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.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Ultimate Guide to Stand Up Paddling - DVD

I highly recommend The Ultimate Guide to Stand Up Paddling, an instructional DVD by professional paddler Dan Gavere. The video covers SUP basics, as well as how to surf, paddle rivers, fitness, etc.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Local Weather Forecasting before you go out -

Shilshole Bay on Puget Sound in Seattle is my backyard, and have paddled there for a decade first in kayaks now on sups. I've seen it calm as a lake and within a few hours later up to 41kt winds and 5' waves. We have freighter waves that can give you epic rides, wind waves that can get as high as 7', and heavy power boat traffic in summer which creates great surfing wakes but also a lot of danger in you don't pay attention or don't have rough water skills. We always check conditions prior to going out either to benefit from a particular weather effect, or to avoid a potentially dangerous situation. Here's the tools I use. Check similar sites for your local paddling spot or for one that you're traveling and are less familiar with.

NOAA wind station on West Point, Discovery Park - we use this to determine wind direction, speed, and to check the barometer pressure readings. If the barometer is dropping - expect the weather to worsen.

Webcam for West Point, Discovery Park - we use this to get a visual on tide level, wind conditions, etc.

Tide Chart - Surprised to see a low tide? By checking the tide chart prior to going out, you can better plan your trip. I personally love low tides as it gives us better freighter waves in certain locations and is fun to see tide pools, etc.,

Freighter waves can throw ocean sized surf into shallow areas. In some areas, paddling by shore because it feels safer, isn't. Check for local boating traffic here,

Also note that we don't have right of way over boats, most power boaters don't pay attention to small craft, so be a defense paddler, watch your back, and don't cut in front of a moving boat. Wear that PFD (lifejacket) which make you more visible.

Padding in a straight line from point A to B isn't necessarily the quickest route. If the south wind is over 15kts, West Point provides wind protection if you paddle along the shore from Ballard. If you paddle direct to WP, you'll have a long trip. Also outgoing tides and a southerly will hit West Point and make Shilshole Bay a huge eddy, creating recirculating currents that circle around and flow south back to the point. Again, paddling near shore is easier than going straight to the point. Whereas paddling back to Ballard is easier further out as you ride the flow north.

Stuck paddling against heavy wind? Paddling sitting down cross legged or legs out front can be very efficient, and more comfortable than on your knees. Shorten up on your paddle by having your lower hand right above the paddle blade, and the other 2' up on the shaft. Paddle with straight arms which forces you to use your torso and adds more power thus less fatigue.

ALWAYS WEAR YOUR LEASH IN WIND. Ever notice how the board takes off under you when you fall? Add wind and you're in for a long swim. Forgot to wear your wetsuit? Not a good plan.

Check for local webcam and NOAA stations in your area, and/or ask a local kayaking or surf shop for info.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Adaptive SUPs for the handicapped

I've begun to do research on stand up paddleboards that you can sit on that allow use for handicapped paddlers. If you know of solutions for the handicapped, please send them my way. This could be a great magazine story.

Clarification of common Terms Used in Stand Up Paddling

I keep hearing the word paddleboard used to describe stand up paddling. That said, here's a simple translation of various terms being used for the sport to clear things up a bit..

Paddleboard - are long narrow boards where you sit on your knees and use both hands to paddle on each side of the board. See Joe Bark's site.
SUP - stand up paddleboard
SUB - stand up board
Surfski - approx 22' long and very narrow sit on top boat used for flat water racing and some surfing. Usually very light.
Waveski - high performance sit on top surfboard or surf kayak. Paddled like a kayak, used specifically for surfing. Up to 10'. See image above of Tyler Lausten (bottom),

Southerly - Winds from the south.
Northerly - Winds from the north.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Imagine getting ticketed for stand up paddle surfing!

While stand up paddle surfing might be the new cool thing, it's already been placed in some locations in the 2nd rate sections of certain surfing beaches. Those long frequent rides often taken outside has apparently irritated enough folks that SUP'ers can now only surf in a certain section of the Dog Patch of the famous break north of San Diego, San Onofre State Beach. And if you go beyond those borders, you get a ticket which is also a misdemeanor. See more on this posting on

San Onofre State Beach -

That said, if you're travelling to a new beach, check the regs and ask with local surf shops or forums to get the lo-down on such situations as above. Quite the bummer. I was kicked out of a beach in Kona a few years ago when I chose to surf kayak there. I was told kayakers weren't allowed. There were no signs on the beach. Interestingly, I surfed the same beach on less crowded days prior with no issues. I hear it's less crowded in Alaska.