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, December 30, 2009

From Hawaii to Seattle

We spent the Holidays toasting in temps in the upper 80's, getting light surf at Waikiki and fun body surfing at Hapuna on the Big Island. I tried to smooth out my farmer's tan, trying different levels of sun block, heavier on the white areas, thinner on the darker areas. Didn't quite work out, but close.

I paddled today with my friend Steve (of Hemel Board Co.) on Puget Sound. Air temp was 44 degrees, water probably in the lower 50's. Last week, I thought re- climatizing to the NW would be an issue. I fell in twice today, and didn't feel a thing, not from numbness, but rather from wearing a good wetsuit. We paddled a few miles on super flat glassy water, not another soul out. Great day, and am stoked to be back home!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chaos at Makaha Beach, Hawaii - Tips on crowded breaks

The beaches in front of the Waikiki hotels were more crowded than this, but then the waves were much smaller. It's best to avoid going out if your skills aren't such where you can surf a safe line in between all the people on crowded days. If you're starting out, stay away from other surfers or go out at less crowded times. The longer sup boards are very hard to turn if you're new to stand up surfing. Before I take a wave, I look to see if someone else is planning to take the wave and check to see if the area I will be surfing into is clear, if not, I don't go. It's simply not worth colliding with another surfer. At Waikiki, we had swimmers snorkelers, surfers, sup'ers, and kids on inter tubes floating everywhere, so I took less waves.

And there are rules of the road, or rather 'Surfers Etiquette' at all breaks worldwide to avoid collisions or creating unnecessary tensions. I'd recommend reading the rules to get an idea on how to surf safer, HERE.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The 2009 Deception Pass Dash

Last Saturday, SUPs were allowed for the first time to race in the Deception Pass Dash in Washington State. The six mile course through tidal rapids and incredible scenery was attended by nearly 160 kayakers, outriggers, scullers, surf skis, and SUPs. Here's a few photos, Click Here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Sweep Stroke

Turning the Board using Sweep Strokes in Choppy Water or Smaller Waves:
When I spot a small wave coming my way and need to turn, I'll let the wave crest come under me, then take one or two full sweep strokes and turn the board the other direction. A sweep can be done forward or backward. To turn the board to the left using a Forward Sweep Stroke, place the blade in the water ahead of you. Keep your outer arm closest to the blade straight, and turn your torso to the right watching the blade as you turn. The paddle should go in an arc or curve around you. Remove the blade after it passes your feet and feather it as you twist back to your forward position. The above turn on a wave is best when the board becomes balanced with the wave crest under the middle of the board. You can turn the board 180 degrees in one stroke.

You can speed your turn up by doing a Reverse Sweep stroke one one side, then a forward on the opposite. A Reverse Sweep starts behind you and moves forward. If you feel unstable twisting your torso backwards, bend you knees to lower your center of gravity. Go lightly at first, adding power as you get more comfortable.

By watching the blade for the entire turn, you torso will turn fully thus turning your board more efficiently. Kinda like watching the ball in baseball or golf - it works. Try the Sweep Strokes on flat water and do 360's using one side, then both sides. The lower you squat, the more extension thus more turn you'll get. A popular version of this stroke often seen in magazines or on YouTube shows the paddler stepping back on the tail of the board sinking it, then doing a sweep stroke. While this definitely moves the board and is good for balance practice, it's kinda of dramatic, and a bit of a show off move.

Paddling Upwind, Part 2..

I took the board out today to surf some smallish wind waves at a park near my house on Puget Sound. Blowing 17kts from the north, the air temp was about 42F, the windchill much colder. I've surfed this location in up to 27kts in winter and have had some nice rides. My definition of a nice ride is one that is anything surfable on a body of water not known for surf. Here in Seattle, the real surf is a minimum of 3hrs away. When I can get 3-7' faces from wind waves or freighter wakes five minutes from my house, in Seattle, I'm stoked. Getting such surf is fickle, but with persistence in watching the weather, tides, and marine traffic, it can happen, more than you would think. Freighter waves are usually clean peeling waves, but in today's wind conditions, the form was pretty chaotic.

Normally I've surfed this spot on a my wave ski with a double ended kayak paddle which is a lot easier to paddle upwind than on a single bladed sup paddle. This was my first time at this location in heavier wind, but had paddled upwind in recent weeks in up to 25kts nearby. I paddled upwind a few times standing up and did make progress, but not much. I tried to use short quick strokes to avoid being pushed backwards.

My friend Bob recently suggested paddling cross legged in wind and shortening up on the paddle. Much like in kayaking or on an outrigger, I twist my torso for much of the power, keeping the upper arm nearly straight for added power. Paddling with your arms alone will burn you out quickly. By twisting the torso, even when standing up, you'll last longer and have more power. Bob's suggestion worked out as I was able to move upwind fairly quickly. I found sitting forward on the board past the middle kept the wind from catching under the nose, but still allowed me to cut through waves. I tried sitting on one side to dip a rail so I could paddle on one side, but it didn't seen to work, so I switched sides every few strokes. Once I saw a decent set coming in, I'd stand up and do a sweep stroke as the wave crest passes below me to turn downwind, and surf.

I got two good rides today, and spent most of my time getting a lot of exercise paddling upwind. After about an hour, I had to call it quits and head home. I passed a few folks walking back to the car who asked if I was cold. I stated that I was cookin' after all that work, and had a good wetsuit. Today was one of those full suit days with a fleece shirt under the suit, booties, gloves, two hoods, and a Gath helmet to keep the noggin warm. A few onlookers enjoyed watching as I poured the 2 gallon jug of hot water over my head which left me and the pool of water around me steaming.