Rob Casey is the owner of SUP school Salmon Bay Paddle in Seattle, co-founder for the PSUPA and is the author of two paddling guides.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Shortboard SUP - Fletcher Burton Profile

Fletcher Burton has been surfing a waveski (sit-on-top surf kayak) for a decade in Pismo Beach, California. As early as 2005, Fletcher was seen standing up on his waveski doing what he calls 'striding', essentially stand up paddling but with a kayak paddle. I've seen footage of him striding at Pipeline and Indo. Waveskis are generally 7-8' long, about 15 pounds, and the rider is strapped in with a single seatbelt. The paddler can do 360 degree spins, aerials, surf backwards, and of course eskimo roll to avoid poundings from big waves paddling out or to recover from a wipeout. Waveski designers include Island Waveskis, Wavemaster, Dick Wold, and featured in Canoe Kayak Magazine this month, the Maui based Tyler Lausten.

Here's a video of Fletcher striding, (about mid video), Click Here.

United States Waveski Association Forum, Click Here.

Pipeland Photos by Vince Shay of Shell Beach, California.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Stroke Techniques for Racing by Beau Whitehead..

See Beau Whitehead's great blog for this topic..

Visibility on the Water

Quite often I'll be paddling in open water on Puget Sound and happen to turn around to see a fast moving power boat with it's bow up, headed directly towards me. If I move to the left, the boat follows. If I move to the right, they follow. At the last minute I'll raise my paddle high in the air hoping to make eye contact. We've had some close calls with boats narrowly missing us by a few feet. In most cases, we're the only crafts out there, so it's always odd our paths happen to intersect. More often than not, as the boat passes the driver isn't even looking in our direction, sometimes they're not even at the wheel. Occasionally, they'll wave as their four foot stern wake of whitewater rips under us. Sometimes, they use us as a buoy or channel marker to make their turn. Luckily we're good at surfing, others may not be so fortunate. Once while crossing from Southworth to Blake Island using sea kayaks with a friend's wife and 6yr old daughter, a fast moving yacht came within a few feet of our group and kicked up a huge wave, about a 4' face, waving as they passed. We quickly rafted up to each other to prevent capsize. Often we will get vocal with the boat if it's completely obvious that they're doing something stupid.

On the flip side, stand up paddlers and kayakers often cut in front of moving boats in busy boating channels. Near our put-in in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood where the busy Chittenden Locks empty into Puget Sound, paddlers often are too impatient to wait for incoming or outgoing boating traffic. A narrow channel and very shallow on one side, boaters have little options for space when they are forced to swerve out of the way of paddlers. Boats don't have brakes. Here, human powered craft don't have right-of-way over boaters. Last year, we rescued a kayaker who got impatient and crossed in front of a dozen power boats just released from the locks. He capsized on a boat wake, forcing the remaining boaters to swerve in two different directions to avoid the swimmer. We squeezed in there with our kayaks and performed a T-Rescue plucking him from the frigid 55F water. In less than 20 minutes in the water, he was getting stiff and was slightly unresponsive. In this case, none of the passing boaters stopped to offer help, and they continued to swerve around us during the rescue.

Tips for being more visible to boaters, (or defensive paddling):
- Always watch your back. Do frequent checks for oncoming traffic.
- Know the Angle on the Bow Method to determine boater speed.
- Know where the boating channels are, and understand what the buoy colors and types stand for.
- Don't cross in front of boats unless you know you'll 100% clear their bow without an issue.
- Put silver reflector tape on your paddle blade and a strip or two on your paddle shaft. Works for both day and night.
- Purchase a PFD with silver reflector tape, or attach reflectors to your fanny or hydro pack.
- Attach a waterproof flashlight on your PFD, jacket, or board at night. The Guadian light is small, very bright, and reliable. I have 3.
- Know your right-of-ways on the water.
- Don't cross in front of a freighter, tanker, or cruise ship. They take several miles to stop and won't stop for you.
- Wear bright colors.
- Pay attention.
- Bring immersion clothing in case you do fall in after a boat wake capsize. While on a sup with a leash, you'll be OK most of the time. But the cold air and a long paddle back might chill you beyond your comfort level. I pack ext as in my fanny pack or on my board.
- Carry flares, a whistle, waterproof laser pointer, or smoke for greater visibility.

Further Reading:

Where to find lights and rescue gear in Seattle:
-Northwest Outdoor Center
-The Kayak Academy

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Flow Paddleboards - Made in Seattle

Seattle based master shaper Steve deKoch and paddler Paul Langer just launched Flow Paddleboards. Flow will offer a full line of stand up paddle boards, including their 8' 34" wide quad fin Fish and Disk boards. They will be attending the upcoming Sacred Craft show in California and will soon have boards to demo. Keep your eyes peeled for more updates here including their web link when it becomes available.

Contact Flow:
Paul Langer
Tel 206.718.8955

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hobuck Hoedown Oct 4th - SUP heats

The third annual Hobuck Hoedown will be held on October 4th this year and will have SUP heats in addition to the normal fare of surf kayaking, waveski, sit on top, and sea kayaking heats. This low key event with no blaring horns, music, or PA systems offers paddlers the only surfing competition of it's kind in the Pacific Northwest.

Registration starts September 21st. 10% of registration fees will be donated to Surfrider. A beach clean up will also be held.

For more information, contact Dave King at Olympic Raft and Kayak in Port Angeles, WA. Tel: 888-452-1443

Event Link:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Round the Rock Race - Mercer Is, Seattle Sept 27th

The first annual Round the Rock Race in Seattle will be held Sunday Sept 27th. I hear Gerry Lopez is coming and there will be sup clinics, product booths, etc. There's two courses, a short 2.5 mile race, and the Full Course, 13 miles circumnavigating Mercer Island.

I know the wind funnels through the narrow passageway between Mercer Island and Bellevue (to the east), so that should be interesting. September is historically fairly warm in Seattle, but you never know.

Race Course / Map

Choosing a Paddle, Part 2

Beau Whitehead of Bellingham, Wa recently placed 2nd in the final Naish Race series in San Diego. He was on a standard Isle board, using the Werner Nitro Paddle. He said he had the only small blade paddle in the race, and beat out many who had race specific boards. While many factors affect how races are won, but this did lead to a chat about blade size. I also have the Nitro and find it's easier on the shoulders, and when used correctly - using a shorter and quicker cadence, it is faster, for me.

I already have dealt with tendinitis from kayaking in using a very long paddle (240cm) and a lower angle stroke. After a year of PT pulling rubber bands attached to a doorknob and popping Advil daily, I solved the problem by using a shorter length paddle, (215cm), higher stroke (whitewater stroke), and fatter blade, (the Werner Corryvken). That was three years ago, and I haven't had an issue since - in kayaking. But in testing the fatter bladed sup paddles the past few months, I'm was beginning to feel a touch of sensitivity in my right shoulder. When I tried the Nitro, no pain. I've found that the narrow blade and shorter strokes create less overall shoulder stress, and is interestingly faster. Greenland style kayakers using the Greenland 'stick' paddle that is a 2x4 carved into a minimalist double bladed paddle. Their stroke is slightly different than the standard kayak stroke, often noted for less shoulder stress. Many Greenland paddlers feel their paddle is just as fast as a fatter bladed kayak paddle. One advantage in surf could be less paddle to deal with when going down the line.

Every board and every paddler are different. I use the Laird 12'1 Softtop. Some feel bigger is better, each his own.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fun Video of Dan Gavere Going off Punchbowl Falls in Oregon

Click Here

I'd like to suggest to not try this on your own unless you have superior sup surfing and river skills. Note the padding on Dan's body to prevent from nailing rocks on falls. Also, the falls he's dropping into is quite deep at the bottom allowing him to fall without hitting bottom or a protruding rock. I've even read of sup'ers wearing 'spine protectors' while doing whitewater. Scary.

If you're new to whitewater, take a sup river class, or a whitewater kayaking class prior to hitting a river. You need to know how a river works, which drops to avoid, and how to scout the section you want to run either prior to getting on the water, or/or while paddling. Best to go with experienced paddlers, and don't forget the helmet. Local paddling clubs might provide adequete instruction and buddies to paddle with. We lost a good friend over a year ago after he was pinned. Quite the trajedy, and he was a very experienced local instructor.

Basic River Instruction for SUPs - Video

This video by sup shaper and kayak designer Corran Addison covers basic instruction for paddling on rivers. He has a few of these videos out that cover basic to advanced whitewater paddling. His company is Imagine Surfboards which offer some of the most innovative sups on the market.

Basic River Paddling

Basic River Paddling, Video 2

Corran surfing a river wave on one of his sups

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Currently in Iceland, no SUPs here..

It is however 44 degrees and raining horizontally. And after two weeks in Denmark and southern Sweden, no sign of sups in either location. Both have incredible flat water opportunities and wind generated surf, as well as the picturesque canals of Copenhagen. Iceland is the colder cousin of Hawaii - many lava reefs to surf. It would be a great opportunity for someone to start a rentals and sales shop there. Next time I visit those regions, I'm bringing a board for sure.

Back to Seattle Saturday the 12th, missing my water time!