sarah Tiefenthaler, the owner of Yogaqua (www.yogaqua.com).
In the interview she said that practicing yoga on water helps with core strength and alignment, as balancing on water requires proper alignment.
What she said about focus makes perfect sense and resonates with our Zen Waterman philosophy:
When you are balancing on water if fully absorbs you and you can't think about anything else. The purpose of Yoga is to turn off the chatter in your head. Well said, thank you Sarah!

[Link]

Zen Waterman » Surf Expo: Starboards 2013 products previews by team riders

Posted 5 years ago

It turned out that our Blue Planet/ Everpaddle booth at Surf Expo was right next to the Starboard booth. We sell a lot of Starboards products at the Blue Planet Surf Shop, so I went over to check out what's new for next year. It was on Friday, the day before the Standup World tour event at Coco Beach and all the top teamriders were on hand to talk about what's new. Here are the videos I was able to shoot at the Starboards booth with some of the world's top stand up paddlers:

Dan Gavere talks about the lineup of new Starboards inflatable SUP's:

Connon Baxter talks about the new Raceboard designs:

Anabelle Anderson talks about racing, development and testing and some of the clothing items.

Sean Pointer talks about his new Pro model:

Zane Schweitzer talks about his Pro model and some of the other models in the lineup:

More videos coming soon,
Click here to watch all the videos from Surf Expo

Aloha,
Robert Stehlik

Here are a couple of pics of the Blue Planet/ Everpaddle booth:


[Link]

Zen Waterman » Surf Expo Sept. 2012: What's new at Quickblade

Posted 5 years ago

I just got back from the Surf Expo in Orlando where we were showing our line of Blue Planet SUP boards. We had a great response and are now working on setting up distribution on the East coast, one step at a time. While at the show, I was able to check out what's new at our vendors and other manufacturers and brands I had not heard of. I shot some video and this is the first one to get done editing. More to follow soon.

This video features Jim Terrell, the owner and mastermind behind Quickblade paddles. He is showing the new Elite Race paddle with a tapered/ oval shaft felt really good in my hands, some innovative features are that it is cut to size at the bottom which makes it less stiff the shorter it is cut, also the shaft runs all the way through the handle, making it stronger. We ordered some and will have some at the shop soon.
The video also features Talia Gangini and Bailey Rossen who both use a Flyweight paddle (83 square inches) with thinner shaft as their paddle of choice. Quickblade will produce the Flyweight with a lighter elite layup and prepreg shaft and is also adding a new Superfly size blade (93 square inch) to it's lineup.

More videos coming soon: Starboards 2013 preview, SIC and Ion Camera, SUP Yoga, Corran inflatable SUP's

Aloha, Robert Stehlik [Link]

Zen Waterman » Regrouping (Check yourself before you wreck yourself)….Two reasons why surfers have frustrating surf sessions

Posted 5 years ago

By Len Barrow

When I was younger I used to have a problem when I surfed. Sometimes I would lose my rhythm. As I caught a wave I would go into a cutback and fall off. On the next wave I would paddle hard for the wave but miss it. Then I would turn around and get pounded by sets that I failed to realize were coming in. This led to my mind to go astray and my attention began to get frayed. Frustration would creep in and I would begin to lose my focus and attention. At times I would get so agitated that I would paddle in. This influenced the rest of the day for me in a negative manner. I don’t want you, the reader, to repeat my mistakes.

Len Barrow, paying attention and using Low Volume to Match Low Volume Wave

I would be surprised to find a SUP or surfer who has never had one of these days. As I grew older I was shown a few techniques from one of my Hawaiian uncles. These ideas are simple and can really enhance your SUP or surfing experience and I wish to share them with you here.

uncle showed me the idea of what he termed “REGROUPING”. If your surf session is going badly you need to PAY ATTENTION by analyzing what you are doing wrong. I know this sounds strange but stop your surfing and paddle to the inside of the break to take time to watch the waves and “reset your rhythm” You will find that your mistakes usually fall into a two simple categories that I shall explain here.

Here are the primary two reasons why many surfers have bad sessions.

1.Being Out of Rotation

You may find that every-time you wait for waves, they don’t come or when they do you are stuck on the inside trying to paddle out. This can be very frustrating, yet there is a solution to this. Again, stop what you are doing and “regroup” yourself in the following manner. Paddle to the inside of the surf break. Why the inside of the break you may ask? By sitting in front of the whole break you can get a better perspective as to what is happening. The point being is “how to observe the whole break” in relation to “how the water and waves are moving”. Once you observe and understand this you can regroup yourself get back to the “pulse’ of the ocean! You cannot get this perspective by sitting all the way on the outside of the surf point. By sitting on the inside you may watch, observe and pay-attention to the totality of what is happening in the break .

As you sit, breathe deeply, and calm down. Pay attention to the patterns of waves coming in. Never forget that surfing is 80% observation and only 20% physical surfing. You may notice that the waves are coming in flurries of set (larger waves) at certain time intervals. Take note of the interval. Maybe the sets come in every 8-10 minutes. If this is the case, be patient. Wait for 8-10 minutes and when the flurry of sets come you can get a wave. Even if you don’t get the set (due to crowds) you will start becoming more in tune with the timing or pulse of the ocean. If you do catch a wave at this interval you are beginning to flow more with the ocean! Slowly paddle out again and wait for the next set. Bingo! You are now in what surfers call “Nature's Rotation” and are tuning in to what nature is trying to tell you to do! This technique seems simple but it takes a long time to learn yet your surfing enjoyment will go up exponentially.

2.Surfing Too Loud.

Sometimes you may find that you are falling off your board to frequently. This can get really frustrating. Again, one needs to regroup and pay attention to why one is faltering. One of the primary reasons that people fall off their boards is that they are surfing to “loud” for the given wave. Let me explain this phenomena . If you are on a soft rolling wave, you cannot put too much power or pressure on your board. If you do this you will dig a rail or your surfing style will look “overdone” and ugly. Adjust your “volume” to the wave that is given to you. “Lower your volume” or put less pressure on your rail when you cut back or when you go off the top. Instead of trying to attack the lip on a soft and mushy wave just lightly “pop” the board off the top. Remember, you are not supposed to drive 100 miles an hour in a 25mph zone! This is called “surfing light”. This will help you to stop digging rail and falling off. If the waves are big and fast, then you may turn up the volume and really jam the rail into the water. Until then, take it easy.

It is important to understand that it is we that must fit our surfing in to nature, not the other way around. Any good surfer has this figured out. So the next time you are having a bad day surfing, sit back and regroup using the tips above. I assure you it will enhance your surfing experience!

[Link]

Zen Waterman » 2012 Molokai to Oahu race coaching bootcamp by Robert Stehlik

Posted 5 years ago


If you ask anyone who has raced in the Molokai to Oahu race what the hardest part of the race was, the answer will most likely be: the last few miles. Being prepared and training for this last part is key to having a good race, so for the last couple of years, I offered to coach some racers on race strategy, picking a good line and doing a run from Sandy Beach to Hawaii Kai to prepare for the Molokai race.
This year, Jeff Chang and I joined together to offer a Molokai race training workshop the Wednesday before the race and we had a great group of nine first time Molokai racers sign up. Although all the participants were experienced racers and have spent a lot of time training and preparing for this race, everyone said they learned a lot.

The M2O race is considered the ultimate challenge in SUP and when I first got into SUP racing, completing the M2O race became a big goal of mine. I often hear from new SUP racers that completing this race is on their bucket list. I have talked to several paddlers doing this race for the first time that say they enjoyed my race recaps and videos on this blog and that it helped them prepare for the race as there is not much information out there. I decided to put together this post and the narrated video to put out more information for anyone planning to participate in this race.
Here is a video of the workshop:

We are planning to hold this workshop again next year, so if you are interested check back with us a few weeks before the race as we limit it to 10 participants.
Here is a recap of our workshop.
Molokai to Oahu race coaching workshop

Stand Up Paddle race technique workshop, presented by Blue Planet Surf and Wet Feet, open only to racers signed up for the M2O race.

Coached by: Robert Stehlik and Jeff Chang

Date: Thursday July 26th, meet at the dirt parking lot close to the finish line of the Molokai race, look for the trailer.

8 am – load boards on the trailer, go over race strategy, explain objectives. Set finish of race as waypoint on GPS for navigating.

8:15 to 9:00 – drive to China Wall (Portlock point)- go over reef areas and talk about options and strategy depending on conditions on race day.

9:15 to 12:00- drive to Sandy Beach, launch through break and paddle downwind along coast, past Hanauma Bay, along Portlock to finish through rough waters to prepare for last few miles of Molokai race. Faster paddlers will paddle past China Walls several times, exploring several lines. Debrief on beach, Q&A
M2O bootcamp course- this map shows the course we paddled as well as the straight "rum line" from the start to the finish and the recommended line for the Molokai race. This map shows the whole M2O race course, with the straight "rum line" and the recommended line: going a little north of the "rum line" at first and ending up along the wall at Portlock point.
I did the race as part of a 3 man team this year, partnering with Jeff Chang and Doug Lock, sponsored by Bluerush Boardsports in Sausalito, CA. Some of the screenshots in the video show the actual course we took during the race. Here is the complete GPS data from our race: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/204630679

Below is a gopro video of the start and first leg of the Molokai race:




Aloha,
Robert Stehlik

[Link]

Zen Waterman » Is Lighter and Thinner Really More Maneuverable: A Personal Story

Posted 5 years ago

By Len Barrow Author Len Barrow on 15 pound heavy Longboard

Common knowledge would have it that lighter thinner boards are more maneuverable and superior to heavy and thick boards. Many of my friends are obsessed with the weight of their boards. You don’t know how many times I have heard the phrase “check out how light my board is” in the past. This article will explore the advantages of how a heavy board can be utilized. I will also add in an amusing recollection of my first time riding an ultra-thick and heavy board.

You might find it strange that I would argue the merits of a heavier board as this seems counterintuitive. Today, everyone is trying to get boards that are as light as possible. Light boards have a plethora of positive aspects but let us not fail to look at the advantages of a little extra weight on your surfing SUP or Longboard.

Meet Power with Power (loading the spring)

Ben Aipa used to tell me “power meets power” in surfing. What did he mean? Well, if you have a powerful lip you want to bash, you cannot hit it gingerly, or with little force. If you do this you will get swatted like a fly. When you hit a powerful lip you need to drive into it with the speed acquired in a bottom turn which is released in a powerful connection with the lip or in a long noseride. This is where a heavier board can have advantages. As the board has more weight and mass you can derive more energy off your bottom turn than you can on a lighter board. This is because you really have to get low and over your board to bottom turn on a heavier board. You have to “put the board on a rail” and store the energy from the bottom turn, like a compressed spring, to release it off the top or project this energy into a long noseride. A heavy, thicker board allows a surfer to “store” energy in a bottom turn just as energy is stored in a spring. This energy may be later transformed in to speed, just as when a spring is released it dispenses with its energy. This “efficient use of energy” allows you to hit a powerful lip that is throwing down at you. In essence, you match power with power. Heavy boards are conducive to “spring” power surfing like this. A heavier board forces you to surf properly. These boards help you establish a good “line” in your surfing. By saying this I mean that you have to bottom turn before every top turn. Your surfing looks good as you are drawing swooping lines on the wave, just like an expert snowboarder or skier draws big lines down a mountain.

Style and Flow on a Heavy Board

Having a heavier board can have advantages in relation to your style. Sometimes surfers with ultra-light boards often look jerky. Ultra-light equipment can have problems on windier days as the board gets blown around by the wind. Also, they don’t slice through the water as efficiently as a heavier board. As an extreme example, imagine a lighter yacht verses an ice breaker. In icy water with chunks of ice the yachts line will be disrupted by the ice as the yacht is forced to make jerky direction changes as it encounters obstacles. On the other extreme imagine a heavy ice breaker. It just smoothly slices its way through the ice due to its large mass which is converted into energy. The same applies with your board which influences your style. Super light longboards can sometimes make a surfer look jerky. Again, they are also almost impossible to ride when it is windy as the board is overcome by the winds resistance. If you have ever have seen an expert traditional long boarder (Joel Tudor, Donald Takayama) on a heavy longboard you will notice that they stand up straight and use the minimum amount of movement as the board is doing much of the work. They just slice through the water and flow, almost as if surfing were a wonderful dance. Heavier boards allow you to flow from one section to the next in a fluid motion or dance just as an ice breaker has no problem moving through ice. Quite simply a heavy board and its mass creates your speed and thus you have a minimum of body movement. In this way a board like this can improve your style. If you don’t believe me look at videos of Joel Tudor and Phil Edwards. They are riding tanks (hence the term Tanker), some weighing over 20 pounds, and they have beautiful styles!

The above discussion may seem a bit theoretical yet I have firsthand experience with heavy thick equipment. The following personal story is an account of this.

Heavy, Thick Boards…..A Personal Story

When I first got into longboarding, I had a problem. I was surfing on an ultra-light longboard which forced me to hunch my back and I was hitting the lip and surfing in a weak manner with an ugly “line”. Ben Aipa said I looked like a mosquito trying to bite someone. He also likened me to an a’ama crab as I looked like a crab as my back was so hunched over! He also likened my backside bottom turn to someone “taking a shit”. Ben Aipa’s solution to my “crab/mosquito” style was to purposefully glass my board heavier and make my board a little longer and thicker.
At the time I did not know that Ben was going to “cure” my style deficiency with a heavier and thicker board design. I ordered a board and as usual I just let Ben shape it as I had full trust in his abilities. When I got the board I was horrified. It was super heavy and super thick. The longboard was 3 and ¾ inches thick (a normal longboard thickness is 2 and 5/8 to 3 inches thick) and it was glassed with double layers of 6 ounce glass! In my head I was like “oh my god, how the hell am I going to ride this”. I did not say anything as I did not wish to offend Ben Aipa. He looked at me and told me to surf the board and stated “You don’t want to look like an A’ama crab right……go surf and tell me what you think” He then added… “Leonard, this board is to be surfed on, don’t ride it”. I was like WTF?

Perplexed and confused at his coded language, I left the shop. ( Ben always used paradoxical saying that are like little riddles, just like Zen Koans. He truly is a Zen master when it comes to surfboard design and he had a plan for me!)

Anyway, I showed up at the beach with my new board. My friends laughed at the design. They said it looked like a “door with fins on it”. Some of my friends commented, “Ben’s up to his silly designs again” and some warned me that “Bens Aipa is steering you down the wrong road”. I shirked away in embarrassment and jumped in the water. As I paddled the board I was surprised at how the board glided through the water. It was a windy day and the board was just slicing through the chop.

I caught my first wave and stood up. A section began to form in front of me. Automatically I put the board on a rail and began my bottom turn. The heavy board had so much momentum that I flew off the shoulder after the bottom turn. I thought to myself, “I could use this momentum in an off the lip!”. As I caught the next wave I waited for a section to form up and I bottom turned and used the speed derived from my heavy and thick board to hit the lip extremely late. On any other light board I would have been thrown off, yet with this heavy board, power met power and I slammed into the lip and made the landing. I thought in my head wow…..this is what Ben meant by “surfing” the wave and not “riding” it. To Ben “Surfing a board” was all about engaging the rail deeply with big off the lips and committed cut- backs. “Riding” was what I was doing before. Riding to Ben was soft, unengaged “boring” surfing. I was finally learning how to truly “surf”!

As the surf session progressed I found that the board was a spring that allowed me to load and release the energy where ever I wanted to. I had one of the best sessions of my life. I came in to the silence of my friends as they were watching me surf. They could not understand how a thick and heavy board could be so maneuverable. Suddenly, out of the side of my eye I saw someone standing down the beach. It was Ben Aipa. He was secretly watching what I would do with the board. He had a huge smile on his face! I smiled also. No words needed to be conveyed. Zen Surf Master Ben Aipa did it again.
I later went on to qualify for the US championships. I won it on the same thick heavy equipment that Ben put me on. Don’t be afraid to experiment with heavier and thicker boards.

Thanks Mr Aipa for teaching me to “SURF” and not to ride.

[Link]

Zen Waterman » What’s up with Nose Designs? by Len Barrow

Posted 5 years ago

In my past design articles we have analyzed tail, fin, bottom configuration and rocker elements in surfboard design in both the realm of surfing SUPS and Surfboards. One aspect of board design that does not receive a lot of attention is Nose outline and configuration. It is a bit of a mystery. The following article will explore various nose designs.

I once asked the famous shaper Ben Aipa about how nose designs affected board performance and he responded dryly: “It’s in front of you”. This may sound like a dull answer yet it is most profound. When you are surfing, the portion of the board that is in contact with the water “first” is the nose. The Nose engages the water initially and thus is of most importance in surfboard design. It “orients” and directs the water flow under the board first and is of great importance to SUP or surfboard performance.

One cannot talk about nose design separate from nose rocker or “entry rocker”. Various types of entry rocker will allow you to enhance certain characteristics of your board’s performance. All of this might sound a complex yet it is quite simple.

The Round Nose

The rounded nose is simply that. They include noses that look like the shape of your thumb. They occur both on longboards and surfing SUPS. Typically they have low nose rockers. The extra area equates to more foam, hence more lift. This allows you to walk up to the nose and nose ride. Another advantage of the round nose with a low rocker is that it is easy to paddle into waves or if you are on a surfing Sup the low nose rockers allows you to paddle into the wave without “pushing water” (I will explain what pushing water is later). The noses are ideal for the beginner or for those of you who want to noseride or just surf more traditionally and cruise.

The disadvantage of a round nose is that the outline of you board near the nose is pulled outward. This may cause your board to have a wider turning arc. If your nose is too wide it can also “catch rail” which means your nose rail outline can dig into the water causing you to fall off. That is why round noses with low rockers are not recommended for big waves or super high performance surfing.

The Narrow or “Needle Nose”

Most high performance surfing sups and short boards have pulled in noses that roughly resemble a triangle (albeit, a “rounded triangle). The narrow noses are also combined with high nose rockers. This enhances the performance of the board especially if you want to “hotdog” or high performance SUP or Surf. This nose design allows the surfer to cut his turning radius by a third or more in relation to the rounded nose. As the nose rocker is more bowed or curved it allows you to “pocket surf” meaning you can keep pivoting right in the sweet spot of the wave next to the curl which is the area of the wave that is curved. Remember, a curved surfboard fits a curved wave! This design also allows you to take late drops as the nose is narrow and flipped up. Simply, you have less chance of pearl diving. A narrow nose with high rocker also allows you to “lift the board” in to off the lip sections. If you want to see what a narrow nose board is capable of YouTube Kai Lenny and my above comments will come to life.

The disadvantages to this design are that you have to keep the board moving from rail to rail or they slow down rapidly. They are usually meant for the advanced surfer who is able to utilize the performance characteristics of a narrow nose to put the board up into the lip, or gouge a deep cutback. If you are a beginner going strait, the high nose rocker will slow you down as it pushes water in front of the board as you are not constantly pivoting on the rail. It is also for this reason that narrow noses are not meant for nose riding, as the high rocker and lessened amount of foam will cause the board to sink if you run up to the nose.

The “Fun Board Nose” or the Middle Path

Some boards are called “Fun Boards”. The nose is neither narrow nor round. The rocker is neither extremely high nor low. It is a blend of the two configurations. Due to this you get the advantages of a round nose mixed with the maneuverability of a narrow nose. The boards are called fun boards for a reason. They allow the average surfer to explore hotdog, maneuver oriented surfing without losing the flow of a larger rounder nose. Many fun boards can even be nose ridden. They exist in both the SUP world and the surfing arena. If you are an advanced beginner or intermediate SUP or surfer I would recommend this design type.

Avoid Dogmatism

The above information are just broad recommendations. Every shaper will have his theory. If someone swears by a design he or she has just never tried other things. I ride longboards with wide noses and low rockers and am able to surf big waves and hotdog surf on it. This is not supposed to happen but if you figure it out, it can be done. Conversely, I have seen SUP surfer’s nose ride on narrow noses. It is up to you to explore the possibilities. That is the beauty of our sport! There are no boundaries! I hope to see you all in the water experimenting with different designs!
Aloha Dr. Len Kelemoana Barrow [Link]

Zen Waterman » 2012 SUP Paddle reviews by Robert Stehlik

Posted 5 years ago

At Blue Planet Surf Shop we are passionate about good stand up paddles. We think a good paddle is just as important (and arguably more important) as a good board. We pride ourselves in having one of the most complete selections of quality stand up paddles you will find anywhere with all the top brands represented as well as some lesser known brands and we can help you choose the best paddle for your needs. Here are some reviews of the new models from some of the brands we carry. Thanks to Evan Leong of standuppaddlesurf.net for shooting the video reviews, presented here in no particular order.

Native Living Custums:
Beautiful hand crafted paddles, made in Hawaii with plenty Mana inside and great innovative features, including a detachable blade design and egg shaped shafts. The owner and craftsman, Alex Nix keeps pushing the limits of what's possible.

For more information, visit their facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Native-Living-Custums-Hawaii/134766546642667

Here is a new video with the owner/ craftsman behind the NLC paddles, Alex Nix, explaining more about the features of his paddles:

Ke Nalu Paddles:
This newer brand that has been taking the market by storm with innovative, high quality paddles with amazing performance, thinner shaft diameter, and many customization options. Once you get used to a Ke Nalu paddle, it's hard to go back to anything else. It's no wonder these are some of our best selling paddles.

For more information, visit:
http://www.kenalu.com

Kialoa Paddles:
Kialoa's are some of the most popular paddles out there, and for good reason. A long history of making excellent paddles, quality, lightweight construction, made in the US, and comfortable oval shaped shafts. Their new Lever Lock adjustment system is, in our opinion, the best adjustment system currently available.

For more information:
http://www.kialoa.com/paddles-gear-1/stand-up.html

Here is a good video on Kialoa's design philosophy:

Whiskeyjack Paddles:
If you like handcrafted wood, check out these paddles: beautiful craftsmanship with excellent performance, made in the Rocky Mountains. Lightweight, beautiful, strong and functional, what more would you ask for?

For more information, visit:
http://www.whiskeyjackpaddles.com/paddles.asp

Werner Paddles:
Werner has a long history of making excellent paddles. Their newest Grand Prix paddles are very impressive- light, strong and efficient blade design. Their handle shape is one of the best-ergonomic and comfortable, it now comes in full carbon on the GP paddles.

For more information, visit:
http://www.wernerpaddles.com/paddles/stand_up/performance_core/

Quickblade Paddles:
Quickblade owner Jim Terrell is an olympic paddler and his company has probably done more than anyone to drive our sport forward. The thin, sharp edged blades are the result of many years of testing and development and make the entry and exit super clean and efficient. It's no wonder that Quickblade paddles are used by many of the top racers in the world.
For more information:
http://www.quickbladepaddles.com/our-paddles.html

Below is a video of Jim Terrell showing the new Quickblade paddles at Surf Expo- the new Elite Race paddle with tapered/ oval shaft felt really good. Also featuring Talia Gangini and Bailey Rossen.

Riviera Paddles:
If you are looking for a good value, the Riviera Danny Ching Scout paddle and Asset adjustable paddle are hard to beat.
For more info:
http://www.rivierapaddlesurf.com/

Kahuna Creations:
The new Big Stick skate stick is a cool cross training tool.
For more info:
http://www.kahunacreations.com/bigstick

That's it for now, we'll try to add more paddles and reviews as they come in and appreciate your feedback.

For more general information on paddles, check this older post on: Choosing the right paddle.
And this one: Some thoughts on water flowing over a paddle

Click here to watch the paddle review videos on vimeo [Link]

Zen Waterman » Zen Mind as the Beginners Mind: A Surfing Story

Posted 5 years ago


by Len Barrow

The eponymous Zen Master Dogen Zenji stated that the beginners mind was the Zen mind. The ultimate beginners mind could be likened to that of a 1 ½ year old’s mind. They have no concept of self or self-reference. In fact if you put them up to a mirror they cannot recognize themselves. This is a beautiful thing. In Zen philosophy the self and selfishness can be likened to Being a hungry ghost suffering in hell or a demon in Zen folklore. In relation this, the selfless person is regarded as a saint or Bodhisattva. If you think this is crazy, look at the selflessness of Martin Luther King or Gandhi. They were saints. Look at histories selfish people. Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin (among others) were extremely selfish and truly demonic. It is as simple as that in Zen philosophy.

To a young child everything is a wondrous new experience. They don’t look at things as right or wrong, good or evil and rich or poor. Young children don’t have stereotypes. They view everything as it is with no ego commentary. According to Dogen Zenji, they have the Buddha’s mind. I find this so simple and beautiful.

This is a wondrous state to be in yet the question arises: “can we get back to this pristine state”. I think we can. This can be achieved both as teachers and students. The following is a story of how student’s “beginner’s minds” can be a great asset to us all.

I was reminded that this phenomena could be achieved a couple of weeks ago. Robert asked me to do a surf lesson with a German couple. They were complete beginners in relation to the surf and as such had the beginners mind. In addition to being nice people, the couple was fresh, spontaneous and open to whatever came their way. They had the minds of 1 year olds in relation to the surf. Another way of saying this is that they exhibited pure awareness and attention. In other words they had the Buddha’s mind or exhibited the Zen way of attention without even knowing it.
I asked them to observe the water carefully. They became aware of the direction of the current and the various movements of the waves. When I looked at their faces I was surprised to see how in tune they were to the ocean as they were observing every movement of the sea. All of their actions were unconsciously and spontaneously directed by the ocean. In a way, through their hyper-attention, they were fusing themselves to the ocean. The ocean was no longer something outside of them-selves. The subject and object dissolved into pure awareness.

They were infectious in their ability to pay attention. I started to get into a Zen meditative mode without even trying. It was as if we were sharing minds as they were in tune to what I was teaching them about the ocean (sharing minds is not an unusual Zen theme). We were doing the Spock Vulcan mind meld, surfer style!
As they caught waves the look of pure attention on their faces was infectious. I watched them with total awe as they were catching their waves for the first time. I had no thoughts or judgments in my head and just became a one year old also! What a pure and sacred act! We were three “one year olds” existing in perfect attention with the beautiful ocean. For a time there we had the Zen mind. It was as simple as that.
As they caught waves they had the hugest smiles on their faces. It was an honor to teach them. In a way they reminded me to slow down, pay attention, and be a child who is open to the wholeness of the universe.
Mahalo Silke and Martin!
You actually were the teachers that day!
For more information on surf lessons by Len Barrow and SUP lessons, please visit: http://www.getupstanduphawaii.com/
[Link]

Zen Waterman » Paddle Technique Part 6: Turning the Board

Posted 5 years ago

This post covers techniques to turn the board and adjust direction.
First off, it is important to understand the difference between a forward stroke and a steering stroke.
The forward stroke is used to propel yourself straight forward with minimal turning or yaw. The basics of the forward stroke are covered in Technique Post #3: Stacking the Shoulders.
The steering stroke is used to turn the board effectively. To turn the board, you want to use the angle of the blade and the stroke path to maximize turning. To go straight, you want to use the pitch and path to minimize steering. My friend Jeff Chang wrote a good post on his blog on using the path and pitch of the paddle: Paddle Steering by Jeff Chang.

To steer the board you basically want the blade to angle out away from the board at the beginning of the stroke, then follow a curved path as far out away from the board as possible, watch the video for a demonstration. The same applies to the backward strokes on the opposite side.
If you are paddling in a side or cross wind, you may have to use a slight steering stroke for every stroke just to go straight. Remember, the more forward you can get the blade towards the nose and the more you angle it away from the nose, the more effective the steering stroke will be. On longer racing boards you can also use the rail of the board to steer into the wind. Most racing boards with full rails will turn upwind if you put more weight on the downwind rail. Try taking the weight off the upwind rail, leaning the downwind rail into the water; this should result in the board turning upwind with less effort if combined with steering strokes on the downwind side.
During a race, you want to avoid paddling backwards and slowing down, so the crossbow turn and pivot turns are better options. Turns in a race can be very important and place changes often happen at turns, so practicing turns is an important part of race training. In Stand Up Surfing, turns can be even more important as a quick pivot turn can make the difference between pulling off a late drop into the bomb of the day and getting pounded.

Links to the paddle technique series posts: Paddle Technique Part 0: Introduction to SUP Paddle Technique Part 1: Choosing the Right Paddle Paddle Technique Part 2: The Three Ingredients of a Powerful Stroke
Paddle Technique Part 3: Stacking the Shoulders Paddle Technique Part 4: Reach and Catch Paddle Technique Part 5: Recovery, Paddle Length and Grip Paddle Technique Part 6: Turning the Board
Paddle Technique Part 7: Catching Waves

[Link]

Zen Waterman » Introduction to Stand Up Paddling for beginners

Posted 5 years ago

When I first started to stand up paddle, there was not much available in terms of instructional texts or videos etc.
I know I would have learned much faster with some instruction, instead I learned mostly by trial and error and with the help of friends that gave me some tips. I found that applying some of those simple tips made a big difference.

The paddle technique series on this blog is intended to help those that are already into SUP to advance and improve their technique and efficiency but does not really have the very basic tips first timers need.

So, this post should have really been part one, but since there already is a part one, this one is called:

Paddle Technique Part #0: The Basics for Beginners

We recently made a video with basic safety tips and instructions for beginners that we ask everyone renting a board from us for the first time to watch. This video is the edited version with just the basic things everyone going out for the first time should know.

Some tips for beginners:
If you can, take a lesson or ask someone experienced to help you. Make sure you have a board that is stable enough for your height, weight and conditions and a paddle that is the right length. Find some calm, protected water to learn how to get up, balance, turn the board and basic steering and forward strokes. Don't attempt to surf waves until you can do these very basic things. Watch this video and have fun. Warning: SUP is highly addictive

For more tips, visit this thread on Standupzone.com (and make use of the search function for specific questions):

http://www.standupzone.com/forum/index.php?topic=15627.0;topicseen

Also, read the technique series here on ZenWaterman.com

Links to the paddle technique series posts: Paddle Technique Part 0: Introduction to SUP Paddle Technique Part 1: Choosing the Right Paddle Paddle Technique Part 2: The Three Ingredients of a Powerful Stroke
Paddle Technique Part 3: Stacking the Shoulders Paddle Technique Part 4: Reach and Catch Paddle Technique Part 5: Recovery, Paddle Length and Grip Paddle Technique Part 6: Turning the Board
Click here to watch all the Zen Waterman technique videos on YouTube

[Link]

Zen Waterman » Getting Barreled on a Big Board by Len Barrow

Posted 5 years ago

One of the hardest things to do is to pull into the tube on any piece of equipment. The problem gets exponentially harder as your board’s length and thickness increases. Despite this, pulling in on a big board whether it be a SUP or longboard is possible. Here are a few quick tips.

Firstly you need to understand what type of barrel you are pulling into. I know this sounds a bit strange but there is a great variation in barrel types. One type of barrel is a running tube. Running tubes can be described as fast tubes where you sometimes have to weave in the barrel just to keep up. The tube runs when you are in it and you must be fast to get out. Another type of tube is what I call the bending or A frame short tube. Look for waves that are heavily peaked (that’s why they call them A-Frames) with a tapering shoulder that are next to a channel. These waves barrel and shoot you out into the safety of deeper water. They are ideal for bigger boards as you can pull in an have an exit door within reach and you don’t have to weave in the barrel to get out.

The Set UP


The Set-Up is everything. Big boards such as stand ups and longboards require much more setup time in relation to shortboards. When I mean set up, I am referring to the period of time maneuvering your board into position before pulling into the barrel. Typical with a larger board, don’t get too ambitious. Bonga Perkins and Duane Desoto get massive running barrels on SUPS and Longboards but that’s why they are world champions. We mere mortals should look for A frames peaks described above to attain makeable barrels. As you develop your barrel skills you can get more ambitious yet it is great to keep it simple at first. Paddle hard into the wave and you have two options

A. If the wave is looking like it will barrel of the takeoff prepare to tuck under the lip. Bend at you knees, not your back and compress your body to fit into the tube. This is the most important aspect of the barrel position. Have a go for it attitude mentally.

B. If the barrel looks like it is going to form down the line head for that area. When you get to the barreling section in this case, you may need to put on the breaks. For SUP and surfboards this means to stall. A stall is accomplished by literally leaning back and pulling a little wheelie Be patient. Let the wave form up for you. In other words let the wave do the set up work for you. The more time you spend setting up, the more success you will have of getting out of the tube.

Entry into the Barrel


The lip will throw over you in both cases and here is where it gets tricky with a big board or sup. You need to understand that a SUP or longboard literally have 3 to 4 more feet of rail than a shortboard. You must be able to control the extra rail. How do you do this? As the lip throws over you, the lip may contact your long rails and force your nose to point at the beach. This is how people get axed by the lip. With a big board it imperative to control this incorrect drift. This is done by putting pressure on the inside rail (the rail in closest contact to the lip) and keep correcting your trajectory every time the wave wants to pull your nose toward the beach and a definite wipeout. This pressure keeps the nose pointed towards the barrel exit. In the meantime, enjoy the view!!!!!!

There is a mental aspect to this also. If you think you are going to wipeout, I promise that you will! You must have a go for it attitude and literally believe that you will make the barrel. You can “will” your way out of some barrels. This sounds strange but try it.
The Exit

There are two types of exits. One is the clean exit where the wave just spits you out. It’slovely! This type of exit feels like being reborn. The other type of exit can be a bit rough. We call this a chandelier exit as it is as if a chandelier of water has just fallen on your head. In this type of exit you must again hold your line with pressure on the inside rail or the wave will push your boards nose towards the shore and you will wipe out. Don’t be afraid of having a wide stance as it provides stability as the lip is crashing into you. Bend at your knees and use them as shock absorbers and will your way out of the barrel with your mind!

Keep practicing! Barrel riding is both the most difficult thing to do as well as the most thrilling aspect of our sport.

About the Pictures:
It is said that a picture can communicate a thousand words. Here are a number of pictures of myself 1.setting up for the barrel, 2. engaging in the barrel and 3. exiting. Compare the pictures with the article and things will start making sense. It just takes a bit of Zen attention!
Hope to see you in the tube soon. [Link]

Zen Waterman » Paddle Technique Part 5 – Recovery, Paddle Length & Grip

Posted 5 years ago

It's been a while since I posted SUP technique post #4 and it's time to wrap up the paddle technique series with a few more posts, so here we go:

SUP Paddle Technique Part #5 – Recovery, paddle length & grip distance

Recovery:
The recovery gives you a chance to relax the muscles for a moment and its important not to underestimate the importance of a quick, efficient and relaxed recovery.

Once again, there are many different ways of recovering the paddle and there is no wrong or right way, so experiment and find out what works best for you, I will try to break it down into easy to understand steps that you can follow and practice.

First off, here is a 10 minute video that goes over the points discussed in this post:

Another look at paddle length
We went over paddle length in technique post #1- Choosing the right paddle and I want to mention it again because it plays a role in recovery. At our shop, we recommend a paddle length where you can just clear the top of the paddle with the palm of your hand. This length seems to work well for touring/ distance/ race paddling regardless of how the blade is shaped.

For surfing, you can shorten the paddle by a few inches. Some like to go a little longer for distance paddling which works to a certain point, depending on the board you are using. A longer paddle allows a longer reach forward and once the blade is fully planted it can be pushed deeper if the top hand feels too high, so a longer paddle has advantages in the reach, catch and power phases. So why not make the paddle even longer? I have tried going longer and found that the biggest disadvantage of a paddle that is too long is that it is difficult to quickly pull it out of the water by your feet for an efficient recovery. The other disadvantage is leverage, your bottom hand is further away from the blade on a longer paddle, we will discuss that later. The thickness of your board, or how high you stand above water level is important as well. The Starboard ACE raceboards, for example, have deep footwells where the paddler stands pretty much at water level, while an some other thick downwind boards, the feet are several inches above water level. Try doing this test with your paddle: If you have a thicker board, stand on a phonebook or something to elevate you to the about the same level you are off the water surface when standing on your board. If you are standing at close to water level on your board, stand barefoot on the ground. With the paddle next to your toes, pull it straight up like you are pulling it out of the water. If you have to stretch uncomfortably to do this your paddle may be too long for an efficient recovery. If your paddle is too long, you have to drop the top hand further down and/or stoke past your feet to get a clean release.

Feathering the blade, recovery path


As shown in the video, the two extremes of pulling out the blade at the end of the stroke are dropping the top hand to the side which lifts the paddle out to the side and automatically feathers the blade. The other extreme is pulling the blade straight up, moving it forward in a straight line and plunging it straight down into the water. To feather the blade when moving it straight forward, the top wrist has to be twisted. The straight line is a shorter path than the big circle when dropping the top hand and making a big circle. Most efficient paddlers use more of the straight forward recovery with just a slight dropping of the top hand, resulting in an oval shaped recovery path.

For an easy to understand and follow description of the recovery motion, check out Dave Kalama's blog, you can read it here: http://www.davidkalama.com/2010/04/paddle-techniques-recover/

Grip height


The position of the lower hand on the paddle is important to performance. When coaching, I often find myself telling people to try to grip the paddle lower for better leverage. The lower hand is the fulcrum point of the paddle and the shorter the distance from the blade to the lower hand is, the easier it is to apply power to the blade (up to a certain degree). Much like a bigger blade can be compared to a higher gear and a smaller blade to a lower gear on a car or bicycle, a longer paddle is a higher gear while a shorter paddle is a lower gear. Gripping the paddle lower with both the top hand and the lower hand results in a lower gear that works well for acceleration or paddling into the wind. Marking the paddle is helpful to monitor your lower hand placement. Make sure the grip height is consistent on both sides as well.

Connor Baxter and Kai Lenny with lowered grip, photo: John Goodman

Links to the paddle technique series posts:
Paddle Technique Part 0: Introduction to SUP
Paddle Technique Part 1: Choosing the Right Paddle
Paddle Technique Part 2: The Three Ingredients of a Powerful Stroke
Paddle Technique Part 3: Stacking the Shoulders
Paddle Technique Part 4: Reach and Catch
Paddle Technique Part 5: Recovery, Paddle Length and Grip
Paddle Technique Part 6: Turning the Board

[Link]

Zen Waterman » SUP equipment instructional videos

Posted 5 years ago

We have been putting together a series of instructional videos on how to install, use and maintain your SUP equipment and I am posting them here for easy reference and will add more as we make them.

Instructions for sizing, cutting and gluing a Blue Planet Featherlight High performance carbon paddle with T-handle.
Filmed by Evan Leong of http://www.standuppaddlesurf.net

Instructional video for the Blue Planet High Performance Paddle Edge Tape, for more info or to order, visit:
http://blueplanetsurf.com/product.php?productid=16565

Instructional video for the Blue Planet Paddle Edge Guard Kit.

Microgrip paddle grip

Blue Planet rail tape application instructions. If you live on Oahu, bring your board to Blue Planet Surf Shop where we apply it free, or follow these instructions for a professional looking application. To order, please go to: http://www.blueplanetsurf.com/product.php?productid=16492

How to properly remove and install a two way gore vent plug. Brought to you by www.blueplanetsurf.com

How to strap a surfboard or SUP to your car fast, easy and safely using one strap in under 30 seconds

How to use the Blue Planet inflatable Stand Up Paddle boards.
Includes instructions on how to inflate and deflate the board and paddle, using the hand pump and electric pump, and some water shots.
[Link]

Zen Waterman » On Mel Kinney by Len Barrow

Posted 5 years ago

Remembering Mel Kinney, photo SNN
I learned this morning that I just had a friend pass away. His name was Mel Kinney. If there were ever a waterman it was he. Eddie Aikau would call him “The Kid” as he was the only 16 year old charging huge Waimea Bay in the early 70’s.

I met Mel when I was only 14. He must have been 30 or so. He looked like a gnarly Hawaiian guy, and at first I was quite intimidated by him. The older guys at the surf-break Daimond Head Lighthouse in the early days would sometimes bully us young kids around. Out of his good heart, Mel made sure that everything was cool with all and protected us. He did not need to do this but he did. Mel adopted us young kids and took care of us. We felt safe when he was around him.

My most vivid memories of him were at Laniakea and Light-house surfing. He would nose-ride barreling waves and go vertical on his longboard at Daimondhead. At Laniakea, he would glide into Hawaiian 10 footers with ease. His surfing style reminded me of an Ali’i Nui (King) of old. His noble behavior also justified my belief that he was indeed modern day royalty in the best sense.

Mel would do really cool things. One of our mutual surfer friends was having a long stay in the hospital in the states. Mel came to the beach with a black pen (the expensive kind) and a few brand new surf mags. He passed the magazines to everyone at Diamond Head and had them sign them as a type of “surfer get well card” too are hospitalized friend. There was a huge amount of signatures. I learned something that day. I thought to myself: “that’s the kind of friend I want to have”. To this day, I surround myself with kind, heartfelt people and I am happy. Good Karma people. Thanks Mel.

He never talked stink about anyone, cared for all, yet knew when to demand his dignity. This is another thing I learned from Mel: That to be respected requires you to give respect first.

One day Mel told me that ” he could not wait to see me jump off shortboards and go to longboards”. I thought the comment was a bit odd but the rest is history. Mel was one reason that I longboard today. He encouraged me to go to the new craft. Besides he looked like he was having so much fun on his longboard. I had to do it.

The first time I surfed 8’ foot Hawaiian style waves was with Mel. Oddly enough the wave was in town not the North Shore. We met up at a spot called Browns, arguably one of the heaviest waves on the South Shore, a favorite of Mel’s. When we pulled up, it was unusually big for the South Shore. I was scared. There were a lot of broken boards and the only spot surf-able on this huge swell was Bowls and the break we were at. Mel was stoked and wanted to rush out yet he took the time to show me the channel, how the break worked and the exact line up points. He even taught me how to bail my board! Mel and I had a blast that day.

Mel had a big Hawaiian smile. I loved his humor, his dignity and his willingness to help all. In short he was one of the last people that I knew that still “payed attention” through kindness, education and friendship.

They just don’t build them like that anymore.

I will miss you Mel, yet your energies are carried on by your influence with all.

Auwe, Auwe, Auwe

If you knew Mel, please add your comments below. Aloha. [Link]

Zen Waterman » What’s Up with Bottom Rocker? By Len Barrow

Posted 5 years ago

Bottom rocker is one of the least understood aspect of SUP and surfboard design. Despite this the key concepts are quite simple and understandable. The following article will explain how various rockers function and what wave types they are meant for.

Bottom rocker is simply the curve in the bottom of your board from the tip of the nose to the tail. This aspect of design has huge ramifications in relation to how your board will perform in various conditions.

Rocker variations, allows the board to fit in the curve of a wave or lack of curve in the wave. If you are riding one foot gentle breakers there is no need for too much rocker or bottom curve. In fact if you have too much bottom curve in small flat waves, your board will start to “push water” rather than flow over it and you will slow down. In short a flat fits into a flat naturally, or a flat rocker, fits into a flat wave as the board flows over the water with the least amount of friction. That’s why the big boards at Waikiki (small flat waves) have very flat and even rockers.

If the wave is bowling or barreling in a semi-circle and large the opposite is true. If your board has too little rocker in bowling waves the board may nose-dive, or be difficult to maneuver as it cannot fit into the curve of the wave. That’s why when you see surfers at pipeline, where the waves are extremely hollow and curved, the expert surfers are riding highly rockered boards. Again, a curve fits a curve. Similarly a heavily rockered board fits a heavily curved wave.

Rocker in the Tail.
Rocker in the tail is what we call kick, tail flip or simply “tail rocker”. Again the type of tail rocker you choose depends on the type of waves you ride. Your tail rocker roughly begins about three feet from the tip of your tail. A highly flipped tail rocker is usually for more advanced surfers who ride fast waves. It allows you to lift the board (like a see saw) in to the lip line in an off the lip. It also allows for a tighter turning radius in cutbacks and snapbacks. In big waves high tail rocker allows surfers the extra tool of leverage to make the drop by keeping the tip of the nose out of the water hence avoiding “pearl diving” or wiping out. High tail rocker can also help you “pump” the board down the line to generate more speed.

Low tail rockers have their advantages also. Nose riders have natural low rocker in the tail. This allows the tail to settle into the wave which is most advantageous for nose-rides. If the tail rocker is too high in a flatter wave the tail may pop out if one is standing on the nose. Nose-riders also have fairly low nose rockers which allow for easy nose rides. Low tail and nose rockers on SUP’s allow for smooth paddling on the flats and easy entry in to small waves.

Rocker in the Nose
Rocker in the nose is what Surfers call “Entry Rocker”. It is the point where the water makes first contact with the board if you are moving forward. Again the type of entry rocker you have is determined by the types of waves you surf. Big wave guns sometimes have such high entry rocker that they look silly yet it is necessary to make it down 20’ drops. Yet too much entry rocker can cause the board to “push water” and will therefore slow you down. Low entry rocker is for small wave boards as you can keep the speed going as the low entry rocker allows the board to move through the flats without “pushing water” in front of the board. Instead it floats over the water and you can keep your speed up in the flat sections. Many Fish boards have low entry rockers as they are meant to surf small waves.

Picking Your Rocker for your SUP

SUP rockers are still in developmental stages but the same rules generally apply. If you just want to cruise around in flat water and surf small conditions low rocker in both tail and nose will suffice. This type of rocker is called “Low Natural Rocker”. The rocker flows almost imperceptibly through the whole board, hence it looks natural. On the other hand if you are a “hot-dogger” who surfs bowling larger waves, lifting both the nose and tail rocker will be advantageous for you.

The above commentary are just general guidelines. I have had board with such high nose and tail rockers that still worked well in flat waves and low rockered board that surprisingly worked well in big waves. It must be understood that one design feature does not dictate how the board will work as a whole. Board performance is a calculus of tail design, thickness, outline, fin set-up, bottom contours, and of course rocker.

One of the beautiful things about surfing is that there is an infinite variety of designs that you can fool around with. You can still be a kid tinkering with your toys! Despite this, a good understanding of rocker will allow you to pick a proper board for yourself. Have fun. In fact why not pull your board out and have a look at your rocker. You may find out something new! [Link]

Zen Waterman » The Choice, by Len Barrow

Posted 5 years ago

The ocean has been my greatest teacher. It nurtures me when I am sad, gives me the gift of elation when I am happy and punishes me when I am arrogant. I almost drowned a few days ago and it brought a few things to the fore.

Sometimes, I get a bit arrogant. My buddy and I decided to paddle out on a large day in the area of Mokuleia . Many people were standing on the beach just looking. We paddled out like we were brave warriors unafraid of the elements. We even caught a few 15’ (face height). I remember my friend and I were relishing in our narcissistic bravery and chastising the folks standing on the beach for their supposed cowardice. We were stupidly challenging nature. As we were chatting away the unspeakable happened. A freak wave as high as a telephone pole (25 feet+) appeared out of nowhere. Now we realized why people were standing on the beach. They were being rational and paying attention to the actual conditions.

I managed to scratch over the first set. At the crest of the monster, I looked down under my arm and it was if I were staring down a huge cliff. As I turned my head forward the next wave was upon me, I was in the impact zone of one of largest waves I have had to face in my life. I bailed my board and jumped underwater.

As I was basically drowning I had a little revelation. You can think fast when you believe that you are going to die! The following are some ideas that flashed through my head while I was cart-wheeling underwater.

The Ocean holds you accountable for how you behave. There is no ambulance to drive out into the sea to get you. In the ocean, you either die or are punished severely when you make an error. You are isolated. There is no room for error. Just as surfers are isolated in the ocean on a big day so are we isolated on the earth. We are stuck here (do you have a starship by any chance?).

While I was spinning around underwater contemplating life with no oxygen, a few thoughts went through my head. I started viewing the world as a giant 20’ surf break. Maybe I was hallucinating due to the lack of oxygen but I had the following view: We are all water-people or metaphorical surfers going through life. We have to survive by using our abilities of paying attention to the environment around us. If we don’t pay attention, like me, we either are severely incapacitated or made to be “extinct”. When we neglect to pay attention we all will get cleaned out by a monster 20’ wave and there will be no ambulance to get us. This metaphorical or symbolic 20’ footer that will destroy our species is caused by our abuse of the environment and the resultant warming of the earth.

This may sound like a hallucinating tree hugger babbling on but if you have been paying attention, alot of things are mind boggling indicators that a 20 foot close-out is about to drop on our heads and it will be no fun, especially for those who have children who will grow up in the environment that we are creating today.

Here are a few terrifying facts that should catch our attention. Last year was the hottest year in recorded history. Hurricane Katrina was so powerful that the National Weather Service had no category for it. The recession of the Greenland Ice sheets during the summer has reached record levels. There is now a North –West Passage (hint: Captain Cook was looking for it in 1775. There was no Northwest passage as It was not there because it was frozen over!!!!!!!!!). Etc,Etc,Etc. Here comes the twenty foot closeout. What’s worse is we know that its coming yet we are choosing not to see it.

There is a solution! We can paddle for the channel and avoid getting pounded by the closeout. How do we do this? The Sun is an amazing source of energy and using this renewable source will help neutralize global warming. As I write we have a 35 mph Gail blowing here in Hawaii. The Wind Power we are wasting! Hawaii also has a lot of waves. All you have to do is put a pole on the bottom with a sliding buoy. As the buoy goes up and down it drives a generator. Bingo! Electricity. The military is already using this technology in Hawaii. We are sitting on a molten core which is waiting to be fully utilized in the form of geo-thermal energy. The list goes on and on. Let’s sprint for the channel! We can do it!

As I popped out of the water half drowned, I thought to myself : “that was a great hallucination….I must write it down”. I then paddled to the channel, sat it out, and went in.

In the end we can chose to avoid the 20 foot closeout which we SEE coming or we can choose to sit in the impact zone. Which one will it be? I chose the former………that’s why I wrote this article. You the reader can do something also!

Will we choose to fail or succeed?

Mahalo Len Barrow [Link]

Zen Waterman » Waves, Waves Everywhere by Len Barrow

Posted 5 years ago

SUP surfing and paddling in rough water is truly a meditative endeavor. I am amazed at the amount of attention that is required to keep your board moving. You see, as a lie down surfer for 30+ years, I viewed the ocean from a lie down perspective. The Beauty of SUP paddling is that you see the ocean from a stand up “lens”. You are also literally forced to observe the ocean and its swells. If you don’t do this, a little wave will just throw you off the board. When it comes to the water, sometimes I get a big ego as I have a US Championship in Longboarding and a lot of surfing experience. I love SUP Surfing as I am humbled every time I paddle and surf my SUP. It destroys my ego, as SUP paddling forces me to pay attention. It is truly a type of meditation.
One day I was SUP surfing Kewalos. I decided to use a technique that ancient Polynesian and Micronesian Navigators used to find directions on dark, cloudy nights when the stars were not present to navigate their canoes. They would use the feel of the swell running under their canoes. If they were heading due north, the navigators would pick a swell that was coming from the north (in relation to the last Northern facing star that was seen) and head into it. They would “feel” the swell would move under the bow, run along the hull and exit at the stern. The navigators would pick multiple swell directions to calibrate exact directions. In the above scenario, if a swell were coming from the east, and you had a double hull canoe, it would hit the eastern hull first and the western hull next and exit. The late Micronesian Navigator Mau Pialug who taught Hawaiian Nainoa Thompson (of the Hokulea) his navigation techniques was said to be able to sense a matrix of over 8+ swells. He could even tell if a swell was refracting off an island! The Micronesians, Polynesians and Hawaiians ARE a brilliant people……

If Colombus lost his compass he would be lost .

Using this method, substituting my sup as a canoe, I was wondering how many swells I could observe as I paddled around Kewalos. The tide was very high and the water was bumpy. As I stood outside of the break, I was buffeted off my board (9’6 surfing SUP) by a bizarre tiny series of waves coming from the west. The West side was flat and I wondered where the waves were coming from. To my surprise I saw two fishing boats about 1.5 miles out chugging along due west! The west swell was from their wake! This was getting fun. It was the perfect “Pay Attention” game. Another small swell kept throwing me off my board but it was coming from the shore. I thought to myself, what the hell? The land does not create waves? The same wave threw me off again. I suddenly realized that this swell coming from the shore was actually a south swell bouncing off the 7 foot shore wall to become a North swell hitting my tail (stern) and exiting my nose (bow)!

Next I observed that there was a south swell running directly under my nose (Bow) and exiting my tail (stern) but there was another swell hitting my south east facing rail and exiting the south west facing rail. Where was it from? I realized it was an east trade wind swell that had wrapped around to the south shore. I went back home to surf-line to check the swell directions to see if I was correct. Bingo. I had accurately predicted the angles of the primary swells using Mau Pialug’s non-instrumental techniques!

I was so happy. I felt like a little navigator enmeshed in Natures Ocean. I had identified a matrix of 4 swells! It was like a wonderful Zen meditation. My thoughts were clear and I felt refreshed for the rest of the day.

I have been practicing like this since. I have been able to recognize a matrix of six swells at best. This practice almost blends you into the oceans rhythm and I would not have known this if it were not taught by the last Navigator Mau Pialug too the Hawaiian Nainoa Thompson. Mahalo Nui to the Micronesians and Hawaiians and all who came before them for these wonderful experiences.

Try this method. It opens up the oceans mind……….which is your mind. [Link]

Zen Waterman » SUP paddle trainer version 4.0- the Vasa trainer

Posted 5 years ago

After pioneering the use of stand up paddle simulators, developing many prototypes and testing many different mechanisms and balance boards, we feel like we now have a simple, very effective indoor SUP training simulator that can greatly improve paddle technique, strength, stamina and endurance on the days you can't get in the water.

About the balance board:
After testing many versions of balance boards including using springs, adjustable rubber joints, balance/ bosu balls, a hydraulic joint system, roller boards, foam inserts and foam tubes, and many versions of rocker boards, we developed a simple rocker board that simulates a balance feel similar to being on a board in the water and won't rotate when paddling. This rocker board is the closest simulation to the balancing required when stand up paddling we have found. We have found that mechanical joints do not provide a good simulation of the balance required. Using a balance board when training is important as it provides a full body workout and improves technique and skill as you have to keep the body weight balanced over the center of the board. Without a balance board, the tendency is to put too much weight on the stroke side.

For more information and videos of our previous versions, please visit this post:

Stand Up Paddle training simulator by Robert Stehlik

We offer a simple, inexpensive version using stretch cords at:
http://www.paddlecoretrainer.com/

The much more advanced version using the Vasa trainer space saver unit with SUP kit provides the most realistic stroke, recovery and balance simulation currently available.
Blue Planet Surf is the exclusive source for the Vasa Trainer SUP kit, including a three in one paddle that can be used as a regular SUP paddle, trainer paddle and two sided paddle that allows the best simulation of the correct stroke path without any extra mechanical moving parts (as the arm used in version 2).

Please watch the video below for more information on the Vasa trainer with SUP kit and to see it in action.

Here is the video showing the Paddle Core Trainer kit:

The new Paddle core trainer now comes with a fully functional 3 piece SUP paddle that can be converted into a trainer shaft. The balance rocker board is designed to give you the sensation of standing on a board and keeps your center of gravity centered and balanced. Also includes 6 pc. resistance band kit and instructional DVD. For more information, please click here. [Link]

Zen Waterman » Social “Surf” Intelligence: How some SUP surfers get Respect in the Surf Line-Up While Some Do Not, by Len Barrow

Posted 5 years ago

In the past few years I have met a few Sup Surfers that get a great deal of respect in the surf. As an Anthropologist, I have made it a point to observe there social techniques. The methods that these surfers used were quite surprising yet most sensible. Also, SUP surfers new to the game can adapt these methods with great ease. That’s the good news!

Before we get into their techniques, it is important to recognize that in In SUP surfing you are almost given absolute power in regards to which wave you want. You are figuratively given the “nuclear option” to get any wave you desire, even if you are of modest skill. Some SUP surfers who are new to the sport may have the American mentality that “I purchased this board and this is a public surf break therefore I can do whatever I want”. Technically this is true, yet with this attitude, one runs into a wall or over the nearest cliff vis-à-vis surf subculture. Surfers have their own cultural code. Most surfers are concerned with behavior and politeness, not on what you own or do on land. You may be the CEO of a large corporation and drive a Mercedes and have great prestige on land yet a strange cultural phenomenon occurs. Anthropologists call it a ” Social Inversion” . American “Land Culture” and its hierarchies are flipped upside down in the water. All of your prestige on land means absolutely nothing in the water. In fact, the prestigious people in the water are often poppers on land!

If you are new to surf etiquette and surf culture this paper will help you get along with surfers. Surfing social rules are not written down thus they are difficult for the beginner to decipher. The surfer’s code is just that, an unwritten code that has many variables according to time and place. You could actually write a large book on the code as it is most variable.

Despite the codes complexity and unwritten status a few things can be done to fit your SUP in as one of the surfing tribe.

Surf Only to Your Skill Level “Size and Conditions”

In the surfing subculture, “safety behaviors” factor in dominantly at some levels of the surfers code. When you surf your SUP in bigger waves, honestly evaluate your skill set. Regular surfers are required to do this at some time in their careers as they have endangered others. There is nothing worse than a beginner zooming down a twelve foot face into a crowd of surfers. I have been run over by a SUP at double over head Mokuleia. Let me tell you that this is not fun. The guy had a quad and it was 4x the pain across my back. I was lucky. I did not get severely hurt. Other surfers have gotten horribly injured. This will ruin your reputation as surfers will regard you as a danger in the surf. In surf etiquette and surfing subculture a dangerous surfer/SUPer are of the lowest rank, an often asked to leave due to safety issues. I am not saying these beliefs and actions are right or wrong. I am just indicating that they exist as part of the surfing subculture. At any rate evaluating your skill set will help yourself and other to keep safe.

“Talk Story” with Everyone.

In Hawaii, “Talk Story” is local pigeon for being genuinely friendly and casually chatting with people with stories for no real reason other than to talk. In Hawaii it is a normal thing to do, even with strangers. It’s actually fun and part of everyday local life here in the islands.

One guy that does this to great effect is our Hawaii State Surfing SUP Champion Tommy Chun-Min. Everyone knows Tommy! He is the only SUP even “allowed” out at Kewalo’s (this point is hyper-localized by short-boarders). Mr. Chun-Min will paddle out and actually greet everyone. Even new-comers! He always has something interesting and nice to say and people look forward to talking to him.

If you are from the states this may sound like ingenuously bullshitting your way around yet humans are social creatures. By talking to people you make social connections. In this type of connection an informal social contract arises. You become an acquaintance and generally friendly, thus must share the waves. By sharing with your new friend, he or she reciprocates (this is called generalized reciprocity in Anthropology) by giving your acquaintance respect and waves! In layman’s terms, it’s hard to burn a friend (unless you are a sociopath). Therefore make friends! It’s that simple. If you don’t believe me try the behavior.

Use Non Verbal Queue’s

After you have gotten a set wave, paddle out slowly. By doing this you are nonverbally communicating that you are not a wave hog and relaxed. If you paddle out like a Viking hell bent on pillaging the waves. People will not take kindly to this. You will get a bad reputation in short order and surfers have a way of dealing with over-zealous Suppers. Even though you can get every wave on your Sup, you cannot block surfers from taking off “BEHIND” you ruining “your” wave by surfing 6 inches in back of you. Some surfers have this method fined tuned and I see the idea developing rather rapidly.

When you paddle back out outside, sit down on your SUP on occasion. I am a Symbolic Anthropologist. My writings are not just the musings of a non-violent person. When you are “erect” on your SUP while surfers are lying down it conveys a “dominance display” type behavior on behalf of the SUP rider even though the Sup surfer does not mean it. This may sound funny but it occurs. By sitting down you convey the message that you are chill and respectful to all. If you think that sitting down on you SUP is for weak people, I have seen Bonga Perkins, Duane Desoto, Robin Johnston and Kanoa Beaupre use this method quite frequently. They certainly are NOT weak people. In fact they are rippers who get along well with others.

Always Look Backwards to Observe Who Did Not Get Waves.

Kainoa Beaupre is respected by both shortboarders and longboarders as he has a special way of sharing. Mr. Beaupre will often look back to see who is getting waves and who is not. If a set wave comes in and is heading towards a person who has not gotten a good wave in a while, Kainoa will yell go! go! to that individual. He has even done this kindly to me a couple of times before. Even though he can get every wave, he makes sure that everyone has fun. This endears Kainoa to all. Mr. Beaupre has a lot of Aloha. He is a buddy of mine and this is one of the reason I dig him.

The good news is that SUP surfers and Board surfers can get along. There is no need to have conflict if we practice a few pleasantries. Basically it’s all about sharing the waves. And Guess what!

SHARING=ALOHA

SHARING=ZEN
[Link]

Zen Waterman » Interview and videos by Connor Baxter

Posted 5 years ago

Connor Baxter has been dominating the SUP race scene this year, winning races almost every weekend on Maui, Oahu and internationally. He finished the 32 mile Molokai to Oahu race in an incredible time of 4:26, which was 28 minutes faster than the previous record.
After the 2011 Duke's race, which was part of the annual Duke's Fest, I had a chance to sit down with him for a personal interview. Evan Leong of standuppaddlesurf.net filmed and edited.

Also below, find some of the videos edited and posted by Connor Baxter.
Double click to watch the videos full screen.




Africa SUPfari:

Connor Surfing:

[Link]

Zen Waterman » 12'6" SUP race board speed test by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

It's been a while since our unlimited board test, where I said we would soon organize a test of 12'6" and 14' boards.
My friend Scotty had two 12'6 Hobie race boards and a Bark that he wanted to comparison test. I brought four more 12'6's for a total of 7 boards to test, which worked out perfectly as seven testers showed up bright and early on a Saturday morning (Nov. 6th, 2011) to go through the rigorous 14 laps needed to test all the boards. Photos and specs of the individual boards are shown below. Unfortunately there were some wind gusts that affected times of the individual runs but because each board was tested in each run, these variations in conditions should average out over the results. Also, some of us had to run 8 rounds as someone tested the same board twice somewhere along the way, which threw everything off a little but in the end everyone toughed it out and tested all seven boards.

After posting the unlimited test results on the Standup Zone forum, I got lots of good feedback that we tried to incorporate into this test, including recording the dimensions and weights of each board tested as well as taking pictures of each board outline and profile. The test lap is a .21 course that runs downwind one way and upwind the other way. Each tester used each board on one downwind and one upwind run with a 1-2 minute break in between. As we were running many laps, the instructions were to make sure to keep their energy output consistent and not use all their strength in the first few laps to avoid slowing down towards the end of the test. We also staggered the start with 10 seconds or so between each tester to avoid the "group effect" and switched boards randomly.

If you look at the test results spreadsheet, you will see that the times for Anders, the fastest tester, were quite consistent with a relatively small spread between fastest and slowest times, compared to some of the other testers that had a bigger spread between the slowest and fastest times. Everyone in the test was a capable paddler and I wanted to have testers of different abilities to make the results more relevant for the average users. To give equal weight to each paddlers results, I ranked each individuals results and added them up for an average ranking, resulting in a somewhat different ranking than using the total times.

I brought a 12'6" x 29" touring board that we received as a sample from a manufacturer, so I thought this would be a good occasion to test it. We were all disappointed by it's performance in comparison to the other boards in the test and it needs some improvement. To be fair, it was designed to be a more stable and durable touring board, vs. the lightweight (and more expensive) pure raceboards it was tested against. It was the widest, heaviest, and slowest board in the test.

I was somewhat surprised by the good results of the 12'6" Dennis Pang board. It was the fastest board in the flatwater test in both overall time and individual rank results. Dennis custom made this board and we designed it mainly for downwinders and surf races, with quite a bit of rocker and a relatively wide tail for stability. The entry is not very piercing and a little splashy, so the fast times were somewhat of a surprise. It shows that rocker does not necessarily make a board slow in flatwater and that a clean entry is not all that matters. The wide tail and generous volume also makes this board fairly stable and user friendly, so even the less experienced paddlers got good results.

The unconventional Starboard ACE also has a somewhat splashy entry but generally works well in these kind of conditions. It takes some getting used to, which may have worked against it a little in the results. The Everpaddle 12'6" also has a narrow tail which gives it a clean exit but also makes it less stable. The results show that this board worked better for the experienced racers than for the less experienced ones. Scotty's Hobie boards had a good feel and work great in downwinders according to him. It was no surprise that they, as well as the Bark and Everpaddle boards all had good results in the test. So, what did we learn from this test? I'm still figuring that out but my hope is that these tests will make the next generation of boards even faster, well balanced, and user friendly.

Each tester made some notes on the boards tested after each run and I included the comments with each board. They are from seven individuals, so some may seem contradictory at times. I hope some of you can add your thoughts by making comments below, feedback is always welcome and encouraged.

Link to results spreadsheet



The test team: Denis, Rob, Alex, Scotty, Anders, Dr. Dan, Lokelani

The seven boards we tested (subjective rider comments as recorded after each run)

12'6" x 27" x 6" Everpaddle custom
weight: 25.75 lbs
rider comments:
smooth, tippy, low rocker
stable but not heavy, glides well, quick on start
comfortable
great upwind, stable and fast
tippy, paddles straight
rolly, a bit heavy

12'6" x 27" x 9" Starboard Ace 2011
weight: 30.5 lbs
rider comments:
Bouncy
tippy, smooth, glide
sluggish feel, noisy, stable
good all around but harder to steer upwind
feels like it pushes a lot of water
buoyant and bouncy
clean water exit off tail


12'6" x 28.75" x 6.6" Hobie Bamboo Elite 2012
28 lbs.
rider comments:
good feel, narrow stance
thick from middle to tail, slower than expected
feels like it drags more than other Hobie
downwind good, upwind more drift
stable, good upwind
like the feel

12'6" x 27.75" x 6.6" Hobie Elite Race 2011
weight: 27 lbs
rider comments:
Like the feel
little tippy, good glide
glides well, stable
downwind good, upwind harder to steer
fast off the line
entry feels good, narrow stance

12'6" x 29" x 6" Blue Planet touring
weight: 33.25 lbs
rider comments:
needs work
heavy, stable, slow start, glides well, tracks well upwind
hard to being up to speed, maintain speed
Heavy, no play in board
heavy, stable


12'6" x 27.75" x 6.25" Dennis Pang custom
weight: 24.5 lbs
rider comments:
fast, good rocker
light, tippy, very fast on start, felt like it pushed water instead of cut & glide
light, easy to bring up to speed
Like it! very stable, tracks & glides well
less tracking, light, fast
tippy, glides well, good upwind
light, splashes a lot

12'6" x 27.75" x 6.25" Bark custom
weight: 25.5 lbs
rider comments:
good glide
light, fast, tippy
upwind hard to control
pretty stable, cut through wind well
faster than I expected
tracks well

Link to results spreadsheet


Many thanks to our volunteer test team:
Anders
Lokelani
Alex
Scotty
Denis
Dr. Dan
The photos below were taken by Alex Nix, who also made my cool new custom made double bend paddle in the pictures.




















Here is a short video with headcam footage taken at the test:
[Link]

Zen Waterman » Zen Chopsticks By Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago



We here at Zen waterman have not done a Zen philosophy oriented article for a while so I thought I would have a go at it. This article has to do with a land-based program yet we will see how the Buddhist ideas inherent in the activity could be applied to our ocean activities

Every year I run a program with a few other teachers at Roosevelt High School (RHS) on Oahu. It’s a really beautiful project. The students learn about compassion and kindness by proactively helping the homeless through the Honolulu Institute for Human Services (IHS). The program is called RHS for IHS. The IHS is the key institution for helping the homeless on Oahu in Hawaii.

My motivation for engaging in this program is not religious. Despite this they come primarily from Zen Buddhist philosophy. As we shall see in the forthcoming story, the core of Mahayana Buddhism (which includes Zen in its scope) is compassion and kindness for others. The motivation to help others is the natural outcome of meditation and paying attention. This sounds weird but we shall explore this phenomena later in this article.
Here is another unusual fact about the Zen practice. According to the great Masters of old; without the motivation of compassion for others (Bodhichitta) focused in your practice, Zen is worse than poisonous garbage. In fact Zen done in self-interest is called “Zen sickness” in which one turns into a “hungry ghost clinging desperately to grasses and reeds” by the old masters. Trust me, you don’t want to be a hungry ghost!

I therefore try my best to steer away from my ego in the water and on land. It is the most difficult thing that I have ever tried to do. Despite this, social projects based on others well-being help me along the rugged Zen road.

As we were developing the program with my fellow teachers a question arose: “ How the hell do we get self-centered, arrogant modern teenagers to engage in compassionate social action?”. It was almost impossible to do it with adults and must surely be harder with teenagers given their egoism and our culture of selfishness.

We came up with a solution. I would give them a little Zen parable (among other things). This story worked extremely well in getting the students to have compassion for others. If a fourteen-year-old high school student can understand this to the point that they take social action, we as adults should be able to comprehend this mythology and take social action also. The “myth” goes something like this:

One day long ago a man was practicing Zen and managed to attain enlightenment. His insight was so great that it allowed him to visit heaven and hell. The man decided that he would visit hell first. As he entered the hell realm he was surprised at what he saw. There was a great rectangular table that was twenty feet long and a number of feet wide. There were ten people seated on one side of the table and ten people seated on the other side of the table. On the table were luxurious foods and the finest beverages that the lands could offer. Saphron and ambrosia scents wafted through the air. Well the monk was quite impressed. He stated “jee wiz, well hell is not that bad after all”. His thoughts were suddenly interrupted when he saw intense anger and frustration on everyone’s contorted faces. He quickly realized that the people were frustrated as they could not eat their food as their chopstiks were over three feet long! They could only look at it and they were extremely hungry, angry and sad. Hence, the hell dwellers spent their days yelling at each other and blaming the person opposite them for their predicament.

The monk asked the folks in Hell “how long have you been here?”. One individual viciously spat back and said, we have been like this for ten Kalpas!……(In Sanskrit: literally 10,000,000,000,000 trillion years!). The monk was aghast! He thought that hell was a really messed up place. The monk wondered what force could curse people to such a grim place? He hastened to get out of hell and go to heaven.

The monk then visited heaven. To his surprise he saw the same exact things that he saw in hell! There was a great rectangular table that was twenty feet long and a number of feet wide. There were also ten people seated on one side of the table and ten people on the other side of the table. To his amazement the people had great expressions of happiness and joy. In fact in their demeanor, the monk noticed a great serenity and calmness. The monk was perplexed as he saw that the occupants of heaven had the same three foot chopsticks!

The monk sat and watched the occupants of Heaven do something miraculous yet so simple. The heaven dwellers would use their huge chopsticks to pick up food from the other side of the table and HELP feed the other out of compassion and kindness. This act was kindly reciprocated by the person on the other side of the table and all were well fed, utterly content and wonderfully happy. The monk attained a deeper enlightenment when he saw this. He thought “To help another through compassion are the keys of enlightenment”. The monk also thought to himself that those in hell are in hell for the sole fact that they don’t help each other.

The monk reflected “how amazing it is that Heaven and Hell are exactly the same place”. He went back to his life with the conviction to be kind and compassionate to all beings with a will to help all. The monk lived happily ever after.
Well what does this have to do with the surf? I have another quick little story showing how you can apply the “Zen Chopsticks” spirit to the surf. I saw two beginners a few months ago floating around at Ala-Moana. Everyone in the surf was talking like “oh great, these people are just going to get in the way”. The locals were getting very frustrated and flustered at the novices. In a way they were creating their own hell by not helping them.

I am lucky because I am a teacher at heart and I asked the surfers if they wanted to catch waves. They heartily agreed and I positioned them to catch a swell. As each beginner caught waves they became very happy. Happiness is contagious. I was laughing my head off as they caught long rides while expressing gigantic smiles on their faces. It brought me back to a time when I was a beginner. This period was marked by pure stoke. I was so happy and conversely they were surf stoked. We have become wonderful friends since.

The point being, by helping others I was creating a heaven out of a hell! Mind you, in Zen, Heaven and Hell are the same place. In this philosophy, it is to the extent that you are compassionate and helpful that shape what world you are in. If you are a jerk to people, welcome to Hell. If you are GENUINELY compassionate and helpful, welcome to heaven. Can you now see that this is so? It is really that simple. If 120 fourteen-year-old students at Roosevelt High School can understand this and take social action with the homeless (they raised over 2,000 dollars and 2 TONS of canned goods), I hope we as mature adults can grasp this wonderful phenomena.
In this world of hyper-capitalism, ultra-violent video games, and pure narcissism, people wonder why they are so miserable despite having the luxuries of modern materialistic life. The answer is elementary. Quite simply they don’t choose to help others. Sometimes I am amazed at the behavior of some Americans (like myself). I am not a saint but it is my professional Anthropological opinion that it is almost ” hip” to not care for others in America. It is cool to flaunt your selfishness. If you don’t believe me “just turn on your t.v.” and flip through the channels. You may also choose to play your child’s video games, where you can literally shoot prostitutes after copulating with them (Grand Theft Auto) and bayonet enemy soldiers in the face (while getting points for it!?). Has not caring become part of our culture?

If it is we are in trouble. In a Zen view, not caring and being selfish will only lead a person to exist in a hell realm as a hungry ghost clings to brushes and weeds. When people don’t care about the environment and trash mother earth we get global warming and the like which is already affecting our happiness. In a way we have all collectively created a type of hell. When people don’t care about the social environment and others well-being you get social abuses like homelessness, war, violence in the ocean, spousal abuse, elderly abuse and child abuse. Again these are types of hells which we have collectively allowed to be created. If you want to understand the universe, just look in the mirror.

A question arises: where do you stand? Are you truly happy or frustrated? If you are not content , maybe moving outside of yourself to help strangers may be a solution to your sadness. It is not that hard to do once you get started.

In short, just spread da Aloha!!!!

Thanks to all the RHS teachers who developed this program. You are all bodhisattvas (Buddhist compassion super- saints) and you don’t even know it! That’s you Mr. Kim da surfa. Cheeeee haaaaa.
Aloha Len Barrow
Occasional Letters: Nov 1, 2011 [Link]

Zen Waterman » Bottom configurations by Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago

What’s Up With Bottom Configurations?

If you are a beginner surfer or surf SUPer bottom configurations may seem most perplexing. They seem complex yet the basics are quite simple. For our purposes here the bottom refers to the entire bottom plane of the board. If you want to examine what type of bottom you have just flip your board over wax or track, side down. Run you had horizontally from one tip of the rail to the other at the midsection of your board. Does the board express a V shape or does the board express a concave shape? Make a careful mental note of this. Repeat this process every twelve inches as you move to the nose. Go back to the center of your board and do this again except move toward your tail. Presto! You have just mapped out your bottom configuration.

You may find that at some areas of your board are almost flat while other areas are heavily veed. Some of you may surprisingly find two double concaves dug out of this plane in your board. The question arises: what does this all mean to your surfboard or SUP’s performance characteristics? The following article will answer these questions.

V Bottom Configuration

Vees were the first in bottom variation and were innovated by the indigenous Hawaiians. It was often thought that early Americans such as Tom Blake in the 1940’s created the vee configuration but in fact it was the native Hawaiians. There are examples of 150 year old boards with veed bottoms in the Bishop Museum of Hawaii. This is an interesting subject yet it shall be left for another article

How does the vee function? Imagine a see-saw with to children on them. If the lower child applies force via his legs to lift off the ground, this child rapidly and efficiently rises; conversely the higher child quickly drops. With a see-saw force is rapidly shifted in a predictable manner. This see –saw effect is crucial to modern surfing in which requires precise and efficient redirections of energy. This effect allows Kelly Slater to do his rapid direction changes. If you watch professional -surfers closely, they are tipping the board from side to side in a see-saw motion to create momentum and utilizing the vee for quick direction changes. Vee is literally the reason that modern surfboards are able to do what they do today.

To put it simplistically, bottom Vees allow you to tip the board on the rail to “cut” in one direction or another. One may also use the vee to “bottom turn” off your rail to do an off the lip. Vee also functions to tip the board from side to side. Again, this enhances the boards maneuverability and speed by allowing rapid directions changes. Next up are concave bottoms!

Concaves

Bottom Concaves have revolutionized surfboard design. When I was growing up we were restricted to veed bottoms. Concaves suddenly became mainstreamed in the late eighties. When we jumped on concaves we were surprised at how maneuverable and fast they were. We were pretty bummed out that we were missing out on so much fun for so long.

Concaves seem complex but they are actually based on a very simple principle. A concave allows a small air pocket to form under the board. This contributes to the board’s ability to lift out of the water very much like a hydro-plane. A concave theoretically uses the Venturi effect. This phenomena can be roughly explained as follows. When a wide river reaches a narrow bottleneck in its form, the water speeds up. Shapers use this to good effect. Often in modern surfboard design, a wide single broad concave in the nose is channeled into two narrow concaves in the rear third of the board. The water flow is thus speeded up under the board and translated into speed. This can be used to great advantage by the surfer. Most modern concaves today are a variation of this theme. The extreme version of a concave bottom is a “Bonzer”. In this design a deep broad concave is dug in then formed into a narrow channel in the tail of the board in a direct emulation of the Venturi effect.Lastly, vee can actually be incorporated into concave bottoms. How is this done one may ask? The shaper will initially carve a vee into the bottom of the board. He will then dig two concaves into each side of the stringer keeping the center higher than the rail edge thus retaining the vee despite the concave. This is the standard for high performance boards today. In the end equation, you can create an excellent board with the qualities of both a vee and concave.

Experimental Bottom Designs and SUPs

I hope the SUP surfing community starts to experiment more with bottoms configurations. So far I have seen only single to double concaves, vees and nose concaves. As creativity is part of our sport, it would be wonderful to see SUP shapers experiment. I have yet to see an extreme Bonzer-bottom on a SUP surfboard. That would be really cool and probably very functional. Another unorthodox bottom that I hope that shapers experiment with is the reverse vee. Tom Curran did his best surfing on this bizarre design. The Reverse Vee was innovated by the French shaper Maurice Cole. The vee which is usually in the tail is completely reversed and moved to the front 2/3 of the board. The tail is completely flat, with no vee. This configuration seems totally illogical but they are amazingly manouverable.
The world is the SUPers oyster. These alternative bottom configurations have never been (to my knowledge) applied to a SUP surfer. We know how they work on surfboard but the SUP has the extra element of the paddle which allows the surfers to modify the performance envelope of the design. When the paddle is added into the performance equation these experimental bottom types may blossom, in fact I am sure they will. So, until next time, keep your minds open and I hope to see some weird boards out there!

Aloha Len Barrow [Link]

Zen Waterman » Meet Gino Bell from the Westside by Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago

Gino Bell is a top longboarder and former US Championship finalist from the Nanakuli on the Westside of Oahu. He is basically a full blooded Hawaiian whose ancestors have lived in the area for hundreds of years or more. Gino is known for his uncanny ability to observe the waves and make the best of of any conditions from two to twenty feet. He is a true waterman.
Gino Bell is also a great Hawaiian ambassador to the sport of surfing and I feel it an honor to write about him because it gives me a chance to diffuse the stereo-type of the Hawaiian surfer. If you are not from Hawaii you may have a distorted picture of Hawaiians involved in Watersports. This may come from various media sources including some surfing periodicals and movies. The movie Blue Crush depicted Hawaiians as greedy, sexist and violent surfers (If you don’t believe me watch the movie again). The movie North shore did more of the same. Various surfing magazines have always focused on the Hawaiians who were aggressive and violent as drama and colorful characters sell more magazines. They don’t bother to tell you that these people are a tiny minority of the population.
Hawaiians who are great watermen- ambassadors like Duane Desoto (World Champ from the Westside) and Bonga Perkins (3x World Champ) get minimal press-time. I was surprised to find that when Duane won his world title he got a little corner article in the sports section of our Honolulu newspaper. The surfing magazines also barely mentioned it. This is really unfortunate and this type of coverage does not convey the truth of the matter.
Zen has always had at its foundation the “effort” to uncover the truth behind perceptions. That’s why this interview with Gino is most relevant to this blog. Gino is a real old school Hawaiian. I first met him it at Nanakuli Tracks (a surf point) about 15 years ago. I saw this Hawaiian guy just ripping it on his longboard and I must admit I was a little intimidated. He was “talking story” with everyone and I noticed that he was making sure that everyone was getting waves (when was the last time that you have seen that, if ever?). When a set came he generously yelled “Go bradda Go!” to me! Gino then introduced himself to myself and we have been good friends ever since.
Gino Bell is humble, helpful and full of Aloha. Most importantly, he is like most of the Hawaiians I know. He is not the falsified “media version” Hawaiian. If you are not from Hawaii and have never met a Hawaiian, I hope this interview will shed some light on who the Hawaiians are today. Secondly pay close notice to what he says about paying attention to waves, sharing waves and Aloha. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Until Next time!
Len Barrow

We hope you enjoy the Zen Waterman video interview with Gino Bell:
[Link]

Zen Waterman » How to strap a board to your roof rack in 30 seconds

Posted 6 years ago

I recently watched someone take 10 minutes to strap their board to their car while I was waiting for their parking spot. He was going back and forth several times for each strap, looping it around the ends of the racks on both sides, and tying the straps off endlessly. In the end the board was not even tight on the racks and the board could still slide all over because he tied it around the end of the rack, not snug next to the board and could not really tighten it well because of all the loops he made around the rack. So, here is a video of a fast way to strap a board to a car easily, quickly and safely.
LinkedTube

And here is a new video on how to strap multiple boards to your car: LinkedTube [Link]

Zen Waterman » Windsurfing Dream- video by Bob Bohn

Posted 6 years ago

My friend and Blue Planet team rider Bob Bohn made this windsurfing video with some very creative camera angles and custom gopro mounts, cool stuff, thanks Bob!


[Link]

Zen Waterman » Stoke technique video analysis from SUP racing workshop

Posted 6 years ago

This is a 18 minute video from our North Shore SUP racing workshop held this morning, Aug. 21st.
We had 8 participants and two coaches: Dennis Pang and myself.
If a picture says a thousand words, video says even more and seeing yourself paddle is very helpful, so I focused on getting everyone's stroke on video both from land and from a wide angle camera mounted on the front of the board. The video is intended mostly for the 8 participants to understand their stroke better and find small things they can work on. I think anyone trying to make their stroke more efficient, fast, and powerful can benefit from watching this.
Refining your stroke is not something that happens overnight, you need to put in the time and practice and the more you do it, the more efficient your stroke will become.
There is no right or wrong way to paddle but one thing that all good paddlers seem to have in common is good reach and catch.
Thanks to all the participants, I hope you had a good time and enjoy the video, please leave a comment!

Video stroke analysis at the Blue Planet SUP race workshop on Aug. 21st, 2011.

If you are confused by the terms used in the voiceover, please read the technique posts here- parts 2,3,4.
In retrospect, I should have added some video of a pro paddler with good technique.

In the photo below, Danny Ching shows excellent form during the power phase: shoulders stacked, paddle vertical, arms straight, transferring the power from the core and back directly to the paddle.

photo: Chris Silvester

Aloha,
Robert Stehlik

Links to the paddle technique series posts: Paddle Technique Part 0: Introduction to SUP Paddle Technique Part 1: Choosing the Right Paddle Paddle Technique Part 2: The Three Ingredients of a Powerful Stroke
Paddle Technique Part 3: Stacking the Shoulders Paddle Technique Part 4: Reach and Catch Paddle Technique Part 5: Recovery, Paddle Length and Grip Paddle Technique Part 6: Turning the Board [Link]

Zen Waterman » Fin Configurations with Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago

Len Barrow shows and talks about different surfing fin configurations: single fin, twin fin, quad, and thruster setups.

What’s Up with Fin Configurations?
Understanding Surfing and SUP fin configurations can be a daunting task. Everyone seems to be an expert and has a theory that they believe is infallible. The following article will sort out all the fin configurations and give you a basic yet delicate view of the pros and cons of various fin set ups. When reading this article it is important to understand that these ideas are only broad generalizations designed to give the reader a more open view of how fin set-ups can work. This article is not meant to be a definitive guide to fin configuration. It would take an encyclopedia to explain how fin set -up, rocker, tail block design, hip, etc. interact together. Yet to have a good general understanding of configuration will maximize the enjoyment of your surfing or SUPing experience.

The Single Fin
The single fin can have the reputation for being obsolete in some circles. I am especially surprised that SUP surfers rarely experiment with the single fin. I believe the single fin is a gem and greatly under-utilized. As the first modern fin setup, the single fin was designed as a keel to keep the boards tails from “sliding ass” in 60’s surf lingo. The fin simply holds the tail in the water and allows the board to be trimmed at an angle in the wave, either left or right. The early single fins were huge and very deep in length. They look obsolete but let us remember that the single fin opened up breaks like Pipeline and Waimea bay to surfing possibilities. As surfing evolved into the 70’s the single fin became shorter, narrower and more raked (refer to previous article on fins).
The modern single fin is great fun and I hope people experiment with them more in the SUP surfing community. My impression of the modern single fin is that it is fast. There is less fin area than that of a Quad, Tri-fin and even a Twin. When I first came off my three-fin to surf a single fin some time ago, I was a bit nervous. When I rode the single I was quite surprised. It was as if my tri-fin was like a bicycle with training wheels (the tri-fins outer fins being the training wheels). When I rode the single fin it was like I shed my side baby-training wheels. I was going faster, pivoting sharply, and generally having a great time. Yet on the flip side, like riding a two wheeled bike, it took some time to get used to.
Nose riding was a breeze as single fins are designed with greater height and therefore hold the tail down more efficiently when you stand on the nose. To this day single fins are still the state of the art for nose riding. Yet depending who you ask singles can be criticized for being a bit “tight” and the turning arc of a single fin is very unusual as it can be very sharp due to the lack of side fins of a thruster. The definite advantage of a single fin is that it rarely spins out and holds quite well in the barrel. Also when you set a line on the wave from point A to point B, a single will take you there. They are very “drivey” and hold a line even in barrelling waves. If you don’t believe this, take a look what Gerry Lopez was doing at Pipe in the 1970’s. Another great example of what a single can do is Shaun Thompson’s performance at Off the Wall in 1976. He was actually pumping and weaving in the barrel on a single. Only a handful of guys can do that today on their tri-fins! Open your mind and try a single, especially if you are a SUP surfer (as I rarely see this set up on a SUP). You might find yourself pleasantly surprised.

The Twin Fin
The twin fin is the next step in the evolution of fin set up and surfboard design. Mr Steve Liz is often credited for the earliest twin fin but many shapers including Ben Aipa played a dominant role in the development of the “Twinney”. The twin fin essentially ”loosened” up the single fin. Instead of having a center fin it was deleted and replaced with two shorter side fins, which were set higher on the tail block. This had the effect of drastically changing the performance character of the surfboard. Twins had and have a lively “get up and go” character to them. They are very loose and can have a much tighter pivoting arc as compared to the single fin. The twin feeling is indeed unique and hard to describe. They feel slick and lively and are indeed quick. The twin fin has a downside. When the waves get big and hollow the twin lacks the drive and hold of a single fin or tri-fin. They tend to slide out in the barrel and may lose traction in big waves when you bottom turn. Despite all of the above, technique can overcome all of the twin’s shortcoming and maximize all of its positive attributes. Mark Richards did gouging cutbacks and vertical off the lips at ten foot (twenty foot faces) Sunset beach on a twinney! If you have never surfed a twin set up you should definitely try it. It can turn a board that feels like a dog into a lively gem. My great buddy and longtime friend Tommy Chun Min (the hardest “core” surfer I have ever met!), Hawaii’s SUP surfing state champ, surfs twins exclusively and maximizes the flow, looseness and quickness this design is capable of. Again I see the twin as under-utilized by the SUP community and I do hope that people will experiment with it more.

The Tri-Fin
History: In 1980, a man called Simon Anderson changed the surfing world. He was a muscular and tall Australian. Mr. Anderson found that twins fins were limited in their performance envelope. He would often overpower his twin fin in cutbacks and larger waves. As Mr. Anderson was a shaper he came to a wonderful solution. He kept the twin fin placement yet added a third fin in the rear. Voila….the Thruster or tri fin was born. If he had taken out a patent on this design he would be a millionaire or more as everyone rides tri-fins today. They work well on shortboards, longboards and SUP surfing boards.Character performance pros: There is a reason why Simon Anderson named his new creation a Thruster. The fin configuration had the looseness and maneuverability of a twin yet held the characteristics of a single. The Tri fin could hold a line deep in the barrel and would rarely slide out in critical off the lips. The tri fin had an “x-factor” to its performance that is hard to describe in writing. Loose, yet directional, the tri fin is still the state of the art thirty years later.
Surfing performance took quantum leaps after Mr. Anderson created the tri fin. Many people criticized him, including the famous California shaper Al Merrick. Mr. Merrick famously stated that: “you can’t make a board better by putting more fins on it”. Simon Anderson quickly proved the tri-fins worth in a rapid array of stunning victories on the world tour. One victory was at heavy Bells Beach. The other victory was at Pipeline in the same year! Within six months of this everyone converted to the thruster. It remains this way to the present day. If you have never tried a thruster, even on your Sup, you should set one up today.

The Quad

History: The Quad fin was a further evolution developed out of the tri-fin. Some surfers felt that the tri- fin was too tight and the still preferred the ultra- looseness of the twin fin. The question being asked was; “how could you keep the maneuverability of the twin fin but add a little bit of drive (directionality) to it”. Al Merrick and Ben Aipa among others developed a solution. They took the twin fin and added two smaller fins in back of them. The quad was developed!
Quads are amazing fins. One word to describe a quad is that they are fast. The extra two back fins allow you to pump the board down the line. This characteristic gives them tremendous speed. These boards are almost too fast. Quads also draw a different pivot arc in the critical section. With a thruster you are limited to a fairly tight arc in the critical section as the rear fin holds you in place. The quad allows you to “blow tail”. This means that a quad can maintain a critical arc but also allows a bit of flare in the lip. If a surfer or Sup rider is skilled enough, a four fin can be thrown in to an off the lip and the tail released in a “power slide” that is beautiful to watch. Just watch Kelly Slater’s amazing victory at the 2011 US open. This was all done on a quad. If you have not ridden a quad you should try one. It will definitely liven up your surfing.
It is most important to try every type of fin configuration. Never narrow your mind to ride only one design. Pay attention to what you ride. Quietly feel out every fin configuration while you surf. If you simply allow yourself to focus on the fins-set ups characteristics you will definitely be engaged in a type of meditation. It is a wonderful thing to do.
To myself, surfing is like a long road with many adventures. If you open yourself to the many possibilities that surfing allows, your mind will become more focused. This is one of the great features of our sport whether it be SUP or Surfing. Having the ability to become more focused will definitely enhance your happiness and enjoyment of life. Should I ride a single, twin, tri fin or quad? Ride them all! [Link]

Zen Waterman » The 2011 Molokai race video and interviews by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

I put together this 15 minute video about my experience and a recap of the 2011 Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard race.
There are some short excerpts of the three interviews I taped the evening before the race, to watch the full interviews, click on the links. Featuring: Brian Szymanski, Jeff Denholm, and Gerry Lopez.

Robert Stehlik reporting live from the Molokai to Oahu race 2011.

I had the chance to catch up with the man behind the super fast Starboards race SUP's, Brian Szymanski on the evening before the Molokai to Oahu race on July 30, 2011. He talks about his shapes, downwind racing, and the Molokai race- good stuff!

Jeff Denholm is an inspiration, doing the Molokai race solo for the third time with a prosthetic arm paddle- very impressive, thanks Jeff!

Click this link for the Gerry Lopez interview post

Link to the complete Molokai race results

Link to a good article on muscle cramping

[Link]

Zen Waterman » Gerry Lopez interview

Posted 6 years ago

Gerry Lopez needs no introduction. If anyone can be called "Zen Waterman", it's him. We are just humble students of the master. I was lucky enough to spend some time with Gerry on the evening before the Molokai to Oahu race.
In this interview , Gerry talks about Standup paddling, shaping, the molokai race, yoga, focus, a bad wipeout at Pipeline with out of body experience and the benefits of getting into the ocean. This is great stuff, enjoy.

Here is a link to pictures of Gerry's mixed team: Gerry Lopez, Edmund Pestana and Heather Jeppsen crossing the channel the day after this interview

I was lucky enough to have a great conversation with Gerry Lopez the night before the Molokai race. Gerry is a true Zen Waterman and shares some words of wisdom. I know it's long but it really is great stuff, so take the time to listen and let it all sink in.

Click here for a Molokai race recap video and more interviews

If you are interested in reading more about Gerry's interest in Yoga, read: Yoga or something like it by Gerry Lopez

[Link]

Zen Waterman » MUCH ADO ABOUT FINS by Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago

Ben Aipa with his "da hook" fin design, click for more info

If you are like most surfers and SUPers you have probably spent a lot of your time looking at your fins. It has been said that fins are inch for inch the most critical performance feature on your board. Fins have always interested me and after thirty years of surfing I still have not totally figured them out. Fins may seem perplexing, yet when it comes to surfboard fins, the basics are quite simple.

The Basics- Rake, Height and Base Length

Base Length
The base of the fin is simply what it implies. That is, the distance from the tip of the front of the fin-base to the tip of the back of the fin-base. For the basis of this article we shall simplify things. As a good rule of thumb the wider base will usually create a looser feel to the board while a narrow base will sometimes be create a tighter, stable board. As an example of this, a Liz Twin Fin (a type of loose board small wave board) will have an extremely wide base length to heighten its pivoting and maneuverability characteristics. On the other hand a traditional California Noserider will have a narrower based fin which will help stabilize and stiffen the board during critical noserides.

Fin Rake and Height

Fin rake is the distance from the tip of the rear base to the tip of the extreme top end of the fin measured at a 90 degree right angle. This sounds complex but it is easy to measure. To find your rake, take a ruler to the tip of the top of your fin (the closet point possible to the tail). At a right angle to the fin base follow the ruler down to the bottom of the board. Mark this point with an x with an erasable pen. Measure the distance from the bottom rear tip of your fin to this point. It is usually just a few inches yet this design feature has large ramifications in the performance of your board. A fin which has a longer rake is more “swept”. These fins are great for larger, hollow waves as their swept aspect holds the tail in the wave in critical sections. Swept fins with high rake are used also on noseriders as this type of tail is less likely to spin out in high and critical noserides. Despite this, swept fins can make a board to tight and sluggish in small mushy waves. For these types of waves a less swept or more “upright” fin with a wider base is more feasible. They help you pivot in tighter arcs and have more release (the ability to quickly re-set the trajectory of your board).

Fin height is also very important. Obviously a 9 inch high fin will sit deeper in the water and have more holding power. The deeper fin has less chance of spinning out in bowling sections as it holds the tail of the board down. The disadvantage to this is you will have a little more drag and fin to deal with. This is great if you want to noseride but if you are a hot-dogger a high fin may hamper your style. On the other hand a fin with lower height (4.5 + inches) may be looser. Many small wave short boards have smaller up right fins to maximize their maneuverability and shorten their turning arc. Shorter fins may also have more release than deep higher fins. Despite this when the waves get big and hollow a shorter fin may “pop” out of the water and cease to hold your tail in the water. This is called a spin out

Avoid Dogmatism

The above rules are only very broad generalizations. Many surfers have their theories which they will die by. Keep in mind that creativity is part of the fun of our sport. Anything may work therefore don’t be narrow minded. Mark Richards rode virtually horizontal twin fins at Hawaiian 10’ foot sunset and won numerous times. They were not supposed to work but he made them work. Kelly Slater gets away with riding small wave fins at gigantic Margret River Australia. It is truly amazing at how fin performance stereotypes can be completely incorrect.

I have ridden the stupidest looking fins and they worked wonderfully for reasons that I cannot really fathom. My favorite fins are what you call runners. Ben Aipa gave me a pair to try. They were literally 1 inch high and have an extremely long base length and no rake whatsoever. People laughed at me at the beach when they saw the fins. For some reason they worked admirably. I have also used curved fins extensively. If you look at the fin” head on” they are actually curved inward in a semicircle. Again, they were one of the best set of fins that I ever had.

In the end, fins are a-lot of fun and an integral part to our sport whether it be surf SUPing or surfing itself. It is important to keep fooling around with fins to find a system that suits your surfing. My next article, which will be out in about a week on this post, will deal with fin configurations. Do you ride a quad, tri-fin, single or a twin? You could write a whole book on this yet the basics are fairly simple. Until then, have fun with your fins!
Len Barrow, July 2011. [Link]

Zen Waterman » Flatwater speed test- unlimited SUP's

Posted 6 years ago

Last week Evan Leong and I had a chance to test Mark Raaphorst's S-16 Standamaran prototype that he was shipping to New York for a race with a stopover on Oahu. I have been wanting to organize a speed test for SUP race boards for a while, so this was a good opportunity to comparison test unlimited boards in flatwater conditions. Please check the spreadsheet for detailed results and watch the video for more information on the test. Next up will be speed tests for 14' race boards and 12'6" race boards. For manufacturers, please contact me if you have a board you would want to have included in future tests.
The S-16 standamaran came in a big wooden crate. It looks like something Batman would paddle if he was into SUP, although his would probably be all black.

Flatwater speed comparison test of these 6 unlimited SUP race boards:

Listed in order from fastest to slowest in test results:

18' x 25" Ohana
17'6" x 25 1/8" Dennis Pang
16' x 28.5" Standamaran SIC S-16
17'4" x 26 1/2" SIC Bullet
18' x 26" Bark
17' x 26 3/4" Naish Glide

distance .21 miles, Est. wind speed= 5 to 15 knots

test pilots:Jared VargasAnders JonssonRobert Stehlik
For the spreadsheet with test results, click on this link: Spreadsheet with test times and results

Please watch the video with voiceover for more information on the test

Related posts:
Is lighter really faster? Weight comparison test
Unlimited race board comparison- planing vs. displacement hulls
See the discussion of this test on the Standupzone

Notes:I realize more runs are needed to get meaningful data. We will also try to include more data, like board weight, price (I like the idea of speed per $), board photos from different perspectives (outline, rockerline) in future tests. We originally planned to do two rounds of testing but ran out of steam after doing 12 sprints, so it will help to have more paddlers next time.

Run 1 times were with the wind and Run 2 times are going back upwind, so that's why Run 2 times are slower.

Regarding which boards we are used to, these boards are usually used/ owned by:
Jared: Ohana
Anders: Bark
Robert: Pang

Here are some of my thoughts:
I expected the standamaran to do well upwind with the smooth entry but in the test it did not compare well in the upwind legs. Why? I'm not sure but my theory is that the wakes coming from both tips and intersecting at the center of the board create a wave that adds drag at higher speeds and limits the top speed. Going into the wind the small chops might exaggerate this effect. I'm not sure though, just a theory.
At normal speeds (not sprinting) the standamaran seems to have very low friction and it takes very little to maintain a speed of around 5 mph.

All the boards have pros and cons and which board will be fastest depends on the paddler and the conditions. So why were some boards faster than others? There are so many variables and to try narrow it down to just the width is just not realistic even if the numbers seem to indicate that. I have tested two 12'6 prototypes with identical length and width with the main difference being the rocker and entry and the board with more rocker was actually faster and had a cleaner entry. Regarding length, I know that most 14' boards are significantly faster than most 12'6 boards and that most unlimited boards are faster than 14' boards but at some point (over 16' it seems to me) adding more length does not always translate into more speed.
Shaping a fast race board is more art than science, I think.
Paddler weight is important too, as the same board will have a different entry and exit depending on the weight of the rider, so the rocker line and volume have to match the rider weight
I also want to stress that this was a flatwater test that only compares speed in very limited conditions. In open ocean races many other factors come in, including stability and I just want to point out that the 17' Naish board, which came in slowest in our test has a great track record with many wins in downwind races. [Link]

Zen Waterman » Blue Planet SUP clinic July 3rd video by Fabrice Beaux and pictures by Roy Tate

Posted 6 years ago

Fabrice Beaux filmed and edited this video of our free monthly SUP clinic and board demo on the fourth of July weekend. With new, creative film angles and cool editing, a fun day and cool video!

Here is a slideshow of pictures taken by Roy Tate of T4 Digital Concepts

Many thanks to all the helpers and participants!

Click here for information on upcoming free SUP clinics [Link]

Zen Waterman » Downwind Coaching video by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

I shot this video with a headmount gopro cam this morning on a downwind coaching run from Hawaii Kai to Kahala with two students, Sean and Dalbert. I did a voiceover and think this is a helpful video to watch for anyone new to downwind standup paddling.

This is a downwind coaching session with voiceover. A grey, overcast morning on July 7th, 2011. For more information on downwind lessons, please visit www.getupstanduphawaii.com [Link]

Zen Waterman » The Tale of the Tail, by Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago


Have you ever wondered about how your surfboard or SUP works? The terminology requires a minor encyclopedia and each design element interacts with another element. It can be an incredibly complex issue but if you understand a few basics you should be able to figure out what’s going on. All in all, part of the fun of surfing and SUP is paying attention to your equipment. In this manner, it is truly is akin to a type of meditation.
For the purpose of this article we shall start with the tail or “tailblock”. The tailblock is the portion of the approximately two feet from the tip of the tail. It is an extremely important design element. Much of your pivoting while surfing is done on the tail therefore its “design lines”, volume, and rocker (bottom curve) is crucial. I know this is a mouthful but don’t worry. I will break down each topic point by point.
Tail Design Lines
The Square or Squash tail
Basically there exist three basic outlines of tail and many variations in-between. The first is a square or squash tail. As the name implies, the tail is squarish. A square tail can have rounded off edges or hard boxy angles. These types of tails are used for smaller waves and even slower waves. They are excellent as the square shape retains a wider outline as compared to other tails. A wider tail quite simply has more foam in the tail blocks volume. This equates to flotation and lift which are your absolute allies if the waves are small and slow. If the waves are barreling and huge like Pipeline, excess flotation and lift are actually your enemy as the tail wants to “lift” itself out off the water due to the power and curve of the wave. This is called spinning out. The actual “over-lifting” of the tail causes the fins to disengage from the water and one’s board control is lost. On the other hand, if you are on a small slow wave like Daimond Head or Sanonofre, lift is your ally. When the wave is slow the wider outline of the square or squash tail with its additional foam allows you to keep the boards speed. This translates into velocity that can be used in off the lips, cutbacks and zig zagging (weaving) across flat sections.
The Round tail or Pin Tail
The round tail is as the names implies, a tail that has its end rounded off. This tail can be curvy and look like the end of your thumb. A pin tail is similar yet has different angles. In a pin tail, the lines of the tailblock will usually be be straighter and end in a single defined point. The round or pin tail have advantageous and disadvantages depending on the type of surf that you wish to ride. This is due to the fact that outline of a round or pin tail has less area than a squash hence less foam. This equates into a tail that settles down into the water more. This extra hold can manifest in two ways. If you are surfing slow rolling waves, the round and especially the pin tail tends to settle in the wave too much and you slow down due to increased friction. Remember that there is usually less surface area in the pin or round tail in the tail block hence less flotation. On the other hand if you are surfing a wave like Pipeline or Jocko’s, you want the tail to settle into the water. If you have a wide squash tail in these waves the excess surface area and foam would lift your fins out of the water and you would lose control (spin out). A pin however anchors your bottom turn, engaging the fins. This then translates in to drive or velocity which can allow you to do big off the lips and other gouges. Pin tails can have a great amount of what surfers call “drive” . Drive can be translated into “force direction” in surfer lingo. Quite literally a “drivey” board responds to the amount of force you put in and goes exactly where you want to go.
The Middle Path: The Swallow
What if you want the best of both worlds? You want the Zip of a squash for the small stuff but the drive of a Pin for the more powerful waves. If you don’t have enough money to buy five boards, each for a specific condition, what do you do?
Ben Aipa figured this out in the mid 70’s along with a few other shapers. God bless them for their solution. Imagine taking a square tail. In your mind place a small triangle in the dead center of the square tail with the point facing the nose. Cut out that triangular piece of foam and you get a swallow tail. What is so ingenious about this you may ask? Firstly you have the surface area of a squash tail which allows your board to be maneuverable in small mushy waves. Secondly you have just created two pin tails. A swallow tail is literally two pin tails! When you put the board on the rail, as in a bottom turn you engage one pin (let us say the right pin). Remember the pin settles into the water and creates drive. Then you come rocketing off the top and tip the board on to the other pin (now the left pin). As there is less foam in a pin, the tail holds in the critical section for your off the lip. If the wave slows down your tail block still has enough surface area to fly across the flat sections. This is my opinion but the swallow manages to engage in all types of surf.
I am always amazed at the capabilities of a swallow tail. I have seen Ben Aipa taking off on 12 foot (24 foot faces) Laniakea on a swallow and absolutely destroying the waves. On the other hand, I won the US Championships in 1 foot Huntington mush on a swallow tail.
It is important to understand that the above are just rough generalizations. I have not even taken into account rocker, board length, hips or templates. Yet this is what makes surfing or SUP surfing great fun. There is an infinite variety of equipment types to ride and you cannot possibly ride all the variations in a lifetime. Better yet, equipment forces you to pay attention and in this manner it is a type of meditation. Let me leave you with this question. What kind of tail do you prefer and why? [Link]

Zen Waterman » Ride Everything by Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago


I have had the wonderful opportunity to ride every type of surf craft in my 41 years on this planet. I regard myself a lucky man. I learned something new on each design of surfboard both technique wise and culturally. All of these boards contributed to my happiness as a surfer today and I thought that writing about my experiences with them could be both fun and illuminating.
The Knee-Board
Most people don’t even know that these things exist. The knee boarder is a dying race. The individuals who still knee board on Oahu full time can be counted on one hand. They are a breed apart. Knee boarders strike me as pure surfers committed to pure surfing…..getting barelled. I should know, I was one.Being a knee boarder (like a body board) can be kind of hard socially. As you don’t stand some surfers regard you as a lesser being. I have been called a “half man” or “the man that took a main round to the stomach”. People will often drop in on us and my friends still give me grief when I pull the old kneeboard out.Despite this knee boarding taught me a lot about surfing. As you are kneeling, your face is almost touching the wave. It is a very intimate type of surfing to do. You are so close to the wave that you really feel it’s every movement. The bonus to being both low is that you can get insane barrels on almost any bowling wave. Turns on a kneeboard are a blast also. You learn how to use your arms as a pivot point (fulcrum) and as you swoop around, your face is literally inches from the wave, just like a bird. Great Fun!
The Body-Board
The humble body board is a gem. Socially, body boarders get the most flack. They have wrongly been called Spongers, Speed Bumps, Dick Draggers, Cripples, Launch Pads and other derogatory names that I will not mention here. There is even a sticker that says “Friends don’t let Friends Body board”. To me, this is all wrong! My fondest memories were on a body board. In fact my surfing addiction started on a body board. I was a child on the island of Kauai and my brother and I shared a body board at a beach break. I will always remember my first wave. I kicked in and the wave lifted me and sped myself strait toward the beach. At first I was in shock. This turned to awe, then elation and I laughed my head off all the way to the sand. I remember thinking “I like this…I wanna do this forever”. My normal life was all over, due to a bodyboard. Sorry Mother, you should have not purchased that first bodyboard for us (my brother is a surf addict also)..haha.If you think body boarders are kooks, you should see what they are doing at Pipeline. Body boarders routinely take off deeper than any surfer, and do aerial maneuvers that short boarders are only dreaming off. The body boarder can pull of full 720 degree (two rotation aerials) in the sky. Think about that if you believe you kill it!
The Short Board
Yes, we now come to the ultra-hip short board. “Only real surfers ride shortboads was my mantra”. I was a shortboarder for 17 years and I still bust out the 5’11 occasionally when the kids get a little uppity. I did the whole short board competition thing and had the attitude of an 18 year old ripper (at least I thought I was one in my head). But how fun it was.I may be biased but you can’t call yourself core unless you were a short-board shredder in the eighties (just kidding). We thought we were soo cool. I went to Roosevelt High school in Hawaii. We would show up to school in ultra-tight girls cut board shorts which revealed certain anatomical features of the male. Why girls cut board short you may ask? They were the men’s style of the time! We would also wear Pink Quicksilver jackets on top of these tight shorts. To top off the ensemble, checkerboard vans would be added with a Flock of Seagull Haircut. We were walking peacocks and the girls loved it! Bring back the Eighties!The short board is tremendously fun and difficult. People have it easy today as they start on longboards or even SUPs. I had to start on a 5’11 and it took me a full month to stand up. I am very happy to have what surfers call a short board background. The short board teaches a surfer many things. Balance is one of them. As this type of board is both narrow and short it is inherently unstable. Yet with practice this instability turns in to maneuverability. Short boards are amazingly fun. Your turning arc can be one quarter the length of longboard and you can fit into the critical section of the wave routinely. I suppose that the most important thing that I learned from the short board was pocket surfing. With this type of board you must surf close to the curl, otherwise known as the pocket. If you get too far out on the shoulder the board loses momentum and you may fade out of the wave. If I did not have this short board background, I can almost guarantee that I would not have achieved a US championship on a longboard.
The Longboard
The Longboard is all about fun. There has been traditionally a little friction between longboards and short boarders as the Long boarders can sit outside of the short boarders and get a lot of waves. As an 18 year old short boarder, I used to hate long boarders for this behavior. I made a promise to myself never to ride a longboard. If I could look in to the future at the time and see that I would transform into a long boarder I would have probably shot myself! Despite this the longboard taught me a lot of things in regards to surfing.
Duane Desoto (current ASP Longboard World Champion) once told me that longboards were easy to learn on but very hard to get good at. This is so true. A longboard has nine foot of rail compared to the five or six foot of rail of a short board. There is much more “board” to be dealt with. This is actually a double edged sword. The extra board allows you get into waves easily but makes it a lot tougher to fit into places were a short board would easily go. So when you complete an off the lip in the critical section smoothly you become ultra-stoked as many factors must coalesce perfectly. In other words it takes a lot of attention to surf a longboard well. What I learned on a longboard was the critical nature of timing. With a short board your timing can be a little bit off and you can get away with it. On a longboard if you go into an off the lip to early you fade out of the wave. If you go too late, the lip swats you like a fly.

As you see there exists a whole universe of surfing equipment to utilize. I believe that this endless variety adds to the surfing experience. Every single piece of equipment forces you to pay attention. Because you are forced to pay attention, each board type is like a Zen Meditation. Also, by riding different equipment, you develop respect for others in the surf despite what they ride. Riding all types of equipment creates a win-win situation. The world is your oyster! Ride Everything.

Coming up: Lens comical stand up surfing learning experience. Yes, I am trying stand up surfing also! [Link]

Zen Waterman » SUP clinic at Ala Moana on June 5th 2011- by Fabrice Beaux

Posted 6 years ago

We celebrated the one year anniversary of our Ward shop with a SUP clinic in the morning and a video night at our shop in the evening. Fabrice Beaux documented it all in this video. Thank you for participating. [Link]

Zen Waterman » Fine Tuning the Rudder by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

I like racing on unlimited boards with rudders. The rudder makes these long, straight tracking boards surprisingly nimble and fun in the bumps. I avoid using the rudder when trying to catch a bump as it creates extra drag. Once planing on the bump though, using the rudder can help to follow the bumps or change direction without noticeably slowing the glide. You can step back with one foot to lift the nose of the board while keeping the front foot on the rudder. On steeper bumps you want to step further back with both feet off the rudder to reduce the wetted surface and allow higher speeds. With both feet off the rudder, you can surf the bump off the tail by using the rails like when surfing. When the front foot is off the rudder, it goes to "neutral", the straight position that the rudder is supposed to return to when the pedal is released. To minimize drag from steering, the rudder should be in "neutral" most of the time with most steering being small adjustments from the straight position. Doing a downwinder on an unlimited board with the rudder not straight in neutral is awful, it's like trying to play nice music on a guitar that's out of tune. I'm surprised how many people suffer through downwind runs on boards that cost thousands of dollars with their rudder systems completely out of tune, or worse, dropping out of a race because their screws got loose ;) (I won't mention any names here).
If you live on Oahu and would like to have your rudder system tuned professionally, bring it to Blue Planet Surf Shop, for everyone else here is a do it yourself guide to fine tuning your rudder system. The pictures are of a SIC Bullet that my friend Evan Leong (standuppaddlesurf.net) is kindly letting me use in a race tomorrow. The basic concept can be used on any board, all rudder systems allow for a way to adjust and fix the neutral position.

Guide to tuning the rudder system


The SIC ASS system (Advanced Steering System) is notorious for the adjustment screws getting loose and out of tune. I don't like to tune the rudder on a regular basis, so I put some loctite (red) on the screws before making the adjustments for a semi-permanent fixed setting that should not get loose or need any more adjustments for at least a season or longer. While you are at it, also put loctite on the screw in the center that holds down the pedal, I have heard of those coming loose as well.

Cable tension
The cables should be snug but not overtightened.
This picture shows about the correct amount of tension, you should be able to pull the cables together an inch or so, if you can pull more, the cable tension is too loose, which makes the steering sloppy. Tighter cables will make the system more responsive but if they are too tight the tension can put too much strain on the system. You want to avoid having loose parts or play in the system.
Lining up the RudderA friend asked me how I can tell if the rudder is really straight. It takes a good eye to line up the curved sides of the rudder with the curved bottom of the board. You can line up the tail or nose of the board with the rudder and see if it slants to one side or the other. If you don't have that eagle eye, it helps to have a center line reference to line up the back tip of the rudder with.
Because this board does not have a visible centerline, I used a floodlight and lined up the board so the shadow of the fin made a centerline on the board.
I then centered the back tip of the rudder in the shadow, playing around with the tension until I have a good amount of tension with the rudder perfectly straight in neutral. Wiggle the rudder back and forth and make sure it keeps returning to neutral. If it gets stuck in different settings you should check if all parts move smoothly without getting stuck and/or create more tension pulling the rudder into the neutral position. The SIC system uses a fiberglass batten, other systems use rubber bands that may need to be tightened or replaced to pull the rudder into the neutral position.

Let the Loctite cure overnight, then get on the water and most importantly, have FUN. [Link]

Zen Waterman » When Less is More by Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago


When Less is More
In Daoist and Zen thinking sometimes less is more. A classic example is the act of cooking fish. If you cook the fish to much it will become tough and flavorless. If you cook the fish with just the right amount of energy, it comes out moist and sweet. I have noticed that Surfing and SUP surfing has the same qualities as the Daoist and Zen thinking. Here are a few examples.
Over thinking/Over- Cognating your surfing. The best surfing is done “in the zone”. While you are surfing everything becomes automatic and fluid. Without thinking, the wave reacts in one way and you automatically react to the wave. Everything is smooth and perfect. Take a look at Kelly Slater. His surfing looks as if it were driven by pure unconscious instinct. He and the board seem like one organism.On the other hand when one begins to think about surfing, problems arise. I know this all too well. Whenever I try to do a big off the lip and think about it, my flow and form gets disrupted and I fall on my face. Then I make the mistake of thinking too much about why I fell and due to this, I subsequently fall again. This can ruin your whole session hence don’t give a fault to much energy. It will only grow and screw up your surfing.
Overpowering A Turn.All too often I see surfers trying too hard. This has happened to me. At times I wanted to destroy the wave and be a “mega-slasher”. I would kick in turns and think I was ripping. Ben Aipa once told me, how can you go 100 mph in a 25mph zone. He said “you can’t see yourself but you look like a jerky, scurrying a’ama crab (a type of crab in Hawaii)”. I was pretty bummed at this and chose not to believe him. This all came to an end when my friend videotaped me. I was shocked at what I saw. I was swinging my arms wildly, jerking here, and hopping there. It was the most “unfluid” event one could imagine and I indeed looked like a crab because I was putting way to much energy in to my turns. Ben corrected me by setting a volume from one to ten. If I was surfing 10 foot Hawaiian Jocko’s, Ben told me to set my volume at 8, 9 or even 10. If I were to surf 1 foot town, I was told to power down and “ride” at an easy volume of 2 or 3. The end result is that my surfing became fluid and free.
NoseridingThe hardest thing that I ever encountered in surfing is the noseride. It is here where the Zen and Daoist approach of less being more and not over-cognating becomes very apparent. The beautiful thing about noseriding is that everything is dictated by the wave. You are truly at the mercy of the ocean. If you try to force a noseride by running up the board the nose dips under the water and throws you off. To noseride properly your mind must be totally clear and you must be “in the zone”. Some times one waits for the noseride in a type of “necessary stillness”. It is almost like a meditative state. All the angles of the wave must be perfect to walk up to the nose of the board. The wave cannot be too curved nor can it be too strait. When the time is right one cross-steps to the nose. This walk is not a bold “male” attack but a feminine dance. The Yin and Yang is most alive in the nose- ride. The less force that you put in your walk up to the nose the more the board lifts and the longer your nose-ride. This may sound counter intuitive but try it.
The next time you go to the ocean whether surfing or SUP surfing maybe it is a good idea to take it easy. Clear your mind and lower your volume and watch your surfing take off. Remember less can be more!
Written By Len Barrow [Link]

Zen Waterman » Downwind Clinic video- with Nicole Madosik, Jared Vargas, Morgan Hoeserey, Kainoa Beaupre

Posted 6 years ago

One of our customers asked me if I could join him on a downwind paddle and give him some tips. I invited some other customers and got help from some of my friends who also happen to be some of the fastest paddlers on Oahu to put together the first Blue Planet Downwind Paddle Clinic the week before the BOP Hawaii. We filmed the tips we gave on the beach before getting on the water and I put them together in a series of downwind paddling clinic videos that are 4-8 minutes each. If you have not seen the previous post, please also watch the video with Hawaii Kai run downwind racing tips. The last video (Part 6) has some gopro video from the water where you can see some of the participants putting what they learned into action.

Blue Planet Downwind Clinic part 1 with tips from Nicole Madosik and Jared Vargas

Blue Planet Downwind Clinic – Part 2 with tips from Jared Vargas and Morgan Hoesterey

Blue Planet Downwind Clinic- Part 3 with tips from Robert Stehlik and Kainoa Beaupre

Downwind Clinic- Part 4-Kainoa Beaupre with more downwind tips and line to Kaimana

Downwind Clinic- Part 5, Kainoa Beaupre talks about the inside line from Kaimana to Fort De Russy

Downwind Clinic – Part 6: End of the beach clinic and into the water

Timing and EfficiencyThere is a good game on OCpaddler.com called 40 strokes, where the goal is to go as far as possible with 40 strokes using the waves. It teaches you timing and to use your strokes as efficiently as possible (although it is limited to two dimensions, in real life, going left and right can make a big difference). I have been able to get a score of just over 1900 but have not been able to get over 2000 as some others have. For tips, read some of the comments posted. [Link]

Zen Waterman » Hawaii Kai run tips for the BOP distance race

Posted 6 years ago

With the BOP coming up next weekend, I thought it would be a good time to post some tips for the Hawaii Kai run. This is the fist part of a series of downwind paddling tips and videos. Many thanks to Morgan Hoesterey for filming and editing this clip, with more downwind tips to come soon.

Note: These tips are based on predominant tradewind conditions. It looks like the wind will be light for the race on Sunday, which makes it less of a factor.

Hawaii Kai to Waikiki SUP racing tips for the Battle of the Paddle distance race from Robert Stehlik. Filmed and edited by Morgan Hoesterey. Brought to you by Blue Planet Surf

Some helpful links for the Hawaii Kai distance race:
Wind forecast:
http://www.windguru.cz/int/index.php?sc=20449
Current wind conditions:
http://www.iwindsurf.com/windandwhere.iws?regionID=159&regionProductID=1&timeoffset=0
Tide chart:
http://www.surfnewsnetwork.com/index.php?content_type_id=51

Here are some google earth images of the race course (click on image to enlarge)

The whole course
The start to blinker bouy: Line to Black Point: Around Diamond Head: Turning in at the Lighthouse:
Going into Waikiki:
I won't be able to race this weekend but wish everyone a safe and fun race!Aloha, Robert Stehlik

For more videos with downwind tips: Blue Planet Downwind Clinic [Link]

Zen Waterman » Some thoughts on water flowing over a paddle- by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

Quickblade's Jim Terrell recently came out with an excellent video breaking down the SUP stroke with high tech video analysis. If you have not seen it, watch it in the window below (double click for full screen view).The video analysis clearly shows that on longer raceboards at cruising speeds, good paddlers plant the paddle and move past it. It shows Rob Rojas in slow motion, planting the paddle, applying power with the shaft bending and no visible "slippage", the blade merely rotates at the waterline. With his forward momentum, he actually pulls the blade out in front of the spot he planted it. To me this clearly shows that once the blade is planted, the water is compressed against the face of the blade and there is very little "slippage" or backward movement. This made me think more about how a paddle blade moves through the water. I'm not a scientist or paddle designer but just want to share some of my thoughts.

When people talk about paddle blade design they usually explain how the shape and design of the blade moves through the water, visualizing how the blade face gets pulled backward through the water.In reality, during an efficient race stroke, there is very little movement of the blade once it is planted. The water is compressed against the face of the blade and if the force is applied at the right time in the right dosage, there is very little slippage or movement of the blade backwards, it is effectively planted in the water, not moving through the water.So, most of the movement of the blade through the water occurs when the blade is sliced down into the water during the catch and when it is pulled out of the water during the release. In both cases, the paddle moves sideways, or tip first with water rushing past both sides of the blade.When you think of it this way, most of the water flowing over the paddle is not flowing over or past the face of the blade but moving sideways, during the catch and release. When designing a paddle the concern should be to make the sideways movement during catch and release as smooth and efficient as possible as this is the way the paddle travels through the water the most: slicing into and out of the water.Instead of looking at the face of the blade, look at the edge/ tip and side profile of the paddle as that is the direction the blade moves through the water mostly. It seems to me that a thin, flat blade should be most efficient slicing through the water sideways, while paddles with big spines, concaves, curves or other features designed to "catch" more water will only disrupt a clean sideways entry and exit. It seems that a mild dihedral close to the waterline will not disrupt the waterflow during entry or exit much but maybe Kialoha is onto something with their completely flat, relatively thin blades.It also means that it does not matter whether you put a sticker on the face or back of the blade, the sticker edge might cause a tiny bit more friction on either side during catch and release, but should not make a difference during the power phase.

So what's up with those "magic" golf ball dimples on the face of the Quickblade elite racer
blades?Some people seem to think they are designed to "hold" more water.
According to the Quickblade website FAQ section: Q - What is the difference between the Elite racer and the Magic?
A -The Magic paddle is identical to the Elite racer with the difference of the blade surface. Q - What is the special feature on the QB Magic paddle? A -The QB Magic paddle has dimples on the backside of the blade similar to a golf ball. This has proven to be most effective for very strong powerful paddles that can drive it with force.
I'm kind of puzzled by this. The dimples are on the face of the blade, not the backside (I guess it depends how you look at it).I think they mean to say it works well for powerful paddlers. I would think that the dimples would be most effective at reducing friction when the paddle is moving through the water sideways, much like dimples in a golf ball make it travel farther with less friction(I think that's why they have dimples anyways, correct me if I'm wrong).Do they work? I can't tell the difference and neither can anyone I talked to that tried both but it's one of those things that if you believe in it, it works. It's called the placebo effect. At $10 more than the non-dimpled elite race paddle the dimples are cheaper than a holographic power band bracelet and might actually do something (although it also makes the blade about an ounce heavier).
Just don't put a fat paddle edge guard on a Magic blade, that would just be silly.
If the purpose of the dimples is to reduce friction during catch and release, the dimples really should be on both sides of the blade, not just on the face of the blade, as the water rushes past both sides equally. And if it really reduces friction, why not cover the bottom of the board with dimples, too?

If you are into the science of flow and friction, you will enjoy this scientific explanation posted by ehrawn on standupzone.com:
The text is easier to read in the comment section below, where I posted the same text again.

Here is a good illustration of what's happening with a golf ball.
http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/aerodynamics/q0215.shtml

"Since the laminar boundary layer around the smooth sphere separates so rapidly, it creates a very large wake over the entire rear face. This large wake maximizes the region of low pressure and, therefore, results in the maximum difference in pressure between the front and rear faces."

In comparison, lets look a flat plate. First, perpendicular to the flow:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drag_coefficient

"fluid approaching the object is brought to rest, building up stagnation pressure over the whole front surface." Negative pressure builds at the back because of the eddies that form along the edges which adds to the effective drag. The flow around the plate will be turbulent even at very low velocities.

But parallel to the flow:
http://www.roymech.co.uk/Related/Fluids/Fluids_Drag.html

You'll notice that there is no advantage to creating turbulent flow earlier on plate, like there was with the sphere. You won't get less wake or any other advantage because pressure drag is negligible to skin friction.

So lets talk numbers. Drag Coefficient depends on the Reynold's Number which is a function of velocity, but, common estimates for the drag coefficient of sphere is about 0.47. A flat plate perpendicular to the flow is about 1.17. A flat plate parallel in laminar flow is about 0.001, and in turbulent flow about 0.005. http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/drag-coefficient-d_627.html

Drag force depends on the drag coefficient and a "frontal area" which we can just assume is the same for all cases: for the parallel plate, it's actually the side area, if you get what I'm saying. As such, the drag force for the parallel plate is 2-3 OOM less than the other two scenarios. So then you get into the question about laminar vs turbulent. Crunching some numbers:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reynolds_number

L is the length of the blade. Assuming I can get the paddle in the water in about 0.5 sec, in sea water, your looking at a Re of about 1.1 * 10^9. Re > 10^6 is so we are way turbulent.

Essentially, what I'm trying to argue is that I don't think there is an advantage to making the flow turbulent on catch and release. I'm guessing that a quick catch will get you turbulent even without the dimples. Even if there was and effect caused by the dimples, it would be so minuscule compared to rest of the stroke, that it wouldn't be noticeable to the paddler. Look at the mechanics of a stroke. As soon as the blade enters the water, the perpendicular flow is going to be all that the paddler feels. At the release, there's going to be so much cavitation at the back of the paddle, as soon as you stop applying forward pressure, the built up pressure on the face and suction on the back will pull the blade into the void…not really a void but a low pressure volume. Again, it will already be turbulent flow, so dimples aren't going to do anything.

Of course, the focus of my masters was mechanics. I haven't studied fluids since my undergrad, so, Robert, how'd i do? [Link]

Zen Waterman » Beginners Mind and SUP by Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago

My Ego and Sup Surfing
According to the great Zen Master Dogen Zenji, the beginners mind is the Zen mind. The neophyte mind is playful, open and fluid. Zen “consciousness” is a mind-set that is ”pre-self like”. The closest likeness is to that of a young child’s or babies mind. If you put a baby up to a mirror, the child cannot recognize his or herself in the mirror. This means the child is not aware of the self. Everything in a child’s world is a moment of discovery and interest. All is new in this mind-set. A young child (pre-ego) has no views of rich and poor, good and bad, high and low. The baby just moves along like a river. That is why Dogen Zenji states that the beginners mind is the Zen mind.As we grow older we manifest into egotistical children, teenagers and adults. We like and dislike, hate and love. We grasp for things that we usually cannot reach. This often leads to anxiety and depression. For this reason the Buddha described life as suffering.For all of my talk of Zen and Buddhism, I can ironically and hypocritically fall into egotistical thinking. A week or so back I decided to try SUP surfing. My arrogant concern was that I was to be a kook again. I desired to cheat my way out of this situation. More so, I wanted to ”rip the wave” on my first go out. I went to the Blue Planet surf shop where I met Robert (the co-writer of this blog) who is an avid SUPer. He advised me to start on an 11 foot board. When I looked at the board I was horrified. It said “beginner” all over it. My ego kicked in and I remember myself commenting in my head that I could ride a shorter board easily. I asked him for the shortest board. Robert said something to the effect of “you will be back for a larger board” but I was on an ego driven mission to shred. From the shop I preceded strait to the surf zone.At the beach edge, I stood on the board and fell face first into the water. I got back on the board and then took a few strokes and fell backwards. Then I managed to fall sideways. My friends on the beach were laughing their heads off. Here was a former US Longboard Champ who could not even stand up. After this failed ego driven mission I broke down and got an 11 foot board that Robert had advised me to ride. More importantly I made a decision to pay attention to becoming a beginner again in the spirit of Zen. I did a great deal of reflecting on the philosophy of Dogen Zenji where the beginners mind was playful, open, and fluid. In this way I was able to enjoy being a complete novice again. I told my ego to go somewhere else as I was to now have a child’s open mind to the SUP sport.By altering my perception and attention I became a beginner again. It was so fun. I launched at Ala Moana beach-park Channel. The first thing that I noticed was that just paddling in flat water was the most difficult thing to do. The board would tip one way then the other. The difficulty of getting going was actually thrilling. I would paddle once, twice then tree times and whoopee! I was moving and I started laughing my head off. Memories began pouring into my head about when I was a child who was catching his first wave. Everything I did was new and wonderful. I realized that I just rediscovered the feeling of why I had started surfing in the first place. Fun, Fun, Fun!I am still a total SUP kook and I love it. I am a beginner again! Thanks Dogen Zenji. [Link]

Zen Waterman » Paddle Technique Part 4: Reach and Catch by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

I started the technique series with the power phase as this is where I saw the quickest improvements when coaching. All the phases of the stroke have to work together smoothly for the stroke to be efficient and without good reach and catch, the stroke won't be effective. I already started working on a technique post on breathing but before I get into that I really want to go back to what should have probably been part one of the technique posts: the Reach!

photo: Alex Nix

Work Out vs. Practice
I used to think that SUP racing is mostly a contest of endurance and muscle power. I worked out hard hoping to become more fit than the competition. As I spent more time on the water and paddling with others, I realized that technique and efficiency are often more important and usually play a bigger role than overall fitness in race results. When training the focus should be on practicing good technique and not just "working out". Fitness is important, of course, and comes as a bi product of practice. By practicing good technique when training you will train the right muscles to do the right thing automatically when racing. If your technique is bad, "working out" can actually be counter productive. By working out the wrong muscles, muscle memory can make it harder to change the stroke to make it more efficient later.

Reaching forward as far as possible will make the stroke longer and more efficient. The most effective part of the power phase occurs well in front of the feet. The further forward you can begin the power phase, the better. If your paddle is too short, you will not be able to achieve good reach, so make sure you have a long enough paddle first, see “choosing the right paddle"

Reach:
Pay attention to how far forward you currently reach when stroking and try to go further. There are several ways of extending your reach. First of all, keep a loose grip with the lower hand and open the lower fingers up to allow the paddle to reach a more forward angle. Straighten your bottom arm and stretch it forward by twisting the shoulder and hip forward. Bend the elbow on your top arm to angle the paddle forward more. Practice this and keep trying to reach further and further forward.

Catch:
You can have great reach but if you don't plant the blade in the water effectively and quickly for a good catch, much of the great reach can be wasted. To "catch", the blade can be slid into the water from the side or by projecting it straight down into the water, usually a little of both. Either way, the focus should be on entering the water smoothly and quickly with the paddle edge slicing into the water cleanly, creating minimal turbulence.

Once the blade is fully submerged and "planted" it's time to apply the power. If you start pulling too soon, the blade tends to cavitate (air bubbles form along edges of blade) and will slip through the water instead of holding.

A good way to practice efficient strokes with a clean catch, power phase, and release is what I call "stealth mode". It works best on a calm, quiet day (or night). Go into stealth mode by making as little noise with your paddle as possible. If your paddle splashes on the catch, try to make the entry smoother and don't pull on the paddle before the blade is submerged. If the paddle is gurgling through the power phase, focus on really planting the whole blade in the water before applying the power (think of "surprising" the water). If you are splashing water behind you, try to end the power phase sooner (keep it in front of your feet) and release the paddle smoothly.

A good way to practice your reach is from Danny Ching's technique DVD: Practice just the reach: Put your blade in the water as far forward as possible but don't pull, just take the paddle back out and repeat this a few times to really focus on just the reach and catch.

Here is the video that goes with this post, shot in our shop with a board on top of a cooler. Thanks Evan Leong of StandUpPaddlesurf.net for shooting and posting it.

More reading:
Reach, Dammit, Reach and Kalama’s 50/50 by Dave Kalama

Paddle Technique Part 2: The Power Phase
Paddle Technique Part 3: Stacking the Shoulders
Video stroke analysis from SUP racing workshop

Here is an excellent new video using hight tech stroke analysis from Quickblade:
[Link]

Zen Waterman » Shit on a Stick by Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago

It’s What You Make of It: The Pre-Conceptual and Surfing

In the 12th century, a Zen master was asked by a monk “ what was the nature of the Buddha’s enlightenment?” He replied “SHIT ON A STICK”. This is an actual formal Zen Koan (a type of riddle). It came to my mind one day when I was surfing with a friend. We were traveling around looking for good waves, yet the waves on offer were “shitty” lumpy one foot crap.

My friend was grumbling about the state of the surf. He elaborated that his board was not designed for crappy waves. He also stated that only kooks surf lame waves. I convinced him to paddle out anyway and his moaning and groaning only worsened. I remember the look of frustration on his face and truly felt sorry for him.

Despite this I managed to have a great time. I was doing mini off the lips and tiny round house cutbacks. The day was sunny and I looked back at the green mountains with little fluffy clouds wafting by. I would then catch another wave bounce around and fall off. The whole experience was most enjoyable and I found myself giggling like a little boy who was getting away with something that he was not supposed to do.

I turned around to see my friend paddling into the beach. He sat on the shore with his arms crossed. On his face was a stern expression of anger. I caught a few waves more and paddled in and drove my disgruntled friend home.

This is when the “Shit On A Stick” Koan came into my mind. In a literal sense the Koan refers to how the people of old Asia would wipe their buttocks after defecating. They would actually use a stick. So the Zen master was stating that Zen is no more than the shit on a shit-stick.

This would appear to be a paradox. How could something like Zen be likened to the most filthy, polluted ”shitty” thing on the planet? Could it be that it is only our point of view?

When I recollected this Koan after dropping my friend off, I began to have a wonderful reflective experience. I wondered why I had such a great time while my friend had the lamest experience possible? Why was I thrilled in such shitty waves? It struck me like a lightning bolt. I WAS PAYING ATTENTION and he was not.

I then sat and wondered who had taught me to do this. My first thought came to my coach and mentor, Ben Aipa. He had coached me to a US Championship in Longboarding and was a true Zen master in his own right. He payed a great deal of attention to everything. His encyclopedia was the ocean and surfboard design.

More specifically Ben Aipa taught me how to focus my attention on different aspects of a wave. He informed me that all waves were magnificent creations of nature that “spoke” with different voices. Some were loud and some were soft, yet they were all asking you to work with their energies . He was an acute observer of nature’s ways.

Ben altered my perception of waves in the deepest way possible. Mr. Aipa taught me that any wave is good as long as you focus and pay attention to its energies. While I was training for the US Championships, Ben had me surf crappy waves on a daily basis. He would take me to Sandy Beach “Full Point”. This is literally the shitiest wave in the world. It usually has cross winds in excess of 25 mph and the wave is heavily backwashed. Yet Ben taught me how to “Sing” with Sandy Beach. He told me to focus my attention on only the breaking part of the wave and the” Bowl” that extends about 1 foot next to it the curl. When you focus your mind on this tiny section of the wave, even a tiny wave has power and juice. If you look at the whole wave you will miss this little gem of the bowl. By altering PERCEPTION USING ATTENTION you can turn any wave into a point break! Every wave becomes an enjoyable miracle.

In a way it all comes down to perception or conception of the wave in front of you. Ben Aipa and this Zen Koan were just asking me to return to the “pre-conceptual”. They were asking me to rely on an unborn instinct that we all have to make the best of all conditions from 10’ to 1’.

Similarly, Zen as depicted as shit on a shit stick in the Koan should not surprise us. It is only our perception that makes us revolted by crap being on a stick. Let us look at the phenomena of crap on a shit stick.

It takes a whole digestive system, not to mention a nervous system to create feces. This is truly a miracle of nature (their even exist groups of scientists who study fossilized turds!). The tree that became the stick needed the sun for photosynthesis (another amazing phenomena) and the earths weather system to allow it to grow. Therefore the shit stick is actually a beautiful miracle just as the lamest wave in the world is a miracle. It all depends on our perception of the object. This is what the Shit on a Stick Koan is asking us to think about.

With this change of perception applied to all things in life, we can move beyond conceptions of good and bad, life and death, polluted and unpolluted, rich and poor, good waves and bad waves. In Zen Buddhism, the goal is to return to your original mind which does not divide the world up according to prejudices. This mind was and is unborn and pre-conceptual in nature. Everything arises interdependently. There is not one phenomena in the world that is not interdependent therefore we should move away from the conception of the individual and egoism to achieve happiness. If you find this statement abstract, test the logic.

All is perfect. As long as natures is here, this interdependent mind is here.

The ego and self with its prejudices and likes and dislikes distorts this perfect mind that we all already have. Instead of seeing the beauty of a one foot wave we perceive a shitty wave due to our distorted conceptions. Instead of seeing an interdependent miracle of nature, we see a polluted, dirty shit stick.

Find this shit stick. If you are a SUP surfer, paddle upwind in 25mph winds. Surf un-surfable conditions. Go out when it is six inches big. Mix it up on an ultra-crowded day. The world is your oyster to enjoy if you ALTER YOUR PERCEPTION BY PAYING ATTENTION.

If you think this is random tree hugger babble you are mistaken. I took these ideas and won the US Longboard Championships at 1’ onshore Huntington beach California in 2004. My fellow competitors could not figure out why I was so excited over shitty waves. Oh well.

I hope to see all of you out on the next onshore rainy 1’ day!

See Ya………..goin surfing

Dr. Len Barrow [Link]

Zen Waterman » Paddling Adventure with Dolphins -posted by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

photo: Nicole Madosik Paddling is a great way to connect with nature. If I get too caught up in surfing busy lineups or training hard for the next race, I sometimes miss out on this connection. Yesterday was a great day to re-connect.
My friend Nicole asked me to join her for a paddle from Makapuu to Hawaii Kai. Her boyfriend Jared was going to go with us but he partied too hard the night before and missed out on the early morning launch. I had done the paddle around Makapuu point several times. I have to say I was not a big fan of it because the water can be very rough and not much fun on a stand up board. Usually it's a struggle just to keep from falling in with waves coming from all directions. This morning though, the conditions were calm with light variable winds and I was glad Nicole had talked me into going paddling.

photo: Nicole Madosik We started at the pier and paddled across the bay, Nicole was in a OC1, I was using my F-16 SIC board. Close to Makapuu point we came across a pod of spinner dolphins. I put on my gopro camera with head strap and we paddled with them for a bit. On this video, some of the dolphins were cruising right by the nose of the board.

We paddled on to Sandy Beach but the light kona direction headwinds got stronger and we decided to turn around and head back downwind to where we started instead of paddling into the wind to Hawaii Kai as originally planned. We came across more spinner dolphins or maybe the same group coming back. I got it on video and Nicole took a couple of great shots, including the one at the top of the page.

Spinner dolphins always seem to have a good time, some are always leaping out of the water like there is a wild dance party going on down there. It's really just an exuberant thing to do, has nothing to do with survival or reproduction, it seems to just be an expression of fun and enjoyment. On second thought, maybe it does have to do with reproduction- are they showing off for the opposite sex? Anyway, they are intelligent, social and fun loving, live in harmony with nature, glide through the water effortlessly and don't use fossil fuels. We have so much to learn from them.

We also saw some whales breaching close by and some jumping and slapping their tails off Rabbit Island. Unfortunately, they were too far away to get on camera. We decided to paddle around Rabbit Island, neither one of us had never been around that side which is often pounded by big waves and we were hoping to see more of the whales.

Backside of Rabbit Island, photo: Nicole Madosik Coming around the Rabbit Island we hit a headwind and current and had to paddle hard to make it back to the pier.

This whole adventure seemed to go by quickly but we ended up at the car three hours after we launched. A good paddle. [Link]

Zen Waterman » Paddle Technique part 3: Stacking the Shoulders by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

Danny Ching stacked up, photo: Chris Silvester This is part three, to read part one and two, please follow these links:

Paddle technique: Part 1- Choosing the right paddle

Paddle Technique Part 2 – The three ingredients of a powerful stroke

First off: I don't consider myself an expert and am always open to trying different things and learning from others. In this technique series, I'm merely sharing things that have worked for me, not saying that the technique I'm describing is the only right way to do it.

I jumped right into the power phase in part two. After showing a customer the "three ingredients of a powerful stroke" and watching him apply it, I realized that I left out a very important part of the power phase: using that power to propel yourself forward, not sideways.
A common mistake is holding the paddle at an angle and pulling it in an arc and not close enough to the rails.
All this tends to make the board turn (or yaw) instead of propelling it forward.
To minimize yaw and maximize forward propulsion, the paddle should be pulled through the water as vertically (straight out of the water) as possible and be pulled back in a straight line, ending as close to the rails as possible.
To pull the paddle through the water vertically, the top hand needs to be above the bottom hand and over the side of the board. To get into this position, which might feel awkward at first, the top shoulder is "stacked" above the lower shoulder. The upper body leans out over the paddle while the hips move in the opposite direction to keep the weight balanced over the center of the board while the lift created by the stroke also supports the body weight leaning over the side. The wider the board is, the more you have to stack the shoulders to get the paddle vertical.
Steering stroke vs. power stroke
Pulling the paddle in a wide arc and away from the board will make your board turn more quickly. This is called a steering stroke and works well if you want to turn the board or adjust your course. To move forward as fast as possible, the paddle needs to travel straight through the water. This will make the board yaw less and will allow you to take more strokes before changing sides. Remember that every time you change sides with the paddle you loose a little momentum, so taking more strokes per side should translate into more speed.

This sketch shows the way I try to move the paddle through a regular stroke relative to my feet. When paddling, the blade is actually planted in the water and stationary during the power phase, while the feet move towards and past it.
Here are the steps:
Reach as far forward as possible (more on that later).
Catch- make sure the blade is fully planted in the water before applying the power pulling straight back with the paddle as vertical as possible. Since the widest point of the board is usually in the middle, where you stand, a straight line will start away from the rail and end up with the shaft right next to the rails when it reaches your feet. As I release the paddle, I tend to direct the blade outward a little (making a J shaped stroke) which also reduces yaw.
A common misconception seems to be that following the rail of the board with the paddle is the most effective way to stroke. Since the rail is not straight, if you are following the curved outline of your board you are actually making a curved stroke, not a straight stroke. I focus on pulling my paddle straight back when racing. On shorter surfing SUP's, which are designed turn on a dime and are hard to paddle in a straight line, you can actually plant the paddle a little further out and pull it towards yourself to reduce yaw and how often you have to switch the paddle.

2009 Battle of the Paddle photo: Phil Rainey

Ok, that's it for today. Thanks for reading, Aloha! [Link]

Zen Waterman » Surfing and SUP Meditation part 1 and 2 by Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago

How to Meditate While SUP and SURFING: Part 1

Surfing and SUP riding can give us a great chance to calm our mind-body. Despite this, some of us surf with a consciousness that is out of balance. We sometimes become scatter-brained and defocused. Thoughts of work problems and other issues chatter away in our minds incessantly. By allowing or consciousness to be “out of control”, we ruin our surf session and can become frustrated.

The following article will give us tools to counteract our agitated minds, which in turn will allow us to enhance our enjoyment of the surfing experience. These techniques can be traced back from the modern world to the time of the Buddha and have been used to great effect by hundreds of generations of meditators. Even today, modern science is documenting the positive effects of meditation as it relates to both physical and mental health. We will start with very basic techniques and proceed to apply these techniques to our surfing.

1. Breathing Meditation Introduction

Concentration and mindfulness is a natural activity of our minds. One may use it in many different ways without even thinking about it. We may watch a loved one, use a word processor, or read. These are all due to the minds natural capability to be mindful.

Sadly, in our modern day and age of hyperactivity, cell phones, texts, and multi-tasking, we erode the minds natural ability to pay attention or to be mindful. The result of this is a type of monkey-mind. This mind bounces around from one thing to another. It is as if we are on an out of control horse, heading to the nearest cliff. We are not in control. Our actions become reactive, not reflective? Due to this, we often get ourselves into trouble. This may lead to depression, excess anxiety and a poor state of affairs.

If you want to get out of this negative situation, you must develop a motivation or commitment to climb over a treacherous mountain. The rope that will allow you to traverse the mountain is meditation and mindfulness. You must understand that in order to climb a rocky mountain (in other words, our "rocky" minds); one cannot do it in a few steps. You must develop a strong motivation to want to climb the mountain and understand that only a sustained and consistent effort will allow you to reach the peak and get back down.

The carrot on the end of the stick is a happier and stable mind that is able to enjoy life! Would that not be nice? For our purposes as surfers, mindfulness can greatly improve our technique and enjoyment of the sport.

2. Breathing meditation: What is your real motivation?

Begin your meditation by finding an environment that is quiet and calm. Turn off your cell phone (yes, it can be done!) and dedicate at least ten minutes to your session. This time will be increased as your capacity to concentrate is increased.

You must start you session by developing a motivation. For example state “I am going to meditate in order to generate in my mind concentration to benefit my family members, society and my ability to surf”. Do not forget this motivation as it will allow you to drive forward fearlessly against the delusive thoughts of the mind. Meditations based on compassionate grounds will always be more powerful.

It is important to note that if you are meditating purely for personal gain, it simply will not work. The goal of meditation is to diminish the self into concentration so we can be free, compassionate people, not greedy beings. This is very important to note as American society can be overtly individualistic.

3. Starting Up

Now you will learn how to focus the mind on your breathing. Begin by finding a comfortable position. You may sit down cross legged (or a Half or Full Lotus for those with Yoga training) or in whatever position you find most comfortable. The most important feature of any position that you have is a STRAIT SPINE. This is key; as it will help you pay attention to your breathing. If there is any tension in your body, let it dissolve by relaxing the area of tightness.

Now focus your attention and mind on your breathing. Breathe in. Then count your exhalation as 1. Repeat this process. Count up to 10 and start at 1 again.

Notice the subtle sensations of the breath as it passes through the tip of your nostrils. Pay attention to the rising and falling of your abdomen. The idea is to make the breath an OBJECT of your meditation. Look at it from every direction and every single manner while keeping your attention on only the breath. It is an odd thing to say, yet your breath alone will get you through any crisis

Don’t be intimidated! If you can read this article, you are already proving that you can do this. When you are reading, the OBJECT of your attention is the words on the page. Don’t be afraid to meditate as you have been born with the tools to do so.

Invariably, as you are counting your breaths, thoughts will come into your mind. These thoughts can manifest in any form. “Jon owes me money”, “I need to call my work”, “I hope no one sees me meditating”…..any thought is possible. The key thing to understand is to just go back to your breathing as the object of your meditation.

If you concentration gets interrupted at number 3 breath exhalation, just return back to 1. Don’t worry if you cannot get past 2 or 3. As a novice your mind may be very “jumpy” moving from one thought to the next. When I was beginning my meditation many years ago I could not get to 10 for over a month! This is proof that most of our minds are in disarray. This state only produces a type of “scatter-brained effect” that will lead us to be reactive in behavior not reflective in manner. In this confused mode of being, we may develop anxiety for ourselves and trouble for others among other things.

It is a scary thought to realize that many of us are not in control of our own minds and actions. This fact should provide us with ample motivation to meditate as to do so would be to move towards happiness, control and calmness. Would this not be nice?

For our purpose as surfers and SUP participants, an agitated mind can only lead to a bad session. This frustration will inevitably affect our technique and progress in our sport.

4. Keep meditating consistently

Don’t give up. Meditating can be the hardest thing to do. Most importantly, to get the positive effects of meditation one must keep up a consistent regime of practice. Meditating is like surfing. You will not get good on the first day. If you quit due to frustration with your mind you will be like a beginner surfer who has given up on his first surf session. To become a good surfer, or a good meditator you must “surf/meditate” for years. Even when you attain a certain level of proficiency in both surfing and meditation, there exists a billion ways to improve your practice. For this reason it is important to keep our practice up.

5. Surfing/ SUP Meditation

The next portion of this article will show us how to transfer our abilities gained in meditation to the ocean. In this we will explore ways to use SUP and surfing as objects of our meditation practice. This is not unusual. The Zen folk of old stated that Zen is an everyday activity. One should pay attention while gardening, walking, washing the dishes and the like. Why not create every day into a magical experience? So, dear reader, please begin your meditation practices as described above and don’t give up.

Part 2: Surfing and SUP Meditation

Objects of Meditation: A Wave Meditation

SUP and surfing can be used to great effect to calm the mind. This is very important for our discussion as we live in a hyper-active world of e-mails, cell phones, face-book and multi-tasking. Our ability to pay attention is degraded by the fast pace of our modern world. This may lead to anxiety, depression and a poor state of affairs. To be happy we must pay attention and meditation is the key to this end.

Surfing and SUP can be an important tool to focus our concentration to improve our technical form and selves. Our sport provides us with many objects of meditation. One of the keys in meditation is to select an object to focus on; or immerse our concentration “ into”. The previous article focused on our breath as the object of our meditation. This article will use the ocean’s waves for object of meditation.

The swell

The ocean is filled with many things to be mindful of. Ocean waves are magical to look at and can serve as objects of our meditation. Start your meditation on your board with the following practice. Focus your attention on your breathing (as described in the previous article) and count two sets of ten breaths. This should be sufficient to calm the mind. After this turn your mental focus (or attention) attained in breathing meditation to the swell in the water. Sit (or stand) on your board and face the ocean. Pick a single swell out with your eyes (the wave can be 20 to 30 yards out but should be directly in front of you) and immerse your concentration in to it. Ask yourself the following questions. Is the swell coming strait in, or at a slight angle? As the wave approaches you, is it turning at an angle towards or away from you? Is the wave the combination of two swell directions?

As the wave comes under you, feel the swell lift your board up and then slowly turn your head and follow the progress of the swell as it moves away from you toward the inside. How does the wave move as it” feels” the bottom. Does the swell focus or defocus on a certain area of the reef? Does the wave “dissolve” as it fans out into the channel? Any observation is valid as long as you are concentrating. If you get distracted by thoughts in your head, just go back to concentrating on the swell just as you would go back to your breathing in normal sitting meditation.

The swell as the object of analytic meditation
Another form of meditation that is widely used by Tibetans and others is called analytic meditation. For our purposes, it is especially useful. One focuses on the object and analyzes ”what” is the wave (or object of the meditation)? Questions you may use to start your analysis are numerous. Does the swell have a name? If it does not, why do I have a name? Is the phenomena of this wave related to any other phenomena; a storm off of New Zealand perhaps? Does the gale have a cause and condition like the suns radiation?

What is important is to reflect on is the wave’s interdependence with many other factors. To do this is to realize that the wave is truly a “dependently originated” miracle. Logically the wave has the whole universe behind it (or in it)! What a joy it is to surf.

I will leave you with a type of Koan (Zen riddle). A wonderful question to ask your-self is: “Am I like the wave?” Do I have many causes and conditions that are an integral part of my-self? Does a wave die and similarly do I die?

With these thoughts we may come to a deeper awareness and appreciation of nature, others and ourselves. Would that not be nice?

Aloha,

Len Barrow Ph.D.

January 12, 2011 [Link]

Zen Waterman » Paddle Technique Part 2 – The three ingredients of a powerful stroke by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

Breaking down the Power Phase, part two of the paddle technique series.

The proof's in the pudding: My thinking is that if someone is fast and winning races, they must be doing something right, so I developed my technique by watching and listening to the fastest paddlers and trying to emulate what they are doing. This paddle technique series is my attempt to share what I have learned and break it down into easy to follow steps.

First, some recommended reading:
Good technique starts with a good paddle, it's impossible to have good technique with a paddle that is too short, for example. So if you are not sure you have the right paddle, read part one first:
Choosing the right Paddle

A stand up paddle stroke can be broken down into these main phases: Reach, Catch, Power, Release, Recover.
Dave Kalama breaks down these steps and the Tahitian style paddle technique very well on his blog. If you have not read his technique posts yet, you should:
www.DavidKalama.com

Each step of the stroke is important and needs to be practiced. Good reach and catch are important before applying the power so they really should come first but for this post I will just focus on the power phase, where the pedal hits the metal. I have found an effective way of teaching a more powerful stroke is by breaking down the power phase into three basic components or ingredients, which I call PUSH, TWIST, LEAN.

Photo by Reid Inouye
Each paddler develops their own individual technique and I can often identify a friend paddling in the distance by the stroke long before I'm close enough to recognize any features. Despite different styles, I think every good paddler uses a combination of the "three ingredients".
Beginners often paddle by pulling the paddle with the lower arm. This is the least efficient way to paddle and will tire the arms quickly. Pulling with the lower arm bent is not an ingredient of a powerful stroke. The bottom arm should always be straight throughout the power phase. The lower hand acts as the fulcrum (rotation) point of the paddle. The only time the lower arm can bend is to lift the paddle out of the water for the recovery. (To visualize this motion, I like Dave's image of pulling a sword out of it's sheath while the top hand twists a door knob to feather the blade).

To learn how to combine the "three ingredients" for maximum power, we will first look at and practice each ingredient in isolation before combining them. Evan shot a video where I demonstrate the three ingredients on the paddle simulator in our shop. If the description is confusing, please watch the video and it will hopefully make sense. If you are still having a hard time, please stop by the Blue Planet shop for a paddle simulator demonstration or come to one of our monthly clinic/ demo days where we have advanced paddle technique clinics (all free).

First ingredient: PUSH: This is basically using your top arm to push the paddle out in front of you. Try to do this motion in isolation while keeping your shoulders square, staying upright, and keeping the bottom arm straight. It's like you are punching your hand forward from in front of your face. By bending the top arm, you increase the forward reach and by pushing with your top arm you can do quick strokes that work well when you want to accelerate quickly, like when catching a wave or getting on a bump. The downside is that if you use only the triceps in your arms to power yourself your arms will tire quickly.

The second ingredient: TWIST: To practice this, keep both arms straight through the stroke and stay upright, using only a twisting motion to move the paddle. Rotate your hip and shoulder forward to reach, then unwind with the shoulders following the hips. This twisting motion should be where most of the power in your stroke comes from, using the muscles in your back and core to propel yourself forward.

The third ingredient: LEAN: A word of caution: if you have lower back problems, you will want to go easy on the lean until your your back gets stronger. To isolate the lean, keep both arms straight and keep your hips and shoulders square. Straighten your body for the reach, then use your body weight and abs to lean on the paddle by bending at the waist.
If you watch some of the most powerful paddlers (like Danny Ching, Chuck Patterson, Aaron Napoleon) you will notice that they lean heavily on their paddle during the stroke and often end the stroke with their upper body at an almost 90 degree angle to the legs. By pushing the blade down into deeper water during the stroke, it is also able to reach more "new still water" (as my swim coach likes to call it), giving it more grab.

Here is a frame grab of Danny Ching at the end of his power phase during the last Battle of the Paddle race. Please note that pulling the paddle this far back works on a displacement hull but won't be effective on a planing hull (like a surf SUP) as the paddle angle starts to pull the board down into the water.

The LEAN adds power to the stroke but also brings the stroke further back and the recovery takes longer. Dave Kalama proved that the quick, shorter, Tahitian style stroke which uses more of the PUSH and TWIST than the LEAN, is very efficient in downwind conditions and longer races like the Molokai challenge.

Here is the video shot by Evan Leong of standuppaddlesurf.net demonstrating the the three ingedients on the SUP simulator at Blue Planet Surf Shop:

In long distance paddling it is good to have several power sources to rely on. For example, you can use the push for a quick burst of acceleration, then rest your arms by using more twist and lean. I recommend practicing and perfecting these three ingredients in isolation, then try to combine them in different ways to find your own "secret sauce".

please continue reading:
Paddle Technique part 3: Stacking the Shoulders by Robert Stehlik
Additional resources:
If you are looking for more help with your paddle technique, you may want to check out the training program that Wet Feet is putting together in Honolulu, which I will be involved with: http://www.wetfeethawaii.com/default.asp?id=22

I have also put together the Paddle Core Trainer, a SUP simulator kit for home use that is great for working on your technique on the days you can't get on the water. It comes with an instructional DVD that will help with your stroke and stoke: http://www.paddlecoretrainer.com/


[Link]

Zen Waterman » The Art of enjoying One-self in the Surf by Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago

The surf world can sometimes seem out of control. Some breaks can be crammed full of all manner of surf craft, surfers with different skill levels and often neurotic personalities. Because of this it is sometimes difficult to enjoy oneself in the surf.

There are ways to solve these problems and enjoy oneself in any crowd or conditions. In fact I never have a bad session in the surf as I have worked on a method of happiness in regards to the surf conditions and crowds, which almost never fails me. I have enumerated them in the following essay.

1. Set realistic expectations for your surf session.

If it is crowded, don’t expect to paddle out and catch a ton of waves. You will just become frustrated, as your expectations will come crashing down.
I have a method of setting a quota. If it is really crowded, I expect only to catch two good to decent waves. In the mean time I dedicate my concentration (which is developed in Meditation) to enjoying the coolness of the water, the green mountains and I just overall get stoked about being in the water. Any waves that I get above my quota become icing on the cake!

2. Concentrate: Don’t let bad vibes get to you

When the waves are crowded, the worst behavior can manifest in surfers. People become greedy, angry and aggressive. Social hierarchies inevitably develop and we may find ourselves at the bottom of the totem pole. People use various methods both verbal and nonverbal to assert their status. Sometimes surfers “bad vibe other surfers” in this manner. In Zen Buddhist terminology, the surf is filled with Hungry Ghosts and Demons.

Again this is where the power of concentration attained in meditation can turn a good day into a bad day; or turn hell into heaven. If you allow your mind to wander and focus on the bad vibes, you will tune into to every-ones bad trip and become a type of Demon or Hungry ghost in Zen Buddhist terminology. If you cannot control the direction of your attention and be reactive to silly people, you will become a silly person also.

That is why it is important to meditate. Meditation allows one to control the focus of ones attention. If a person can defocus on the aggression and bad vibes and refocus on where the waves are focusing or defocusing, the beautiful scenery, and the miracle of being a surfer in the ocean (a truly amazing fact), and other wonderful phenomena (such as birds, the reef, the blue sky and seaweed), a surfer can turn a crowded “Hell Day” in to a slice of Heaven. Would that not be nice?

3. We are but mirrors

The saying, you reap what you sow, is actually very Buddhist in spirit. Again we must use the power of attention, to “pay attention” to our own behavior. If you are on a long-board or an SUP don’t just paddle to the outside and get every single set. This is fun in the short term yet this type of behavior has bad “Karmic” returns in the long run. Firstly, it is a very uncompassionate thing to do, and Zen Buddhism is based on a great striving for compassion for all beings (yes, even body boarders and beginners). Secondly, this behavior will rebound to you as a type of “curse”.

Surfing is not Capitalism. We need to use our power of attention to regulate the “profit only, who cares about others” or greed aspect of our minds. We all have the seeds in our minds of hyper-competitiveness, and ego-centrism. It is not a good idea to water them, at least from a Zen perspective .

If you are greedy, hogging all the set waves, you are inadvertently letting your uncontrolled attention “water” these destructive seeds and in return you will create a little hell for yourself and others. Surfers will take note of this greed and angry seeds will be watered in their minds. We can say “who cares; that’s their problem”, but when you return to the break you will be faced with a whole cadre of demons who dislike you. Most people are ignorant of this phenomena but it makes perfect sense in a Buddhist world.

If you are kind and compassionate you will not get a lot of waves in the short term but you will water the seeds of happiness for others in the water and eventually get waves in the long term. If you think this is random tree hugger babble, you are mistaken.

I use the “attention” that I have gained in meditation to create a little heaven for myself. For more than a decade, I have tried to be kind to others and wait my turn. People have mirrored this behavior back to me. To this day I can paddle out to virtually any break on Oahu and be greeted by smiles and kindness.

Can you do this in your surf area? If you cannot, it may be in your best interest to check what seeds you are watering in your mind and others.

Remember: You reap what you sow

Aloha Len Barrow

[Link]

Zen Waterman » SUP race board comparison- planing vs. displacement hull by Robert Stehlik and Jeff Chang

Posted 6 years ago

This is an edited version of a board comparison first posted in January 2010.

Planing vs. Displacement hulls- a SUP race board comparison written by Robert Stehlik (Blue Planet Surf) and Jeff Chang (Wet Feet) for Zen Waterman
When I first started paddling racing boards, the equipment was not as important as the technique and fitness level. I had a fast board, a 14' C4 Waterman Vortice XP and I kept going faster by practicing and improving my technique and endurance. While going on Hawaii Kai runs with Todd Bradley, Dave Parmenter and Greg Pavao, who were all riding the same board as me and going much faster, it made me realize that I had plenty of room to improve. It was me, not the board, that was slow. Getting a good, proven stock race board is a good way to get started in SUP racing. Most races have 12'6 or 14' stock divisions and you can be competitive in the class without getting caught up in the "arms race" in the unlimited division. The size and price of a stock board is also more manageable.

With that said, as I got better, I noticed that guys on longer, unlimited boards with rudders were going faster and at some point I realized that if I wanted to be one of the fastest racers, I also need to be on one of the fastest boards. Since then, I have been trying many different boards and designs in search of the fastest one and want to share some of the things I have learned.

My friend and training partner Jeff Chang and I had the chance to test and compare several SUP race boards. As Jeff and I train together regularly, switching back and forth with each other gives us a good indication of how fast we are going. Last week, we compared two new 12'6" stock race models that will be available as production boards next year and we can't report about yet.

SUP race boards- Unlimited displacement vs. planing hull This week, we had a chance to compare two unlimited class raceboards. We compared a Sandwich Isles Composites (SIC) custom Starboards prototype shaped by Mark Raaphorst, and a 17'6" Dennis Pang race board that Guy Pere, Kamaki Worthington, Aaron Napoleon and myself have all won races on. I wrote about this board before in the Coast Guard race recap.
Dennis Pang (left) and SIC race board decks
The custom SIC/ Starboard board on the right is a planing hull with a flat bottom and sharp edges in the back and hard tucked under edges. It's quite wide and stable.
The Dennis Pang board is more of a displacement hull with a piercing bow and rounded rails in the nose and tail. The mid section has a slight double concave with soft tucked under edges. This board is only 25 1/8" wide with a flat area of 22 1/4".

We launched in Hawaii Kai and I took some pictures as Jeff passes me on the Dennis Pang board.
Doug Locke was on a 14' Naish Glide and Darin Kohara was on a SIC F-14.It was pretty windy and I was confident I would catch up to them on the SIC, but it was not as easy as I expected. The board felt like it was pushing water and I had a hard time catching the short, disorganized bumps. I paddled as hard as I could, but did not get closer to Doug and Jeff, who seemed to be having a blast connecting the bumps. To be fair, I have been riding displacement hulls for a while and have never ridden a planing hull over 14', so I had to get used to it. I know that some of the fastest guys are on this kind of board, so I made up my mind to figure out how to make this thing go. As we got further out, the bumps got bigger and more defined. I figured out that the board needed to go from bump to bump to maintain speed and that I needed to move my weight back quickly to pick up speed on a bump. I started getting used to the board and began to tap into some of its potential.

My understanding of the theory behind planing vs. displacement hulls is that a planing hull is slower at low speeds but once it starts to plane at higher speeds, it lifts out of the water and reduces the wetted surface, lowering friction and allowing higher top speeds. In comparison, a displacement hull uses a long waterline and smooth water entry and exit to allow for less drag at low speeds. You can get a displacement hull on a plane but the top speed is limited by water wrapping around the rounded edges versus the flat bottom and hard edges of a planing hull that allow a clean release, more lift, less drag, and higher top speed.

After getting half way to Black Point, Jeff and I switched boards and I got on the Dennis Pang board I was used to riding. The board felt very tippy coming off the stable SIC board and it took me a moment to adjust to it. When I finally got into the groove, I was catching every little bump with little effort. This board just feels slippery through the water; hard to put into words.

Jeff on the SIC catches a runner. Note how he moves the right foot back to lift the front of the board up.
Doug Locke is the master at catching and surfing bumps. He has tried many boards, too and really enjoys the 14' Naish Glide.
Jeff catching a swell coming into Waikiki

We finished at the Elk's club

Day two: We took the boards for another run the next day.

The rudder system is comfortable.
The wind was strong and the board was catching bumps without even paddling.
We had a big group of stand up and prone paddlers starting at the blinker buoy.
The second run on the SIC board went better. I was able to keep up with the fastest guys and I really started to feel the board's strengths, namely:
It's fast on the bumps and it maintains a high speed when connecting bumps.
Stable deck and thick rails, barely ever had water running over my feet.
Easy to control, especially when riding bumps and easier to ride swells at an angle or "down the line" at angles where the displacement hulls tend to roll and slow down. I figure this is a big advantage in the Molokai race where you are quartering the wind and swells for most of the race.

Jeff's truck with seven boards and paddlers ready to shuttle back to Hawaii Kai.

Board test day 3: On the third day we added a third board to the test: Jeff Chang's Bark board that he used in the Molokai race (the black one on the right)

Jeff's board is a displacement type hull, similar to the Dennis Pang board but at 26 1/2" wide is about 1 1/2" wider and more stable. It also has more rocker and cable rudder system that runs underneath the deck, like on the SIC. The Dennis Pang board has a fiberglass batten running down the deck that controls the rudder.

Jeff's BARK has a "knifey" piercing nose and tail with a double concave in the middle and rounded rails.
Launching in Hawaii Kai.

The crew at the blinker buoy.

The wind was light and the bumps were small, but it was great to get out on another beautiful day in Hawaii. This was the shortest day of the year and this picture made me realize how lucky we are to be paddling under rainbows when most people in the northern hemisphere are stuck indoors.
I rode Jeff's Bark the first half of the run and immediately felt comfortable on it. The board was predictable, fast, and fun to paddle. It felt lighter and more nimble than the 18' Bark board I own and paddled on in the Molokai race (see my previous post).

I am always impressed by how smooth the water entry and exit is on all the Bark boards I have tried. In flat water, the amount of turbulence created where the bow enters the water and the turbulence behind the tail is a direct indicator of how much friction the board has through the water. The less the water gets disturbed, the faster you go. Some boards slice through the water so smoothly that you don't feel like you are going fast- that's what you want. Joe Bark seems to have a special skill for making the water go under and around the board with minimal disturbance and drag. I have noticed that many of the shapers that make the fastest unlimited boards have been making and experimenting with racing boards (prone paddleboards and windsurf boards in particular) for many years and can draw from that experience to make the fastest hull shapes.

While a piercing bow with a "v" in the water entry area seems to be fastest in flat water, a flat bottom where the water enters gives more lift in the nose and is easier to control when riding the bumps. The wide flat water entry area of the SIC generates plenty of lift and is easy to control, but also feels like it is "pushing water" at lower speeds, while the Pang board is a compromise. When I switched to the Pang board, I had to get used to the tippyness again but once adjusted, I felt like the narrower board had less resistance through the water. The Pang board transitions from a piercing nose to a flat section where the water enters. This makes the bow "splashy" in flat water, not as smooth as the Bark, but also seems to make it easier to steer in bumps and it felt like I did not have to work as hard to catch and stay on the bumps. Out of all the boards I have tried so far, the Dennis Pang board is still my favorite for coastal runs and races, which is not to say that it would work well in the Molokai race (too tippy) or in a flat water race (water entry not as smooth). For these conditions I would probably choose board and the Bark, respectively.

That summarizes my input.

Here is what Jeff Chang (Wet Feet) has to say about the three boards:
Here are my impressions for the various performance aspects observations from paddling next to you. This is a good gauge because you are faster than me: Overall speed: In flat water is seems the Bark is fastest, Pang second and the SIC third. This is easiest to measure. In moderate winds it seems the Pang is fastest, the Bark second and the SIC third. For me the Pang is faster because is seems to miss less of the bumps, especially the smaller ones. It seems easiest to catch everything. It felt like the Bark and SIC missed more bumps and I could feel more often stalling on the backside of the bump and needing to wait for the next one. But also it seemed like once you caught a bump the Bark and SIC glided further. The SIC especially so if the bump was big. So overall if feels like the Pang catches more bump and maintains the speed better but I got longer rides with the Bark and SIC. I think a lot depends on the paddler too. For example, someone like SIC with a lot of strength might be able to make a board like his go faster (or Scott Gamble on his Bark) than I could and could close the speed gap between the three or even make his go faster than the others. Stability: SIC most stable, Bark second and Pang third. Although the Pang was not overly tipsy and was easy to recover on. During the HK run I don't fall atall using the Pang so the design is reasonably user friendly. But others have commented that at 25" wide the Pang is hard to balance on and if you cannot balance then you cannot put full paddle power into your stroke. Paddling Effort: Pang easiest, Bark medium, SIC most effort. Again you need to be able to balance on the board to be able to power it properly. Handling: The SIC board is very stable with a lot of volume and feels like a boat. I can see this being very good for Molokai where if you need to you could just cruise and not have to concentrate on balancing. The planing type back would also be good for turning the board to windward and trimming on a bump which is critical for the channel. I think a board like this would be my choice for the channel. The Bark is very stable and user friendly but a little more nimble than the SIC and is good all around since in goes fast in flat water. This is a good Oahu board and is good for the HK run since the start and end are in flat water and the board catches bumps well. It would also be my choice for a North Shore race. The double concave bottom and pronounced spine down the middle seems to give it a lot of drive and might explain the longer rides. I rode this board at the last Molokai and at times it would have been nice to have had a more stable board but then this board is light and easy to paddle so hard to say if I would have gone faster on a more stable board. Its always a tradeoff. I was very happy with my Molokai time on this board and felt good at the end so after all is said and done maybe a more stable board might have been more comfortable but also might have been slower. The Pang feels fast and slippery in the water. For me this board was the fastest and most fun to paddle because it seems to catch the most bumps and maintain speed although you don't get those really long rides where you feel like you are surfing. But in a race it seems catching all those little ones and maintaining speed is faster than those longer rides which happen less often. This might be explained by the more subtle concave bottom and flatter more neutral entry just behind the piercing nose. I think that is what gives it that controllable feel dropping into the bumps and ability to push into the next one. Thanks for reading, Aloha! Related posts: SUP Weight test: is lighter really faster? Unlimited SUP flatwater speed test Rob’s training log link [Link]

Zen Waterman » On Paying Attention As The Way of the Waterman: Part 1 – by Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago

I have two heroes that have helped bring great happiness to my life. They come from two seemingly divergent backgrounds. What stuck me was their ideas about their arts came to the exact same endpoint: You must pay attention.

The first role model is and was the great surfer/shaper Ben Aipa. The other individual is my Roshi or Zen teacher Robert Aitken. He is currently 94 and still as sharp in wit and way, true to his Zen study. It would help a little to talk of his background. Aitken Roshi was imprisoned in a Japanese camp for Westerners during World War Two. He could have had the option of hating the Japanese (as most of us would), yet instead he embarked on the study of Zen in the prison camp itself. After the war he continued his study and was ordained a Zen master in an eponymous line of Japanese Rinzai Zen sect, the first Westerner to do so. He came to Hawaii and taught and established the Daimond Sangha Zen Buddhist center. He is considered as one of the primary founders of Zen in the west along with Daisetsu Suzuki and even my father, T. Barrow.

The hardcore Surfers path which crosses roads with the Zen path, as I shall explain, stands in a dichotomy to our modern “worlds” of hyperactivity, cell phones, texts, Facebook, the internet and 60 hour weeks. Sadly, in everyday life, many of us move around like automatons. I know people whose lives are devoid of passion and interest. They drive to work from a suburb every day in grueling traffic. This is then followed by a job that they dread and another hour drive home in a moving parking lot. They then go home to their three bedroom home (that looks exactly like the next) in a planned suburb subdivision which sits on rezoned public land. It is as if we are taught to be Lemming competitors in a suicidal race to the nearest cliff or black whole. If this is the American Dream then I am terrified of it. This is not a dream, This is a hallucination.

This may be an overly grim depiction of our culture yet I am not alone in my sentiments. Many surfers and water people are what psychologists call “non-normative” (not normal) and rapidly figure out what is happening is “lame” and decide on another course of living that they see as more sane. Many surfers are also attracted to different patterns of thinking (as opposed to Occidental or Western models) which include Asian philosophy and even Zen Buddhism in its scope. In these models surfers are more “normal” and actually quite sensible in their views.

In my early twenties I was bombarded by society with criticisms of my lifestyle as an avid surfer. You see, surfing is seen to be cute when you are in high school and the girls love you, yet surfing loses its mystique to others as a person gets older. One may ask why? In Anglo-American culture one is taught to shed his childhood “habits” of play (such as avid surfing and other fun things) and get on to the Protestant work ethic. As a Religious Scholar , I have studied this phenomena anthropologically. This work ethic (as Described by Jon Calvin and Martin Luther) is directly related to ones goodness. Jon Calvin believed in predestination. In other words you are predestined to go to Heaven or Hell. It has been decided by god before you were born. Yet, there is a twist to this. A sign that you are going to heaven is seen to the degree too which you are hard working and well off. A sign that you may be going to hell is if you are poor and supposedly not working hard. When I studied these ideas as an Anthropologist I understood why I was maligned by so many. The people that criticized me were not doing so consciously. They were doing this because it was part of the Protestant, Anglo-American narrative or Mythology which was drilled into everyone from a young age hence when they saw a person who was “not with the program” they reflexively criticized or marginalized the person. Some how, I missed out on the message of this narrative.

In the past my mother had routinely called me “Lose money” or “Beach Dum” (not a typo). I watched in horror as many of my childhood hardcore surfer friends were sucked up by society. They quit surfing, sometimes at the urging of their wives, got full time jobs that they hated and rapidly became mechanical, uncreative and depressed. One of my good friends told me that his wife should allow him to surf as it was better than a psychiatrist’s bill. I still have the common experience of being given the “stink eye” by strangers as I drive to the North Shore in my dilapidated 71 VW van with board in tow, God forbid, on a workday. I was even told semi-jokingly by an economist friend that I was part of a “superfluous population” that included the very poor that were not factored into his economic models that he learned in school due to the fact that we barely spend any money on products hence cannot be profited off of in the “Free Market”.

In my twenties, I was both perplexed and angry at Anglo-American society. I was being accused of being lazy hence going to Hell for pursuing surfing. My friends followed the protestant work ethic to the “T”; hence were on a strait shot to Heaven. If this were the case, why were they miserable, depressed beings in life!? Surely there existed something amiss in this situation.

Please don’t get me wrong. Hard work is good, in fact I spent a full fourteen years to attain a Ph.D., but to go overboard by working maniacally to myself sounds strange.

My frustration about being a frenzied surfer in Anglo-American society was relived by forays in to Asian philosophy which my father urged that I take. In fact he arranged for myself a meeting with the esteemed Roshi who was described earlier in this paper.

My first meeting with Zen Master Aitken Roshi was wonderful. For the first time in my whole life, I felt justified in my decision to be a surfer. I was interviewed by the Roshi in the normal ritualistic manner. He sat in a tiny room and out of protocol, one had to crawl in, bow over the threshold and then make a 45 degree turn and bow toward him. I totally screwed up the process and was rather embarrassed. Surprisingly, the Roshi gestured to me and told me not to worry about it. There the Roshi sat, in his full Zen regalia and staff. It totally blew me away, as it was the first time that I was participating in a culture other than my own.

The conversation that ensued altered my life forever. I had come to him as I had been struck by an idea while surfing and staring at the ocean. I will let the ideas unfold in a question and answer format as this was the format that was required when one is engaged with a Zen master of Aitken’s standing. The conversation went something like this:

Len: How are You?

Roshi: How are You?

Len (perplexed): Pretty Good, I guess.

Roshi: What do you do?

Len (blandly): I surf, go to school, and I take care of a family in Kahala for rent.

Roshi: Then you are a caregiver.

Len (surprised): Yes, that's true

Roshi (attentively): How is your father?

Len: He is well and he collects books on Zen. In fact he has a huge collection that drives my mother nuts. She says the house will sink one day due to the weight of the books.

Roshi: Good. I must see it one day

Len (impatient): You know, I was struck by an idea. I had learned in my physics class that the equation E=MC² was that matter was an interplay of energy and energy was and interplay of matter. In fact they were different aspects of the same thing. I also learned that energy is conserved and that you could not destroy our create it. Well Roshi, I did a little bit of thinking and was blown way. If E=MC² applies to me, as it must due to the fact that I am an interplay of matter and energy (what the hell else could I be I thought) I am neither created nor destroyed, neither alive nor dead, in fact there cannot be coming or going. I was also surprised to find that Einstein called the notion of self as an “optical illusion of the mind”.

Roshi: You surf right?

Len (irritated: what kind stupid answer was that?): uhhhhh, Yea

Roshi: It is partially due to surfing that you have some insight of no coming, no going, no life, no death, no creation nor destruction. Roshi rang a little bell which means “now get out”. I did my bows and left excitedly.

I was utterly amazed. For my whole life, I was taught that my world view was not only incorrect but I was going to burn in hell for all eternity for it. Here was a little old man, who had nothing, sat in a little room and meditated extensively. He did not even surf yet he bizarrely came across as the most experienced surfer on the planet. How did he know my experience came in the surf or because of it? That he said I had a little insight, was a tiny nod to my E=MC² babble. I was so happy that I was not the only one to think like this and was even more thrilled to get a type of approval (albeit tiny)from a master of the Roshi’s caliber. It was a great affirmation for my self and for my choice of a surfing path. It was a turning point in my life and I have been on a happy path ever since in my study.

The Roshi suddenly “peered” out the door and stated with an amusing smile: “When you get thoughts like that just move on and by the way………How can you practice if you don’t pay attention?

” I am not a Buddhist but this little Koan (Zen riddle) has taken me a long way. It is OK to be an avid surfer and pursue a path of peace and concentration rather than that of hyperactivity, inattention and conformity so engraved in parts of Anglo American culture.

Thanks Aitken Roshi
Altken Roshi recently passed away and this article is dedicated to him in the most humble and thankful form possible.

Aloha Nui Aitken Roshi [Link]

Zen Waterman » Blue Planet SUP clinic/ demo day Nov. 6th 2010- By Fabrice Beaux

Posted 6 years ago

A great way to share the stoke and fulfillment we find in the ocean is to teach others. It's rewarding to help people that usually don't venture into the ocean find a new way to get plugged into nature and enjoy the sensation of balancing on water.

This is a short video of the Blue Planet demo day on Saturday Nov. 6th, 2010
Board design clinic by John Amundson and Kevin Seid.
Edited by Fabrice Beaux.

Blue Planet SUP clinic/ demo day Nov.6.2010- Board Design Clinic from Zen Waterman on Vimeo.
Board design clinic with John Amundson and Kevin Seid, Blue Planet Stand up Paddle clinic and demo day at Ala Moana beach park, Nov. 6th, 2010.

Edited by Fabrice Beaux.
Special thanks to the Hosts:
Blue Planet Surf,
Boardworks Hawaii,
Aquaglide,
Wet Feet,
Everpaddle,
StandUpPaddlesurf.net

And supporting staff:
Dr. Dan Rodrigues, Chiropractor
Doug Hopkins, Aquaglide
John Amundson, Aquaglide
Jeff Chang, Wet Feet
Karen Larieu, Wet Feet
Jared Vargas, Pro Racer
Kevin Seid, Everpaddle
Evan Leong, standuppaddlesurf.net
Sean Moore, Blue Planet Surf
Cameron Woodall, Blue Planet Surf
Andrew Giletti, Blue Planet Surf
Robert Stehlik, Blue Planet Surf
Kaipo Guerrero, Boardworks Hawaii
Fabrice Beaux, Video, editing



For future SUP clinic dates and more information, please visit: BoardworksHi.com [Link]

Zen Waterman » Is lighter really faster? SUP weight experiment- by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

This entry is kind of off topic for the Zen Waterman blog as it is a technical description of an experiment I conducted, although it does tie into paying attention and being focused. If you are interested in the interplay of weight and acceleration/ speed/ momentum on stand up paddle boards you might find it interesting.

I was inspired to test the effect of weight on speed in Stand Up Paddle boards when I was reading a discussions on the Stand Up Zone forum titled “Heavier Boards Faster?".
You may want to read it to understand the discussion that let to this experiment. I will use some of the things I wrote in the discussion and will try to add details and information here that were not covered in the forum discussion.

The setup:
The short video clip above is a test of the GoPro camera and shows the set up used for the test.
Board: 12'6" x 29 1/2" Amundson Touring/race board. For more information on this board, please check out the Aquaglide brochure. I chose this board because it is stable enough to handle 30 extra pounds without making it difficult to balance. It has 247 liters of volume, so it can float up to 247 kilos= 544 pounds. It weighs just over 30 lbs, so adding 30 lbs roughly doubles the weight and should make a measurable difference in speed. I was concerned that using less weight would make the speed difference too small to be significant and measurable.
In the video: GPS and Go Pro cam taped to board: to record the speed on the GPS with the camera to see how the weight affects acceleration/ deceleration and top speed.

The 12'6 Amundson has a sealed insert on the deck. I screwed in an old windsurfing unversal and used it to tie off the weights so I could not lose them.

My weight is just under 200 pounds, the board itself weighs just over 30 lbs, I added 30 pounds on the deck for testing. Although the board weight is doubled by adding 30 pounds, if you consider the weight of the rider + board, the weight difference is 230 lbs vs. 260 lbs with the extra weight, or just 13% more, and I'm assuming results would be different with different rider weights.

Test Day #1:
Here are the results of the 400 ft sprint test:

with 30 pounds extra weight:
Run 1: 49 seconds
Run 2: 49 seconds
Run 3: 48 seconds

without extra weight:
Run 1: 45 seconds
Run 2: 45 seconds

The acceleration was noticeably faster with the lighter board and the 3-4 seconds difference is significant.

For the half mile test, the results were less pronounced but still significant- as follows (wind was light 2-5 knots):

with 30# extra: Upwind: 5:44, downwind: 5:29
without extra weight: upwind: 5:32, downwind: 5:16

I calculated a 3.6% speed difference upwind and 5% downwind

Here is what I noticed watching the videos of the half mile tests:
With the 30# extra weight it took me 7 seconds and 8 strokes to accelerate to 5 mph
Without the extra weight only 5 seconds and 6 strokes.
I also noticed that the weighted board has more of a wake and turbulence behind the tail and seemed to make more noise over the water

Test Day #2
I re-did the sprint tests the next day as the speed readout on the GPS was not visible on the video of the sprints.
I did not think the weight distribution would matter for the speed test but was urged to try to spread out the weights over the length of the board by one of the commenters.
To my surprise, the board seemed to handle a little better with the weights spread out than with the weights in the center. I tried to figure out why and then it made sense- with the weight spread out over the length of the board it yaws less (meaning less side to side rotation per stroke) especially from a standstill.
I know you could turn this into another science project but here is the simple explanation I came up with: Think of doing a flip off a diving board: you can speed up the rotation by pulling in your arms and legs closer to the center of rotation, while spreading out arms and legs- weight away from center of rotation- slows down the rotation. Same thing on the SUP. If all the weights are at the center of the board, it will yaw more easily (center of rotation is center of board), while spreading the weights away from the center of rotation makes it yaw less- makes sense, right?
A takeaway from this is that if you pack gear on your board, placing it away from the center- towards the nose and tail- will make the board yaw less than mounting it in the center of the board.

On the second day, the results were as follows:

400 ft sprints:

with 30 pounds extra:
Run 1: 48 sec
Run 2: 48 sec
Run 3: 48 sec
Run 4: 49 sec

Without extra weight:
Run 1: 46 sec
Run 2: 46 sec

So results were a little less conclusive as the average results were almost a second faster with the weights and almost a second slower without than the day before. Still significant though.
You can watch the videos below of the sprints without and with extra weights and draw your own conclusions.
Run without the weights: 46 sec. top speed: 6.7 mph

Run with the 30 lbs weight: 48 sec. top speed 6.4 mph

I realize that putting the weights on top of the board is not the same as having a heavier board where the weight is spread out over the entire hull. Nevertheless, I'll assume for the sake of this experiment that the effect of extra weight is similar.

I rounded the sprint results to 3 seconds slower with 30 pounds extra weights. For the 48 second time that is a difference of just over 6 %

I'm assuming that each additional pound has a proportional effect on speed, so 6% divided by 30 pounds= 0.2%

So, I'm assuming that a pound of weight added to the board makes it 0.2% slower.

So, you would expect 5 extra pounds to make it 1% slower and 15 extra pounds 3% slower

This sounds very minimal and if you are cruising or touring: who cares if you are going 1% slower, that's only 36 seconds per hour of paddling.

I just want to put it in perspective from a racing standpoint.
Imagine for a moment that you are Rob Rojas and just finished the BOP Elite race in 1:03:15
If you want to check the results:
http://raceresults.eternaltiming.com/index.cfm/20101002_Battle_of_the_Paddle.htm?Fuseaction=Results&Class=Elite+SUP+Individual%7EOpen+MElite

So, you finished the Elite race in 15th place- a respectable finish against the world's top SUP athletes, but not top ten, no podium, trophy, prize money, shaking Jerry and Sparky's hands, pictures in the mags and on the web etc.

Matt Becker, on the other hand, finished in ninth place in 1:03:08. His time was 7 seconds (or 0.185%) faster and he makes the cut.

If you knew that making your board just one pound lighter would have made you 0.2% faster would you still say that weight does not matter?

I think not.

Another thought:
The speed difference might seem very small in the controlled flat water test but in downwind racing it's all about catching and connecting bumps. That slightly faster acceleration can be the difference between making and missing a bump, which can compound the effect. If you race in downwinders you know that connecting one good bump train can put you 50 yards ahead (or behind if you miss it) of you competition, and it does not really matter if you are at the front or in the middle of the pack.
If you are not racing, or want a board to train on, save yourself a bundle and get a solid, less expensive board, but in racing, light weight is KEY

Note: The test used weights on top of the board, not evenly distributed. Also, I used the sprint results to calculate the 0.2% effect per pound. Most likely the difference would have been smaller with even weight distribution and over a longer course. My estimate is that one extra pound, evenly distributed will make the board somewhere between 0.1% to 0.2% slower and maybe less than that in some circumstances. Other factors are size, volume and design of board, rider weight, etc. I'm thinking a displacement type board should be less sensitive to weight than a planing hull, which has to lift out of the water to plane and reduce wetted surface and drag.

This is just what I'm taking away from this experiment. To read what others thought of it, or if you want to make a point or comment, please check out the discussion thread at:

http://www.standupzone.com/forum/index.php?topic=9446.15
[Link]

Zen Waterman » Paddle technique: Part 1- Choosing the right paddle- by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

This is the first part of a series of paddle technique posts. First things first, before getting into the technique you need the right paddle to work with.

Topics:
Shaft: Length and shape
Blade: size and shape
Materials: flex, weight, pricing
Fixed length vs. adjustable
Double bend shafts

When people talk about SUP equipment it is usually about the board while the paddle is often neglected despite it's importance. Some factors to consider when choosing a paddle are:

Shaft:
There is no set formula for length, more of a personal preference. If in doubt, size the paddle longer and temporarily tape the handle without gluing it, then shorten it to a comfortable length and epoxy it in. Remember, it is easier to shorten the shaft but difficult to lengthen it once it's cut. As a guideline, for surfing, the paddle should be about 6"-9" taller than user. For flat water paddling/ racing it should be 9"-12" taller (or more). Some other factors to consider are the thickness and floatation of the board used (the thicker the board and the higher you are up off the water, the longer the paddle should be); the dimensions of the blade (a paddle with a long, narrow blade needs to be longer than a short, wide blade). As a rule of thumb, if you stand the paddle upside down on the handle, the base of the blade (waterline when paddling) should be at nose or eye level for distance paddling.

I hear that if the paddle is too long, it can cause the shoulder to over-extend and can be harder to "power up". At 6'2" (74") I have never had this problem as most paddles are 85" or so uncut and I actually wish I could try a paddle that's a few inches longer than that.
If the paddle is too short, it forces the paddler to hunch over which can cause lower back problems. A shorter paddle also limits forward reach and leverage and makes it more difficult to plant the whole blade in the water before applying power. If your paddle is too short, you will not be able to effectively use the technique tips in this series.
For more information on paddle length, this is a good one from Bill at Ke Nalu:
Measure Twice, Cut Once

The shape of the shaft and handle are important and personal preference matters- it should feel comfortable in your hands. I find smaller, oval shaped shafts and rounded palm grips most comfortable. Try the feel of several paddles and see which ones feels most comfortable in your hands. While rounded palm grips are comfortable, the rounded edges are not as easy to catch. If you often miss or slip off a rounded palm grip and bang yourself in the head with it, as I have done many times, you might find a T-handle easier to catch with your thumb as you switch sides, like in the picture below. It helps to slide the hand up along the shaft to catch the handle when switching, which I like for surfing.

Blade:
The most important consideration when choosing a blade is to match the surface area of the blade to the paddler. Think of a 10 speed bike: you use a low gear to accelerate and/or go uphill and switch to a higher gear as you are going faster. If you suddenly stop the bike in a high gear and then try to get it going again, you have to apply all your weight to the pedals while the bike is barely moving forward. Accelerating in a high gear is very slow and exhausting. This is what happens if you are using a blade that is too big. Since a paddle is more like a single speed bike, you need to choose a blade that is small enough to let you accelerate easily and paddle uphill (into the wind) but still big enough to hold water at higher speeds without cavitation. Generally, a lighter, smaller paddler should use a smaller blade, while a heavier, stronger paddler can go with a bigger blade.
To use the same gearing comparison- a longer paddle is like a higher gear with more leverage while a shorter paddle is like a lower gear with faster stroke rate. You can somewhat adjust the "gearing" by changing the grip of the lower hand on your paddle (some move both hands lower on the shaft, effectively making their paddle shorter). Gripping the shaft lower will result in a "low gear" for accelerating and going upwind while gripping it higher will result in a "high gear" with longer reach for higher speeds.


These are the C4 Waterman paddles I use, the upper blade is my surfing blade, the lower my distance/ racing blade (XPR), which has a slightly larger surface area (same width but longer blade). The shaft on the surfing paddle is also about 2" shorter than my racing paddle. When surfing, you need to be able to accelerate from a complete stop to catch a wave, so a "lower gear" works better, while distance paddling is more about maintaining a higher speed where a "high gear" is more efficient.

There are many blade outlines and shapes on the market and some work better than others. I find that a dihedral or "spine" on the face of the blade will somewhat reduce "flutter", the tendency of the blade to move side to side when powered up. The picture above shows the dihedral and carbon/ kevlar blend weave of the blade.

A thin blade edge will allow smooth water entry and exit but is also more likely to damage the rails of the board. A plastic paddle edge guard will protect the rails and paddle edge and is highly recommended for entry level paddlers. The down side is that it makes the entry and exit of the paddle less efficient. Quickblade uses a ABS plastic blade edge- a good idea that keeps the weave on the edge of the paddle from getting frayed and splintered although it won't do much to protect the rails.
The sharp edges of this blade are covered by plastic paddle edge guard which can be removed later if you feel it is no longer needed. You don't need to use superglue when applying it. Warming the edge guard up in the hot sun or in a microwave (about 15 sec.) before applying it will soften the rubber and make the glue strip inside more tacky. A good shop will apply it for you professionally. Clear rail tape for the board is also recommended to protect your investment as most damage occurs on the widest part of the rails.

Materials, Flex, Weight:
So you found a paddle length and blade size that works well for you. Another important aspect is construction. The paddle should feel "lively" and have a "snappy" flex. The paddle should flex naturally when you power it up and release the flex at the end of the stroke. There is some controversy as to whether flex is lost power. I find that as I learned to release the blade efficiently I can direct the stored energy of the flex forward to send the paddle back forward into the reach position, making the recovery effortless and giving the body a moment to relax. Good paddles are constructed to allow a powerful, snappy flex. Weight is important in distance paddling as a heavier paddle will tire out the paddler sooner. Since the paddle is lifted out of the water hundreds of times during distance paddling, every ounce matters here.Here are some of the pros and cons of the most commonly used paddles on the market:

Aluminum Paddles:
Pros: Anodized aircraft aluminum is strong, corrosion resistant, and affordable.
Cons: weight- usually heavier, not much flex
The Aquaglide aluminum vario paddle is strong, adjustable and affordable- a good choice for entry level and family use.

Wood Paddles:
Pros: Natural flex- wood has a great flex that is easy on the joints. Wood paddles are usually handcrafted and can be personalized works of art. They are also made mostly from natural and renewable resources and are therefore more environmentally friendly. Some paddlers swear by wood paddles, see this blog post by Jenny Kalmbach.
Cons: Weight to strength ratio- wood paddles can be heavier and/or not as strong for the same weight and can be expensive.
Everpaddle makes beautiful wood paddles from reclaimed wood.

Many manufacturers of quality wood paddles have been making outrigger paddles for many years. Some of the nicest wood paddles I have seen were made by: Gillespie, Pure, Malama, Hawaiian Paddle, Whiskeyjack, and Johnson Big Stick

Fiberglass Paddles:
Pros: flexible, strong, inexpensive compared to carbon. Great choice for everyday or heavy duty (surf) use.
Cons: heavier than carbon, flex is softer, very strong if made well.

Carbon Paddles:
Pros: Light and stiff, snappy flex, preferred construction for most racing paddles.
Cons: Can be too stiff (hard on joints) if not designed well, expensive. Carbon is stiffer and will break at a certain point, while fiberglass and kevlar allow for more flex before breaking, it is also sensitive to nicks and dings that can weaken the integrity of the whole paddle.

Composite Paddles:
Carbon, fiberglass, and other materials such as Kevlar, dynel, wood and others can be combined.
Pros: Composite materials can improve flex and weight to strength ratio if designed well.
Different fabric materials and composition, weaves and wrapping/ layup can be used to influence flex characteristics and feel, there are many opportunities for innovation and testing in this area.
Cons: can be more expensive, new technology still being perfected.

Most blades have a foam core which should be made of high quality PVC foam. Low quality foam can cause the blade to delaminate and bubble from heat/ moisture.

Fixed length vs. adjustable:
If you are the only one using the paddle and don't use it for travel, a fixed length paddle is the best choice as it is lighter and has better flex characteristics than an adjustable length or two piece paddle. If you are sharing the paddle with others, having an adjustable length is a nice feature. For travel, it's nice to have a two or even three piece paddle that can easily store in your luggage.

Double bend paddles:The picture below shows a Werner Paddles double bend paddle shaft vs. straight shaft, illustrating how the double bend allows extra reach. The double bend also allows a straighter grip angle for the lower hand and reportedly reduces flutter. I have had a chance to try one of these but not enough to say if I like it better than a straight shaft The lower hand grip is more ergonomic and comfortable but it did not have the snappy flex I am used to on a straight shaft. I ordered one and am expecting it soon. I will do some more testing and report my findings here. Any comments are welcome. Werner does not recommend bent shafts for use in the surf.


Double Bend Update 3/1/11:
I received a double bend Werner paddle about a month ago and have been using and testing it since. Although the paddle does not seem to make me faster, I have noticed that my sore "tennis elbow" seems to bother me less after paddling with the bent shaft vs. straight shaft. The more ergonomic grip seems to be easier on the lower arm grip, wrist and arm and I am very happy with that. I'm not crazy about the way it flexes and the slightly heavier weight. The flex is quite stiff and not as continuous and lively as the straight shaft race paddles I'm used to. The scooped, relatively narrow and long Fuse blade (110 sq.in.) works well for me. The paddle makes it easy to get a good reach (as illustrated in the picture above) and the narrow blade feels smaller than other blades with 110 sq.in. size. While the scoop in the blade helps getting a smooth, quick catch, it makes a clean release a little more difficult. It tends to throw out more water than a straight blade if it is pulled straight up and out of the water and I had to adjust to get a nice clean release. I did not have any issues switching the paddle but have heard others say it took them a while to adjust to switching sides with the double bend. The unique Werner handle is comfortable and effective once I got used to it. There is room for improvement (I would like to try a double bend with more flex and a blade with less or no scoop, also a little longer than the max. 86" height offered for me at 6'2") but the bent shaft has become my paddle of choice for racing and training.

My friend, Kevin Seid had a good analogy: The paddle is like the samurai sword of the Zen Waterman. It should become like an extension of the body. Intimate knowledge of your equipment is part of the way of the waterman.

Click here for Part 2 – The three ingredients of a powerful stroke.

For more thoughts on how water moves over the paddle and paddle design

Paddle weights, just like the board weights claimed by manufacturers are often not very accurate (and manufacturers don't include the weight of the handle). We have a reasonably accurate postal scale at the shop and I asked our two summer interns to weigh all the paddles (un cut and with the handle) and make a spreadsheet sorting them from lightest to heaviest paddle and our retail price.
I did not confirm the weights and it's possible that there are some mistakes but overall they seem pretty accurate. Some paddles, like the Quickblades, come with different size blades and the girls did not specify the size weighed. Also, some paddles had a plastic bag and/or hangtag which adds a little weight and some un-cut paddles are shorter than others. Depending on how much shaft is cut off, the cut paddle will be a little lighter but then you have to add a little for the epoxy glue used.
So, here is a link to the spreadsheet:
https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Au9qxAnW7ZMddEl5T2ppUHpmanFPYklsYm9MdHBMa2c&hl=en_US

To be notified of new entries, please "like" the Blue Planet facebook page or subscribe to this blog.

Thanks for reading, Aloha!

[Link]

Zen Waterman » Stand Up Paddle training simulator by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

Video coutresy of standuppaddlesurf.net
Video Part 1

Follow this link to read Evan Leong's story about the SUP simulator on standuppaddlesurf.net

Video parts 2 and 3 at the bottom of this page.

Background:
When I started racing SUP competitively, I realized that to get faster and be one of the top racers, I would have to put in more training time.
Downwinders are the most fun and we are lucky to live in Honolulu where we have the Hawaii Kai to Waikiki run, a nice downwinder. It usually takes us less than 1.5 hours to complete the paddle but with shuttling cars between start and finish, loading and unloading boards and gear, showering, changing, etc., it usually takes more than 4 hours to do this. I have a business and family so for me to do a downwinder more than once or twice a week is not realistic, so I was looking for ways to get a paddle workout in less time. I started doing round trip sprints which take less time but was still not able to do this on a daily basis. So, I used a paddle shaft from a paddle with a broken blade and attached a hook to it. I built a pulley weight system to hook up to it and the first SUP paddle trainer was born. I found this setup worked well for strength training with heavier weights. Most gyms have pulley weight systems and if you have a training paddle shaft you can hook it up to any cable weight system. I also tried stretch cords, which provides a good basic workout. A SUP simulator kit using stretch cords is now available at http://www.paddlecoretrainer.com/, see below.

The weights and stretch cords provide resistance during the pull and the recovery. When paddling you only have resistance on the pull, not the recovery.
So, I started researching rowing machines (that provide resistance only on the pull) to be modified into a SUP trainer.

A friend told me to check out the First Degree Fitness E-216 model and I found it to be the most suitable as a SUP trainer for the following reasons:

Cable pulley: Some machines, like the popular Concept 2 rowers, work with a chain drive, which is fine for rowing as the pull is straight out but not for SUP training as the pull is diagonally to the sides, which puts too much strain on a chain. The E-216 has a tough Dyneema cable (rope) that works well.

Adjustable water resistance: The water level in the resistance chamber can be adjusted instantly with a lever, which allows the resistance to be changed quickly for different users or workout intensity. SUP training requires a lower resistance than rowing training, so it’s important to be able to adjust the resistance. The water level in most water rowers can be lowered manually but only the First Degree Fitness rowers allow instant adjustments. The water resistance provides a realistic catch, power phase, and recovery. The moving water in the tank even sounds much like a real stroke. We sell this model for $1599 including free shipping to any US address (unmodified rowing machine).

To make the experience more realistic, I built a balance board that simulates the balancing required on a board. After some experimentation and prototyping, I came up with a design that works well. It allows side to side balancing but will not twist or rotate. I modified the rower by removing the seat and track assembly and replaced the rower bar with the SUP paddle shaft.

Tips: Shortest paddle length is easiest to pull. Take full strokes as monitor might not record very short strokes. Pull cable straight out from machine and recover same way (see illustration). Avoid recovering faster than cable retracts.

That’s it. It works surprisingly well and can provide a quick full body workout anytime. If you are in Honolulu, come by the Blue Planet Surf Shop on Ward Ave. to try it out. When you are ready, take the 2km challenge and win a $100 gift card if you can break the record.

Update: May 2011:
I have sold the original SUP simulator and built a new version featured in this video:

This version 2.0 model is available for sale for $1000 (used, as is). Please contact Blue Planet if interested at 808 596 7755, ask for Robert.

The trainer paddle itself is available at our shop for $99, or order it for $125 including shipping to anywhere in the US at:
http://blueplanetsurf.com/product.php?productid=16486&cat=269&page=1

We are now offering the Paddle Core Trainer, a SUP simulator kit that includes the adjustable paddle shaft, balance board, stretch cords, accessories and instructional DVD. Available now at Blue Planet Surf Shop for $199, $30 flat rate shipping in the US.


For more information:
http://paddlecoretrainer.com/


Or contact Blue Planet at 808 596 7755 for more information.

The complete SUP training simulator including modified Rowing machine, trainer paddle, and balance board is available on request.

Video part 2

Video part 3
[Link]

Zen Waterman » 2010 Molokai 2 Oahu Race by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

The Challenge
When it comes to Stand Up Paddle racing, the Molokai 2 Oahu race is the ultimate challenge. After competing in the race for the first time in 2009, I knew I wanted to do it again. I have been thinking about, training and preparing for the race on July 25th, 2010 pretty much since then.

Commitment
No other SUP race I know of requires the kind of preparation, commitment and support from family and friends as this one.
We started doing long distance training earlier this year as I reported in an earlier blog. My training partners and I all significantly improved our race times, see "biggest losers" below, so the training really paid off.

The week before the race, I was talking it easy and people kept asking me, "Are you ready for Molokai?"
I was not sure how to answer at first because I don't think I could ever really say, "I'm ready for this race." Anyway, I had signed up early, trained hard, had my equipment ready, escort boat organized, packing list, air ticket, accommodations, race numbers and I was not going to get faster by training the week before the race, so my answer became: "I'm as ready as I'm going to be."

My escort boat Captain, David Von Hamm, is a commercial fisherman and one of my neighbors. Our sons Christian and Andrew are friends and went along and left early Saturday morning to take David's boat, the Sweet Kimi II from Ko Olina to Molokai, which took them all day. They did catch some nice fish along the way and did a great job supporting me the next day. Thanks guys!

Molokai Bound
I did not want to get sea sick and boarded this 9-seater plane to Molokai on Saturday afternoon. Everyone on the plane was on the way to the race.


The weather was beautiful and the ocean was covered with whitecaps. I was pretty excited flying over the west side of Molokai where we would start early the next morning.

The one taxi at the airport was not big enough for all 9 passengers from the plane so the the driver called his dad to bring the other cab. Gotta love Molokai, it's not overcrowded like Oahu, that's for sure.

We got to the Kualakai resort in about 15 minutes and I made my way to the beach to look for the escort boat. The bay was full of boards and Dave's boat showed up right on schedule, but anchored pretty far outside all the other boats. I was hoping they would come in closer to the beach, but no such luck and I had to swim out pretty far. It felt good to get in the water though. They had a long, but good day of fishing. I was happy to find that my board and paddle survived the trip in good shape.
I paddled back to shore and took a quick shower in the nice condo that Jeff rented. I got to the pre-race dinner late, but there was still plenty of food left. I had a big plate plus seconds and felt pretty good. A lot of things could have gone wrong, but so far everything had gone smoothly and it was time to let go of the anxiety of getting everything organized and relax.
Doug Lock and Jeff Chang's boards where on a boat in the next bay over, north of the resort and I walked over there with them after dinner.


A bunch of people were camped out in this beautiful bay and had beach fires going. I love camping and was wishing I was camping, too. On second thought, it was nice to have a bed, kitchen and bathroom, too, especially the next morning.

Jeff and Doug swam out to the boat to paddle their boards back in the full moon while I walked back. On the way I stopped by the ocean front condo where a bunch of my friends including Kaipo Guerrero, Edmund Pestana, Heather Jeppsen, Ekolu and Honora Kalama, Gerry Lopez, Herbie Titcomb, and a bunch of others were hanging out and talked story for a while, then headed back to our condo where I prepped my hydration packs, GPS and gear for the next morning.
Jeff and I relaxed for a while and went to bed early. Kevin Seid was still doing last minute work on his board, glassing the rudder assembly on his new Everpaddle unlimited board. The poor guy had to endure the night before seasick on his escort boat as he could not get a standby flight on Friday. Then he spent all day Saturday working on the rudder system for his board. He finally came in at 11:30 pm after taking a test paddle in the moonlight and finally seemed pretty content and ready to go.

Race day
The next morning we got up early, had some coffee and breakfeast, got our stuff packed up in the cool drybags that all competitors received and headed to the beach. I paddled out to the the anchored boat to drop my bag. I missed the Hawaiian Prayer (Pule) as David anchored his nice boat even further out, about half a mile. It took me a while to paddle out to the boat and back into the wind but I figured it was a good way to warm up.
Oahu was visible for a while but by the time the prone paddleboarders started at 7:30 AM, it was shrouded in clouds again.


My SIC F-16 on the beach ready to go. Along with my C4 Pohaku paddle. I had tried lots of boards over the last year and decided on this one because it catches bumps well and is stable enough for the rough channel conditions. Thanks to Evan Leong from standuppaddlesurf.net for letting me try his board and then selling it to me, I hear these things are hard to get.


I had my Garmin GPS mounted on the deck using the two unused screw inserts on the deck for the goofy foot rudder mount. I used a piece of foam, taped the GPS to it, then screwed it on. The GPS was pretty key, more on that later.

Ok, it was time to head to the starting line and join all the other amped up paddlers. Everyone was excited and ready to go, the start boat had to keep pushing back the starting line.
Aaron Napoleon provided some comic relief by pulling his boat up right in front of the starting line. Riggs jumped off the back right at the starting line- first class service. Aaron and Kai Bartlett had the fastest crossing last year. He would have been a favorite this year too, but he skipped the race so he could escort and coach his 12 year old son, Riggs- pretty cool.

Start
The horn blew at 8am sharp and everyone was off to a fast pace. The prone paddlers had headed out on a really northerly route and the pack followed them. Oahu was not visible and instead of following the pack, I followed the arrow on my GPS which pointed me in a more southerly direction. Last year was the opposite with the pack heading south of the direct line. More on that below.

Dave Kalama was the only one in front of me south of the pack. I had a good start and was trying to keep up with him for a while but could not match his pace. He was wearing a white shirt while the solo paddlers all had green shirts, so I thought it could not be Dave as I knew he was paddling solo and the two man teams were wearing white shirts. He ended up finishing the race in record time with a comfortable lead and I'm pretty sure his direct line gave him an edge.
My ambitious, personal goal was to finish in under 5:30 and top 5. I knew I would have to go fast all the way across to meet that goal.
The first part was pretty smooth until we got out a mile or two where the bumps started getting bigger and got more defined. The trade wind was not as easterly as I had hoped, it had quite a bit of north in it. The Molokai race is not really a downwind race like some of the coastal races where the wind is straight from the back most of the way, as you are really quartering the wind and bumps all the way across. The bigger, faster windswells were really northerly so I had to fall off the direct line to catch them and trim along the wave as long as possible, then between bigger waves gain ground again on smaller, slower bumps going in a more easterly direction. This was working well, I was making good time and I was feeling pretty confident.

The first 10 miles went by pretty quickly. I was paddling mostly on the left and occasionally took some hard strokes on the right side to catch the bigger swells. Despite hydrating and refueling regularly, by the time I reached 16 miles, my muscles (forearm, triceps, lats, abs and even toes) started cramping, interestingly mostly on the right side where I was taking less, but more powerful strokes.

Cramping
I was drinking Gatorade, eating shot blocks and gu gel, which provided some relief, but I had to slow down and deal with cramping muscles by stretching them which is not easy while paddling for the rest of the race. Luckily I was able to keep paddling more or less normally on the left side and only cramped when I took hard strokes on the right. Needless to say, the cramping had a big impact on my race and I spent lots of time after the race researching it as I don't want to go through this painful experience again next year. Although I had some cramps at the end of last year's Molokai race, I never have cramps during training or shorter races. If others have had this problem and found some solutions, I would like to hear from you. I did get some varied advice from other paddlers after the race, including Advil, salt tabs, baking soda, Rolaids and more. It's really quite interesting, exercise-induced cramping is not well understood scientifically and there are there many theories. I might write a future blog on this. For now, I can recommend this page for further reading on cramping on the Hammer nutrition website: http://www.hammernutrition.com/problem-solver/cramping/

Anyway, back to the race. After making it through the painful second half of the race I finally got close to Portlock point, where the water got sloppy and there was less and less push from bumps. I saw Zane Schweizer on a faster line, closer to the wall and passing me pretty easily. I had fallen off too far south too early and had to paddle hard to get to the point, but I was close now and determined to finish.

The waves were tiny but I caught one by China Walls and cut through the opening in the reef. The headwind in the bay was overwhelming and it was obvious that I would not meet my goal time of under 5:30. Dave Parmenter and Archie Kalepa were right in front of me at the point, with a jet ski, switching out every few minutes. At this point I was wishing I had a partner, too and did not even attempt to keep up with them. I followed their line, hugging the coastline where the wind was a little lighter. The tide was high so we were able to paddle right along the breakwalls.

Finish
The final approach to the finish. At this point I was no longer feeling any pain, just happy to be there. My wife and kids were there to greet me with hugs and a lei. I made it!
My time was 5:41 and 34 minutes faster than last year. The scene at the finish was great, lots of smiling faces, food, drinks, even a massage. Now that the pain was gone, the endorphins were kicking in and despite the fatigue, I was feeling great. We stuck around to watch and cheer as more of our friends finished. Some of the later finishers actually got the loudest cheers and anyone who finishes this race is a winner. Rigg's finish was awesome and emotional. He made the Napoleon Ohana proud- way to go Riggs!

The awards dinner at the Outrigger Club was first class and a great way to finish this amazing day.
A big Mahalo to everyone who made this great race possible and better than ever, including all the Sponsors, Mike Takahashi, and the Molokai 2 Oahu team. Many thanks to my wife and family for letting me go on long training paddles and to my training partners, especially "coach" Jeff Chang without whom I would not be doing all this.

Please support 32:32 – 32 for a cause by purchasing a cap and shirt for $32 and supporting some great organizations at:
http://www.molokai2oahu.com/2010/07/20/3232/

My secret weapon: using the GPS
Using a GPS with a pointer gave me an almost unfair advantage over other paddlers, especially in the beginning when Oahu was not visible. After using a GPS in the last two races, I would not want to do the race without it.
There are advantages to taking a more northerly route (you can drop off and go faster later) or a more southerly route (get a faster start and then ride the bumps more north), and knowledge of current is key. Nevertheless, knowing the direct line is very helpful, even if you don't follow it and especially if you are not experienced at crossing the channel. I know from experience that following everyone else is not always a good strategy, because they could all be off course. Although the direct line may not always be the fastest line, it is the shortest distance, and for anyone doing the race for the first time I highly recommend a GPS with a pointer for this race.

I saved the finish in Hawaii Kai as a waypoint and set my GPS to point to it. I set the screen to also shows the elapsed time and distance. Knowing the distance is also key because Koko Head starts to look really close even though you are still 10 miles from the finish and you need to save your strength for the last 5 miles or so, which are the toughest of this race.

This is a picture of the direct line from the start to the finish on Google Earth.

This is a close up of the line intersecting Oahu just North of Hanauma Bay

And the view of the line from the water. At this point it's tempting to run more downwind towards the tip of Portlock but it's better to aim for the saddle and get close to the wall before rounding the point. I let myself drift too far south at the end this race. If you get pushed further south before going into Maunalua Bay, it can be almost impossible to make it to the finish, this is important adivce if you are thinking of doing the race for the first time.

Molokai race: "biggest losers"
Many of the paddlers in this year's Molokai race improved their times from last year. Regardless of where you finished in the field, improving your own time is always a big achievement. The conditions played a role in this but I like to think that better equipment, training, preparation, nutrition and mental state played a bigger role for those who significantly improved their race times. I compared race results from 2009 to 2010 for solo and team SUP racers that competed in the same division both years and calculated the difference.
I may have missed some but here are some of the SUP racers with the biggest improvement of race times (minutes difference, not counting seconds)

Connor Baxter: -103 min !
Dave Kalama: -50 min
Team: Alika Willis, Tony Moniz: -49 min
Jeff Chang: -38 min
Andrea Moller: -34 min
Robert Stehlik: -34 min
Kevin Seid: -33 min
Carolyn Annerund: -22 min
Team: Christian Bradley, Todd Bradley: -18 min
Scott Gamble: -16 min
Jenny Kalmbach: -9 min

Congratulations to all finishers and thanks to the organizers and sponsors for a great race.
Aloha, Robert Stehlik [Link]

Zen Waterman » Molokai training run- Hawaii Kai to Barbers Point- by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

Training for the Molokai to Oahu race

Jeff Chang (I call him "Coach" because without him I would not be doing all this) and I did the Molokai race last Summer. We did one long training run two weeks before the race from Sandy Beach to White Plains. This year, we decided to step it up and start doing a long run every two weeks to be more prepared for the 32 mile distance of the race. This is a report of our most recent run for those of you that enjoy reading about SUP racing and training.

Today, on Memorial Day, Jared Vargas, Jeff Chang, Darin Ohara and myself went on a long training run. This was our fourth distance training day this year. Click here for some pics from a previous run that Jeff posted on his facebook page.
We started out in Hawaii Kai and paddled to Barbers Point for a total of over 31 miles.

For a map of our course, time, speed etc, please follow this link with the stats from Jared's GPS watch. Its pretty cool how much information it contains:
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/35289093?sms_ss=email


We launched on the marina in Hawaii Kai which is a good way to warm up and add about 1.5 miles to the total distance.

The run to Black Point was nice and fast with good bumps.

Darin passing Diamond Head, he did not have time to do the whole run and stopped at Kaimana Beach.

We stopped at Ala Moana beach park to refill our water bags- about half way. There was a nice south swell and we were catching waves along the way.

This shot is after passing Magic Island.

The current news is dominated by bad news, including oil spilling uncontrolled into the Gulf, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, financial crisis, global recession and with my business facing many challenges it's sometimes difficult to keep a positive outlook. Out here on the water, however, it's all good.

Looking at the city in the background reminds me of the Santa Monica song by Everclear:

We can live beside the ocean
Leave the fire behind
Swim out past the breakers
Watch the world die

For me, paddling is a great way to connect with nature, focus on the present without distraction and balance out my otherwise busy urban lifestyle. I always feel far removed from it all when I'm out in the ocean. For some this may sound like torturous way to spend Memorial Day but for us it's more like therapy.


Jared getting goofy


Jeff somewhere off Sand Island

Jared powering up. All three of us were keeping close to the same pace and barely had to stop to wait for each other.

A plane taking off as we pass the reef runway

Diamond Head looks pretty far away by now

Cargo ship passing on the outside


By Ewa Beach there is a shooting range, we could hear the shots echoing out on the water. The cement wall says DANGER- STAY CLEAR 5200 YRDS.
I lose my focus and wonder: What the heck is that supposed to mean? How did they come up with that distance? 5200 yards? Did they actually measure how far a stray bullet travels? How are we supposed to know how far away we are? Are they really shooting bullets out towards the ocean? I just want to get away from here as fast as possible and start to paddle harder.
The sign reminds me of the bumper sticker that says:
"If you can read this you are too close"
Luckily we did not encounter any stray bullets.

The bumps were awesome, the run from the airport runway to Barbers Point is one of my favorites. We have done it 6 times or so now and I thought it was even better than the Hawaii Kai to Black Point section every time. With clean windswell bumps from the back and ocean swells from the side this is a fun, fast, challenging downwind run. We kept chasing each other and maintained a strong pace.

On previous runs we finished at White Plains beach, which has a nice sandy beach, mellow, rolling waves, surfboard racks by the showers, grass and is a great place to land after a long paddle. Today we wanted to go further and decided to go all the way to Barbers Point lighthouse in the Cambell Industrial Park.


As we got closer we saw some sizable surf breaking. I felt foolish for not bringing a leash and thought of what would happen of a big roller took my board and I would have to swim in. With the strong wind and currents I might not be able to catch up with my board. So losing the board was not an option.


Jared sneaking out over a wave before it breaks

Getting in was not as bad as I feared, I was able to come in on one of the smaller waves, no problem.

Landing at the lighthouse was challenging as there was no sandy beach, just jagged sharp reef with shorebreak washing over it. Here is Jeff sacrificing his feet to keep his new Dennis Pang board from touching the reef. I just had to take this picture before going to help him.


Here is Jeff with his home made cable rudder system that he engineered in his garage the day before using a plastic cutting board, bungee cords and other high tech equipment. He was quite happy with the way it worked.


The cables run through tubes sunk into the deck under the footpads.

The bungee cords keep the steering in neutral when not engaged.


The truck is loaded and we are ready for the long drive back.

Below is a short video I shot of Jeff somewhere outside Ewa Beach.

Thanks for reading, Aloha! [Link]

Zen Waterman » Surfing and the Zen Buddhist Art of Happiness- by Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago

If you are a typical surfer today, you may be faced with a number of frustrating problems in the surf. As time goes on the ocean is getting more crowded with many different types of surf craft. Depending where you are, people can become very aggressive and greedy when it comes to procuring waves. Some surfers go out of their way to “bad vibe” other surfers as they are on different equipment or they are perceived as “outsiders” or “insiders“. This can all add up to a bad surfing experience. Alas, what could possibly be the solution.
As I study Buddhism as an academic, especially Vietnamese Zen, I came to a solution which I use to great effect on a daily basis. In fact this method is so effective that I have ceased to have bad sessions because of this methodology. I wish to share these ideas with you, the reader, and wish that you benefit from them.
Before I dive in to this technique, it is important to get a background of where the ideas and methods come from. The Buddhists have many sutras, or “bundles” of writings. I will briefly describe to you the Abidharma (quite literally translated into “super teaching“ or “super knowledge“) and its general concepts.
The Abidharma was probably written in India around 1,500 years ago. It is striking as it deals directly with psychology and the mind over a millennia before the Westerners came to similar understandings with modern psychology of the 19th and 20th century. The Abidharma has been called the Sutra of Buddhist psychology by some.
What it teaches is very simple but profound. For our purposes as surfers and watermen it is most appropriate. The sutra views the mind as an infinite field. In this infinite field there are an infinite number of possible seeds (for a lack of a better translation of Sanskrit into English we shall use the term “seed“). The seeds can manifest in ones mind and most importantly in ones actions given certain causes and conditions. These infinite seeds include jealousy, anger, hatred, frustration, paranoia, greed, agitation, arrogance on one “end” and compassion, altruism, love, patience, joy, peace and equanimity on the other “end”.
This is why Zen Buddhists and Buddhists meditate! They are utilizing the power of concentration to water the proper seeds with attention! It is that simple. Zen Buddhists are just selecting the seeds in their mind that they water. If you water a thorny weed seed it will grow into an ugly thorny weed. If you water a beautiful Lotus seed it will become a beautiful Blooming Lotus.
If you don’t meditate or pay attention you will not be able to recognize the bad seeds and will be lead around life by them like a man who is on an out-of-control horse heading toward the nearest cliff or wall. This is sadly the case for the majority of the people on our planet. They are not in control of themselves, their negative emotions are dragging them around like powerless slaves. I should know, I often slip into angry and jealous ways when I don‘t pay attention to the seeds that I am watering in my mind.
The question arises. How can this be practiced in the surf? I will use an example that happened to me a couple of years back to help illustrate the Abidharma’s effectiveness. I was surfing a break on the Northwest side of Oahu that is relatively un-crowded and localized. This was during the time period when Stand Up Paddling was taking off. There was this guy who would paddle out and consistently get the set waves as on a SUP board you can get into a wave before anyone else can even stand up. My mind began dragging “me” around. I allowed my seeds of anger, frustration and jealousy to be watered by my own mind without even knowing it. It was like I was on auto pilot with no free will; a type of slave if you will. Why? Quite simply I was not paying attention to the seeds that I was watering in my consciousness‘.
In relation to the aforementioned paragraph, it is interesting to note that in Zen Buddhism, beings of Hell do not live somewhere on a different plane of the Universe. In fact in Zen, there are no Gods, nor heaven or hells that are elsewhere. “Demons and devils” live right here and we meet these hell beings or Hungry Ghosts (as the Zen Folk say) right here. There is no “other-where“. There is only now and this place. By not controlling the seeds I was watering in my mind ; I HAD JUST BECOME A TYPE OF DEMON FROM A ZEN BUDDHIST PERSPECTIVE. READ ON!
I became a little devil. I hated this guy with a passion. I remember my mind becoming agitated as this man slid into every wave. I became extremely jealous as he seemed to be having the time of his life. He was not a very skilled surfer and I believed that I had more rights than him. I remember having the arrogant thought that as the reigning US Long board Champion that he should be giving waves to me. I was allowing all the destructive seeds of my consciousness to be watered.
Then it all came to a head.
The SUP guy came speeding down on a set wave (in fact a 12 foot face!). He lost control and ran me over at a terrific velocity. All I remember was a loud bang. Then we both cart wheeled underwater often colliding with each other as the bomb wave dragged us underwater.
I came up out of the water wanting to literally kill the guy. He popped up out of the water gasping for air for I believe that he had never gotten drilled that hard in his life, not to mention doing this in tandem with running someone over in such a terrible manner. He was coughing up water and terrified. I was angry and getting drilled by a six foot Hawaiian Size wave was normal for me thus I was not out of breath . In my fury and ready physical condition I was about to launch into a verbal barrage at him or worse.
But I had a flash of insight. For some strange reason the Zen philosophy of the Abidharma floated into my head. I began to concentrate and pay attention to the seeds that I was watering and simply DECIDED TO WATER DIFFERENT, MORE POSITIVE SEEDS. IT WAS THAT SIMPLE. [I JUST CHANGED MY MIND]….. BY WATERING DIFFERENT SEEDS IN MY CONCIOUSNESS THROUGH THE USE OF FOCUSSED ATTENTIONED ATTAINED IN MEDITATION. As I saw terror in the mans face I watered the seeds of compassion in my mind. I automatically put on a little smile and asked if he was Ok. He said he was not. I suddenly felt impatient (as I wanted to get back to the business of surfing good waves) yet I focused my attention on the seed of patience that we all have in our consciousnesses and I offered to help him paddle in. He was understandably perplexed at my attitude but he held on to my nose as I paddled him towards the channel and to then beach.
The day became magical after that. It was as if the weight of the world was off my shoulders. I did not have the seeds of hatred, arrogance, and jealously being watered in my head anymore. Because of this I was able to pay attention to the seeds of happiness contentedness, cheerfulness and especially mindfulness. The turquoise blue waters of the shoreline became extremely impressive. I noticed a bird calmly riding the updraft of a wave. Even the seaweed was an emerald green and amazing. It was as if I was hallucinating but in a good way. I appreciated everything so much more. I came home in a wonderful mood and was just buzzing over life.
The above may sound like tree hugging hippie talk as well as overt pacifism. But before you write the philosophy of Zen and the Abidharma off:
I DARE YOU TO ASK YOUR SELF IF YOU ARE REALLY IN CONTROL OF YOURSELF?
MORE IMPORTANTLY, I DARE YOU TO HAVE THE ABILITY TO CHANGE YOUR MIND. YOU WERE BORN WITH TOOLS TO MAKE EVERY SURF SESSION AND LIFE MAGICAL. [Link]

Zen Waterman » A Totally True Story From the Surfing Shores Of Hawaii by Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago

It was a typical sunny morning at Daimond Head. I pulled up into the parking lot of the surf break named Lighthouse. The waves were good; a glassy head-high swell with a mixture of east and southwest swell pushing together to make perfect small A-Frame peaks. As I focused my eyesight on the break which is about 200 yards below the parking lot I noticed that it was unusually crowded and my initial optimism was dulled like a kid who goes to the toy-store but can’t find his “perfect” toy.

My thoughts shifted to the characters that inhabited the break (or shall we say Zoo) like territorial chimpanzees who were all hyped on being the Alpha Ape of Lighthouse. I knew the characters all to well. There was the “tapped “ dude with barbed wire tattoos on his neck and who’s body was cut like Bruce Lee. He had this truly frightening glare which he used to effectively intimidate those he perceived to be weak and feeble. Mr “Tapped” had the bizarre habit of taking off and going left strait into the rocks and he seemed to enjoy it. There was the “Bully”. He was large and muscular but could not surf. He caught many waves as no one complained about his greed due to his muscularity and his ability to induce fear in others. Once someone quietly grumbled and the Bully chased him around on his surfboard in almost perfect circles while simultaneously screaming at him. It was both hilarious and grim to watch.

My favorite guy to check out was a person who I called “Troubles” . Troubles was almost universally hated by everyone as he was intensely aggressive and greedy. He dropped in on all and seemed to regard myself as the lowest link in the feeding chain as he loved to drop in on me as I never retaliated. His behavior got him into numerous fist fights which remarkably took place barefoot on the reef while standing in two feet of water. They were amazing affairs as they lasted some minutes and invariably ended up in bloody faces and especially bloody feet. It made MMA cage fighting look like child’s-play. Troubles adapted to the situation of getting punched out too many times by learning Kung Fu. This hardly helped as the fights were just elongated and more violent not to mention most spectacular.

Everyone was out to greedily get as many waves as possible (myself included) in the “Free Market” of surfing. The general attitude was if you could not take the heat of lighthouse then you were a kook and should not be “out here“. Survival of the fittest seemed to be every-ones mantra.

Despite the characters aforementioned , lighthouse has a few wonderful people who make order of the whole mess not by being the oppressive violent alpha males but through the use of a more fraternal, caring attitude. “Mr K” can be counted as one of these people. This man was an excellent surfer. In our sport, surfers who become exceptionally good sometimes become very arrogant. Surprisingly, Mr “K” was the most humble guy you could meet. His explosive surfing was fascinating to me given his mellow personality. He was also a native Hawaiian from the East side of Oahu raised in the ways of old Polynesians. I knew this as his family name was an old Big Island name and he reminded me of the Kupuna or old Hawaiian aunties and uncles that I grew up with in Hawaii who were invariably filled with wisdom.

Mr K had an amazing ability at the surf break of Lighthouse. Before he paddled out Mr. Tapped, Troubles, the Bully and a host of others would be engaged in the most socially dysfunctional cultural vacuum of bad vibes, yelling and hatred. It seemed like the war in Afganistan had relocated to the waters of Hawaii.

In to this boiling cauldron, Mr K would paddle out, all five foot six inches of him. He would start off surfing the inside, doing strait ups, airs and smooth cutbacks. The “lower ranked’ people were assigned a position on the inside where they got the left over junk waves that the “high ranked “ people did not want. Interestingly Mr K would stay among this group and show Aloha to them.

In regards to Mr K, it is important to ask the question, what is Aloha?

Aloha is unmitigated love or compassion for anyone, despite their race, social rank, your relationship with them or your position in life. It is like pure compassion. When you show Aloha , you invite anyone into your “house” (whatever that may be, surf break, social space, etc) and treat them as if they were your brother or a long lost friend. Then you SHARE what you have. You do not just reserve love and sharing for your immediate family and closest friends. It goes to everyone. Aloha was what Mr K. did and was.

Mr K would often introduce himself to the “lower ranked people” and got their names. He always did this with a big genuine smile. What he then did was most unusual given our present culture model of free for all competition, instant gratification and bizarre video games . He would go to the outside of the break and greet the Bully, Troubles, and Tapped and a host of other alpha males. They all intensely respected Mr. K as he surfed ten times better than all of them and in addition to being very Hawaiian (no one could tell him “I was here first” as his Family had been here for 800 or more years) he had an amazing social ability with people based on his Aloha. He would paddle for waves then let the wave go so the lower ranked individuals could get waves. Mr K would then introduce the Lower ranked folk to the higher ranked folk as his personal friends!

As I work as a professional Anthropologist this social phenomena and its consequences were amazing to watch. After Mr. K did his thing the break would invariably become more calm. The vibe would turn peaceful and people began sharing waves. No one would yell or intimidate others as I truly think that they were afraid and embarrassed of being a jerk in front of Mr K. The surf break actually transformed from a dysfunctional oppressive social space to a functional setting based on one mans Aloha. Mr K became the Alpha Male via compassion and social consideration, not violence and intimidation.

I think he knew what he was doing. In Hawaiian culture, the natural outcome of Aloha is a state of Lokahi and this results in things being Pono. Lokahi is a type of balance of all things. When things become disordered and unjust in the Hawaiian worldview of old, the act of Aloha is one way to reset things into natures equilibrium. This results in relationships that are in their best position for all concerned hence they are Pono , or honorable and fair. It is a socially ingenious Polynesian system honed by hundreds of years of existing in a harsh island environment where there was no other alternative but to get along or perish.

I think this could be a lesson for all of us. Every time I see Mr K doing his thing, I am almost forced to reflect on my own behavior as I am often greedy in the waves and much to aggressive and selfish in life. As predicted in the Hawaiian model of thinking or philosophy this causes social problems for myself and sometimes constructs distorted relationships in my world; not to mention other peoples worlds that I disrupt.

If there is anytime for reflection it would be now, given how short life is and considering the worlds generally poor social and environmental condition; in other words, a world that is out of balance or out of Lokahi and hence not Pono (the most beneficial order to all).

The following are not abstract or lofty questions. The world is in front of us and this century is arguably the make or break century for the human species and its survival. If this is not an important reason to rethink our relationship to others and the environment I don’t know what is.

Do I reserve kindness and Aloha for just for my immediate family and friends as is typically the case in our society? Is this a truly healthy thing to do in the long run (for it is easier)? Shall we shelter ourselves in our own “personal gated community” mentally cutting out the world or should we engage the world in different more socially and environmentally realistic terms? May we consider the well being of others that seemingly have no relationship to us or those who are of a different ethnicity and class even though it does not benefit us directly? Could we think and act on the health of the social and physical environment?

Maybe the real question is should we have Aloha?

Thanks Mr K………..

written by Len Barrow [Link]

Zen Waterman » Coast Guard Race Recap by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

The Fallen Guardian Memorial race was held on Sunday Nov. 1st 2009.
The race was open to all kinds of watercraft, check out the traffic jam at the finish.
It was all for a good cause with entry fees going to the Fallen Guardian Scholarship Fund. The shuttle bus was a great idea, as we were able to leave our cars at Magic Island (and my camera, too).

There was some confusion at the start as they started everyone at the Canoe Hale in Hawaii Kai. They said everyone had to paddle upwind to the inside boat channel marker then out to the blinker buoy, except paddleboards, we would not have to go around the blinker buoy after rounding the inside channel marker.
I was using a Dennis Pang 17'6 unlimited SUP with rudder that Dennis was kind enough to let me use for the race. This board has great history as Guy Pere won the Duke's Race on it in 2008 and Aaron Nopoleon won the 4th of July 2009 Hui race on it. My goal and mission, of course, was to win this race and continue the board's winning streak. So, I took off fast into the light trade wind that felt pretty strong coming head on. Doug Lock and Jeff Chang were on my tail and I opted to head out in the channel around the break as I wanted to reach the bumps sooner. Jeff and most of the rest of the pack headed downwind inside and cut through the breaks in a more direct line to Black Point. Once I got to out the bumps, the board was working well and I was going at a good rate, catching as many bumps as I could and resting while cruising in the troughs and making little adjustments with the rudder to follow the bumps. The board is fairly narrow at 27" (I think) and a little tippy for me at 6'2 and 190 lbs but it worked great for the moderate conditions and I was able to stay on the board and connect many rides all the way to Waikiki. I reached Black Point in 55 minutes, not as fast as I have done it on a windy day but the lifeguard on a jet ski told me I had doubled my lead to 100 yards or so to the next paddlers, which were Doug Lock and Jeff Chang. As they started us before the canoes and surf ski's, no one was in front of me for the first hour or so. Two OC6 teams passed me past Diamond Head and the second team almost flipped over and got spun almost 180 degrees by a breaker outside the lighthouse just after they passed me. After Kaimana I headed toward the beach to avoid the offshore trades, catching waves and dodging the reefs that were exposed with a fairly low tide. Once I got outside Queens, the water was calm and the wind was pretty much blocked by the Waikiki high rises. It got hot and sweaty and now lots of canoes and kayaks were passing on the outside. I went inside threes and caught a couple waves and fell in twice. I would have probably been faster going around the breaks but I finally made to Ala Moana and finished first in 1:48 ahead of my friend and training partner Jeff Chang who was on a Bark unlimited board. I was stoked with the first place finish and another win for Dennis Pang's racing machine.

Herbie Titcomb sitting on his 14' Naish board
My wife, Sharon Stehlik only started paddling this year. She did the race on a 12' C4 Holoholo and finished in third place in the Women's SUP, good job sweetie!

For here for overall SUP race results
more pics:
First place women's SUP Nicole Madosik also did the Molokai race this year

Second place women's Barbara Bumatay came in 3 minutes later


Here is a google earth map of the race course, the path I tracked came to 11.99 miles. You can click on the map for a larger image.
[Link]

Zen Waterman » An Occasional letter from a Surfer on Philosophy- by Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago


An Occasional letter from a Surfer on Philosophy
By Len Barrow
Surfing has been a gift to me. Since I was a child I have been engaged in one type of ocean activity or another and I could not possibly conceive of a life away from the ocean. I sometimes ask myself why I am so enthralled by the ocean. The answer came to me quite suddenly one day. I found that I loved the Ocean and its surf because it has been my teacher since a very young age.

The ocean will sometimes give the surfer a sudden lesson. Sometimes you get cocky in the surf (and in life) and the Ocean laughs at you and destroys your ego with a fifteen foot wave. Sometimes the Ocean gives you a lesson in more subtle ways.

This little story is an incident of the “subtle” variety. This happened a number of years back, and has since had a huge impact on my world view. The lesson is as follows.

I was sitting and watching the waves at Daimond Head and was thinking about where the waves had been “born.” These waves had their birth thousands of miles away in the Tasman sea, west of New Zealand. As the wave came across the ocean and grew, it linked up with other waves in what Oceanographers call wave chains. As the wave approached the shallow shores of Hawaii, it reached the peak of its life. I watched as this wave A-framed and peeled off in both directions. The wave then moved on in its life to white water and then disappeared as in death or had it?

Where did the wave “die” and go “to” I thought to myself. I was struck by the obvious conclusion that the wave that seemed like such a distinctive form, seemingly on its own power, did not actually disappear. What then did it become I asked myself? The answer came to me in a flash as in a little Zen Satori (moment of understanding) of sorts. The wave became the ocean, as it always was, waiting to be reformed into another “form” or wave when causes and conditions were just right; a literal and logical form of reincarnation .

A thought rushed into my mind. Was “I “ in any way like this? When did “I “ begin and for that matter when do I end? Maybe I am like the wave and the universe is like the ocean. Like the wave, do I have an inception when the causes and conditions are right and the egg and sperm meet? Maybe we could even go further back than this. Do I begin at the point my mother or father eat (maybe cow meat) to form the proteins that form the egg and sperm? Or do we go back to the suns energy that allowed the grass to grow to feed the cow? This is not strange reasoning. The aforementioned are all literal causes and conditions that are needed for me to be here. Actually, we can go on in this manner infinitely. It is like the question, where does a whirlpool begin (or end); one cannot tell.

In continuing this argument, as a baby I grow to being a boy , to a teenager then to a strapping young man peaking just as the A frame wave that I discussed before at Daimond Head. I will invariably grow old just as a wave crumbles into white water and “die.”

Or do I……Is this really the logical case?

Let us shift our thinking a bit and look at an equation that Einstein created that relates to our discussion. The equation is his famous E=MC². In laymen terms this equation simply informs us that matter is neither created nor destroyed. As waves go through a wonderful play of life and death they constantly take knew forms. The wave cannot become nothing at its “death” because the wave is simultaneously the ocean. A human is logically of the same situation. It is impossible for you to become nothing (at death) because you have been and will be nature as the wave is, has been and will be the ocean. You are simultaneously “You” and “Nature” at the same time. As the ocean inevitably will bring back the wave, you inevitably will reform in one way or another in nature. It is a logically inescapable conclusion. “You” (or whatever we are) will keep reforming in the same way as the wave, as the wave will be brought forth by the ocean repeatedly you will be brought forward by nature repeatedly.

We are necessarily infinite beings with the qualities of our mother; mother nature. We are all of this noble nature.

Let us leave this article with a Zen Koan (riddle). Please contemplate this.

WHAT WAS YOUR ORIGINAL FACE BEFORE YOU WERE BORN?

Good luck. This is a real mind bender, but keep working on it, especially when you are surfing.

Aloha,

Len Barrow – Hawaii, September 18, 2009. [Link]

Zen Waterman » Case of the Missing Self – by Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago


Case of the Missing Self – Part One By Len Barrow Surfers and watermen routinely go through unusual experiences that they cannot describe to non surfers. They say “only a surfer knows the feeling” is a description of this phenomena. We literally cannot describe the wonderful experience to non-surfers.Despite this let me try to describe the experience and the outcome as it is both exciting and it relates to our study of Zen and the waterman experience.Sometimes when I surf everything comes together perfectly. You time the take off just right, launch into the lip effortlessly, do a floater in the sweet spot, or position yourself for a tube ride. In this moment you are at a high state of attention, a bit fearful, and the serotonin and adrenalin is rushing through your body.I had a most unusual experience once at Mokuleia on the North West shore of Oahu. The day was semi large and the waves were hollow yet make-able. I took off on a set and heard my friends hoot. My next memory was kicking out 70 yards in at the end of the wave with a feeling of intense exhilaration. I did not know were I went nor what I did yet I felt content strangely intimate with nature. It was like a birthing experience. YET I COULD NOT REMEMBER ANYTHING ABOUT THE WAVE: IN EFFECT I DISSAPEARD YET WAS THERE AT THE SAME TIME.I paddled out to where my friends were sitting to find that I had gotten a perfect stand up barrel. How could I have missed this experience? Also, how could I miss something like this and feel so good about it? I thought about it and came up with this answer. In surfing, whenever you think about something while you are on the wave, you screw up you maneuver or barrel or what have you. In a way your mind and self has to be completely emptied out. When your mind is scrambled it is hard to enjoy the surfing experience. Perfect surfing comes when you are in tune with the wave , its timing and its sections that you forget the chatter in your head, you forget your ego and you literally blend in the wave and nature: something I would term as a type of background consciousness that we all have. For me, this “Falling away of the self” is one of the requirements of surfing in its top form.Interestingly, this is similar to Zen meditation and its goals. In Zen meditation one is taught to watch ones breathing. As a breath comes in it is counted. As a breath comes out it is counted. This process goes up to ten and you start over again. If a thought comes in to your mind you just let it go or don’t grasp to it and begin your counting at one again. The goal is to calm the mind and let the self fall away. You get to a point of the ego diminishing and the self meshing with the background of nature; a similar feeling that I get deep in the barrel!I find it wonderful to see that calm focused surfing is so similar to Zen meditation. I wish that the reader would try to apply the things I have discussed. Here is how to do it. Before paddling out don’t drink a tank of coffee. Have some water. Take your time waxing up and walk down to the break. Don’t be in a frenzied hurry. Begin focusing your mind on the conditions. What is the swell direction? Where are the channels? What is the tide and current doing? Then sit quietly on the beach. Keep your back strait and cross your legs while sitting down. You can do this without drawing too much attention to yourself. Here is where you count your breaths. Count the in breath as one and the out breath as two. Go up to ten. When a thought comes into your mind just recognize it and let it pass by as a cloud in the sky would pass a mountain (your mind being the still mountain , unmovable!) and start at one again. Don’t worry if you can barely get to three or four. It takes practice and you get better with time. Take this calm mind and paddle out into the water, this time counting your paddling strokes in the same manner. You can take two strokes of the left and right arms as “one” count and so forth. When you get out to the break, don’t focus on the crowd but focus on the conditions and where the bowl is. When your mind wanders refocus it on the conditions just as you would refocus your mind on your breath while meditating. This is very important. Refocus on the conditions (it never gets boring because the conditions are always changing) just as you would refocus your breath in meditation. Use the breath and refocusing on the conditions “as the hook of the mind“ This is actual Zen terminology.Then take this relaxed mind set to your wave and just flow with it. Have a go with this technique. It may do wonders for your surfing. If not, it will surely enhance your enjoyment of the surfing and waterman experience.Stay tuned for my next article: Case of the missing Self Two [Link]

Zen Waterman » Cali SUP trip part 2- Battle of the Paddle by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

Battle of the Paddle pictures courtesy of Doug Hopkins and Jeff Warner

Saturday, October 3rd 2009 was the big day that many of us had been training for- the second annual Rainbow Sandals Battle of the Paddle. Probably the biggest SUP event of the year with four races, a SUP expo and $25K in prize money. Sparky, the owner of Rainbow Sandals had a great vision and this second event was great. I did not make it to the first BOP and was excited to be in Dana Point for this event.
The first race in the morning was the age group race. This had to be the biggest field of SUP racers ever, with hundreds starting in each division from the beach in a staggered start. Mark Raaphorst had the fastest time and Zane Schweitzer came in first in the Stock division with a 5th place overall, beating a lot of guys on unlimited boards. My training partners Jeff Chang and Edmund Pestana got 1st in their divisions- good job guys!
Follow this link for complete race results. I did not enter in the age group race as I wanted to save my strength for the Elite race which started at 1:30 pm.
There was a big crowd of people on the beach and many companies had demo boards available to try. Check the video I shot of the race, pretty amazing to see that many people racing.

Battle of the Paddle 2009 age group race video from Zen Waterman on Vimeo.

The Elite Race
With a $25K purse and a spectator friendly format this invite only event has established itself as the most important SUP race of the year. I did not go to the first Battle of the Paddle last year and was not on the invitee list for the Elite race but I really wanted to be part of this ultimate SUP race. I e-mailed and called organizer Barrett several times with my race results and asked to be allowed to enter with no replies and was getting worried. I finally got a message a few days before the race that I could enter- sweet! Just being part of the event as one of the Elite racers made me feel pretty darn good. I printed out this map and spent some time studying it before the race but was still confused by it. The route turned out to be easy- just follow the other guys!
I was so pumped up and ready for the start. I had visualized and practiced the start many times and my heart would start racing just thinking about it. I really tried to stay cool and keep my heart rate down as we were standing close to each other on the beach, holding board and paddle, ready to charge into battle…
Doug Hopkins took this picture, I'm in the middle just about to get up. I got off the beach and on my board quickly and had no paddlers next to me in my peripheral vision for the first few strokes. Then I saw Aaron Napoleon leading the charge and a bunch of guys appeared all around me- the pace was frantic. The waves were fairly small and gentle but during the Elite race there were some pretty good size sets coming through which made the race super exciting. After passing the outside buoy, the course was M shaped with the third buoy marking a 180 degree turn inside the surf break. With many racers on each wave approaching this turn, the announcer was having a field day with collisions, pileups and just general mayhem at "the hammer". I kept hearing – "Oooh, they're having another yard sale and the bone yard!"
The Elite women division was launched a few minutes behind the men. Candice Appleby on the left getting ready to launch.

After completing the first round, we landed on the beach, had to run through the "chicane" with the crowd cheering us through the 75 foot beach run and launched back into the surf. Jeff Warner was my board handler and had the 12'6 Everpaddle board I was using ready on the other end. The low tide made the launch tricky as my fin touched bottom quite often. Next time I'll bring a fin that's not as deep.
Jeff in the Legends "sweeper" uniform did a great job handling my board and keeping me going.

Everything went fairly well and I went into the third round close to the lead pack probably in 15th place or so. I kept thinking I should have trained harder as the level and speed of the paddlers around me was fast and furious. I usually try to be relaxed and focused while I race but that went out the window, I was going all out and relied on my instincts to get me through the race. As we came down the outside stretch in the third round, Ekolu called out one of the day's biggest sets approaching. I turned the buoy just in time to catch the first set wave from all the way outside and started riding it towards "the hammer". Other racers took off on the wave and we were angling towards the inside buoy. I somehow angled too much and as the wave jacked up and broke, I was not able to straighten out in time to control the board and got flipped off. Without a leash, the board took out the rider next to me as well and got washed inside with the whitewater. I started swimming in with my paddle, hoping to body surf the next wave to get to my board. The next wave came full of racers hollering at me to watch out as I actually considered body surfing between the out-of-control boards and wide eyed racers but opted to put safety first and dove under the wave. By the time I reached my board, more than 10 racers had passed me and I could not make up the lost time. I finished in 24 th place and in one piece, the battle was over.

It was the most exciting SUP race I have ever been in and I have compared it to riding bumper cars, gladiators, ice hockey, windsurfing slalom racing, and demolition derby. The format and close interaction with the crowd on the beach made for a highly charged event. Respect to the impressive top two finishers Jamie Mitchell and Slater Trout and congratualtions to all finishers. Thank you Sparky for the vision and Rainbow Sandals for putting together an amazing race.

Evan Leong of standuppaddlesurf.net took this picture of Hawaii racers Kainoa Beaupre, Edmund Pestana, Zane Schwietzer and Robert Stehlik after the distance race on the day after the Elite Race.

Below is a youtube video that captures the excitement of the race well but takes a while to download.
[Link]

Zen Waterman » California SUP trip- Hennessey's and Tahoe races posted by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago


The crew from Hawaii before the start of the Hennesey's race that would take us around Alcatraz Island (L to R): Kevin Seid, Carlos Gillis, Robert Stehlik, Kainoa Beaupre, Morgan Hoesterey, Nikki Gregg, Honora Kalama and Eloku Kalama

Travel Report: 10 day Stand Up Paddle racing trip trough California. Sept. 25th to Oct.5th, 2009:
It started when my friend Kainoa Beaupre told me about the trip he was planning with Ekolu Kalama to participate in three SUP races and asked me if I wanted to come along. Of course I wanted to go, I was not sure if I could pull it off but everything came together. Here is the story.

Hennessey’s International Paddleboard Race 2009
I arrived in San Francisco on a red-eye flight from Honolulu early Friday morning before the race, took the BART subway and walked from the station to Fisherman's Wharf. I got to the beach and ran into my friend, Jeff Warner from Legends Surf in Carlsbad. We decided to rent bikes and head to the Golden Gate bridge.

When we got to the bridge it was covered by fog and overrun by tourists so we headed back to have lunch.
This is Jeff heading back to Fisherman's Wharf.
Kevin Seid from Everpaddle arrived in the afternoon with three brand new 12'6" Stock race boards that we were excited to try out before the race. We did some sprints in the bay and tried to pick the fastest boards for the next morning. All three boards were fast and it was almost impossible to tell which one was fastest.


Kevin, Jeff and myself with the pier and Alcatraz in the background. I loved the jailhouse themed race jerseys.
To my surprise, there were plenty of swimmers in the bay, training without wetsuits. The water was cold, especially compared to Hawaii, but it was not a cold as I expected.

After a night in a crowded hotel room shared with my friends from Hawaii, we made it to the beach. I was worried my friend Robby Ellingson from Boardworks would not make it to the start on time, he was bringing a C4 XPR race paddle for me to use. He spent most of the night driving up from Encinitas and just slept a few hours in his van, but he showed up bright an early.
Robby and Carlos unloading the van. So, I had a paddle but Kevin had the boards and he was not answering his cell- was he still sleeping? He showed up last minute with the race boards and we were all set for the start.
The sunrise was awesome and we lucked out with nice weather. The ground felt freezing cold but as soon as we started paddling I warmed up. Since we were all paddling, I have no pictures of the race, sorry. The Unlimited race started first, with a nine mile course around Alcatraz and Angel island. I was in the 12'6" stock division with a 6 mile course that took us towards the Golden Gate bridge, then back to Fisherman's Wharf then out to Alcatraz, around the island and back to the finish. I was under the impression, like most people seem to be, that the waters around Alcatraz are treacherous with ripping currents and patrolled by great white sharks, making an escape from the old prison next to impossible. To my surprise, it turned out to be a pleasant, scenic paddle (or would have been if I was not battling for position with some of the fastest SUP racers in the world). This is probably one of the most scenic urban settings to have a paddle race.

The stock race:
I got a decent start and soon found myself drafting behind TJ Saeman with Shakira Westdorp and Brandi Baksic following close behind. We were following TJ like ducks in a row. I tried to pass TJ a couple of times but he would pick up the pace and I could not pass him so I kept falling back into the drafting position. This was the first time I drafted in a race and I was surprised by how much much less energy it took to draft than to cut through the chop. I think the water coming back together behind the leading board creates a small bump that you can actually ride, also the water gets smoothed out and pulled forward by the lead board. This drafting effect seems to be even more pronounced in the third or fourth position. The tricky part is to maintain a close distance to the board in front of you without bumping into the tail and without going off course. I focused on the tail in front of me and usually switched my paddle one or two strokes after the lead paddler. I had to constantly adjust the power of my stokes to maintain the right speed. I would estimate that I used 15 to 20% less energy when drafting on the stock board, which is significant. On longer unlimited boards with their smooth water entry, drafting is probably less effective.
Coming around Alcatraz, a ferry boat bringing tourists to the prison was churning up water, which was tricky to navigate, around the next corner, TJ was cutting it super close to the rocks; his fin hit a rock and he fell forward off his board. I took the lead for a little while but TJ got up quickly, caught up and passed me again. In the final approach we all put in a last ditch effort to pass each other and Brandi pulled ahead on her thick Brian Syzmanski/ Starboards prototype, those boards seemed to work great for the conditions. I ended up behind TJ and Brandi but my 8th place overall finish time was enough for a 3rd place in my division, so I was stoked. Hennessey's put together an awesome luncheon party at a fancy restaurant overlooking the race course.
Big smile, this is the first time I ever won money in a race, so I was excited. Next to me are first and second overall finishers- Byron Kurt and EJ Johnson- those guys are fast and proved it again at the distance race at the Battle of the Paddle the next weekend- good job, guys!

The top three SUP Unlimited 40+: Thomas M. Shohinien, Thomas Gallagher, and Chuck Patterson- these guys were PUMPED UP.
The top three SUP unlimited under 39: Jared Vargas, Ekolu Kalama, and Dolan Eversole. Next to them is Mr. Hennessy himself in the white jacket- thank you sir, for the great contest, parties and price money!
I did not get a good shot of the other top finishers, sorry. Congratulations to all racers.
complete Hennessey's race results

When the luncheon was over, it was time to pack up the gear and head to Lake Tahoe, the site of the next race on the itinerary. Kevin Seid and I drove his rental van to South Lake Tahoe and checked into a cheap motel. Jeff and Robby ended up staying in San Francisco and left at 3:30 am to drive to Lake Tahoe to meet us at the start. The rest of the crew from Hawaii decided not to do the Tahoe race although they ended up going to Reno to gamble and met us at the finish in North Lake Tahoe.
We got up just in time to get to the start and I was scrambling to get some food in my stomach before the race. I did not take my camera with me during the race so I have no photos from the Tahoe race at all, bummer. If anyone has pictures, please e-mail them to me so I can post them.

2nd Annual Tahoe Fall Classic Paddleboard & SUP Race

I took this picture of the start from the Tahoe Paddle and Oar website where you can also find the complete race results.
The start was at Camp Richardson, the air was clear and you could see the other end of the lake where the finish was at King's Beach. The air, ground and water felt freezing cold but it was a beautiful day but once again I warmed up as soon as we started paddling. There was no wind and the water surface was completely smooth and glassy with only a few boat wakes disturbing the glassy water. I was concerned about the altitude and SUP'ing on fresh water for the first time, but neither turned out to be much of a problem. The race started fast with the lead pack breaking away quickly and keeping a fast pace. I meant to draft behind my buddy Robby Ellingson on his unlimited board but after a few strokes his tail started spinning out. He stopped paddling and as his board slipped into a turn said "I don't have a fin!". He forgot to tighten the fin plate screw, so he had to turn around to put in a new fin. Despite getting a 15 minute late start he still passed most of the field and finished in the top 10. I could not catch up with the fastest guys on unlimited boards but found a fast local paddler on an unlimited board (the guy in the black shirt in the middle of the picture above, I forgot his name but he has a construction company in Tahoe). I was able to draft him on my 12'6 Everpaddle stock board for about an hour and a half without a break. I had a water backpack lying on the board at my feet and wanted a drink badly but did not want to stop and loose the good draft, so I had to wait for him to take a break. He finally did and I had just enough time to put the Da Kine waterbag on my back and keep going. The drafting was working great and I was hoping I could draft across the whole lake for the 22 miles. Unfortunately that strategy did not work out but the drafting made it easier, for sure. The water in the middle of the lake was beautiful with the sunlight making cool patterns in the deep clear water. I focused on my breathing and synchronized it with my strokes, exhaling with each pull. My mind went completely blank a few times in a trance-like meditative state. I drafted behind Lance Erickson from Dana Point for a while and had a good chat with him until he got tired and needed a break about three hours into the race. The finish looked pretty close by then and I thought I could finish it in another 30 minutes or so and started paddling all out. There were some boat wakes going in the right direction and I tried to time my strokes to use all the push I could get from the tiny bumps. Even though the finish looked deceptively close, I still had quite a ways to go. I finished the race in under 4 hours and was stoked- first place in the stock division! I did not fall in the whole race and finally took a cooling dip at King's Beach after finishing. We got to meet some of the friendly locals at the finish, and Kainoa and the gang from Hawaii stopped by too, on their way to Reno. We were served a nice lunch and had an outdoors awards party before catching a ride back to the south end of the lake.
My request for Tahoe pictures was answered:
Jeff Warner sent this shot of the awards luncheon at King's Beach: Dan Gravere, Robby Elingson, Robert Stehlik, Jeff Warner and Kevin Seid.
Kevin Seid sent me this one he took right before the start, check out the clear water and beautiful scenery. The Tahoe Fall Classic was a great, memorable day.

After getting back to South Lake Tahoe, we went to a Thai restaurant and ate lots of good food before heading back to San Francisco. The next morning I headed back towards Encinitas with Robby. We had to pick up some C4 Waterman demo boards he left at the Log Shop in Pacifica, they had a big party (and surf contest, I think mostly as an excuse to get a permit) at Ocean Beach the night before. The Log Shop is one of the coolest surf shops I have seen with indoor skate park and graffiti walls in the huge space they occupied. Check out their my space page for skate videos.

I was wishing my shop in Hawaii (Blue Planet Surf Shop) was that big.

We drove most of the day to pick up Robby's computer shaped blank at Segway Composites. He designed a 12'6" race board on his computer and wanted to use it in the Battle of the Paddle six days later. The owner, Ken spent several hours educating us about surfboard construction, very interesting.
We ended up driving to Robby's hometown, Mt. Baldy, the closest ski area to L.A., where his dad owns the Mt. Baldy lodge. He was celebrating his birthday when we arrived and we had a few beers and shot some pool in the bar.

The next morning we got up early and drove to the top of the ski area to do some altitude training, we went running at 8000 feet and I quickly ran short of breath following Robby up a steep climb. This time I definitely noticed the thinner air. We were hoping to boost our red blood cells for the Battle of the Paddle. Later that day we dropped the computer shaped blank at Casey McCrystals shop in Huntington beach and watched him finish shape the board.

Casey shaped, glassed and finished in only 3 days for Robby to use it at the Battle of the Paddle.

On Wednesday I met up with Jeff at Cardiff for a morning SUP surfing session in decent waves. We were catching the waves to the right of the main break. There was an outside peak that would back off and if you could connect, jack up again for a fast inside closeout section. I tried the new 9'6 C4 SubVector model for the first time and was impressed by how stable yet manouverable it was.
We then went by Donald Takayama's shop in Carlbad to drop off a paddle Jeff had borrowed. Donald was in the middle of a business meeting with his Japanese partners pouring over spreadsheets, so I just expected a quick handshake. To my surprise, Donald excused himself from the meeting (he was probably bored by it anyways) and took about half an hour of his time to show us around his shop and talk story about his design ideas for Stand Up Paddling boards and Hawaii. I was amazed by the stoke, energy and enthusiasm he had after so many years in the industry. He still has plenty Aloha, too.
Inside Donald's shaping room with a wooden blank.

Afterwards we went to Jeff's comfortable store in Carlsbad, Legends Surf where I hung out in the recliner for a couple of hours.
Jeff in his super cool hangout shop- Legends in Carlsbad, where he also runs Warner designs on his computer in the back behind the big fish tank.

On Wednesday I visited the Altered electric skateboards warehouse in Lake Forest. I distribute their boards in Hawaii through Bionic Wheels.
I checked out their latest (still secret) prototypes, went for some test runs and talked business for a while. I checked into my hotel in Dana Point and went for a paddle at Doheney state park that evening.

On Thursday, I met Zane Schweizer, a 16 yr old from Maui who was staying at the same hotel. Zane's grandfather, Hoyle Schweitzer, invented Windsurfing. When I started windsurfing, all the gear had to be "licensed by Hoyle Schweitzer" as he held the patent. We did some training runs to get ready for the big race, practicing the transition from running on the beach to launching into the water and back out. In the evening we went to a talk by Jamie Mitchell, the 8 times Molokai race champion (prone paddling) at the Cardiff Patagonia store.

Jamie Michell's Molokai training program:
Here is what I learned about his training regimen: Jamie, his coach Mick and his Aussie mates prep for the Molokai race with three paddle training days a week, with one long run on the weekend and two shorter ones during the week. They work themselves up to doing more than the race's 32 miles on the weekend run and more than half the distance during the weekday runs for a total of more than twice the Molokai milage per week. In addition Jamie swims several times a week- over 3 miles each time and does some strength training and running as well (he did not even mention surfing, SUP or tow in surfing). In addition he talked about the importance of nutrition, recovery (rest, sleep, taking days off) and having a training group that pushes each other. There you have it- now you know why he is so fast.
When Jeff Warner asked him if he plans to Stand Up Paddle race competitively he said that if they held the Molokai race on two weekends with prone and SUP held on separate weekends, (which is a possibility in the near future) he would do both but for now he will stick with prone paddling. Jamie said he entered the BOP race "for laughs". For those that don't know, he won the Elite race against most of the fastest SUP racers in the world two days later, for more on that see the next blog entry.

On Friday I walked down to the beach to find a buzz of activity and a big group of my friends from Hawaii. I talked story for a while and helped some of my friends set up their tents for the Battle of the Paddle SUP Expo, had dinner with Doug Hopkins and his friend from North Sports whose Aquaglide boards I also distribute in Hawaii and then went to bed early.
The Battle of the Paddle SUP Expo. For more on the BOP, check the next blog entry.
Check out my interview with Kevin Seid at the Battle of the Paddle Surf Expo below

Kevin Seid, Battle of the Paddle interview from Zen Waterman on Vimeo.

[Link]

Zen Waterman » 2009 Molokai Channel Crossing – Mental notes- by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

My wife asked me after the Molokai race: "What were you thinking about for those six hours?" My reply: "I was trying not to think about anything."
'nuff said…

I had several more people ask me what was going through my head during the Molokai crossing, so while it is still fresh in my mind, I will write down some thoughts on the mental aspect of the crossing. So, if the short answer above is not enough for you, read on.

Focus:
One of the most important aspects in Stand Up Paddling is maintaining balance. To achieve peak performance it is critical to stay focused. Keeping my focus sharp for the 6+ hours it took to complete the 32 mile race was a big challenge for me. Focus is important in every sport. In surfing for example you need to be fully focused when you are catching and riding the wave but when you are paddling back out or waiting for the next set you can let the mind wander, daydream, talk story or whatever without major consequence as long as you can turn off the chatter and fully focus when you swing the board around to catch the next wave. When you are racing on a SUP you need to stay focused the whole time, which is easier said than done.

Training:
When my mind starts to wander I slow down, miss bumps and/or loose my balance and fall in. One of my goals in training was to work on keeping focused and balanced. Doing long distance paddle sessions for five or more hours prepared me for the race endurance wise but was also important to train the mind to stay focused for a long time.

Music:
Many paddlers use waterproof MP3 players to allow them to relax. I have tried this and found that it makes the session more fun and does help me relax. I decided not to take music with me for these reasons:
1) It's more equipment to deal with- I like to keep things as simple as possible.
2) I found that it can be distracting- for example: songs can trigger memories, the earphones get loose or start to be irritating, I'm in the mood for different music, batteries go dead, etc.
3) It's a crutch- I find that although it helps, I don't need music to relax and focus.

I know that it works for others. Jamie Mitchell, 8 times Molokai champion cruises to his itunes and it obviously works for him- so don't take my word for it, try what works for yourself.

Relaxed Focus:
This was my mantra that I kept repeating to myself during the race. I tried to keep my mind clear and when I noticed I was losing my focus or having distracting thoughts, I would repeat this in my head along with some other words I would repeat to myself.

Relax Plenty
It was the first time I did the Molokai crossing and I was not sure exactly what to expect. I started out at a steady pace that I knew I could keep up for the whole race. I kept thinking about something Aaron Napoleon said about going downwind and catching bumps. He said something like- I see some guys paddling so hard non stop, when I ride bumps I relax plenty.
I have a lot of respect for Aaron, he is one of the fastest guys in the water, low key and a super tough waterman. So I have this recording of Aaron in his pidgin saying: I relax plenty and kept playing it to myself.
There were lots of bumps to ride and the easterly winds made for good bump riding. I kept taking a few hard strokes and then relaxing, getting long gliding rides and making good time. I felt strong and relaxed and I actually thought I should push harder or I would not feel totally exhausted by the finish line.

Glide:
I did not repeat this word to myself but it was my goal- to glide, so I'm putting it in here.
I think this is the key to doing well in the Molokai race. If you counted all the strokes each paddler took, I'm sure that the winner, Ekolu Kalama, crossed the channel with less strokes than any other paddler by gliding more and paddling less.

The last 5 miles:
Todd Bradley told me- The race does not really start until the last 5 miles. Although I had trained for the tough finish and paddled around Portlock Point many times, I did not really understand what he meant until I had to do it myself. The water got choppy, there was a current and it became more and more difficult to catch bumps. Dave Parmenter described it as going through quicksand which is exactly what it felt like to me.


Distractions:
I did not see any other solo paddlers (we had white shirts) for the whole race until right before Portlock point, when Jenny Kalmbach from the Big Island caught up to me. She was paddling strong and I was running out of steam. I lost my relaxed focus and just tried hard to keep up with her pace. My forearm muscles felt tight and started cramping. Negative thoughts started filling my head. I fell in and as I got back up on the board my abdominal muscles cramped up, something that has never happened to me before. I hit myself in the stomach to loosen up the cramp, then tried to stretch. I finally loosened up and kept going. I knew I could not keep paddling at Jenny's pace but I also knew that once I got close to China Walls I would be able to catch some waves and stay close to shore, I had practiced this many times, so I just had to get there. I tried to relax and just focus on catching bumps. The waves were disorganized and choppy but there were still some bumps to catch and by focusing on using every little push, I was able to make steady progress while conserving the little strength I had left.

Relief:
I got to China Walls and was pushed in by a couple of waves, then snuck through the reef pass without losing my board and felt a great sense of relief. Almost there. I caught a couple more waves and stayed close to shore. I did it, just a little more! Finishing this race was a huge accomplishment for me and it felt great.

Now What?
Another interesting thing is how I felt a couple of days after the race. I put so much time and energy into this goal and finally accomplished it. So now what? I had neglected many things in my day to day life (yes, I work and have a family and am not a professional athlete) to prepare for the race and now was the time to get caught up with everything. I was stoked and proud but I found myself feeling tired and frustrated, I did not feel like getting caught up on my to do list at all, or anything, really, I just wanted to be a couch potato, which made me feel worse. Luckily that did not last long. I started training for the Duke's race which is coming up soon and am applying some of my energy and persistence towards work and the goals I have for my business. I'm also setting a goal for next year's Molokai race, maybe I'll see you there.
Aloha,
Robert Stehlik

For more on my experience on standuppaddlesurf.net

click here for overall race results
click here for Stand Up unlimited results

Check the video below, filmed by my friend Len Barrow at the finish of the race featuring interviews with the top finishers- Jamie Mitchell, Ekolu Kalama, and Kanesa Duncan.

2009 Molokai channel race finisher interviews from Zen Waterman on Vimeo. [Link]

Zen Waterman » "In the Zone"- by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

Western sports psychology defines the ideal performance state as "relaxed focus", a state where the athlete is completely focused on executing the activity perfectly. The athlete is so completely in tune with the activity that everything else fades away. This peak performance state is called being "in the zone" or "flow". In this state the mind is completely focused yet void at the same time, there are no thoughts or doubts in the mind, no distractions, only presence. In western sports psychology, the goal is to be able to put yourself into this peak performance state consistently to reach your maximum performance potential. The more skilled you become at a sport and the less you have to "think" about what you are doing, the easier the body can flow and fall into this state of relaxed focus.
Our thinking is that every Waterman has had a taste of this state and wants more. This is why we get hooked and spend so much time in the water. The fluid nature of water and the balance it requires almost forces us into this state as it gives us instant feedback if we are distracted or try to overthink our moves. Going with the flow is the only way to becoming a better waterman. We are plugged directly into nature and are harnessing the natural energy, using it, becoming part of it, flowing with it and wanting more of it.
In Zen philosophy this state is seen as a way to reach enlightenment or nirvana, where one becomes one with the natural flow of energy. Zen arts include Kendo, Judo and Kyodo (archery). The ending -do does not translate well into english but can be called "way". In the "Way of the Waterman" we will explore the ways that the masters have found to reach states of peak performance finding a deeper meaning to what they do. We have a list of amazing watermen that we are interviewing with and hope to develop deeper insight as we go along; we hope you join us for the ride. [Link]

Zen Waterman » Welcome to Zen Waterman- by Robert Stehlik and Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago


The art of the Waterman
Most watermen (and we include women when we use this term, of course) that have devoted a large part of their lives to watersports find that the sport becomes more than the activity itself, it becomes a way to find and build focus, balance, strength, patience, contentment, endurance, a deeper understanding and awareness of nature, and the flow of energy. The idea of finding deeper meaning in the sports we are passionate about is what motivated my friend, Len Barrow and myself, Robert Stehlik to start this project with the intention of being students of the mental aspects of our sports, to expand our knowledge and understanding and to help ourselves and others in the quest of becoming better Watermen.
We intend to interview masters of various watersports that we feel have achieved a higher level than most. We want to find how they experience these moments of complete immersion, the moments described as "being in the zone" or "flow" through their chosen sport. We intend to combine these interviews with pictures, video, analysis and interpretation. We eventually want to compile the gained knowledge into a book and DVD as well as a seminar program to help teach the art of the Waterman through practical applications of the materials in and out of the water. We also hope to use the Zen Waterman philosophy in the nonprofit organization Aloha Surf Ambassadors that focuses on supporting, encouraging, mentoring, and coaching young surfers to become ambassadors of Aloha in Hawaii and around the world. Please feel free to contribute if you have insights and ideas. I will also use this blog to recap experiences and SUP races and will try to apply some of these ideas, talk about the mental aspects of the sports, and apply things I learn from others in the process. [Link]

Zen Waterman » Shit on a Stick by Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago

It’s What You Make of It: The Pre-Conceptual and Surfing

In the 12th century, a Zen master was asked by a monk “ what was the nature of the Buddha’s enlightenment?” He replied “SHIT ON A STICK”. This is an actual formal Zen Koan (a type of riddle). It came to my mind one day when I was surfing with a friend. We were traveling around looking for good waves, yet the waves on offer were “shitty” lumpy one foot crap.

My friend was grumbling about the state of the surf. He elaborated that his board was not designed for crappy waves. He also stated that only kooks surf lame waves. I convinced him to paddle out anyway and his moaning and groaning only worsened. I remember the look of frustration on his face and truly felt sorry for him.

Despite this I managed to have a great time. I was doing mini off the lips and tiny round house cutbacks. The day was sunny and I looked back at the green mountains with little fluffy clouds wafting by. I would then catch another wave bounce around and fall off. The whole experience was most enjoyable and I found myself giggling like a little boy who was getting away with something that he was not supposed to do.

I turned around to see my friend paddling into the beach. He sat on the shore with his arms crossed. On his face was a stern expression of anger. I caught a few waves more and paddled in and drove my disgruntled friend home.

This is when the “Shit On A Stick” Koan came into my mind. In a literal sense the Koan refers to how the people of old Asia would wipe their buttocks after defecating. They would actually use a stick. So the Zen master was stating that Zen is no more than the shit on a shit-stick.

This would appear to be a paradox. How could something like Zen be likened to the most filthy, polluted ”shitty” thing on the planet? Could it be that it is only our point of view?

When I recollected this Koan after dropping my friend off, I began to have a wonderful reflective experience. I wondered why I had such a great time while my friend had the lamest experience possible? Why was I thrilled in such shitty waves? It struck me like a lightning bolt. I WAS PAYING ATTENTION and he was not.

I then sat and wondered who had taught me to do this. My first thought came to my coach and mentor, Ben Aipa. He had coached me to a US Championship in Longboarding and was a true Zen master in his own right. He payed a great deal of attention to everything. His encyclopedia was the ocean and surfboard design.

More specifically Ben Aipa taught me how to focus my attention on different aspects of a wave. He informed me that all waves were magnificent creations of nature that “spoke” with different voices. Some were loud and some were soft, yet they were all asking you to work with their energies . He was an acute observer of nature’s ways.

Ben altered my perception of waves in the deepest way possible. Mr. Aipa taught me that any wave is good as long as you focus and pay attention to its energies. While I was training for the US Championships, Ben had me surf crappy waves on a daily basis. He would take me to Sandy Beach “Full Point”. This is literally the shitiest wave in the world. It usually has cross winds in excess of 25 mph and the wave is heavily backwashed. Yet Ben taught me how to “Sing” with Sandy Beach. He told me to focus my attention on only the breaking part of the wave and the” Bowl” that extends about 1 foot next to it the curl. When you focus your mind on this tiny section of the wave, even a tiny wave has power and juice. If you look at the whole wave you will miss this little gem of the bowl. By altering PERCEPTION USING ATTENTION you can turn any wave into a point break! Every wave becomes an enjoyable miracle.

In a way it all comes down to perception or conception of the wave in front of you. Ben Aipa and this Zen Koan were just asking me to return to the “pre-conceptual”. They were asking me to rely on an unborn instinct that we all have to make the best of all conditions from 10’ to 1’.

Similarly, Zen as depicted as shit on a shit stick in the Koan should not surprise us. It is only our perception that makes us revolted by crap being on a stick. Let us look at the phenomena of crap on a shit stick.

It takes a whole digestive system, not to mention a nervous system to create feces. This is truly a miracle of nature (their even exist groups of scientists who study fossilized turds!). The tree that became the stick needed the sun for photosynthesis (another amazing phenomena) and the earths weather system to allow it to grow. Therefore the shit stick is actually a beautiful miracle just as the lamest wave in the world is a miracle. It all depends on our perception of the object. This is what the Shit on a Stick Koan is asking us to think about.

With this change of perception applied to all things in life, we can move beyond conceptions of good and bad, life and death, polluted and unpolluted, rich and poor, good waves and bad waves. In Zen Buddhism, the goal is to return to your original mind which does not divide the world up according to prejudices. This mind was and is unborn and pre-conceptual in nature. Everything arises interdependently. There is not one phenomena in the world that is not interdependent therefore we should move away from the conception of the individual and egoism to achieve happiness. If you find this statement abstract, test the logic.

All is perfect. As long as natures is here, this interdependent mind is here.

The ego and self with its prejudices and likes and dislikes distorts this perfect mind that we all already have. Instead of seeing the beauty of a one foot wave we perceive a shitty wave due to our distorted conceptions. Instead of seeing an interdependent miracle of nature, we see a polluted, dirty shit stick.

Find this shit stick. If you are a SUP surfer, paddle upwind in 25mph winds. Surf un-surfable conditions. Go out when it is six inches big. Mix it up on an ultra-crowded day. The world is your oyster to enjoy if you ALTER YOUR PERCEPTION BY PAYING ATTENTION.

If you think this is random tree hugger babble you are mistaken. I took these ideas and won the US Longboard Championships at 1’ onshore Huntington beach California in 2004. My fellow competitors could not figure out why I was so excited over shitty waves. Oh well.

I hope to see all of you out on the next onshore rainy 1’ day!

See Ya………..goin surfing

Dr. Len Barrow [Link]

Zen Waterman » Paddling Adventure with Dolphins -posted by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

photo: Nicole MadosikPaddling is a great way to connect with nature. If I get too caught up in surfing busy lineups or training hard for the next race, I sometimes miss out on this connection. Yesterday was a great day to re-connect.
My friend Nicole asked me to join her for a paddle from Makapuu to Hawaii Kai. Her boyfriend Jared was going to go with us but he partied too hard the night before and missed out on the early morning launch. I had done the paddle around Makapuu point several times. I have to say I was not a big fan of it because the water can be very rough and not much fun on a stand up board. Usually it's a struggle just to keep from falling in with waves coming from all directions. This morning though, the conditions were calm with light variable winds and I was glad Nicole had talked me into going paddling.

photo: Nicole MadosikWe started at the pier and paddled across the bay, Nicole was in a OC1, I was using my F-16 SIC board. Close to Makapuu point we came across a pod of spinner dolphins. I put on my gopro camera with head strap and we paddled with them for a bit. On this video, some of the dolphins were cruising right by the nose of the board.

We paddled on to Sandy Beach but the light kona direction headwinds got stronger and we decided to turn around and head back downwind to where we started instead of paddling into the wind to Hawaii Kai as originally planned. We came across more spinner dolphins or maybe the same group coming back. I got it on video and Nicole took a couple of great shots, including the one at the top of the page.

Spinner dolphins always seem to have a good time, some are always leaping out of the water like there is a wild dance party going on down there. It's really just an exuberant thing to do, has nothing to do with survival or reproduction, it seems to just be an expression of fun and enjoyment. On second thought, maybe it does have to do with reproduction- are they showing off for the opposite sex? Anyway, they are intelligent, social and fun loving, live in harmony with nature, glide through the water effortlessly and don't use fossil fuels. We have so much to learn from them.

We also saw some whales breaching close by and some jumping and slapping their tails off Rabbit Island. Unfortunately, they were too far away to get on camera. We decided to paddle around Rabbit Island, neither one of us had never been around that side which is often pounded by big waves and we were hoping to see more of the whales.

Backside of Rabbit Island, photo: Nicole MadosikComing around the Rabbit Island we hit a headwind and current and had to paddle hard to make it back to the pier.

This whole adventure seemed to go by quickly but we ended up at the car three hours after we launched. A good paddle. [Link]

Zen Waterman » Paddle Technique part 3: Stacking the Shoulders by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

Danny Ching stacked up, photo: Chris SilvesterThis is part three, to read part one and two, please follow these links:

Paddle technique: Part 1- Choosing the right paddle

Paddle Technique Part 2 – The three ingredients of a powerful stroke

First off: I don't consider myself an expert and am always open to trying different things and learning from others. In this technique series, I'm merely sharing things that have worked for me, not saying that the technique I'm describing is the only right way to do it.

I jumped right into the power phase in part two. After showing a customer the "three ingredients of a powerful stroke" and watching him apply it, I realized that I left out a very important part of the power phase: using that power to propel yourself forward, not sideways.
A common mistake is holding the paddle at an angle and pulling it in an arc and not close enough to the rails.
All this tends to make the board turn (or yaw) instead of propelling it forward.
To minimize yaw and maximize forward propulsion, the paddle should be pulled through the water as vertically (straight out of the water) as possible and be pulled back in a straight line, ending as close to the rails as possible.
To pull the paddle through the water vertically, the top hand needs to be above the bottom hand and over the side of the board. To get into this position, which might feel awkward at first, the top shoulder is "stacked" above the lower shoulder. The upper body leans out over the paddle while the hips move in the opposite direction to keep the weight balanced over the center of the board while the lift created by the stroke also supports the body weight leaning over the side. The wider the board is, the more you have to stack the shoulders to get the paddle vertical.
Steering stroke vs. power stroke
Pulling the paddle in a wide arc and away from the board will make your board turn more quickly. This is called a steering stroke and works well if you want to turn the board or adjust your course. To move forward as fast as possible, the paddle needs to travel straight through the water. This will make the board yaw less and will allow you to take more strokes before changing sides. Remember that every time you change sides with the paddle you loose a little momentum, so taking more strokes per side should translate into more speed.

This sketch shows the way I try to move the paddle through a regular stroke relative to my feet. When paddling, the blade is actually planted in the water and stationary during the power phase, while the feet move towards and past it.
Here are the steps:
Reach as far forward as possible (more on that later).
Catch- make sure the blade is fully planted in the water before applying the power pulling straight back with the paddle as vertical as possible. Since the widest point of the board is usually in the middle, where you stand, a straight line will start away from the rail and end up with the shaft right next to the rails when it reaches your feet. As I release the paddle, I tend to direct the blade outward a little (making a J shaped stroke) which also reduces yaw.
A common misconception seems to be that following the rail of the board with the paddle is the most effective way to stroke. Since the rail is not straight, if you are following the curved outline of your board you are actually making a curved stroke, not a straight stroke. I focus on pulling my paddle straight back when racing. On shorter surfing SUP's, which are designed turn on a dime and are hard to paddle in a straight line, you can actually plant the paddle a little further out and pull it towards yourself to reduce yaw and how often you have to switch the paddle.

2009 Battle of the Paddle photo: Phil Rainey

Ok, that's it for today. Thanks for reading, Aloha! [Link]

Zen Waterman » Surfing and SUP Meditation part 1 and 2 by Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago

How to Meditate While SUP and SURFING: Part 1

Surfing and SUP riding can give us a great chance to calm our mind-body. Despite this, some of us surf with a consciousness that is out of balance. We sometimes become scatter-brained and defocused. Thoughts of work problems and other issues chatter away in our minds incessantly. By allowing or consciousness to be “out of control”, we ruin our surf session and can become frustrated.

The following article will give us tools to counteract our agitated minds, which in turn will allow us to enhance our enjoyment of the surfing experience. These techniques can be traced back from the modern world to the time of the Buddha and have been used to great effect by hundreds of generations of meditators. Even today, modern science is documenting the positive effects of meditation as it relates to both physical and mental health. We will start with very basic techniques and proceed to apply these techniques to our surfing.

1. Breathing Meditation Introduction

Concentration and mindfulness is a natural activity of our minds. One may use it in many different ways without even thinking about it. We may watch a loved one, use a word processor, or read. These are all due to the minds natural capability to be mindful.

Sadly, in our modern day and age of hyperactivity, cell phones, texts, and multi-tasking, we erode the minds natural ability to pay attention or to be mindful. The result of this is a type of monkey-mind. This mind bounces around from one thing to another. It is as if we are on an out of control horse, heading to the nearest cliff. We are not in control. Our actions become reactive, not reflective? Due to this, we often get ourselves into trouble. This may lead to depression, excess anxiety and a poor state of affairs.

If you want to get out of this negative situation, you must develop a motivation or commitment to climb over a treacherous mountain. The rope that will allow you to traverse the mountain is meditation and mindfulness. You must understand that in order to climb a rocky mountain (in other words, our "rocky" minds); one cannot do it in a few steps. You must develop a strong motivation to want to climb the mountain and understand that only a sustained and consistent effort will allow you to reach the peak and get back down.

The carrot on the end of the stick is a happier and stable mind that is able to enjoy life! Would that not be nice? For our purposes as surfers, mindfulness can greatly improve our technique and enjoyment of the sport.

2. Breathing meditation: What is your real motivation?

Begin your meditation by finding an environment that is quiet and calm. Turn off your cell phone (yes, it can be done!) and dedicate at least ten minutes to your session. This time will be increased as your capacity to concentrate is increased.

You must start you session by developing a motivation. For example state “I am going to meditate in order to generate in my mind concentration to benefit my family members, society and my ability to surf”. Do not forget this motivation as it will allow you to drive forward fearlessly against the delusive thoughts of the mind. Meditations based on compassionate grounds will always be more powerful.

It is important to note that if you are meditating purely for personal gain, it simply will not work. The goal of meditation is to diminish the self into concentration so we can be free, compassionate people, not greedy beings. This is very important to note as American society can be overtly individualistic.

3. Starting Up

Now you will learn how to focus the mind on your breathing. Begin by finding a comfortable position. You may sit down cross legged (or a Half or Full Lotus for those with Yoga training) or in whatever position you find most comfortable. The most important feature of any position that you have is a STRAIT SPINE. This is key; as it will help you pay attention to your breathing. If there is any tension in your body, let it dissolve by relaxing the area of tightness.

Now focus your attention and mind on your breathing. Breathe in. Then count your exhalation as 1. Repeat this process. Count up to 10 and start at 1 again.

Notice the subtle sensations of the breath as it passes through the tip of your nostrils. Pay attention to the rising and falling of your abdomen. The idea is to make the breath an OBJECT of your meditation. Look at it from every direction and every single manner while keeping your attention on only the breath. It is an odd thing to say, yet your breath alone will get you through any crisis

Don’t be intimidated! If you can read this article, you are already proving that you can do this. When you are reading, the OBJECT of your attention is the words on the page. Don’t be afraid to meditate as you have been born with the tools to do so.

Invariably, as you are counting your breaths, thoughts will come into your mind. These thoughts can manifest in any form. “Jon owes me money”, “I need to call my work”, “I hope no one sees me meditating”…..any thought is possible. The key thing to understand is to just go back to your breathing as the object of your meditation.

If you concentration gets interrupted at number 3 breath exhalation, just return back to 1. Don’t worry if you cannot get past 2 or 3. As a novice your mind may be very “jumpy” moving from one thought to the next. When I was beginning my meditation many years ago I could not get to 10 for over a month! This is proof that most of our minds are in disarray. This state only produces a type of “scatter-brained effect” that will lead us to be reactive in behavior not reflective in manner. In this confused mode of being, we may develop anxiety for ourselves and trouble for others among other things.

It is a scary thought to realize that many of us are not in control of our own minds and actions. This fact should provide us with ample motivation to meditate as to do so would be to move towards happiness, control and calmness. Would this not be nice?

For our purpose as surfers and SUP participants, an agitated mind can only lead to a bad session. This frustration will inevitably affect our technique and progress in our sport.

4. Keep meditating consistently

Don’t give up. Meditating can be the hardest thing to do. Most importantly, to get the positive effects of meditation one must keep up a consistent regime of practice. Meditating is like surfing. You will not get good on the first day. If you quit due to frustration with your mind you will be like a beginner surfer who has given up on his first surf session. To become a good surfer, or a good meditator you must “surf/meditate” for years. Even when you attain a certain level of proficiency in both surfing and meditation, there exists a billion ways to improve your practice. For this reason it is important to keep our practice up.

5. Surfing/ SUP Meditation

The next portion of this article will show us how to transfer our abilities gained in meditation to the ocean. In this we will explore ways to use SUP and surfing as objects of our meditation practice. This is not unusual. The Zen folk of old stated that Zen is an everyday activity. One should pay attention while gardening, walking, washing the dishes and the like. Why not create every day into a magical experience? So, dear reader, please begin your meditation practices as described above and don’t give up.

Part 2: Surfing and SUP Meditation

Objects of Meditation: A Wave Meditation

SUP and surfing can be used to great effect to calm the mind. This is very important for our discussion as we live in a hyper-active world of e-mails, cell phones, face-book and multi-tasking. Our ability to pay attention is degraded by the fast pace of our modern world. This may lead to anxiety, depression and a poor state of affairs. To be happy we must pay attention and meditation is the key to this end.

Surfing and SUP can be an important tool to focus our concentration to improve our technical form and selves. Our sport provides us with many objects of meditation. One of the keys in meditation is to select an object to focus on; or immerse our concentration “ into”. The previous article focused on our breath as the object of our meditation. This article will use the ocean’s waves for object of meditation.

The swell

The ocean is filled with many things to be mindful of. Ocean waves are magical to look at and can serve as objects of our meditation. Start your meditation on your board with the following practice. Focus your attention on your breathing (as described in the previous article) and count two sets of ten breaths. This should be sufficient to calm the mind. After this turn your mental focus (or attention) attained in breathing meditation to the swell in the water. Sit (or stand) on your board and face the ocean. Pick a single swell out with your eyes (the wave can be 20 to 30 yards out but should be directly in front of you) and immerse your concentration in to it. Ask yourself the following questions. Is the swell coming strait in, or at a slight angle? As the wave approaches you, is it turning at an angle towards or away from you? Is the wave the combination of two swell directions?

As the wave comes under you, feel the swell lift your board up and then slowly turn your head and follow the progress of the swell as it moves away from you toward the inside. How does the wave move as it” feels” the bottom. Does the swell focus or defocus on a certain area of the reef? Does the wave “dissolve” as it fans out into the channel? Any observation is valid as long as you are concentrating. If you get distracted by thoughts in your head, just go back to concentrating on the swell just as you would go back to your breathing in normal sitting meditation.

The swell as the object of analytic meditation
Another form of meditation that is widely used by Tibetans and others is called analytic meditation. For our purposes, it is especially useful. One focuses on the object and analyzes ”what” is the wave (or object of the meditation)? Questions you may use to start your analysis are numerous. Does the swell have a name? If it does not, why do I have a name? Is the phenomena of this wave related to any other phenomena; a storm off of New Zealand perhaps? Does the gale have a cause and condition like the suns radiation?

What is important is to reflect on is the wave’s interdependence with many other factors. To do this is to realize that the wave is truly a “dependently originated” miracle. Logically the wave has the whole universe behind it (or in it)! What a joy it is to surf.

I will leave you with a type of Koan (Zen riddle). A wonderful question to ask your-self is: “Am I like the wave?” Do I have many causes and conditions that are an integral part of my-self? Does a wave die and similarly do I die?

With these thoughts we may come to a deeper awareness and appreciation of nature, others and ourselves. Would that not be nice?

Aloha,

Len Barrow Ph.D.

January 12, 2011 [Link]

Zen Waterman » Paddle Technique Part 2 – The three ingredients of a powerful stroke by Robert Stehlik

Posted 6 years ago

Breaking down the Power Phase, part two of the paddle technique series.

The proof's in the pudding: My thinking is that if someone is fast and winning races, they must be doing something right, so I developed my technique by watching and listening to the fastest paddlers and trying to emulate what they are doing. This paddle technique series is my attempt to share what I have learned and break it down into easy to follow steps.

First, some recommended reading:
Good technique starts with a good paddle, it's impossible to have good technique with a paddle that is too short, for example. So if you are not sure you have the right paddle, read part one first:
Choosing the right Paddle

A stand up paddle stroke can be broken down into these main phases: Reach, Catch, Power, Release, Recover.
Dave Kalama breaks down these steps and the Tahitian style paddle technique very well on his blog. If you have not read his technique posts yet, you should:
www.DavidKalama.com

Each step of the stroke is important and needs to be practiced. Good reach and catch are important before applying the power so they really should come first but for this post I will just focus on the power phase, where the pedal hits the metal. I have found an effective way of teaching a more powerful stroke is by breaking down the power phase into three basic components or ingredients, which I call PUSH, TWIST, LEAN.

Photo by Reid Inouye
Each paddler develops their own individual technique and I can often identify a friend paddling in the distance by the stroke long before I'm close enough to recognize any features. Despite different styles, I think every good paddler uses a combination of the "three ingredients".
Beginners often paddle by pulling the paddle with the lower arm. This is the least efficient way to paddle and will tire the arms quickly. Pulling with the lower arm bent is not an ingredient of a powerful stroke. The bottom arm should always be straight throughout the power phase. The lower hand acts as the fulcrum (rotation) point of the paddle. The only time the lower arm can bend is to lift the paddle out of the water for the recovery. (To visualize this motion, I like Dave's image of pulling a sword out of it's sheath while the top hand twists a door knob to feather the blade).

To learn how to combine the "three ingredients" for maximum power, we will first look at and practice each ingredient in isolation before combining them. Evan shot a video where I demonstrate the three ingredients on the paddle simulator in our shop. If the description is confusing, please watch the video and it will hopefully make sense. If you are still having a hard time, please stop by the Blue Planet shop for a paddle simulator demonstration or come to one of our monthly clinic/ demo days where we have advanced paddle technique clinics (all free).

First ingredient: PUSH: This is basically using your top arm to push the paddle out in front of you. Try to do this motion in isolation while keeping your shoulders square, staying upright, and keeping the bottom arm straight. It's like you are punching your hand forward from in front of your face. By bending the top arm, you increase the forward reach and by pushing with your top arm you can do quick strokes that work well when you want to accelerate quickly, like when catching a wave or getting on a bump. The downside is that if you use only the triceps in your arms to power yourself your arms will tire quickly.

The second ingredient: TWIST: To practice this, keep both arms straight through the stroke and stay upright, using only a twisting motion to move the paddle. Rotate your hip and shoulder forward to reach, then unwind with the shoulders following the hips. This twisting motion should be where most of the power in your stroke comes from, using the muscles in your back and core to propel yourself forward.

The third ingredient: LEAN: A word of caution: if you have lower back problems, you will want to go easy on the lean until your your back gets stronger. To isolate the lean, keep both arms straight and keep your hips and shoulders square. Straighten your body for the reach, then use your body weight and abs to lean on the paddle by bending at the waist.
If you watch some of the most powerful paddlers (like Danny Ching, Chuck Patterson, Aaron Napoleon) you will notice that they lean heavily on their paddle during the stroke and often end the stroke with their upper body at an almost 90 degree angle to the legs. By pushing the blade down into deeper water during the stroke, it is also able to reach more "new still water" (as my swim coach likes to call it), giving it more grab.

Here is a frame grab of Danny Ching at the end of his power phase during the last Battle of the Paddle race. Please note that pulling the paddle this far back works on a displacement hull but won't be effective on a planing hull (like a surf SUP) as the paddle angle starts to pull the board down into the water.

The LEAN adds power to the stroke but also brings the stroke further back and the recovery takes longer. Dave Kalama proved that the quick, shorter, Tahitian style stroke which uses more of the PUSH and TWIST than the LEAN, is very efficient in downwind conditions and longer races like the Molokai challenge.

Here is the video shot by Evan Leong of standuppaddlesurf.net demonstrating the the three ingedients on the SUP simulator at Blue Planet Surf Shop:

In long distance paddling it is good to have several power sources to rely on. For example, you can use the push for a quick burst of acceleration, then rest your arms by using more twist and lean. I recommend practicing and perfecting these three ingredients in isolation, then try to combine them in different ways to find your own "secret sauce".

please continue reading:
Paddle Technique part 3: Stacking the Shoulders by Robert Stehlik
Additional resources:
If you are looking for more help with your paddle technique, you may want to check out the training program that Wet Feet is putting together in Honolulu, which I will be involved with: http://www.wetfeethawaii.com/default.asp?id=22

I have also put together the Paddle Core Trainer, a SUP simulator kit for home use that is great for working on your technique on the days you can't get on the water. It comes with an instructional DVD that will help with your stroke and stoke: http://www.paddlecoretrainer.com/


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Zen Waterman » The Art of enjoying One-self in the Surf by Len Barrow

Posted 6 years ago

The surf world can sometimes seem out of control. Some breaks can be crammed full of all manner of surf craft, surfers with different skill levels and often neurotic personalities. Because of this it is sometimes difficult to enjoy oneself in the surf.

There are ways to solve these problems and enjoy oneself in any crowd or conditions. In fact I never have a bad session in the surf as I have worked on a method of happiness in regards to the surf conditions and crowds, which almost never fails me. I have enumerated them in the following essay.

1. Set realistic expectations for your surf session.

If it is crowded, don’t expect to paddle out and catch a ton of waves. You will just become frustrated, as your expectations will come crashing down.
I have a method of setting a quota. If it is really crowded, I expect only to catch two good to decent waves. In the mean time I dedicate my concentration (which is developed in Meditation) to enjoying the coolness of the water, the green mountains and I just overall get stoked about being in the water. Any waves that I get above my quota become icing on the cake!

2. Concentrate: Don’t let bad vibes get to you

When the waves are crowded, the worst behavior can manifest in surfers. People become greedy, angry and aggressive. Social hierarchies inevitably develop and we may find ourselves at the bottom of the totem pole. People use various methods both verbal and nonverbal to assert their status. Sometimes surfers “bad vibe other surfers” in this manner. In Zen Buddhist terminology, the surf is filled with Hungry Ghosts and Demons.

Again this is where the power of concentration attained in meditation can turn a good day into a bad day; or turn hell into heaven. If you allow your mind to wander and focus on the bad vibes, you will tune into to every-ones bad trip and become a type of Demon or Hungry ghost in Zen Buddhist terminology. If you cannot control the direction of your attention and be reactive to silly people, you will become a silly person also.

That is why it is important to meditate. Meditation allows one to control the focus of ones attention. If a person can defocus on the aggression and bad vibes and refocus on where the waves are focusing or defocusing, the beautiful scenery, and the miracle of being a surfer in the ocean (a truly amazing fact), and other wonderful phenomena (such as birds, the reef, the blue sky and seaweed), a surfer can turn a crowded “Hell Day” in to a slice of Heaven. Would that not be nice?

3. We are but mirrors

The saying, you reap what you sow, is actually very Buddhist in spirit. Again we must use the power of attention, to “pay attention” to our own behavior. If you are on a long-board or an SUP don’t just paddle to the outside and get every single set. This is fun in the short term yet this type of behavior has bad “Karmic” returns in the long run. Firstly, it is a very uncompassionate thing to do, and Zen Buddhism is based on a great striving for compassion for all beings (yes, even body boarders and beginners). Secondly, this behavior will rebound to you as a type of “curse”.

Surfing is not Capitalism. We need to use our power of attention to regulate the “profit only, who cares about others” or greed aspect of our minds. We all have the seeds in our minds of hyper-competitiveness, and ego-centrism. It is not a good idea to water them, at least from a Zen perspective .

If you are greedy, hogging all the set waves, you are inadvertently letting your uncontrolled attention “water” these destructive seeds and in return you will create a little hell for yourself and others. Surfers will take note of this greed and angry seeds will be watered in their minds. We can say “who cares; that’s their problem”, but when you return to the break you will be faced with a whole cadre of demons who dislike you. Most people are ignorant of this phenomena but it makes perfect sense in a Buddhist world.

If you are kind and compassionate you will not get a lot of waves in the short term but you will water the seeds of happiness for others in the water and eventually get waves in the long term. If you think this is random tree hugger babble, you are mistaken.

I use the “attention” that I have gained in meditation to create a little heaven for myself. For more than a decade, I have tried to be kind to others and wait my turn. People have mirrored this behavior back to me. To this day I can paddle out to virtually any break on Oahu and be greeted by smiles and kindness.

Can you do this in your surf area? If you cannot, it may be in your best interest to check what seeds you are watering in your mind and others.

Remember: You reap what you sow

Aloha Len Barrow

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Zen Waterman » SUP race board comparison- planing vs. displacement hull by Robert Stehlik and Jeff Chang

Posted 7 years ago

This is an edited version of a board comparison first posted in January 2010.

Planing vs. Displacement hulls- a SUP race board comparison written by Robert Stehlik (Blue Planet Surf) and Jeff Chang (Wet Feet) for Zen Waterman
When I first started paddling racing boards, the equipment was not as important as the technique and fitness level. I had a fast board (a 14' C4 Waterman Vortice XP) and I kept going faster by practicing and improving my technique and endurance. While going on Hawaii Kai runs with Todd Bradley, Dave Parmenter and Greg Pavao, who were all riding the same board as me and going much faster, it made me realize that I had plenty of room to improve. It was me, not the board, that was slow. Getting a good, proven stock race board is a good way to get started in SUP racing. Most races have 12'6 or 14' stock divisions and you can be competitive in the class without getting caught up in the "arms race" in the unlimited division. The size and price of a stock board is also more manageable.

With that said, as I got better, I noticed that guys on longer, unlimited boards with rudders were going faster and at some point I realized that if I wanted to be one of the fastest racers, I also need to be on one of the fastest boards. Since then, I have been trying many different boards and designs in search of the fastest one and want to share some of the things I have learned.

My friend and training partner Jeff Chang and I had the chance to test and compare several SUP race boards. As Jeff and I train together regularly, switching back and forth with each other gives us a good indication of how fast we are going. Last week, we compared two new 12'6" stock race models that will be available as production boards next year and we can't report about yet.

SUP race boards- Unlimited displacement vs. planing hullThis week, we had a chance to compare two unlimited class raceboards. We compared a Sandwich Isles Composites (SIC) custom Starboards prototype shaped by Mark Raaphorst, and a 17'6" Dennis Pang race board that Guy Pere, Kamaki Worthington, Aaron Napoleon and myself have all won races on. I wrote about this board before in the Coast Guard race recap.

The custom SIC/ Starboard board on the right is a planing hull with a flat bottom and sharp edges in the back and hard tucked under edges. It's quite wide and stable.
The Dennis Pang board is more of a displacement hull with a piercing bow and rounded rails in the nose and tail. The mid section has a slight double concave with soft tucked under edges. This board is only 25 1/8" wide with a flat area of 22 1/4".

We launched in Hawaii Kai and I took some pictures as Jeff passes me on the Dennis Pang board.
Doug Locke was on a 14' Naish Glide and Darin Kohara was on a SIC F-14.It was pretty windy and I was confident I would catch up to them on the SIC, but it was not as easy as I expected. The board felt like it was pushing water and I had a hard time catching the short, disorganized bumps. I paddled as hard as I could, but did not get closer to Doug and Jeff, who seemed to be having a blast connecting the bumps. To be fair, I have been riding displacement hulls for a while and have never ridden a planing hull over 14', so I had to get used to it. I know that some of the fastest guys are on this kind of board, so I made up my mind to figure out how to make this thing go. As we got further out, the bumps got bigger and more defined. I figured out that the board needed to go from bump to bump to maintain speed and that I needed to move my weight back quickly to pick up speed on a bump. I started getting used to the board and began to tap into some of its potential.

My understanding of the theory behind planing vs. displacement hulls is that a planing hull is slower at low speeds but once it starts to plane at higher speeds, it lifts out of the water and reduces the wetted surface, lowering friction and allowing higher top speeds. In comparison, a displacement hull uses a long waterline and smooth water entry and exit to allow for less drag at low speeds. You can get a displacement hull on a plane but the top speed is limited by water wrapping around the rounded edges versus the flat bottom and hard edges of a planing hull that allow a clean release, more lift, less drag, and higher top speed.

After getting half way to Black Point, Jeff and I switched boards and I got on the Dennis Pang board I was used to riding. The board felt very tippy coming off the stable SIC board and it took me a moment to adjust to it. When I finally got into the groove, I was catching every little bump with little effort. This board just feels slippery through the water; hard to put into words.

Jeff on the SIC catches a runner. Note how he moves the right foot back to lift the front of the board up.
Doug Locke is the master at catching and surfing bumps. He has tried many boards, too and really enjoys the 14' Naish Glide.
Jeff catching a swell coming into Waikiki

We finished at the Elk's club

Day two: We took the boards for another run the next day.

The rudder system is comfortable.
The wind was strong and the board was catching bumps without even paddling.
We had a big group of stand up and prone paddlers starting at the blinker buoy.
The second run on the SIC board went better. I was able to keep up with the fastest guys and I really started to feel the board's strengths, namely:
It’s fast on the bumps and it maintains a high speed when connecting bumps.
Stable deck and thick rails, barely ever had water running over my feet.
Easy to control, especially when riding bumps and easier to ride swells at an angle or "down the line" at angles where the displacement hulls tend to roll and slow down. I figure this is a big advantage in the Molokai race where you are quartering the wind and swells for most of the race.

Jeff’s truck with seven boards and paddlers ready to shuttle back to Hawaii Kai.

Board test day 3: On the third day we added a third board to the test: Jeff Chang's Bark board that he used in the Molokai race (the black one on the right)

Jeff’s board is a displacement type hull, similar to the Dennis Pang board but at 26 1/2" wide is about 1 1/2" wider and more stable. It also has more rocker and cable rudder system that runs underneath the deck, like on the SIC. The Dennis Pang board has a fiberglass batten running down the deck that controls the rudder.

Jeff’s BARK has a "knifey" piercing nose and tail with a double concave in the middle and rounded rails.
Launching in Hawaii Kai.

The crew at the blinker buoy.

The wind was light and the bumps were small, but it was great to get out on another beautiful day in Hawaii. This was the shortest day of the year and this picture made me realize how lucky we are to be paddling under rainbows when most people in the northern hemisphere are stuck indoors.
I rode Jeff's Bark the first half of the run and immediately felt comfortable on it. The board was predictable, fast, and fun to paddle. It felt lighter and more nimble than the 18' Bark board I own and paddled on in the Molokai race (see my previous post).

I am always impressed by how smooth the water entry and exit is on all the Bark boards I have tried. In flat water, the amount of turbulence created where the bow enters the water and the turbulence behind the tail is a direct indicator of how much friction the board has through the water. The less the water gets disturbed, the faster you go. Some boards slice through the water so smoothly that you don't feel like you are going fast- that's what you want. Joe Bark seems to have a special skill for making the water go under and around the board with minimal disturbance and drag. I have noticed that many of the shapers that make the fastest unlimited boards have been making and experimenting with racing boards (prone paddleboards and windsurf boards in particular) for many years and can draw from that experience to make the fastest hull shapes.

While a piercing bow with a "v" in the water entry area seems to be fastest in flat water, a flat bottom where the water enters gives more lift in the nose and is easier to control when riding the bumps. The wide flat water entry area of the SIC generates plenty of lift and is easy to control, but also feels like it is "pushing water" at lower speeds, while the Pang board is a compromise. When I switched to the Pang board, I had to get used to the tippyness again but once adjusted, I felt like the narrower board had less resistance through the water. The Pang board transitions from a piercing nose to a flat section where the water enters. This makes the bow "splashy" in flat water, not as smooth as the Bark, but also seems to make it easier to steer in bumps and it felt like I did not have to work as hard to catch and stay on the bumps. Out of all the boards I have tried so far, the Dennis Pang board is still my favorite for coastal runs and races, which is not to say that it would work well in the Molokai race (too tippy) or in a flat water race (water entry not as smooth). For these conditions I would probably choose board and the Bark, respectively.

That summarizes my input.

Here is what Jeff Chang (Wet Feet) has to say about the three boards:
Here are my impressions for the various performance aspects observations from paddling next to you. This is a good gauge because you are faster than me:

Overall speed:

In flat water is seems the Bark is fastest, Pang second and the SIC third. This is easiest to measure.

In moderate winds it seems the Pang is fastest, the Bark second and the SIC third. For me the Pang is faster because is seems to miss less of the bumps, especially the smaller ones. It seems easiest to catch everything. It felt like the Bark and SIC missed more bumps and I could feel more often stalling on the backside of the bump and needing to wait for the next one. But also it seemed like once you caught a bump the Bark and SIC glided further. The SIC especially so if the bump was big. So overall if feels like the Pang catches more bump and maintains the speed better but I got longer rides with the Bark and SIC. I think a lot depends on the paddler too. For example, someone like SIC with a lot of strength might be able to make a board like his go faster (or Scott Gamble on his Bark) than I could and could close the speed gap between the three or even make his go faster than the others.

Stability:

SIC most stable, Bark second and Pang third. Although the Pang was not overly tipsy and was easy to recover on. During the HK run I don't fall atall using the Pang so the design is reasonably user friendly. But others have commented that at 25" wide the Pang is hard to balance on and if you cannot balance then you cannot put full paddle power into your stroke.

Paddling Effort:

Pang easiest, Bark medium, SIC most effort. Again you need to be able to balance on the board to be able to power it properly.

Handling:

The SIC board is very stable with a lot of volume and feels like a boat. I can see this being very good for Molokai where if you need to you could just cruise and not have to concentrate on balancing. The planing type back would also be good for turning the board to windward and trimming on a bump which is critical for the channel. I think a board like this would be my choice for the channel.

The Bark is very stable and user friendly but a little more nimble than the SIC and is good all around since in goes fast in flat water. This is a good Oahu board and is good for the HK run since the start and end are in flat water and the board catches bumps well. It would also be my choice for a North Shore race. The double concave bottom and pronounced spine down the middle seems to give it a lot of drive and might explain the longer rides. I rode this board at the last Molokai and at times it would have been nice to have had a more stable board but then this board is light and easy to paddle so hard to say if I would have gone faster on a more stable board. Its always a tradeoff. I was very happy with my Molokai time on this board and felt good at the end so after all is said and done maybe a more stable board might have been more comfortable but also might have been slower.

The Pang feels fast and slippery in the water. For me this board was the fastest and most fun to paddle because it seems to catch the most bumps and maintain speed although you don't get those really long rides where you feel like you are surfing. But in a race it seems catching all those little ones and maintaining speed is faster than those longer rides which happen less often. This might be explained by the more subtle concave bottom and flatter more neutral entry just behind the piercing nose. I think that is what gives it that controllable feel dropping into the bumps and ability to push into the next one.

Thanks for reading, Aloha!
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Zen Waterman » On Paying Attention As The Way of the Waterman: Part 1 – by Len Barrow

Posted 7 years ago

I have two heroes that have helped bring great happiness to my life. They come from two seemingly divergent backgrounds. What stuck me was their ideas about their arts came to the exact same endpoint: You must pay attention.

The first role model is and was the great surfer/shaper Ben Aipa. The other individual is my Roshi or Zen teacher Robert Aitken. He is currently 94 and still as sharp in wit and way, true to his Zen study. It would help a little to talk of his background. Aitken Roshi was imprisoned in a Japanese camp for Westerners during World War Two. He could have had the option of hating the Japanese (as most of us would), yet instead he embarked on the study of Zen in the prison camp itself. After the war he continued his study and was ordained a Zen master in an eponymous line of Japanese Rinzai Zen sect, the first Westerner to do so. He came to Hawaii and taught and established the Daimond Sangha Zen Buddhist center. He is considered as one of the primary founders of Zen in the west along with Daisetsu Suzuki and even my father, T. Barrow.

The hardcore Surfers path which crosses roads with the Zen path, as I shall explain, stands in a dichotomy to our modern “worlds” of hyperactivity, cell phones, texts, Facebook, the internet and 60 hour weeks. Sadly, in everyday life, many of us move around like automatons. I know people whose lives are devoid of passion and interest. They drive to work from a suburb every day in grueling traffic. This is then followed by a job that they dread and another hour drive home in a moving parking lot. They then go home to their three bedroom home (that looks exactly like the next) in a planned suburb subdivision which sits on rezoned public land. It is as if we are taught to be Lemming competitors in a suicidal race to the nearest cliff or black whole. If this is the American Dream then I am terrified of it. This is not a dream, This is a hallucination.

This may be an overly grim depiction of our culture yet I am not alone in my sentiments. Many surfers and water people are what psychologists call “non-normative” (not normal) and rapidly figure out what is happening is “lame” and decide on another course of living that they see as more sane. Many surfers are also attracted to different patterns of thinking (as opposed to Occidental or Western models) which include Asian philosophy and even Zen Buddhism in its scope. In these models surfers are more “normal” and actually quite sensible in their views.

In my early twenties I was bombarded by society with criticisms of my lifestyle as an avid surfer. You see, surfing is seen to be cute when you are in high school and the girls love you, yet surfing loses its mystique to others as a person gets older. One may ask why? In Anglo-American culture one is taught to shed his childhood “habits” of play (such as avid surfing and other fun things) and get on to the Protestant work ethic. As a Religious Scholar , I have studied this phenomena anthropologically. This work ethic (as Described by Jon Calvin and Martin Luther) is directly related to ones goodness. Jon Calvin believed in predestination. In other words you are predestined to go to Heaven or Hell. It has been decided by god before you were born. Yet, there is a twist to this. A sign that you are going to heaven is seen to the degree too which you are hard working and well off. A sign that you may be going to hell is if you are poor and supposedly not working hard. When I studied these ideas as an Anthropologist I understood why I was maligned by so many. The people that criticized me were not doing so consciously. They were doing this because it was part of the Protestant, Anglo-American narrative or Mythology which was drilled into everyone from a young age hence when they saw a person who was “not with the program” they reflexively criticized or marginalized the person. Some how, I missed out on the message of this narrative.

In the past my mother had routinely called me “Lose money” or “Beach Dum” (not a typo). I watched in horror as many of my childhood hardcore surfer friends were sucked up by society. They quit surfing, sometimes at the urging of their wives, got full time jobs that they hated and rapidly became mechanical, uncreative and depressed. One of my good friends told me that his wife should allow him to surf as it was better than a psychiatrist’s bill. I still have the common experience of being given the “stink eye” by strangers as I drive to the North Shore in my dilapidated 71 VW van with board in tow, God forbid, on a workday. I was even told semi-jokingly by an economist friend that I was part of a “superfluous population” that included the very poor that were not factored into his economic models that he learned in school due to the fact that we barely spend any money on products hence cannot be profited off of in the “Free Market”.

In my twenties, I was both perplexed and angry at Anglo-American society. I was being accused of being lazy hence going to Hell for pursuing surfing. My friends followed the protestant work ethic to the “T”; hence were on a strait shot to Heaven. If this were the case, why were they miserable, depressed beings in life!? Surely there existed something amiss in this situation.

Please don’t get me wrong. Hard work is good, in fact I spent a full fourteen years to attain a Ph.D., but to go overboard by working maniacally to myself sounds strange.

My frustration about being a frenzied surfer in Anglo-American society was relived by forays in to Asian philosophy which my father urged that I take. In fact he arranged for myself a meeting with the esteemed Roshi who was described earlier in this paper.

My first meeting with Zen Master Aitken Roshi was wonderful. For the first time in my whole life, I felt justified in my decision to be a surfer. I was interviewed by the Roshi in the normal ritualistic manner. He sat in a tiny room and out of protocol, one had to crawl in, bow over the threshold and then make a 45 degree turn and bow toward him. I totally screwed up the process and was rather embarrassed. Surprisingly, the Roshi gestured to me and told me not to worry about it. There the Roshi sat, in his full Zen regalia and staff. It totally blew me away, as it was the first time that I was participating in a culture other than my own.

The conversation that ensued altered my life forever. I had come to him as I had been struck by an idea while surfing and staring at the ocean. I will let the ideas unfold in a question and answer format as this was the format that was required when one is engaged with a Zen master of Aitken’s standing. The conversation went something like this:

Len: How are You?

Roshi: How are You?

Len (perplexed): Pretty Good, I guess.

Roshi: What do you do?

Len (blandly): I surf, go to school, and I take care of a family in Kahala for rent.

Roshi: Then you are a caregiver.

Len (surprised): Yes, that's true

Roshi (attentively): How is your father?

Len: He is well and he collects books on Zen. In fact he has a huge collection that drives my mother nuts. She says the house will sink one day due to the weight of the books.

Roshi: Good. I must see it one day

Len (impatient): You know, I was struck by an idea. I had learned in my physics class that the equation E=MC² was that matter was an interplay of energy and energy was and interplay of matter. In fact they were different aspects of the same thing. I also learned that energy is conserved and that you could not destroy our create it. Well Roshi, I did a little bit of thinking and was blown way. If E=MC² applies to me, as it must due to the fact that I am an interplay of matter and energy (what the hell else could I be I thought) I am neither created nor destroyed, neither alive nor dead, in fact there cannot be coming or going. I was also surprised to find that Einstein called the notion of self as an “optical illusion of the mind”.

Roshi: You surf right?

Len (irritated: what kind stupid answer was that?): uhhhhh, Yea

Roshi: It is partially due to surfing that you have some insight of no coming, no going, no life, no death, no creation nor destruction. Roshi rang a little bell which means “now get out”. I did my bows and left excitedly.

I was utterly amazed. For my whole life, I was taught that my world view was not only incorrect but I was going to burn in hell for all eternity for it. Here was a little old man, who had nothing, sat in a little room and meditated extensively. He did not even surf yet he bizarrely came across as the most experienced surfer on the planet. How did he know my experience came in the surf or because of it? That he said I had a little insight, was a tiny nod to my E=MC² babble. I was so happy that I was not the only one to think like this and was even more thrilled to get a type of approval (albeit tiny)from a master of the Roshi’s caliber. It was a great affirmation for my self and for my choice of a surfing path. It was a turning point in my life and I have been on a happy path ever since in my study.

The Roshi suddenly “peered” out the door and stated with an amusing smile: “When you get thoughts like that just move on and by the way………How can you practice if you don’t pay attention?

” I am not a Buddhist but this little Koan (Zen riddle) has taken me a long way. It is OK to be an avid surfer and pursue a path of peace and concentration rather than that of hyperactivity, inattention and conformity so engraved in parts of Anglo American culture.

Thanks Aitken Roshi
Altken Roshi recently passed away and this article is dedicated to him in the most humble and thankful form possible.

Aloha Nui Aitken Roshi [Link]

Zen Waterman » Blue Planet SUP clinic/ demo day Nov. 6th 2010- By Fabrice Beaux

Posted 7 years ago

A great way to share the stoke and fulfillment we find in the ocean is to teach others. It's rewarding to help people that usually don't venture into the ocean find a new way to get plugged into nature and enjoy the sensation of balancing on water.

This is a short video of the Blue Planet demo day on Saturday Nov. 6th, 2010
Board design clinic by John Amundson and Kevin Seid.
Edited by Fabrice Beaux.

Blue Planet SUP clinic/ demo day Nov.6.2010- Board Design Clinic from Zen Waterman on Vimeo.
Board design clinic with John Amundson and Kevin Seid, Blue Planet Stand up Paddle clinic and demo day at Ala Moana beach park, Nov. 6th, 2010.

Edited by Fabrice Beaux.
Special thanks to the Hosts:
Blue Planet Surf,
Boardworks Hawaii,
Aquaglide,
Wet Feet,
Everpaddle,
StandUpPaddlesurf.net

And supporting staff:
Dr. Dan Rodrigues, Chiropractor
Doug Hopkins, Aquaglide
John Amundson, Aquaglide
Jeff Chang, Wet Feet
Karen Larieu, Wet Feet
Jared Vargas, Pro Racer
Kevin Seid, Everpaddle
Evan Leong, standuppaddlesurf.net
Sean Moore, Blue Planet Surf
Cameron Woodall, Blue Planet Surf
Andrew Giletti, Blue Planet Surf
Robert Stehlik, Blue Planet Surf
Kaipo Guerrero, Boardworks Hawaii
Fabrice Beaux, Video, editing



For future SUP clinic dates and more information, please visit: BoardworksHi.com [Link]

Zen Waterman » Is lighter really faster? SUP weight experiment- by Robert Stehlik

Posted 7 years ago

This entry is kind of off topic for the Zen Waterman blog as it is a technical description of an experiment I conducted, although it does tie into paying attention and being focused. If you are interested in the interplay of weight and acceleration/ speed/ momentum on stand up paddle boards you might find it interesting.

I was inspired to test the effect of weight on speed in Stand Up Paddle boards when I was reading a discussions on the Stand Up Zone forum titled “Heavier Boards Faster?".
You may want to read it to understand the discussion that let to this experiment. I will use some of the things I wrote in the discussion and will try to add details and information here that were not covered in the forum discussion.

The setup:
The short video clip above is a test of the GoPro camera and shows the set up used for the test.
Board: 12'6" x 29 1/2" Amundson Touring/race board. For more information on this board, please check out the Aquaglide brochure. I chose this board because it is stable enough to handle 30 extra pounds without making it difficult to balance. It has 247 liters of volume, so it can float up to 247 kilos= 544 pounds. It weighs just over 30 lbs, so adding 30 lbs roughly doubles the weight and should make a measurable difference in speed. I was concerned that using less weight would make the speed difference too small to be significant and measurable.
In the video: GPS and Go Pro cam taped to board: to record the speed on the GPS with the camera to see how the weight affects acceleration/ deceleration and top speed.

The 12'6 Amundson has a sealed insert on the deck. I screwed in an old windsurfing unversal and used it to tie off the weights so I could not lose them.

My weight is just under 200 pounds, the board itself weighs just over 30 lbs, I added 30 pounds on the deck for testing. Although the board weight is doubled by adding 30 pounds, if you consider the weight of the rider + board, the weight difference is 230 lbs vs. 260 lbs with the extra weight, or just 13% more, and I'm assuming results would be different with different rider weights.

Test Day #1:
Here are the results of the 400 ft sprint test:

with 30 pounds extra weight:
Run 1: 49 seconds
Run 2: 49 seconds
Run 3: 48 seconds

without extra weight:
Run 1: 45 seconds
Run 2: 45 seconds

The acceleration was noticeably faster with the lighter board and the 3-4 seconds difference is significant.

For the half mile test, the results were less pronounced but still significant- as follows (wind was light 2-5 knots):

with 30# extra: Upwind: 5:44, downwind: 5:29
without extra weight: upwind: 5:32, downwind: 5:16

I calculated a 3.6% speed difference upwind and 5% downwind

Here is what I noticed watching the videos of the half mile tests:
With the 30# extra weight it took me 7 seconds and 8 strokes to accelerate to 5 mph
Without the extra weight only 5 seconds and 6 strokes.
I also noticed that the weighted board has more of a wake and turbulence behind the tail and seemed to make more noise over the water

Test Day #2
I re-did the sprint tests the next day as the speed readout on the GPS was not visible on the video of the sprints.
I did not think the weight distribution would matter for the speed test but was urged to try to spread out the weights over the length of the board by one of the commenters.
To my surprise, the board seemed to handle a little better with the weights spread out than with the weights in the center. I tried to figure out why and then it made sense- with the weight spread out over the length of the board it yaws less (meaning less side to side rotation per stroke) especially from a standstill.
I know you could turn this into another science project but here is the simple explanation I came up with: Think of doing a flip off a diving board: you can speed up the rotation by pulling in your arms and legs closer to the center of rotation, while spreading out arms and legs- weight away from center of rotation- slows down the rotation. Same thing on the SUP. If all the weights are at the center of the board, it will yaw more easily (center of rotation is center of board), while spreading the weights away from the center of rotation makes it yaw less- makes sense, right?
A takeaway from this is that if you pack gear on your board, placing it away from the center- towards the nose and tail- will make the board yaw less than mounting it in the center of the board.

On the second day, the results were as follows:

400 ft sprints:

with 30 pounds extra:
Run 1: 48 sec
Run 2: 48 sec
Run 3: 48 sec
Run 4: 49 sec

Without extra weight:
Run 1: 46 sec
Run 2: 46 sec

So results were a little less conclusive as the average results were almost a second faster with the weights and almost a second slower without than the day before. Still significant though.
You can watch the videos below of the sprints without and with extra weights and draw your own conclusions.
Run without the weights: 46 sec. top speed: 6.7 mph

Run with the 30 lbs weight: 48 sec. top speed 6.4 mph

I realize that putting the weights on top of the board is not the same as having a heavier board where the weight is spread out over the entire hull. Nevertheless, I'll assume for the sake of this experiment that the effect of extra weight is similar.

I rounded the sprint results to 3 seconds slower with 30 pounds extra weights. For the 48 second time that is a difference of just over 6 %

I’m assuming that each additional pound has a proportional effect on speed, so 6% divided by 30 pounds= 0.2%

So, I'm assuming that a pound of weight added to the board makes it 0.2% slower.

So, you would expect 5 extra pounds to make it 1% slower and 15 extra pounds 3% slower

This sounds very minimal and if you are cruising or touring: who cares if you are going 1% slower, that's only 36 seconds per hour of paddling.

I just want to put it in perspective from a racing standpoint.
Imagine for a moment that you are Rob Rojas and just finished the BOP Elite race in 1:03:15
If you want to check the results:
http://raceresults.eternaltiming.com/index.cfm/20101002_Battle_of_the_Paddle.htm?Fuseaction=Results&Class=Elite+SUP+Individual%7EOpen+MElite

So, you finished the Elite race in 15th place- a respectable finish against the world's top SUP athletes, but not top ten, no podium, trophy, prize money, shaking Jerry and Sparky's hands, pictures in the mags and on the web etc.

Matt Becker, on the other hand, finished in ninth place in 1:03:08. His time was 7 seconds (or 0.185%) faster and he makes the cut.

If you knew that making your board just one pound lighter would have made you 0.2% faster would you still say that weight does not matter?

I think not.

Another thought:
The speed difference might seem very small in the controlled flat water test but in downwind racing it's all about catching and connecting bumps. That slightly faster acceleration can be the difference between making and missing a bump, which can compound the effect. If you race in downwinders you know that connecting one good bump train can put you 50 yards ahead (or behind if you miss it) of you competition, and it does not really matter if you are at the front or in the middle of the pack.
If you are not racing, or want a board to train on, save yourself a bundle and get a solid, less expensive board, but in racing, light weight is KEY

Note: The test used weights on top of the board, not evenly distributed. Also, I used the sprint results to calculate the 0.2% effect per pound. Most likely the difference would have been smaller with even weight distribution and over a longer course. My estimate is that one extra pound, evenly distributed will make the board somewhere between 0.1% to 0.2% slower and maybe less than that in some circumstances. Other factors are size, volume and design of board, rider weight, etc. I'm thinking a displacement type board should be less sensitive to weight than a planing hull, which has to lift out of the water to plane and reduce wetted surface and drag.

This is just what I'm taking away from this experiment. To read what others thought of it, or if you want to make a point or comment, please check out the discussion thread at:

http://www.standupzone.com/forum/index.php?topic=9446.15
[Link]

Zen Waterman » Paddle technique: Part 1- Choosing the right paddle- by Robert Stehlik

Posted 7 years ago

This is the first part of a series of paddle technique posts. First things first, before getting into the technique you need the right paddle to work with.

Topics:
Shaft: Length and shape
Blade: size and shape
Materials: flex, weight, pricing
Fixed length vs. adjustable
Double bend shafts

When people talk about SUP equipment it is usually about the board while the paddle is often neglected despite it's importance. Some factors to consider when choosing a paddle are:

Shaft:
There is no set formula for length, more of a personal preference. If in doubt, size the paddle longer and tape the handle without gluing it, then shorten it to a comfortable length. Remember, it is easy to shorten the shaft but difficult to lengthen it once it's cut. As a guideline, for surfing, the paddle should be about 6" taller than user. For flat water paddling/ racing it should be 6"-12" taller (or more). Some other factors to consider are the thickness and floatation of the board used (the thicker the board and the higher you are up off the water, the longer the paddle should be); the dimensions of the blade (a paddle with a long, narrow blade needs to be longer than a short, wide blade). As a rule of thumb, if you stand the paddle upside down on the handle, the base of the blade (waterline when paddling) should be at nose or eye level for distance paddling.

I hear that if the paddle is too long, it can cause the shoulder to over-extend and can be harder to "power up". At 6'2" (74") I have never had this problem as most paddles are 85" or so uncut and I actually wish I could try a paddle that's a few inches longer than that.
If the paddle is too short, it forces the paddler to hunch over which can cause lower back problems. A shorter paddle also limits forward reach and leverage and makes it more difficult to plant the whole blade in the water before applying power. If your paddle is too short, you will not be able to use the technique tips in this series.
For more information on paddle length, this is a good from Ke Nalu:
Measure Twice, Cut Once

The shape of the shaft and handle are important and personal preference matters- it should feel comfortable in your hands. I find smaller, oval shaped shafts and rounded palm grips most comfortable. Try the feel of several paddles and see which ones feels most comfortable in your hands. While rounded palm grips are comfortable, the rounded edges are not as easy to catch. If you often miss or slip off a rounded palm grip and bang yourself in the head with it, as I have done many times, you might find a T-handle easier to catch with your thumb as you switch sides, like in the picture below. It helps to slide the hand up along the shaft to catch the handle when switching.

Blade:
The most important consideration when choosing a blade is to match the surface area of the blade to the paddler. Think of a 10 speed bike: you use a low gear to accelerate and/or go uphill and switch to a higher gear as you are going faster. If you suddenly stop the bike in a high gear and then try to get it going again, you have to apply all your weight to the pedals while the bike is barely moving forward. Accelerating in a high gear is very slow and exhausting. This is what happens if you are using a blade that is too big. Since a paddle is more like a single speed bike, you need to choose a blade that is small enough to let you accelerate easily and paddle uphill (into the wind) but still big enough to hold water at higher speeds without cavitation. Generally, a lighter, smaller paddler should use a smaller blade, while a heavier, stronger paddler can go with a bigger blade.
To use the same gearing comparison- a longer paddle is like a higher gear with more leverage while a shorter paddle is like a lower gear with faster stroke rate. You can somewhat adjust the "gearing" by changing the grip of the lower hand on your paddle (some move both hands lower on the shaft, effectively making their paddle shorter). Gripping the shaft lower will result in a "low gear" for accelerating and going upwind while gripping it higher will result in a "high gear" with longer reach for higher speeds.


These are the C4 Waterman paddles I use, the upper blade is my surfing blade, the lower my distance/ racing blade (XPR), which has a slightly larger surface area (same width but longer blade). The shaft on the surfing paddle is also about 2" shorter than my racing paddle. When surfing, you need to be able to accelerate from a complete stop to catch a wave, so a "lower gear" works better, while distance paddling is more about maintaining a higher speed where a "high gear" is more efficient.

There are many blade outlines and shapes on the market and some work better than others. I find that a dihedral or "spine" on the face of the blade will somewhat reduce "flutter", the tendency of the blade to move side to side when powered up. The picture above shows the dihedral and carbon/ kevlar blend weave of the blade.

A thin blade edge will allow smooth water entry and exit but is also more likely to damage the rails of the board. A plastic paddle edge guard will protect the rails and paddle edge and is highly recommended for entry level paddlers. The down side is that it makes the entry and exit of the paddle less efficient. Quickblade uses a ABS plastic blade edge- a good idea that keeps the weave on the edge of the paddle from getting frayed and splintered although it won't do much to protect the rails.
The sharp edges of this blade are covered by plastic paddle edge guard which can be removed later if you feel it is no longer needed. You don't need to use superglue when applying it. Warming the edge guard up in the hot sun or in a microwave before applying it will soften the rubber and make the glue strip inside more sticky. A good shop will apply it for you professionally.

Materials, Flex, Weight:
So you found a paddle length and blade size that works well for you. Another important aspect is construction. The paddle should feel "lively" and have a "snappy" flex. The paddle should flex naturally when you power it up and release the flex at the end of the stroke. There is some controversy as to whether flex is lost power. I find that as I learned to release the blade efficiently I can direct the stored energy of the flex forward to send the paddle back forward into the reach position, making the recovery effortless and giving the body a moment to relax. Good paddles are constructed to allow a powerful, snappy flex. Weight is important in distance paddling as a heavier paddle will tire out the paddler sooner. Since the paddle is lifted out of the water hundreds of times during distance paddling, every ounce matters here.Here are some of the pros and cons of the most commonly used paddles on the market:

Aluminum Paddles:
Pros: Anodized aircraft aluminum is strong, corrosion resistant, and affordable.
Cons: weight- usually heavier, not much flex
The Aquaglide aluminum vario paddle is strong, adjustable and affordable- a good choice for entry level and family use.

Wood Paddles:
Pros: Natural flex- wood has a great flex that is easy on the joints. Wood paddles are usually handcrafted and can be personalized works of art. They are also made mostly from natural and renewable resources and are therefore more environmentally friendly. Some paddlers swear by wood paddles, see this blog post by Jenny Kalmbach.
Cons: Weight to strength ratio- wood paddles can be heavier and/or not as strong for the same weight and can be expensive.
Everpaddle makes beautiful wood paddles from reclaimed wood.

Fiberglass Paddles:
Pros: flexible, strong, inexpensive compared to carbon. Great choice for everyday or heavy duty use.
Cons: heavier than carbon, flex is softer, very strong if made well.

Carbon Paddles:
Pros: Light and stiff, snappy flex, preferred construction for most racing paddles.
Cons: Can be too stiff (hard on joints) if not designed well, expensive. Carbon is stiffer and will break at a certain point, while fiberglass and kevlar allow for more flex before breaking, it is also sensitive to nicks and dings that can weaken the integrity of the whole paddle.

Composite Paddles:
Carbon, fiberglass, and other materials such as Kevlar, dynel, wood and others can be combined.
Pros: Composite materials can improve flex and weight to strength ratio if designed well.
Different fabric materials and composition, weaves and wrapping/ layup can be used to influence flex characteristics and feel, there are many opportunities for innovation and testing in this area.
Cons: can be more expensive, new technology still being perfected.

Fixed length vs. adjustable:
If you are the only one using the paddle and don't use it for travel, a fixed length paddle is the best choice as it is lighter and has better flex characteristics than an adjustable length or two piece paddle. If you are sharing the paddle with others, having an adjustable length is a nice feature. For travel, it's nice to have a two or even three piece paddle that can easily store in your luggage.

Double bend paddles:The picture below shows a Werner Paddles double bend paddle shaft vs. straight shaft, illustrating how the double bend allows extra reach. The double bend also allows a straighter grip angle for the lower hand and reportedly reduces flutter. I have had a chance to try one of these but not enough to say if I like it better than a straight shaft The lower hand grip is more ergonomic and comfortable but it did not have the snappy flex I am used to on a straight shaft. I ordered one and am expecting it soon. I will do some more testing and report my findings here. Any comments are welcome. Werner does not recommend bent shafts for use in the surf.
.

Click here for Part 2 – The three ingredients of a powerful stroke.

To be notified of new entries, please "like" the Blue Planet facebook page or subscribe to this blog.

Thanks for reading, Aloha!

[Link]

Zen Waterman » Stand Up Paddle training simulator by Robert Stehlik

Posted 7 years ago

Video coutresy of standuppaddlesurf.net
Video Part 1

Follow this link to read Evan Leong's story about the SUP simulator on standuppaddlesurf.net

Background:
When I started racing SUP competitively, I realized that to get faster and be one of the top racers, I would have to put in more training time.
Downwinders are the most fun and we are lucky to live in Honolulu where we have the Hawaii Kai to Waikiki run, a nice downwinder. It usually takes us less than 1.5 hours to complete the paddle but with shuttling cars between start and finish, loading and unloading boards and gear, showering, changing, etc., it usually takes more than 4 hours to do this. I have a business and family so for me to do a downwinder more than once or twice a week is not realistic, so I was looking for ways to get a paddle workout in less time. I started doing round trip sprints which take less time but was still not able to do this on a daily basis. So, I used a paddle shaft from a paddle with a broken blade and attached a hook to it. I built a pulley weight system to hook up to it and the first SUP paddle trainer was born. I found this setup worked well for strength training with heavier weights. Most gyms have pulley weight systems and if you have a training paddle shaft you can hook it up to any cable weight system. I also tried stretch cords, which provides a good basic workout. A SUP simulator kit using stretch cords is now available at http://www.paddlecoretrainer.com/, see below.

The weights and stretch cords provide resistance during the pull and the recovery. When paddling you only have resistance on the pull, not the recovery.
So, I started researching rowing machines (that provide resistance only on the pull) to be modified into a SUP trainer.

A friend told me to check out the First Degree Fitness E-216 model and I found it to be the most suitable as a SUP trainer for the following reasons:

Cable pulley: Some machines, like the popular Concept 2 rowers, work with a chain drive, which is fine for rowing as the pull is straight out but not for SUP training as the pull is diagonally to the sides, which puts too much strain on a chain. The E-216 has a tough Dyneema cable (rope) that works well.

Adjustable water resistance: The water level in the resistance chamber can be adjusted instantly with a lever, which allows the resistance to be changed quickly for different users or workout intensity. SUP training requires a lower resistance than rowing training, so it’s important to be able to adjust the resistance. The water level in most water rowers can be lowered manually but only the First Degree Fitness rowers allow instant adjustments. The water resistance provides a realistic catch, power phase, and recovery. The moving water in the tank even sounds much like a real stroke. We sell this model for $1599 including free shipping to any US address (unmodified rowing machine).

To make the experience more realistic, I built a balance board that simulates the balancing required on a board. After some experimentation and prototyping, I came up with a design that works well. It allows side to side balancing but will not twist or rotate. I modified the rower by removing the seat and track assembly and replaced the rower bar with the SUP paddle shaft.

Tips: Shortest paddle length is easiest to pull. Take full strokes as monitor might not record very short strokes. Pull cable straight out from machine and recover same way (see illustration). Avoid recovering faster than cable retracts.

That’s it. It works surprisingly well and can provide a quick full body workout anytime. If you are in Honolulu, come by the Blue Planet Surf Shop on Ward Ave. to try it out. When you are ready, take the 2km challenge and win a $100 gift card if you can break the record.

The trainer paddle is available at our shop for $99, or order it for $125 including shipping to anywhere in the US at:

http://blueplanetsurf.com/product.php?productid=16486&cat=269&page=1

We are now offering the Paddle Core Trainer, a SUP simulator kit that includes the adjustable paddle shaft, balance board, stretch cords, accessories and instructional DVD. Available now at Blue Planet Surf Shop for $199, $30 flat rate shipping in the US.


For more information:
http://paddlecoretrainer.com/


Or contact Blue Planet at 808 596 7755 for more information.

The complete SUP training simulator including modified Rowing machine, trainer paddle, and balance board is available on request.

Video part 2

Video part 3
[Link]

Zen Waterman » 2010 Molokai 2 Oahu Race by Robert Stehlik

Posted 7 years ago

The Challenge
When it comes to Stand Up Paddle racing, the Molokai 2 Oahu race is the ultimate challenge. After competing in the race for the first time in 2009, I knew I wanted to do it again. I have been thinking about, training and preparing for the race on July 25th, 2010 pretty much since then.

Commitment
No other SUP race I know of requires the kind of preparation, commitment and support from family and friends as this one.
We started doing long distance training earlier this year as I reported in an earlier blog. My training partners and I all significantly improved our race times, see "biggest losers" below, so the training really paid off.

The week before the race, I was talking it easy and people kept asking me, "Are you ready for Molokai?"
I was not sure how to answer at first because I don't think I could ever really say, "I'm ready for this race." Anyway, I had signed up early, trained hard, had my equipment ready, escort boat organized, packing list, air ticket, accommodations, race numbers and I was not going to get faster by training the week before the race, so my answer became: "I'm as ready as I'm going to be."

My escort boat Captain, David Von Hamm, is a commercial fisherman and one of my neighbors. Our sons Christian and Andrew are friends and went along and left early Saturday morning to take David's boat, the Sweet Kimi II from Ko Olina to Molokai, which took them all day. They did catch some nice fish along the way and did a great job supporting me the next day. Thanks guys!

Molokai Bound
I did not want to get sea sick and boarded this 9-seater plane to Molokai on Saturday afternoon. Everyone on the plane was on the way to the race.


The weather was beautiful and the ocean was covered with whitecaps. I was pretty excited flying over the west side of Molokai where we would start early the next morning.

The one taxi at the airport was not big enough for all 9 passengers from the plane so the the driver called his dad to bring the other cab. Gotta love Molokai, it's not overcrowded like Oahu, that's for sure.

We got to the Kualakai resort in about 15 minutes and I made my way to the beach to look for the escort boat. The bay was full of boards and Dave's boat showed up right on schedule, but anchored pretty far outside all the other boats. I was hoping they would come in closer to the beach, but no such luck and I had to swim out pretty far. It felt good to get in the water though. They had a long, but good day of fishing. I was happy to find that my board and paddle survived the trip in good shape.
I paddled back to shore and took a quick shower in the nice condo that Jeff rented. I got to the pre-race dinner late, but there was still plenty of food left. I had a big plate plus seconds and felt pretty good. A lot of things could have gone wrong, but so far everything had gone smoothly and it was time to let go of the anxiety of getting everything organized and relax.
Doug Lock and Jeff Chang's boards where on a boat in the next bay over, north of the resort and I walked over there with them after dinner.


A bunch of people were camped out in this beautiful bay and had beach fires going. I love camping and was wishing I was camping, too. On second thought, it was nice to have a bed, kitchen and bathroom, too, especially the next morning.

Jeff and Doug swam out to the boat to paddle their boards back in the full moon while I walked back. On the way I stopped by the ocean front condo where a bunch of my friends including Kaipo Guerrero, Edmund Pestana, Heather Jeppsen, Ekolu and Honora Kalama, Gerry Lopez, Herbie Titcomb, and a bunch of others were hanging out and talked story for a while, then headed back to our condo where I prepped my hydration packs, GPS and gear for the next morning.
Jeff and I relaxed for a while and went to bed early. Kevin Seid was still doing last minute work on his board, glassing the rudder assembly on his new Everpaddle unlimited board. The poor guy had to endure the night before seasick on his escort boat as he could not get a standby flight on Friday. Then he spent all day Saturday working on the rudder system for his board. He finally came in at 11:30 pm after taking a test paddle in the moonlight and finally seemed pretty content and ready to go.

Race day
The next morning we got up early, had some coffee and breakfeast, got our stuff packed up in the cool drybags that all competitors received and headed to the beach. I paddled out to the the anchored boat to drop my bag. I missed the Hawaiian Prayer (Pule) as David anchored his nice boat even further out, about half a mile. It took me a while to paddle out to the boat and back into the wind but I figured it was a good way to warm up.
Oahu was visible for a while but by the time the prone paddleboarders started at 7:30 AM, it was shrouded in clouds again.


My SIC F-16 on the beach ready to go. Along with my C4 Pohaku paddle. I had tried lots of boards over the last year and decided on this one because it catches bumps well and is stable enough for the rough channel conditions. Thanks to Evan Leong from standuppaddlesurf.net for letting me try his board and then selling it to me, I hear these things are hard to get.


I had my Garmin GPS mounted on the deck using the two unused screw inserts on the deck for the goofy foot rudder mount. I used a piece of foam, taped the GPS to it, then screwed it on. The GPS was pretty key, more on that later.

Ok, it was time to head to the starting line and join all the other amped up paddlers. Everyone was excited and ready to go, the start boat had to keep pushing back the starting line.
Aaron Napoleon provided some comic relief by pulling his boat up right in front of the starting line. Riggs jumped off the back right at the starting line- first class service. Aaron and Kai Bartlett had the fastest crossing last year. He would have been a favorite this year too, but he skipped the race so he could escort and coach his 12 year old son, Riggs- pretty cool.

Start
The horn blew at 8am sharp and everyone was off to a fast pace. The prone paddlers had headed out on a really northerly route and the pack followed them. Oahu was not visible and instead of following the pack, I followed the arrow on my GPS which pointed me in a more southerly direction. Last year was the opposite with the pack heading south of the direct line. More on that below.

Dave Kalama was the only one in front of me south of the pack. I had a good start and was trying to keep up with him for a while but could not match his pace. He was wearing a white shirt while the solo paddlers all had green shirts, so I thought it could not be Dave as I knew he was paddling solo and the two man teams were wearing white shirts. He ended up finishing the race in record time with a comfortable lead and I'm pretty sure his direct line gave him an edge.
My ambitious, personal goal was to finish in under 5:30 and top 5. I knew I would have to go fast all the way across to meet that goal.
The first part was pretty smooth until we got out a mile or two where the bumps started getting bigger and got more defined. The trade wind was not as easterly as I had hoped, it had quite a bit of north in it. The Molokai race is not really a downwind race like some of the coastal races where the wind is straight from the back most of the way, as you are really quartering the wind and bumps all the way across. The bigger, faster windswells were really northerly so I had to fall off the direct line to catch them and trim along the wave as long as possible, then between bigger waves gain ground again on smaller, slower bumps going in a more easterly direction. This was working well, I was making good time and I was feeling pretty confident.

The first 10 miles went by pretty quickly. I was paddling mostly on the left and occasionally took some hard strokes on the right side to catch the bigger swells. Despite hydrating and refueling regularly, by the time I reached 16 miles, my muscles (forearm, triceps, lats, abs and even toes) started cramping, interestingly mostly on the right side where I was taking less, but more powerful strokes.

Cramping
I was drinking Gatorade, eating shot blocks and gu gel, which provided some relief, but I had to slow down and deal with cramping muscles by stretching them which is not easy while paddling for the rest of the race. Luckily I was able to keep paddling more or less normally on the left side and only cramped when I took hard strokes on the right. Needless to say, the cramping had a big impact on my race and I spent lots of time after the race researching it as I don't want to go through this painful experience again next year. Although I had some cramps at the end of last year's Molokai race, I never have cramps during training or shorter races. If others have had this problem and found some solutions, I would like to hear from you. I did get some varied advice from other paddlers after the race, including Advil, salt tabs, baking soda, Rolaids and more. It's really quite interesting, exercise-induced cramping is not well understood scientifically and there are there many theories. I might write a future blog on this. For now, I can recommend this page for further reading on cramping on the Hammer nutrition website: http://www.hammernutrition.com/problem-solver/cramping/

Anyway, back to the race. After making it through the painful second half of the race I finally got close to Portlock point, where the water got sloppy and there was less and less push from bumps. I saw Zane Schweizer on a faster line, closer to the wall and passing me pretty easily. I had fallen off too far south too early and had to paddle hard to get to the point, but I was close now and determined to finish.

The waves were tiny but I caught one by China Walls and cut through the opening in the reef. The headwind in the bay was overwhelming and it was obvious that I would not meet my goal time of under 5:30. Dave Parmenter and Archie Kalepa were right in front of me at the point, with a jet ski, switching out every few minutes. At this point I was wishing I had a partner, too and did not even attempt to keep up with them. I followed their line, hugging the coastline where the wind was a little lighter. The tide was high so we were able to paddle right along the breakwalls.

Finish
The final approach to the finish. At this point I was no longer feeling any pain, just happy to be there. My wife and kids were there to greet me with hugs and a lei. I made it!
My time was 5:41 and 34 minutes faster than last year. The scene at the finish was great, lots of smiling faces, food, drinks, even a massage. Now that the pain was gone, the endorphins were kicking in and despite the fatigue, I was feeling great. We stuck around to watch and cheer as more of our friends finished. Some of the later finishers actually got the loudest cheers and anyone who finishes this race is a winner. Rigg's finish was awesome and emotional. He made the Napoleon Ohana proud- way to go Riggs!

The awards dinner at the Outrigger Club was first class and a great way to finish this amazing day.
A big Mahalo to everyone who made this great race possible and better than ever, including all the Sponsors, Mike Takahashi, and the Molokai 2 Oahu team. Many thanks to my wife and family for letting me go on long training paddles and to my training partners, especially "coach" Jeff Chang without whom I would not be doing all this.

Please support 32:32 – 32 for a cause by purchasing a cap and shirt for $32 and supporting some great organizations at:
http://www.molokai2oahu.com/2010/07/20/3232/

My secret weapon: using the GPS
Using a GPS with a pointer gave me an almost unfair advantage over other paddlers, especially in the beginning when Oahu was not visible. After using a GPS in the last two races, I would not want to do the race without it.
There are advantages to taking a more northerly route (you can drop off and go faster later) or a more southerly route (get a faster start and then ride the bumps more north), and knowledge of current is key. Nevertheless, knowing the direct line is very helpful, even if you don't follow it and especially if you are not experienced at crossing the channel. I know from experience that following everyone else is not always a good strategy, because they could all be off course. Although the direct line may not always be the fastest line, it is the shortest distance, and for anyone doing the race for the first time I highly recommend a GPS with a pointer for this race.

I saved the finish in Hawaii Kai as a waypoint and set my GPS to point to it. I set the screen to also shows the elapsed time and distance. Knowing the distance is also key because Koko Head starts to look really close even though you are still 10 miles from the finish and you need to save your strength for the last 5 miles or so, which are the toughest of this race.

This is a picture of the direct line from the start to the finish on Google Earth.

This is a close up of the line intersecting Oahu just North of Hanauma Bay

And the view of the line from the water. At this point it's tempting to run more downwind towards the tip of Portlock but it's better to aim for the saddle and get close to the wall before rounding the point. I let myself drift too far south at the end this race. If you get pushed further south before going into Maunalua Bay, it can be almost impossible to make it to the finish, this is important adivce if you are thinking of doing the race for the first time.

Molokai race: "biggest losers"
Many of the paddlers in this year's Molokai race improved their times from last year. Regardless of where you finished in the field, improving your own time is always a big achievement. The conditions played a role in this but I like to think that better equipment, training, preparation, nutrition and mental state played a bigger role for those who significantly improved their race times. I compared race results from 2009 to 2010 for solo and team SUP racers that competed in the same division both years and calculated the difference.
I may have missed some but here are some of the SUP racers with the biggest improvement of race times (minutes difference, not counting seconds)

Connor Baxter: -103 min !
Dave Kalama: -50 min
Team: Alika Willis, Tony Moniz: -49 min
Jeff Chang: -38 min
Andrea Moller: -34 min
Robert Stehlik: -34 min
Kevin Seid: -33 min
Carolyn Annerund: -22 min
Team: Christian Bradley, Todd Bradley: -18 min
Scott Gamble: -16 min
Jenny Kalmbach: -9 min

Congratulations to all finishers and thanks to the organizers and sponsors for a great race.
Aloha, Robert Stehlik [Link]

Zen Waterman » Molokai training run- Hawaii Kai to Barbers Point- by Robert Stehlik

Posted 7 years ago

Training for the Molokai to Oahu race

Jeff Chang (I call him "Coach" because without him I would not be doing all this) and I did the Molokai race last Summer. We did one long training run two weeks before the race from Sandy Beach to White Plains. This year, we decided to step it up and start doing a long run every two weeks to be more prepared for the 32 mile distance of the race. This is a report of our most recent run for those of you that enjoy reading about SUP racing and training.

Today, on Memorial Day, Jared Vargas, Jeff Chang, Darin Ohara and myself went on a long training run. This was our fourth distance training day this year. Click here for some pics from a previous run that Jeff posted on his facebook page.
We started out in Hawaii Kai and paddled to Barbers Point for a total of over 31 miles.

For a map of our course, time, speed etc, please follow this link with the stats from Jared's GPS watch. Its pretty cool how much information it contains:
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/35289093?sms_ss=email


We launched on the marina in Hawaii Kai which is a good way to warm up and add about 1.5 miles to the total distance.

The run to Black Point was nice and fast with good bumps.

Darin passing Diamond Head, he did not have time to do the whole run and stopped at Kaimana Beach.

We stopped at Ala Moana beach park to refill our water bags- about half way. There was a nice south swell and we were catching waves along the way.

This shot is after passing Magic Island.

The current news is dominated by bad news, including oil spilling uncontrolled into the Gulf, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, financial crisis, global recession and with my business facing many challenges it's sometimes difficult to keep a positive outlook. Out here on the water, however, it's all good.

Looking at the city in the background reminds me of the Santa Monica song by Everclear:

We can live beside the ocean
Leave the fire behind
Swim out past the breakers
Watch the world die

For me, paddling is a great way to connect with nature, focus on the present without distraction and balance out my otherwise busy urban lifestyle. I always feel far removed from it all when I'm out in the ocean. For some this may sound like torturous way to spend Memorial Day but for us it's more like therapy.


Jared getting goofy


Jeff somewhere off Sand Island

Jared powering up. All three of us were keeping close to the same pace and barely had to stop to wait for each other.

A plane taking off as we pass the reef runway

Diamond Head looks pretty far away by now

Cargo ship passing on the outside


By Ewa Beach there is a shooting range, we could hear the shots echoing out on the water. The cement wall says DANGER- STAY CLEAR 5200 YRDS.
I lose my focus and wonder: What the heck is that supposed to mean? How did they come up with that distance? 5200 yards? Did they actually measure how far a stray bullet travels? How are we supposed to know how far away we are? Are they really shooting bullets out towards the ocean? I just want to get away from here as fast as possible and start to paddle harder.
The sign reminds me of the bumper sticker that says:
“If you can read this you are too close"
Luckily we did not encounter any stray bullets.

The bumps were awesome, the run from the airport runway to Barbers Point is one of my favorites. We have done it 6 times or so now and I thought it was even better than the Hawaii Kai to Black Point section every time. With clean windswell bumps from the back and ocean swells from the side this is a fun, fast, challenging downwind run. We kept chasing each other and maintained a strong pace.

On previous runs we finished at White Plains beach, which has a nice sandy beach, mellow, rolling waves, surfboard racks by the showers, grass and is a great place to land after a long paddle. Today we wanted to go further and decided to go all the way to Barbers Point lighthouse in the Cambell Industrial Park.


As we got closer we saw some sizable surf breaking. I felt foolish for not bringing a leash and thought of what would happen of a big roller took my board and I would have to swim in. With the strong wind and currents I might not be able to catch up with my board. So losing the board was not an option.


Jared sneaking out over a wave before it breaks

Getting in was not as bad as I feared, I was able to come in on one of the smaller waves, no problem.

Landing at the lighthouse was challenging as there was no sandy beach, just jagged sharp reef with shorebreak washing over it. Here is Jeff sacrificing his feet to keep his new Dennis Pang board from touching the reef. I just had to take this picture before going to help him.


Here is Jeff with his home made cable rudder system that he engineered in his garage the day before using a plastic cutting board, bungee cords and other high tech equipment. He was quite happy with the way it worked.


The cables run through tubes sunk into the deck under the footpads.

The bungee cords keep the steering in neutral when not engaged.


The truck is loaded and we are ready for the long drive back.

Below is a short video I shot of Jeff somewhere outside Ewa Beach.

Thanks for reading, Aloha! [Link]

Zen Waterman » Surfing and the Zen Buddhist Art of Happiness- by Len Barrow

Posted 7 years ago

If you are a typical surfer today, you may be faced with a number of frustrating problems in the surf. As time goes on the ocean is getting more crowded with many different types of surf craft. Depending where you are, people can become very aggressive and greedy when it comes to procuring waves. Some surfers go out of their way to “bad vibe” other surfers as they are on different equipment or they are perceived as “outsiders” or “insiders“. This can all add up to a bad surfing experience. Alas, what could possibly be the solution.
As I study Buddhism as an academic, especially Vietnamese Zen, I came to a solution which I use to great effect on a daily basis. In fact this method is so effective that I have ceased to have bad sessions because of this methodology. I wish to share these ideas with you, the reader, and wish that you benefit from them.
Before I dive in to this technique, it is important to get a background of where the ideas and methods come from. The Buddhists have many sutras, or “bundles” of writings. I will briefly describe to you the Abidharma (quite literally translated into “super teaching“ or “super knowledge“) and its general concepts.
The Abidharma was probably written in India around 1,500 years ago. It is striking as it deals directly with psychology and the mind over a millennia before the Westerners came to similar understandings with modern psychology of the 19th and 20th century. The Abidharma has been called the Sutra of Buddhist psychology by some.
What it teaches is very simple but profound. For our purposes as surfers and watermen it is most appropriate. The sutra views the mind as an infinite field. In this infinite field there are an infinite number of possible seeds (for a lack of a better translation of Sanskrit into English we shall use the term “seed“). The seeds can manifest in ones mind and most importantly in ones actions given certain causes and conditions. These infinite seeds include jealousy, anger, hatred, frustration, paranoia, greed, agitation, arrogance on one “end” and compassion, altruism, love, patience, joy, peace and equanimity on the other “end”.
This is why Zen Buddhists and Buddhists meditate! They are utilizing the power of concentration to water the proper seeds with attention! It is that simple. Zen Buddhists are just selecting the seeds in their mind that they water. If you water a thorny weed seed it will grow into an ugly thorny weed. If you water a beautiful Lotus seed it will become a beautiful Blooming Lotus.
If you don’t meditate or pay attention you will not be able to recognize the bad seeds and will be lead around life by them like a man who is on an out-of-control horse heading toward the nearest cliff or wall. This is sadly the case for the majority of the people on our planet. They are not in control of themselves, their negative emotions are dragging them around like powerless slaves. I should know, I often slip into angry and jealous ways when I don‘t pay attention to the seeds that I am watering in my mind.
The question arises. How can this be practiced in the surf? I will use an example that happened to me a couple of years back to help illustrate the Abidharma’s effectiveness. I was surfing a break on the Northwest side of Oahu that is relatively un-crowded and localized. This was during the time period when Stand Up Paddling was taking off. There was this guy who would paddle out and consistently get the set waves as on a SUP board you can get into a wave before anyone else can even stand up. My mind began dragging “me” around. I allowed my seeds of anger, frustration and jealousy to be watered by my own mind without even knowing it. It was like I was on auto pilot with no free will; a type of slave if you will. Why? Quite simply I was not paying attention to the seeds that I was watering in my consciousness‘.
In relation to the aforementioned paragraph, it is interesting to note that in Zen Buddhism, beings of Hell do not live somewhere on a different plane of the Universe. In fact in Zen, there are no Gods, nor heaven or hells that are elsewhere. “Demons and devils” live right here and we meet these hell beings or Hungry Ghosts (as the Zen Folk say) right here. There is no “other-where“. There is only now and this place. By not controlling the seeds I was watering in my mind ; I HAD JUST BECOME A TYPE OF DEMON FROM A ZEN BUDDHIST PERSPECTIVE. READ ON!
I became a little devil. I hated this guy with a passion. I remember my mind becoming agitated as this man slid into every wave. I became extremely jealous as he seemed to be having the time of his life. He was not a very skilled surfer and I believed that I had more rights than him. I remember having the arrogant thought that as the reigning US Long board Champion that he should be giving waves to me. I was allowing all the destructive seeds of my consciousness to be watered.
Then it all came to a head.
The SUP guy came speeding down on a set wave (in fact a 12 foot face!). He lost control and ran me over at a terrific velocity. All I remember was a loud bang. Then we both cart wheeled underwater often colliding with each other as the bomb wave dragged us underwater.
I came up out of the water wanting to literally kill the guy. He popped up out of the water gasping for air for I believe that he had never gotten drilled that hard in his life, not to mention doing this in tandem with running someone over in such a terrible manner. He was coughing up water and terrified. I was angry and getting drilled by a six foot Hawaiian Size wave was normal for me thus I was not out of breath . In my fury and ready physical condition I was about to launch into a verbal barrage at him or worse.
But I had a flash of insight. For some strange reason the Zen philosophy of the Abidharma floated into my head. I began to concentrate and pay attention to the seeds that I was watering and simply DECIDED TO WATER DIFFERENT, MORE POSITIVE SEEDS. IT WAS THAT SIMPLE. [I JUST CHANGED MY MIND]….. BY WATERING DIFFERENT SEEDS IN MY CONCIOUSNESS THROUGH THE USE OF FOCUSSED ATTENTIONED ATTAINED IN MEDITATION. As I saw terror in the mans face I watered the seeds of compassion in my mind. I automatically put on a little smile and asked if he was Ok. He said he was not. I suddenly felt impatient (as I wanted to get back to the business of surfing good waves) yet I focused my attention on the seed of patience that we all have in our consciousnesses and I offered to help him paddle in. He was understandably perplexed at my attitude but he held on to my nose as I paddled him towards the channel and to then beach.
The day became magical after that. It was as if the weight of the world was off my shoulders. I did not have the seeds of hatred, arrogance, and jealously being watered in my head anymore. Because of this I was able to pay attention to the seeds of happiness contentedness, cheerfulness and especially mindfulness. The turquoise blue waters of the shoreline became extremely impressive. I noticed a bird calmly riding the updraft of a wave. Even the seaweed was an emerald green and amazing. It was as if I was hallucinating but in a good way. I appreciated everything so much more. I came home in a wonderful mood and was just buzzing over life.
The above may sound like tree hugging hippie talk as well as overt pacifism. But before you write the philosophy of Zen and the Abidharma off:
I DARE YOU TO ASK YOUR SELF IF YOU ARE REALLY IN CONTROL OF YOURSELF?
MORE IMPORTANTLY, I DARE YOU TO HAVE THE ABILITY TO CHANGE YOUR MIND. YOU WERE BORN WITH TOOLS TO MAKE EVERY SURF SESSION AND LIFE MAGICAL. [Link]

Zen Waterman » A Totally True Story From the Surfing Shores Of Hawaii by Len Barrow

Posted 8 years ago

It was a typical sunny morning at Daimond Head. I pulled up into the parking lot of the surf break named Lighthouse. The waves were good; a glassy head-high swell with a mixture of east and southwest swell pushing together to make perfect small A-Frame peaks. As I focused my eyesight on the break which is about 200 yards below the parking lot I noticed that it was unusually crowded and my initial optimism was dulled like a kid who goes to the toy-store but can’t find his “perfect” toy.

My thoughts shifted to the characters that inhabited the break (or shall we say Zoo) like territorial chimpanzees who were all hyped on being the Alpha Ape of Lighthouse. I knew the characters all to well. There was the “tapped “ dude with barbed wire tattoos on his neck and who’s body was cut like Bruce Lee. He had this truly frightening glare which he used to effectively intimidate those he perceived to be weak and feeble. Mr “Tapped” had the bizarre habit of taking off and going left strait into the rocks and he seemed to enjoy it. There was the “Bully”. He was large and muscular but could not surf. He caught many waves as no one complained about his greed due to his muscularity and his ability to induce fear in others. Once someone quietly grumbled and the Bully chased him around on his surfboard in almost perfect circles while simultaneously screaming at him. It was both hilarious and grim to watch.

My favorite guy to check out was a person who I called “Troubles” . Troubles was almost universally hated by everyone as he was intensely aggressive and greedy. He dropped in on all and seemed to regard myself as the lowest link in the feeding chain as he loved to drop in on me as I never retaliated. His behavior got him into numerous fist fights which remarkably took place barefoot on the reef while standing in two feet of water. They were amazing affairs as they lasted some minutes and invariably ended up in bloody faces and especially bloody feet. It made MMA cage fighting look like child’s-play. Troubles adapted to the situation of getting punched out too many times by learning Kung Fu. This hardly helped as the fights were just elongated and more violent not to mention most spectacular.

Everyone was out to greedily get as many waves as possible (myself included) in the “Free Market” of surfing. The general attitude was if you could not take the heat of lighthouse then you were a kook and should not be “out here“. Survival of the fittest seemed to be every-ones mantra.

Despite the characters aforementioned , lighthouse has a few wonderful people who make order of the whole mess not by being the oppressive violent alpha males but through the use of a more fraternal, caring attitude. “Mr K” can be counted as one of these people. This man was an excellent surfer. In our sport, surfers who become exceptionally good sometimes become very arrogant. Surprisingly, Mr “K” was the most humble guy you could meet. His explosive surfing was fascinating to me given his mellow personality. He was also a native Hawaiian from the East side of Oahu raised in the ways of old Polynesians. I knew this as his family name was an old Big Island name and he reminded me of the Kupuna or old Hawaiian aunties and uncles that I grew up with in Hawaii who were invariably filled with wisdom.

Mr K had an amazing ability at the surf break of Lighthouse. Before he paddled out Mr. Tapped, Troubles, the Bully and a host of others would be engaged in the most socially dysfunctional cultural vacuum of bad vibes, yelling and hatred. It seemed like the war in Afganistan had relocated to the waters of Hawaii.

In to this boiling cauldron, Mr K would paddle out, all five foot six inches of him. He would start off surfing the inside, doing strait ups, airs and smooth cutbacks. The “lower ranked’ people were assigned a position on the inside where they got the left over junk waves that the “high ranked “ people did not want. Interestingly Mr K would stay among this group and show Aloha to them.

In regards to Mr K, it is important to ask the question, what is Aloha?

Aloha is unmitigated love or compassion for anyone, despite their race, social rank, your relationship with them or your position in life. It is like pure compassion. When you show Aloha , you invite anyone into your “house” (whatever that may be, surf break, social space, etc) and treat them as if they were your brother or a long lost friend. Then you SHARE what you have. You do not just reserve love and sharing for your immediate family and closest friends. It goes to everyone. Aloha was what Mr K. did and was.

Mr K would often introduce himself to the “lower ranked people” and got their names. He always did this with a big genuine smile. What he then did was most unusual given our present culture model of free for all competition, instant gratification and bizarre video games . He would go to the outside of the break and greet the Bully, Troubles, and Tapped and a host of other alpha males. They all intensely respected Mr. K as he surfed ten times better than all of them and in addition to being very Hawaiian (no one could tell him “I was here first” as his Family had been here for 800 or more years) he had an amazing social ability with people based on his Aloha. He would paddle for waves then let the wave go so the lower ranked individuals could get waves. Mr K would then introduce the Lower ranked folk to the higher ranked folk as his personal friends!

As I work as a professional Anthropologist this social phenomena and its consequences were amazing to watch. After Mr. K did his thing the break would invariably become more calm. The vibe would turn peaceful and people began sharing waves. No one would yell or intimidate others as I truly think that they were afraid and embarrassed of being a jerk in front of Mr K. The surf break actually transformed from a dysfunctional oppressive social space to a functional setting based on one mans Aloha. Mr K became the Alpha Male via compassion and social consideration, not violence and intimidation.

I think he knew what he was doing. In Hawaiian culture, the natural outcome of Aloha is a state of Lokahi and this results in things being Pono. Lokahi is a type of balance of all things. When things become disordered and unjust in the Hawaiian worldview of old, the act of Aloha is one way to reset things into natures equilibrium. This results in relationships that are in their best position for all concerned hence they are Pono , or honorable and fair. It is a socially ingenious Polynesian system honed by hundreds of years of existing in a harsh island environment where there was no other alternative but to get along or perish.

I think this could be a lesson for all of us. Every time I see Mr K doing his thing, I am almost forced to reflect on my own behavior as I am often greedy in the waves and much to aggressive and selfish in life. As predicted in the Hawaiian model of thinking or philosophy this causes social problems for myself and sometimes constructs distorted relationships in my world; not to mention other peoples worlds that I disrupt.

If there is anytime for reflection it would be now, given how short life is and considering the worlds generally poor social and environmental condition; in other words, a world that is out of balance or out of Lokahi and hence not Pono (the most beneficial order to all).

The following are not abstract or lofty questions. The world is in front of us and this century is arguably the make or break century for the human species and its survival. If this is not an important reason to rethink our relationship to others and the environment I don’t know what is.

Do I reserve kindness and Aloha for just for my immediate family and friends as is typically the case in our society? Is this a truly healthy thing to do in the long run (for it is easier)? Shall we shelter ourselves in our own “personal gated community” mentally cutting out the world or should we engage the world in different more socially and environmentally realistic terms? May we consider the well being of others that seemingly have no relationship to us or those who are of a different ethnicity and class even though it does not benefit us directly? Could we think and act on the health of the social and physical environment?

Maybe the real question is should we have Aloha?

Thanks Mr K………..

written by Len Barrow [Link]

Zen Waterman » Coast Guard Race Recap by Robert Stehlik

Posted 8 years ago

The Fallen Guardian Memorial race was held on Sunday Nov. 1st 2009.
The race was open to all kinds of watercraft, check out the traffic jam at the finish.
It was all for a good cause with entry fees going to the Fallen Guardian Scholarship Fund. The shuttle bus was a great idea, as we were able to leave our cars at Magic Island (and my camera, too).

There was some confusion at the start as they started everyone at the Canoe Hale in Hawaii Kai. They said everyone had to paddle upwind to the inside boat channel marker then out to the blinker buoy, except paddleboards, we would not have to go around the blinker buoy after rounding the inside channel marker.
I was using a Dennis Pang 17'6 unlimited SUP with rudder that Dennis was kind enough to let me use for the race. This board has great history as Guy Pere won the Duke's Race on it in 2008 and Aaron Nopoleon won the 4th of July 2009 Hui race on it. My goal and mission, of course, was to win this race and continue the board's winning streak. So, I took off fast into the light trade wind that felt pretty strong coming head on. Doug Lock and Jeff Chang were on my tail and I opted to head out in the channel around the break as I wanted to reach the bumps sooner. Jeff and most of the rest of the pack headed downwind inside and cut through the breaks in a more direct line to Black Point. Once I got to out the bumps, the board was working well and I was going at a good rate, catching as many bumps as I could and resting while cruising in the troughs and making little adjustments with the rudder to follow the bumps. The board is fairly narrow at 27" (I think) and a little tippy for me at 6'2 and 190 lbs but it worked great for the moderate conditions and I was able to stay on the board and connect many rides all the way to Waikiki. I reached Black Point in 55 minutes, not as fast as I have done it on a windy day but the lifeguard on a jet ski told me I had doubled my lead to 100 yards or so to the next paddlers, which were Doug Lock and Jeff Chang. As they started us before the canoes and surf ski's, no one was in front of me for the first hour or so. Two OC6 teams passed me past Diamond Head and the second team almost flipped over and got spun almost 180 degrees by a breaker outside the lighthouse just after they passed me. After Kaimana I headed toward the beach to avoid the offshore trades, catching waves and dodging the reefs that were exposed with a fairly low tide. Once I got outside Queens, the water was calm and the wind was pretty much blocked by the Waikiki high rises. It got hot and sweaty and now lots of canoes and kayaks were passing on the outside. I went inside threes and caught a couple waves and fell in twice. I would have probably been faster going around the breaks but I finally made to Ala Moana and finished first in 1:48 ahead of my friend and training partner Jeff Chang who was on a Bark unlimited board. I was stoked with the first place finish and another win for Dennis Pang's racing machine.

Herbie Titcomb sitting on his 14' Naish board
My wife, Sharon Stehlik only started paddling this year. She did the race on a 12' C4 Holoholo and finished in third place in the Women's SUP, good job sweetie!

For here for overall SUP race results
more pics:
First place women's SUP Nicole Madosik also did the Molokai race this year

Second place women's Barbara Bumatay came in 3 minutes later


Here is a google earth map of the race course, the path I tracked came to 11.99 miles. You can click on the map for a larger image.
[Link]

Zen Waterman » An Occasional letter from a Surfer on Philosophy- by Len Barrow

Posted 8 years ago


An Occasional letter from a Surfer on Philosophy
By Len Barrow
Surfing has been a gift to me. Since I was a child I have been engaged in one type of ocean activity or another and I could not possibly conceive of a life away from the ocean. I sometimes ask myself why I am so enthralled by the ocean. The answer came to me quite suddenly one day. I found that I loved the Ocean and its surf because it has been my teacher since a very young age.

The ocean will sometimes give the surfer a sudden lesson. Sometimes you get cocky in the surf (and in life) and the Ocean laughs at you and destroys your ego with a fifteen foot wave. Sometimes the Ocean gives you a lesson in more subtle ways.

This little story is an incident of the “subtle” variety. This happened a number of years back, and has since had a huge impact on my world view. The lesson is as follows.

I was sitting and watching the waves at Daimond Head and was thinking about where the waves had been “born.” These waves had their birth thousands of miles away in the Tasman sea, west of New Zealand. As the wave came across the ocean and grew, it linked up with other waves in what Oceanographers call wave chains. As the wave approached the shallow shores of Hawaii, it reached the peak of its life. I watched as this wave A-framed and peeled off in both directions. The wave then moved on in its life to white water and then disappeared as in death or had it?

Where did the wave “die” and go “to” I thought to myself. I was struck by the obvious conclusion that the wave that seemed like such a distinctive form, seemingly on its own power, did not actually disappear. What then did it become I asked myself? The answer came to me in a flash as in a little Zen Satori (moment of understanding) of sorts. The wave became the ocean, as it always was, waiting to be reformed into another “form” or wave when causes and conditions were just right; a literal and logical form of reincarnation .

A thought rushed into my mind. Was “I “ in any way like this? When did “I “ begin and for that matter when do I end? Maybe I am like the wave and the universe is like the ocean. Like the wave, do I have an inception when the causes and conditions are right and the egg and sperm meet? Maybe we could even go further back than this. Do I begin at the point my mother or father eat (maybe cow meat) to form the proteins that form the egg and sperm? Or do we go back to the suns energy that allowed the grass to grow to feed the cow? This is not strange reasoning. The aforementioned are all literal causes and conditions that are needed for me to be here. Actually, we can go on in this manner infinitely. It is like the question, where does a whirlpool begin (or end); one cannot tell.

In continuing this argument, as a baby I grow to being a boy , to a teenager then to a strapping young man peaking just as the A frame wave that I discussed before at Daimond Head. I will invariably grow old just as a wave crumbles into white water and “die.”

Or do I……Is this really the logical case?

Let us shift our thinking a bit and look at an equation that Einstein created that relates to our discussion. The equation is his famous E=MC². In laymen terms this equation simply informs us that matter is neither created nor destroyed. As waves go through a wonderful play of life and death they constantly take knew forms. The wave cannot become nothing at its “death” because the wave is simultaneously the ocean. A human is logically of the same situation. It is impossible for you to become nothing (at death) because you have been and will be nature as the wave is, has been and will be the ocean. You are simultaneously “You” and “Nature” at the same time. As the ocean inevitably will bring back the wave, you inevitably will reform in one way or another in nature. It is a logically inescapable conclusion. “You” (or whatever we are) will keep reforming in the same way as the wave, as the wave will be brought forth by the ocean repeatedly you will be brought forward by nature repeatedly.

We are necessarily infinite beings with the qualities of our mother; mother nature. We are all of this noble nature.

Let us leave this article with a Zen Koan (riddle). Please contemplate this.

WHAT WAS YOUR ORIGINAL FACE BEFORE YOU WERE BORN?

Good luck. This is a real mind bender, but keep working on it, especially when you are surfing.

Aloha,

Len Barrow – Hawaii, September 18, 2009. [Link]

Zen Waterman » Case of the Missing Self – by Len Barrow

Posted 8 years ago


Case of the Missing Self – Part One By Len Barrow Surfers and watermen routinely go through unusual experiences that they cannot describe to non surfers. They say “only a surfer knows the feeling” is a description of this phenomena. We literally cannot describe the wonderful experience to non-surfers.Despite this let me try to describe the experience and the outcome as it is both exciting and it relates to our study of Zen and the waterman experience.Sometimes when I surf everything comes together perfectly. You time the take off just right, launch into the lip effortlessly, do a floater in the sweet spot, or position yourself for a tube ride. In this moment you are at a high state of attention, a bit fearful, and the serotonin and adrenalin is rushing through your body.I had a most unusual experience once at Mokuleia on the North West shore of Oahu. The day was semi large and the waves were hollow yet make-able. I took off on a set and heard my friends hoot. My next memory was kicking out 70 yards in at the end of the wave with a feeling of intense exhilaration. I did not know were I went nor what I did yet I felt content strangely intimate with nature. It was like a birthing experience. YET I COULD NOT REMEMBER ANYTHING ABOUT THE WAVE: IN EFFECT I DISSAPEARD YET WAS THERE AT THE SAME TIME.I paddled out to where my friends were sitting to find that I had gotten a perfect stand up barrel. How could I have missed this experience? Also, how could I miss something like this and feel so good about it? I thought about it and came up with this answer. In surfing, whenever you think about something while you are on the wave, you screw up you maneuver or barrel or what have you. In a way your mind and self has to be completely emptied out. When your mind is scrambled it is hard to enjoy the surfing experience. Perfect surfing comes when you are in tune with the wave , its timing and its sections that you forget the chatter in your head, you forget your ego and you literally blend in the wave and nature: something I would term as a type of background consciousness that we all have. For me, this “Falling away of the self” is one of the requirements of surfing in its top form.Interestingly, this is similar to Zen meditation and its goals. In Zen meditation one is taught to watch ones breathing. As a breath comes in it is counted. As a breath comes out it is counted. This process goes up to ten and you start over again. If a thought comes in to your mind you just let it go or don’t grasp to it and begin your counting at one again. The goal is to calm the mind and let the self fall away. You get to a point of the ego diminishing and the self meshing with the background of nature; a similar feeling that I get deep in the barrel!I find it wonderful to see that calm focused surfing is so similar to Zen meditation. I wish that the reader would try to apply the things I have discussed. Here is how to do it. Before paddling out don’t drink a tank of coffee. Have some water. Take your time waxing up and walk down to the break. Don’t be in a frenzied hurry. Begin focusing your mind on the conditions. What is the swell direction? Where are the channels? What is the tide and current doing? Then sit quietly on the beach. Keep your back strait and cross your legs while sitting down. You can do this without drawing too much attention to yourself. Here is where you count your breaths. Count the in breath as one and the out breath as two. Go up to ten. When a thought comes into your mind just recognize it and let it pass by as a cloud in the sky would pass a mountain (your mind being the still mountain , unmovable!) and start at one again. Don’t worry if you can barely get to three or four. It takes practice and you get better with time. Take this calm mind and paddle out into the water, this time counting your paddling strokes in the same manner. You can take two strokes of the left and right arms as “one” count and so forth. When you get out to the break, don’t focus on the crowd but focus on the conditions and where the bowl is. When your mind wanders refocus it on the conditions just as you would refocus your mind on your breath while meditating. This is very important. Refocus on the conditions (it never gets boring because the conditions are always changing) just as you would refocus your breath in meditation. Use the breath and refocusing on the conditions “as the hook of the mind“ This is actual Zen terminology.Then take this relaxed mind set to your wave and just flow with it. Have a go with this technique. It may do wonders for your surfing. If not, it will surely enhance your enjoyment of the surfing and waterman experience.Stay tuned for my next article: Case of the missing Self Two [Link]

Zen Waterman » Cali SUP trip part 2- Battle of the Paddle by Robert Stehlik

Posted 8 years ago

Battle of the Paddle pictures courtesy of Doug Hopkins and Jeff Warner

Saturday, October 3rd 2009 was the big day that many of us had been training for- the second annual Rainbow Sandals Battle of the Paddle. Probably the biggest SUP event of the year with four races, a SUP expo and $25K in prize money. Sparky, the owner of Rainbow Sandals had a great vision and this second event was great. I did not make it to the first BOP and was excited to be in Dana Point for this event.
The first race in the morning was the age group race. This had to be the biggest field of SUP racers ever, with hundreds starting in each division from the beach in a staggered start. Mark Raaphorst had the fastest time and Zane Schweitzer came in first in the Stock division with a 5th place overall, beating a lot of guys on unlimited boards. My training partners Jeff Chang and Edmund Pestana got 1st in their divisions- good job guys!
Follow this link for complete race results. I did not enter in the age group race as I wanted to save my strength for the Elite race which started at 1:30 pm.
There was a big crowd of people on the beach and many companies had demo boards available to try. Check the video I shot of the race, pretty amazing to see that many people racing.

Battle of the Paddle 2009 age group race video from Zen Waterman on Vimeo.

The Elite Race
With a $25K purse and a spectator friendly format this invite only event has established itself as the most important SUP race of the year. I did not go to the first Battle of the Paddle last year and was not on the invitee list for the Elite race but I really wanted to be part of this ultimate SUP race. I e-mailed and called organizer Barrett several times with my race results and asked to be allowed to enter with no replies and was getting worried. I finally got a message a few days before the race that I could enter- sweet! Just being part of the event as one of the Elite racers made me feel pretty darn good. I printed out this map and spent some time studying it before the race but was still confused by it. The route turned out to be easy- just follow the other guys!
I was so pumped up and ready for the start. I had visualized and practiced the start many times and my heart would start racing just thinking about it. I really tried to stay cool and keep my heart rate down as we were standing close to each other on the beach, holding board and paddle, ready to charge into battle…
Doug Hopkins took this picture, I'm in the middle just about to get up. I got off the beach and on my board quickly and had no paddlers next to me in my peripheral vision for the first few strokes. Then I saw Aaron Napoleon leading the charge and a bunch of guys appeared all around me- the pace was frantic. The waves were fairly small and gentle but during the Elite race there were some pretty good size sets coming through which made the race super exciting. After passing the outside buoy, the course was M shaped with the third buoy marking a 180 degree turn inside the surf break. With many racers on each wave approaching this turn, the announcer was having a field day with collisions, pileups and just general mayhem at "the hammer". I kept hearing – "Oooh, they're having another yard sale and the bone yard!"
The Elite women division was launched a few minutes behind the men. Candice Appleby on the left getting ready to launch.

After completing the first round, we landed on the beach, had to run through the "chicane" with the crowd cheering us through the 75 foot beach run and launched back into the surf. Jeff Warner was my board handler and had the 12'6 Everpaddle board I was using ready on the other end. The low tide made the launch tricky as my fin touched bottom quite often. Next time I'll bring a fin that's not as deep.
Jeff in the Legends "sweeper" uniform did a great job handling my board and keeping me going.

Everything went fairly well and I went into the third round close to the lead pack probably in 15th place or so. I kept thinking I should have trained harder as the level and speed of the paddlers around me was fast and furious. I usually try to be relaxed and focused while I race but that went out the window, I was going all out and relied on my instincts to get me through the race. As we came down the outside stretch in the third round, Ekolu called out one of the day's biggest sets approaching. I turned the buoy just in time to catch the first set wave from all the way outside and started riding it towards "the hammer". Other racers took off on the wave and we were angling towards the inside buoy. I somehow angled too much and as the wave jacked up and broke, I was not able to straighten out in time to control the board and got flipped off. Without a leash, the board took out the rider next to me as well and got washed inside with the whitewater. I started swimming in with my paddle, hoping to body surf the next wave to get to my board. The next wave came full of racers hollering at me to watch out as I actually considered body surfing between the out-of-control boards and wide eyed racers but opted to put safety first and dove under the wave. By the time I reached my board, more than 10 racers had passed me and I could not make up the lost time. I finished in 24 th place and in one piece, the battle was over.

It was the most exciting SUP race I have ever been in and I have compared it to riding bumper cars, gladiators, ice hockey, windsurfing slalom racing, and demolition derby. The format and close interaction with the crowd on the beach made for a highly charged event. Respect to the impressive top two finishers Jamie Mitchell and Slater Trout and congratualtions to all finishers. Thank you Sparky for the vision and Rainbow Sandals for putting together an amazing race.

Evan Leong of standuppaddlesurf.net took this picture of Hawaii racers Kainoa Beaupre, Edmund Pestana, Zane Schwietzer and Robert Stehlik after the distance race on the day after the Elite Race.

Below is a youtube video that captures the excitement of the race well but takes a while to download.
[Link]

Zen Waterman » California SUP trip- Hennessey's and Tahoe races posted by Robert Stehlik

Posted 8 years ago


The crew from Hawaii before the start of the Hennesey's race that would take us around Alcatraz Island (L to R): Kevin Seid, Carlos Gillis, Robert Stehlik, Kainoa Beaupre, Morgan Hoesterey, Nikki Gregg, Honora Kalama and Eloku Kalama

Travel Report: 10 day Stand Up Paddle racing trip trough California. Sept. 25th to Oct.5th, 2009:
It started when my friend Kainoa Beaupre told me about the trip he was planning with Ekolu Kalama to participate in three SUP races and asked me if I wanted to come along. Of course I wanted to go, I was not sure if I could pull it off but everything came together. Here is the story.

Hennessey’s International Paddleboard Race 2009
I arrived in San Francisco on a red-eye flight from Honolulu early Friday morning before the race, took the BART subway and walked from the station to Fisherman's Wharf. I got to the beach and ran into my friend, Jeff Warner from Legends Surf in Carlsbad. We decided to rent bikes and head to the Golden Gate bridge.

When we got to the bridge it was covered by fog and overrun by tourists so we headed back to have lunch.
This is Jeff heading back to Fisherman's Wharf.
Kevin Seid from Everpaddle arrived in the afternoon with three brand new 12'6" Stock race boards that we were excited to try out before the race. We did some sprints in the bay and tried to pick the fastest boards for the next morning. All three boards were fast and it was almost impossible to tell which one was fastest.


Kevin, Jeff and myself with the pier and Alcatraz in the background. I loved the jailhouse themed race jerseys.
To my surprise, there were plenty of swimmers in the bay, training without wetsuits. The water was cold, especially compared to Hawaii, but it was not a cold as I expected.

After a night in a crowded hotel room shared with my friends from Hawaii, we made it to the beach. I was worried my friend Robby Ellingson from Boardworks would not make it to the start on time, he was bringing a C4 XPR race paddle for me to use. He spent most of the night driving up from Encinitas and just slept a few hours in his van, but he showed up bright an early.
Robby and Carlos unloading the van. So, I had a paddle but Kevin had the boards and he was not answering his cell- was he still sleeping? He showed up last minute with the race boards and we were all set for the start.
The sunrise was awesome and we lucked out with nice weather. The ground felt freezing cold but as soon as we started paddling I warmed up. Since we were all paddling, I have no pictures of the race, sorry. The Unlimited race started first, with a nine mile course around Alcatraz and Angel island. I was in the 12'6" stock division with a 6 mile course that took us towards the Golden Gate bridge, then back to Fisherman's Wharf then out to Alcatraz, around the island and back to the finish. I was under the impression, like most people seem to be, that the waters around Alcatraz are treacherous with ripping currents and patrolled by great white sharks, making an escape from the old prison next to impossible. To my surprise, it turned out to be a pleasant, scenic paddle (or would have been if I was not battling for position with some of the fastest SUP racers in the world). This is probably one of the most scenic urban settings to have a paddle race.

The stock race:
I got a decent start and soon found myself drafting behind TJ Saeman with Shakira Westdorp and Brandi Baksic following close behind. We were following TJ like ducks in a row. I tried to pass TJ a couple of times but he would pick up the pace and I could not pass him so I kept falling back into the drafting position. This was the first time I drafted in a race and I was surprised by how much much less energy it took to draft than to cut through the chop. I think the water coming back together behind the leading board creates a small bump that you can actually ride, also the water gets smoothed out and pulled forward by the lead board. This drafting effect seems to be even more pronounced in the third or fourth position. The tricky part is to maintain a close distance to the board in front of you without bumping into the tail and without going off course. I focused on the tail in front of me and usually switched my paddle one or two strokes after the lead paddler. I had to constantly adjust the power of my stokes to maintain the right speed. I would estimate that I used 15 to 20% less energy when drafting on the stock board, which is significant. On longer unlimited boards with their smooth water entry, drafting is probably less effective.
Coming around Alcatraz, a ferry boat bringing tourists to the prison was churning up water, which was tricky to navigate, around the next corner, TJ was cutting it super close to the rocks; his fin hit a rock and he fell forward off his board. I took the lead for a little while but TJ got up quickly, caught up and passed me again. In the final approach we all put in a last ditch effort to pass each other and Brandi pulled ahead on her thick Brian Syzmanski/ Starboards prototype, those boards seemed to work great for the conditions. I ended up behind TJ and Brandi but my 8th place overall finish time was enough for a 3rd place in my division, so I was stoked. Hennessey's put together an awesome luncheon party at a fancy restaurant overlooking the race course.
Big smile, this is the first time I ever won money in a race, so I was excited. Next to me are first and second overall finishers- Byron Kurt and EJ Johnson- those guys are fast and proved it again at the distance race at the Battle of the Paddle the next weekend- good job, guys!

The top three SUP Unlimited 40+: Thomas M. Shohinien, Thomas Gallagher, and Chuck Patterson- these guys were PUMPED UP.
The top three SUP unlimited under 39: Jared Vargas, Ekolu Kalama, and Dolan Eversole. Next to them is Mr. Hennessy himself in the white jacket- thank you sir, for the great contest, parties and price money!
I did not get a good shot of the other top finishers, sorry. Congratulations to all racers.
complete Hennessey's race results

When the luncheon was over, it was time to pack up the gear and head to Lake Tahoe, the site of the next race on the itinerary. Kevin Seid and I drove his rental van to South Lake Tahoe and checked into a cheap motel. Jeff and Robby ended up staying in San Francisco and left at 3:30 am to drive to Lake Tahoe to meet us at the start. The rest of the crew from Hawaii decided not to do the Tahoe race although they ended up going to Reno to gamble and met us at the finish in North Lake Tahoe.
We got up just in time to get to the start and I was scrambling to get some food in my stomach before the race. I did not take my camera with me during the race so I have no photos from the Tahoe race at all, bummer. If anyone has pictures, please e-mail them to me so I can post them.

2nd Annual Tahoe Fall Classic Paddleboard & SUP Race

I took this picture of the start from the Tahoe Paddle and Oar website where you can also find the complete race results.
The start was at Camp Richardson, the air was clear and you could see the other end of the lake where the finish was at King's Beach. The air, ground and water felt freezing cold but it was a beautiful day but once again I warmed up as soon as we started paddling. There was no wind and the water surface was completely smooth and glassy with only a few boat wakes disturbing the glassy water. I was concerned about the altitude and SUP'ing on fresh water for the first time, but neither turned out to be much of a problem. The race started fast with the lead pack breaking away quickly and keeping a fast pace. I meant to draft behind my buddy Robby Ellingson on his unlimited board but after a few strokes his tail started spinning out. He stopped paddling and as his board slipped into a turn said "I don't have a fin!". He forgot to tighten the fin plate screw, so he had to turn around to put in a new fin. Despite getting a 15 minute late start he still passed most of the field and finished in the top 10. I could not catch up with the fastest guys on unlimited boards but found a fast local paddler on an unlimited board (the guy in the black shirt in the middle of the picture above, I forgot his name but he has a construction company in Tahoe). I was able to draft him on my 12'6 Everpaddle stock board for about an hour and a half without a break. I had a water backpack lying on the board at my feet and wanted a drink badly but did not want to stop and loose the good draft, so I had to wait for him to take a break. He finally did and I had just enough time to put the Da Kine waterbag on my back and keep going. The drafting was working great and I was hoping I could draft across the whole lake for the 22 miles. Unfortunately that strategy did not work out but the drafting made it easier, for sure. The water in the middle of the lake was beautiful with the sunlight making cool patterns in the deep clear water. I focused on my breathing and synchronized it with my strokes, exhaling with each pull. My mind went completely blank a few times in a trance-like meditative state. I drafted behind Lance Erickson from Dana Point for a while and had a good chat with him until he got tired and needed a break about three hours into the race. The finish looked pretty close by then and I thought I could finish it in another 30 minutes or so and started paddling all out. There were some boat wakes going in the right direction and I tried to time my strokes to use all the push I could get from the tiny bumps. Even though the finish looked deceptively close, I still had quite a ways to go. I finished the race in under 4 hours and was stoked- first place in the stock division! I did not fall in the whole race and finally took a cooling dip at King's Beach after finishing. We got to meet some of the friendly locals at the finish, and Kainoa and the gang from Hawaii stopped by too, on their way to Reno. We were served a nice lunch and had an outdoors awards party before catching a ride back to the south end of the lake.
My request for Tahoe pictures was answered:
Jeff Warner sent this shot of the awards luncheon at King's Beach: Dan Gravere, Robby Elingson, Robert Stehlik, Jeff Warner and Kevin Seid.
Kevin Seid sent me this one he took right before the start, check out the clear water and beautiful scenery. The Tahoe Fall Classic was a great, memorable day.

After getting back to South Lake Tahoe, we went to a Thai restaurant and ate lots of good food before heading back to San Francisco. The next morning I headed back towards Encinitas with Robby. We had to pick up some C4 Waterman demo boards he left at the Log Shop in Pacifica, they had a big party (and surf contest, I think mostly as an excuse to get a permit) at Ocean Beach the night before. The Log Shop is one of the coolest surf shops I have seen with indoor skate park and graffiti walls in the huge space they occupied. Check out their my space page for skate videos.

I was wishing my shop in Hawaii (Blue Planet Surf Shop) was that big.

We drove most of the day to pick up Robby's computer shaped blank at Segway Composites. He designed a 12'6" race board on his computer and wanted to use it in the Battle of the Paddle six days later. The owner, Ken spent several hours educating us about surfboard construction, very interesting.
We ended up driving to Robby's hometown, Mt. Baldy, the closest ski area to L.A., where his dad owns the Mt. Baldy lodge. He was celebrating his birthday when we arrived and we had a few beers and shot some pool in the bar.

The next morning we got up early and drove to the top of the ski area to do some altitude training, we went running at 8000 feet and I quickly ran short of breath following Robby up a steep climb. This time I definitely noticed the thinner air. We were hoping to boost our red blood cells for the Battle of the Paddle. Later that day we dropped the computer shaped blank at Casey McCrystals shop in Huntington beach and watched him finish shape the board.

Casey shaped, glassed and finished in only 3 days for Robby to use it at the Battle of the Paddle.

On Wednesday I met up with Jeff at Cardiff for a morning SUP surfing session in decent waves. We were catching the waves to the right of the main break. There was an outside peak that would back off and if you could connect, jack up again for a fast inside closeout section. I tried the new 9'6 C4 SubVector model for the first time and was impressed by how stable yet manouverable it was.
We then went by Donald Takayama's shop in Carlbad to drop off a paddle Jeff had borrowed. Donald was in the middle of a business meeting with his Japanese partners pouring over spreadsheets, so I just expected a quick handshake. To my surprise, Donald excused himself from the meeting (he was probably bored by it anyways) and took about half an hour of his time to show us around his shop and talk story about his design ideas for Stand Up Paddling boards and Hawaii. I was amazed by the stoke, energy and enthusiasm he had after so many years in the industry. He still has plenty Aloha, too.
Inside Donald's shaping room with a wooden blank.

Afterwards we went to Jeff's comfortable store in Carlsbad, Legends Surf where I hung out in the recliner for a couple of hours.
Jeff in his super cool hangout shop- Legends in Carlsbad, where he also runs Warner designs on his computer in the back behind the big fish tank.

On Wednesday I visited the Altered electric skateboards warehouse in Lake Forest. I distribute their boards in Hawaii through Bionic Wheels.
I checked out their latest (still secret) prototypes, went for some test runs and talked business for a while. I checked into my hotel in Dana Point and went for a paddle at Doheney state park that evening.

On Thursday, I met Zane Schweizer, a 16 yr old from Maui who was staying at the same hotel. Zane's grandfather, Hoyle Schweitzer, invented Windsurfing. When I started windsurfing, all the gear had to be "licensed by Hoyle Schweitzer" as he held the patent. We did some training runs to get ready for the big race, practicing the transition from running on the beach to launching into the water and back out. In the evening we went to a talk by Jamie Mitchell, the 8 times Molokai race champion (prone paddling) at the Cardiff Patagonia store.

Jamie Michell's Molokai training program:
Here is what I learned about his training regimen: Jamie, his coach Mick and his Aussie mates prep for the Molokai race with three paddle training days a week, with one long run on the weekend and two shorter ones during the week. They work themselves up to doing more than the race's 32 miles on the weekend run and more than half the distance during the weekday runs for a total of more than twice the Molokai milage per week. In addition Jamie swims several times a week- over 3 miles each time and does some strength training and running as well (he did not even mention surfing, SUP or tow in surfing). In addition he talked about the importance of nutrition, recovery (rest, sleep, taking days off) and having a training group that pushes each other. There you have it- now you know why he is so fast.
When Jeff Warner asked him if he plans to Stand Up Paddle race competitively he said that if they held the Molokai race on two weekends with prone and SUP held on separate weekends, (which is a possibility in the near future) he would do both but for now he will stick with prone paddling. Jamie said he entered the BOP race "for laughs". For those that don't know, he won the Elite race against most of the fastest SUP racers in the world two days later, for more on that see the next blog entry.

On Friday I walked down to the beach to find a buzz of activity and a big group of my friends from Hawaii. I talked story for a while and helped some of my friends set up their tents for the Battle of the Paddle SUP Expo, had dinner with Doug Hopkins and his friend from North Sports whose Aquaglide boards I also distribute in Hawaii and then went to bed early.
The Battle of the Paddle SUP Expo. For more on the BOP, check the next blog entry.
Check out my interview with Kevin Seid at the Battle of the Paddle Surf Expo below

Kevin Seid, Battle of the Paddle interview from Zen Waterman on Vimeo.

[Link]

Zen Waterman » 2009 Molokai Channel Crossing – Mental notes- by Robert Stehlik

Posted 8 years ago

My wife asked me after the Molokai race: "What were you thinking about for those six hours?" My reply: "I was trying not to think about anything."
’nuff said…

I had several more people ask me what was going through my head during the Molokai crossing, so while it is still fresh in my mind, I will write down some thoughts on the mental aspect of the crossing. So, if the short answer above is not enough for you, read on.

Focus:
One of the most important aspects in Stand Up Paddling is maintaining balance. To achieve peak performance it is critical to stay focused. Keeping my focus sharp for the 6+ hours it took to complete the 32 mile race was a big challenge for me. Focus is important in every sport. In surfing for example you need to be fully focused when you are catching and riding the wave but when you are paddling back out or waiting for the next set you can let the mind wander, daydream, talk story or whatever without major consequence as long as you can turn off the chatter and fully focus when you swing the board around to catch the next wave. When you are racing on a SUP you need to stay focused the whole time, which is easier said than done.

Training:
When my mind starts to wander I slow down, miss bumps and/or loose my balance and fall in. One of my goals in training was to work on keeping focused and balanced. Doing long distance paddle sessions for five or more hours prepared me for the race endurance wise but was also important to train the mind to stay focused for a long time.

Music:
Many paddlers use waterproof MP3 players to allow them to relax. I have tried this and found that it makes the session more fun and does help me relax. I decided not to take music with me for these reasons:
1) It's more equipment to deal with- I like to keep things as simple as possible.
2) I found that it can be distracting- for example: songs can trigger memories, the earphones get loose or start to be irritating, I'm in the mood for different music, batteries go dead, etc.
3) It's a crutch- I find that although it helps, I don't need music to relax and focus.

I know that it works for others. Jamie Mitchell, 8 times Molokai champion cruises to his itunes and it obviously works for him- so don't take my word for it, try what works for yourself.

Relaxed Focus:
This was my mantra that I kept repeating to myself during the race. I tried to keep my mind clear and when I noticed I was losing my focus or having distracting thoughts, I would repeat this in my head along with some other words I would repeat to myself.

Relax Plenty
It was the first time I did the Molokai crossing and I was not sure exactly what to expect. I started out at a steady pace that I knew I could keep up for the whole race. I kept thinking about something Aaron Napoleon said about going downwind and catching bumps. He said something like- I see some guys paddling so hard non stop, when I ride bumps I relax plenty.
I have a lot of respect for Aaron, he is one of the fastest guys in the water, low key and a super tough waterman. So I have this recording of Aaron in his pidgin saying: I relax plenty and kept playing it to myself.
There were lots of bumps to ride and the easterly winds made for good bump riding. I kept taking a few hard strokes and then relaxing, getting long gliding rides and making good time. I felt strong and relaxed and I actually thought I should push harder or I would not feel totally exhausted by the finish line.

Glide:
I did not repeat this word to myself but it was my goal- to glide, so I'm putting it in here.
I think this is the key to doing well in the Molokai race. If you counted all the strokes each paddler took, I'm sure that the winner, Ekolu Kalama, crossed the channel with less strokes than any other paddler by gliding more and paddling less.

The last 5 miles:
Todd Bradley told me- The race does not really start until the last 5 miles. Although I had trained for the tough finish and paddled around Portlock Point many times, I did not really understand what he meant until I had to do it myself. The water got choppy, there was a current and it became more and more difficult to catch bumps. Dave Parmenter described it as going through quicksand which is exactly what it felt like to me.


Distractions:
I did not see any other solo paddlers (we had white shirts) for the whole race until right before Portlock point, when Jenny Kalmbach from the Big Island caught up to me. She was paddling strong and I was running out of steam. I lost my relaxed focus and just tried hard to keep up with her pace. My forearm muscles felt tight and started cramping. Negative thoughts started filling my head. I fell in and as I got back up on the board my abdominal muscles cramped up, something that has never happened to me before. I hit myself in the stomach to loosen up the cramp, then tried to stretch. I finally loosened up and kept going. I knew I could not keep paddling at Jenny's pace but I also knew that once I got close to China Walls I would be able to catch some waves and stay close to shore, I had practiced this many times, so I just had to get there. I tried to relax and just focus on catching bumps. The waves were disorganized and choppy but there were still some bumps to catch and by focusing on using every little push, I was able to make steady progress while conserving the little strength I had left.

Relief:
I got to China Walls and was pushed in by a couple of waves, then snuck through the reef pass without losing my board and felt a great sense of relief. Almost there. I caught a couple more waves and stayed close to shore. I did it, just a little more! Finishing this race was a huge accomplishment for me and it felt great.

Now What?
Another interesting thing is how I felt a couple of days after the race. I put so much time and energy into this goal and finally accomplished it. So now what? I had neglected many things in my day to day life (yes, I work and have a family and am not a professional athlete) to prepare for the race and now was the time to get caught up with everything. I was stoked and proud but I found myself feeling tired and frustrated, I did not feel like getting caught up on my to do list at all, or anything, really, I just wanted to be a couch potato, which made me feel worse. Luckily that did not last long. I started training for the Duke's race which is coming up soon and am applying some of my energy and persistence towards work and the goals I have for my business. I'm also setting a goal for next year's Molokai race, maybe I'll see you there.
Aloha,
Robert Stehlik

For more on my experience on standuppaddlesurf.net

click here for overall race results
click here for Stand Up unlimited results

Check the video below, filmed by my friend Len Barrow at the finish of the race featuring interviews with the top finishers- Jamie Mitchell, Ekolu Kalama, and Kanesa Duncan.

2009 Molokai channel race finisher interviews from Zen Waterman on Vimeo. [Link]

Zen Waterman » "In the Zone"- by Robert Stehlik

Posted 8 years ago

Western sports psychology defines the ideal performance state as "relaxed focus", a state where the athlete is completely focused on executing the activity perfectly. The athlete is so completely in tune with the activity that everything else fades away. This peak performance state is called being "in the zone" or "flow". In this state the mind is completely focused yet void at the same time, there are no thoughts or doubts in the mind, no distractions, only presence. In western sports psychology, the goal is to be able to put yourself into this peak performance state consistently to reach your maximum performance potential. The more skilled you become at a sport and the less you have to "think" about what you are doing, the easier the body can flow and fall into this state of relaxed focus.
Our thinking is that every Waterman has had a taste of this state and wants more. This is why we get hooked and spend so much time in the water. The fluid nature of water and the balance it requires almost forces us into this state as it gives us instant feedback if we are distracted or try to overthink our moves. Going with the flow is the only way to becoming a better waterman. We are plugged directly into nature and are harnessing the natural energy, using it, becoming part of it, flowing with it and wanting more of it.
In Zen philosophy this state is seen as a way to reach enlightenment or nirvana, where one becomes one with the natural flow of energy. Zen arts include Kendo, Judo and Kyodo (archery). The ending -do does not translate well into english but can be called "way". In the "Way of the Waterman" we will explore the ways that the masters have found to reach states of peak performance finding a deeper meaning to what they do. We have a list of amazing watermen that we are interviewing with and hope to develop deeper insight as we go along; we hope you join us for the ride. [Link]

Zen Waterman » Welcome to Zen Waterman- by Robert Stehlik and Len Barrow

Posted 8 years ago


The art of the Waterman
Most watermen (and we include women when we use this term, of course) that have devoted a large part of their lives to watersports find that the sport becomes more than the activity itself, it becomes a way to find and build focus, balance, strength, patience, contentment, endurance, a deeper understanding and awareness of nature, and the flow of energy. The idea of finding deeper meaning in the sports we are passionate about is what motivated my friend, Len Barrow and myself, Robert Stehlik to start this project with the intention of being students of the mental aspects of our sports, to expand our knowledge and understanding and to help ourselves and others in the quest of becoming better Watermen.
We intend to interview masters of various watersports that we feel have achieved a higher level than most. We want to find how they experience these moments of complete immersion, the moments described as "being in the zone" or "flow" through their chosen sport. We intend to combine these interviews with pictures, video, analysis and interpretation. We eventually want to compile the gained knowledge into a book and DVD as well as a seminar program to help teach the art of the Waterman through practical applications of the materials in and out of the water. We also hope to use the Zen Waterman philosophy in the nonprofit organization Aloha Surf Ambassadors that focuses on supporting, encouraging, mentoring, and coaching young surfers to become ambassadors of Aloha in Hawaii and around the world. Please feel free to contribute if you have insights and ideas. I will also use this blog to recap experiences and SUP races and will try to apply some of these ideas, talk about the mental aspects of the sports, and apply things I learn from others in the process. [Link]

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