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.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Sit-on-top Sea Kayaks

On a recent trip to Maui, we only saw the heavy and slow rotomolded sit on top kayaks by Ocean Kayaks and similar brands. We wondered how cool it would be to have a high performance touring sit on top kayak for tropical waters for offshore adventuring or rock gardening. Here's a few that would be ideal for the task..

French company RTM makes some great boats and wave skis. Their Midway and Disco+ kayaks both have one enclosed hatch, a well in the stern for gear and thigh straps for rough water handling and surfing.
Necky Kayaks recently unveiled the Vector 14 which has two enclosed hatches and one open well. Like the RTM boats, you can attach thigh straps for better control in bumpy waters. More info:

-Emotion Grand Slam 14'
-Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160

One issue with all the above models is weigtht. The Tarpon for example is 76lbs. Know of a composite model?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

12/26/11 Maui - Ho'okipa and Honomana Bay

Still dizzy from doing 100 of the estimated 600 horseshoe curves on the Hana Highway, we definitely enjoyed the rain forest like landscape surrounded by twisting vines, forests of bamboo, and one lane road segments.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

North Shore Maui Wave Ski Shaper Tyler Lausten

Paddling a wave ski since his late teens and the winner of many top titles worldwide, Haiku Maui based Tyler Lausten now keeps busy shaping skis for a wide ranging clientele. Here's a window into his rural shop above Haiku on Maui's North Shore. TL Wave Skis, Here.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

New NW Paddling Guide Blog!

I'm finishing up the revision of Randel Washburne's classic NW paddling guide, "60 Trips Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans" by Mountaineers Books. The book will be available June 2012. I've created a blog and Facebook page to support the book release. Both offer sample trips from the book, favorite trips not in the book, and updates on routes, public access, and other stuff.

Here's the blog url:

Facebook Page:

If you're a retailer and want to stock the book in your shop, contact Mountaineers Books accounts guy, Darryl Booker, 800.553.4453 x103 or

We added over 10 new trips to the book, a few below..
- Victoria BC harbor
- Victoria's Gorge Waterway
- outer Victoria Harbor to Cadboro Bay
- Sooke
- Freshwater Bay to the Elwha River.
- Port Angeles Harbor
- Gig Harbor
- Tacoma Narrows
- Kingston to Point No Point

Thursday, December 15, 2011

3 Bootie Drying Tips!

I posted an inquiry on Facebook and asking for bootie drying tips and received nearly 75 responses.

I was posting for my needs in trying to dry my 7mm Xcel Drylock booties - so thick you can't peel the ankle section down and heat doesn't affect the toe box from the exterior.

Here's the summary of what most folks preferred:

Bootie Dryers: DryGuy and Peet Shoe Dryer. Both companies have ways of drying while in your car or in the field. Peet has a propane powered option as well.

The Stuffing Method: Stuff newspaper or camping towels in the toe and foot sections of the bootie.

Make your own dryer! Several friends have done this successfully using PVC tubes filled with air powered by small fans or hair dryers. Caution: hair dyers aren't supposed to operate for long periods of time so make sure to run on low heat.

Bonus! How to keep a bootie clean of funky odor..
- Soak regularly in very hot water with one of various wetsuit cleaning products or household cleaners such as Simple Green.

- Stuff cedar sachets in your booties after drying.

Wanna keep your booties warm in cold climates prior to your session? Stuff chemical heat packets in the bootie. The packets last several hours. Kenny Wilson of Oregon suggests wrapping your wetsuit and booties around a 1 gallon jug of hot water whilst in your car prior to arriving. Use the hot water later to warm up and clean the saltwater off your gear.

Have other ideas or would like your product reviewed? Give me a holler. Cheers.

Training Wheels for SUP Boards!

Here's another innovative product by Santa Barbara based Carbonerro - inflatable training 'wheel's or rather a way to widen your SUP board to make it more stable. It's a great product for instructors as well if you don't have enough wide boards for taller, larger, or less flexible students who may require a wider board. Check it out Here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

El Doble - Double Bladed Stand Up Paddle

Chris G. of Carbonerro has designed a double ended paddle for stand up paddling. Check it out, pretty cool.

Double ended stand up paddling has historically been called Striding. Jeff Snyder has been doing it for years on an inflatable kayak and is usually seen going off waterfalls. Fletcher Burton began standing up on his waveski in the late 1990's. And Israeli lifeguards have for years used the double ended paddle on super wide SUPs. Read more about Striding in this Canoe Kayak Magazine online article, Here.

SUP Gift Certificates Available!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Jayson Bowerman of Bend, Oregon squirting a SUP on the eddyline in the ebb at Deception Pass yesterday. He's on a Naish Nalu.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Great day at the Deception Pass Dash today! Blue skies, 38 degrees, and 160 paddlers including outriggers, racing canoes, sculls, sea kayaks, sups, a few homemades, and prone paddleboarders. A few pics..

Monday, November 28, 2011

SUP & Kayak Rescue Clinic, Deception Pass State Park, WA 12/3

Learn how to rescue a SUP or kayak from various types of human powered watercraft. The clinic will be held with others on Dec 3rd on Bowman Bay in Deception Pass State Park in Washington State. The clinic is Free. Dec 4th is the Deception Pass Dash, a 6 mile all watercraft race through the swift tidal currents of Deception Pass.

12/3 - 2pm: Rescue practice, for the Dash safety team and all interested observers & participants. Led by Bob Burnett of Dash Sponsor Rogue Wave Adventures and Rob Avery of Valley Kayaks, plus SUP author and Dash Sponsor Rob Casey, this quick refresher will build the skills to assist racers in trouble, whether they’re paddling kayaks, outriggers, SUPs, or surfskis. Jump in your boat or watch from the pier.

More info..Here.

Sign-up for the Dash, more info.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wood Strip Built Kits for SUP

I posted this on as well..

Wood Strip Built Kits for SUP:
(If you know of others, please send my way, thanks!)

Fiberglass Supply has a few, one designed by Tim NIemier the founder of Ocean Kayaks..

Chesapeake Light Craft,
This one is sweet, a guy uses it in the 13m Round the Rock race annually in Seatle,

Wood Surfboard Supply:

Paul Jenson's Hollow Surfboards,

2 YouTube build yourself'ers..

Kinda traditional with rigid insulation foam and glass, my homemade 15':


Thursday, November 24, 2011

I Love Webcams!

Back 'in the day', if you wanted to really know what's going on out there, you'd scan the horizon for weather changes, listen to the weather radio, head to your local break for a peek, or here in the Pacific NW, bite the bullet and drive 3-5 hours to the coast and hope for the best. Sometime in the mid 1990's, thanks to the internet, webcams began to give us a window into local or even international locations without leaving your comfy chair at home. Since the cams don't cover all spots or angles, you still have to do your homework for many spots.

I use webcams to confirm if all the surf forecasts sites are correct, what the tide and wind levels are doing, and for fun, poking around to see what's breaking in Hawaii, Socal, etc. Some webcams allow you to change the angle, and one, Race Rocks near Victoria BC allows you to do that and have live audio, pretty cool.

Here's a few webcams I use often...

Seattle Webcam:
Living in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, I regularly paddle to the West Point Lighthouse, part of Discovery Park. This cam is run by a guy living south of the point. It has to be refreshed manually. Imagine the entire left side of the screen completely dry from extreme low tides in summer. I can also watch freighter and wind waves break off the point or spot a friend padding out there.

I use the following NOAA link to check weather for that location. NOAA has a tower at West Point.

Statewide Road and Mountain Cams for WA State, courtesy of the WSDOT:

Olympic Peninsula, WA State:
This site includes cams for La Push (fun winter surf watching); Port Angeles, Port Townsend, the Sol Duc River, Victoria, and Hurricane Ridge,

SurfWa, this is a good one for surf reports, buoy readings and cams,

Big Wave Dave, located in British Columbia, has several marine BC cams which are fun if you're looking for local wind and wave conditions. They cover the inside, and southern sides of Van Island, aDeep Cove in North Vancouver (Mainland), and Hawaii.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Great article on Inflatable SUPs....

Check out the pros and cons of inflatable SUPs on Casey Gotcher's site, SUP Gladiator, a good read.. Here

The Alsternixe - Shipwreck off Oregon 1903

Surfing (not the right kind) the internet the other day, I came across a great NW Surfing blog, "Surf in Oregon". Scrolling down, I was excited to find a posting on a shipwreck which I happen to have a picture of on my office wall which I found at an Antique Mall. It's the story of the Alsternixe, a German bark which ran aground SW off Cape Disappointment at the mouth of the Columbia River which separates Washington from Oregon. More here...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Homemade GoPro Kayak Mount

while on the annual Canoe Kayak Magazine raft / kayak trip down the remote Middle Fork Salmon River last May, everyone was covering their trip with various camera systems, from digital SLR's and point and shoots, to GoPro's attached to helmets and boats. Halfway into the trip, Managing Editor Dave Shively came up with an 'in the field homemade' GoPro rig attached to his whitewater boat which surprisingly stayed on. Classic...

More pics from our adventure on the Middle Fork..Here.

Thinking Outside the Box for Finding Paddling Gear

Before the SUP craze, if you wanted a full surfing wetsuit, you went to a surf shop. If you wanted a Kokatat drysuit, you went to a kayak shop. One of the cool things about the SUP thing is that kayak shops now sell and rent SUPs, and some surf shops now have paddles and other cross over gear. Nonethless, I still sometimes have to search for specific gear or brands I like. Over the years, I've learned that not all paddling specific gear works for me, thus i need to look outside of the box for solutions. All your gear preferences should be personal - what works for you - not what is trendy, or what your peers say you must have. Here's some gear I like, and how I came to find it...

When I need to replace a pair of paddling gloves, I go to Swain's Hardware in Port Angeles, WA for the fleece lined 'Pro Hunter Gloves' made by Glacier Gloves. In surf shops, similar gloves are $40, at Swain's - $19. And they're (for me) warmer than many of the winter paddling gloves on the market. For SUP my gloves last over a year, but I seem to destroy my gloves while kayaking much sooner.

Kayak / SUP Rack Pads:
I use pipe insulation foam, that grey stuff. Pops right on most round bars. I secure it with a matching or similar electrical tape. It lasts over a year easy. Find it in hardware stores.

Something to stand on when getting dressed:
I've seen all sorts of ideas for something to stand on when getting dressed in parking lots. Some use their plastic bucket lids, some use the plastic bucket itself, and I use a foam camping pad cut to size. A used outdoor store had the pads on sale for $9. Got 3 squares out of it.

Paddling Light:
I do a lot of night paddles or during winter, I may get off the water just after dark. For years, I've used the Guardian LED waterproof light which is tiny, can clip or be tied onto almost any garmet, and is super bright. I attach mine to the upper rear shoulder of my PFD so I can access it easily. Some bicycle lights are super bright. Make sure they're 100% waterproof, 'water resistent' doesn't work if you're getting wet. Pelican and Princetec waterproof lights have some good options as well.

Are you a SUP'er looking for gear but can't find it?
Kayak stores have great cross-over gear. Kokatat has great full and half hoods which are very wind resistent, fleece lined, yet lighter than most surfing hoods. You'll find full type 3 lifejackets (PFDs) there as well, usually in several brands. Kayak booties are usually sturdier and with better foot support than surfing booties. They're designed for whitewater boaters who climb over boulders to get to rivers - thick soles, ankle support, etc.

Many who come from kayaking usually wear only drysuits for paddling. I did the same for some time but later found full surfing wetsuits to be more affordable, less mainenance, and just as warm. Before my SUP period, I began to test some kayaking style wetsuits. Reed ChillCheeter makes some bomber hoods and full suit options, but for me, didn't quite cut it for a full suit. Then I tried the good ol' farmer john which many whitewater boaters still use. But that didn't quite cut it as well - too wet. Finally I went to a local surf shop (the former Cheka Looka in Seattle) and Jeff Abondonato set me up with a Xcel Infinity 4/3 full surfing wetsuit. After some paddles, rolling practice, etc - the search ended. I found this type of wetsuit has superb flexiblity, is plenty warm for full immersion, and require no maintainence aside from the normal cleansing of saltwater. Price $350-$450 vs $600-$1k for a good drysuit. The Merino wool-lined Patagonia's are around $550. I now use my wetsuit for kayaking and SUP. You can layer them as well. In windchill below 30F, I may put a Gortex paddling jacket over the suit and/or wear a capeline or polypro shirt under.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Carrying a one piece paddle in your car

Ever struggle with how to carry a one piece paddle in your car? Being tall, my Werner Nitro is 86" long and can be in the way if I place it between the front seats or on the side of either one. I can't always attach it to the rack if I have a full load of boards and/or kayaks. If I can attach it to the rack, there's the security issue.

Over the summer I figured a way to attach the paddle to the 'oh shit bar' with bungy or long velcro strips so the paddle is flush against the ceiling of the car and out of the way. If secured well, the paddle doesn't slide or rattle while driving.

1/1/17 Update: I now string a car rack strap tight between the two 'oh shit bars'. Stuffing the paddle handle over the strap allows me to place it anywhere on the ceiling, (left to right).  

Check out our SUP classes in Seattle - Beginning to advanced instruction including freighter and tug wave surfing, coastal surfing, rivers and racing, plus PSUPA Certification.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Skookumchuck - Tidal Rapids in BC

5 hours north of Seattle is Sechelt Inlet and the tiny hamlet of Egmont. A short walk or paddle east of the town is a bottleneck in Sechelt Inlet called Skookumchuck Rapids. This is saltwater whose current can run up to 16 knots and changes directions 3 times a day. If you're unfamiliar with tidal rapids - this is fast, very fast. Some say if you touch the water, if feels like concrete passing underneath you. The rapids can one some days be waist high, and on others overhead - imagine a standing wave peeling and sometimes curling above your head moving at 16 knots - epic. The wave has been popular with whitewater kayakers for years. Sea kayakers have given it a go in recent years, and finally in early 2011 SUPs from I believe Deep Cove Kayak in Vancouver BC began to surf it.

Much like any river, you need to ferry across a thick eddy line (or eddy fence) to get to the 'sweet spot' of the wave. The first wave is prefered, the 2nd is ok, but those in the wave train behind begin to get pretty messy. If you blow your roll or fall off your board, you may have a 1/2 mile ride down the inlet til you can gain control, get into the eddy and slowly paddle back. Many have not been able to paddle back and have had to be rescued by passing fishing boats.

Other tidal known rapids nearby in BC are Oskillo Rapids and Seymore Rapids. There's actually quite a few more, mostly smaller or less powerful. 1.5 hrs from Seattle is Deception Pass State Park which at it's max can run up to 10kts. On a west swell or wind opposing an ebb, standing waves from 2' to 8' can appear. Check my YouTube page for kayak footage of this effect. Even in South Puget Sound last summer, I came across Woodward Bay by Olympia which on the flood created a narrow rush of current under a bridge. I had a good time eddying out, ferrying across, and getting a few 360s in with the sea kayak.

Not much SUP footage exists of 'Skook', but here's one from the Hurrican Riders, a BC based kayaking/sup group.

Luke Hopkins surfing Skook on an Uli, Here.

Also check out Jeff Burlingham of Medford, Oregon ripping in his Wold Surf Kayak at Skook a few years ago. This is some of the best Skook footage i've seen, nothing short of epic.

Pic of Warren Williamson and Reg Lake in Sterlings Kayaks on Skook..

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Make Your Own SUP

Can't afford the new Bark Dominator? Maybe you want something to paddle that's not in the marketplace? Maybe you're a craft person and would rather just build your own? Whatever your motivation is, you can make your own SUP (or kayak) quite easily. Kelvin Hummeny in Vernon BC made his own from cedar. A master craftsman, he has made 2 hollow SUPs, a 12-6 and the other I believe is 14' or 16'. Over the summer I came across a board made from fabric wrapped over a wood frame, and a few friends have made boards from the traditional epoxy over foam.

In my case, I was influenced by surf kayakers on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State who have been making their boats from pink and blue rigid insulation foam. Local legendary whitewater and surf paddler Gary Korb pioneered the process for our region and has built several boats for friends influencing others to try it themselves. Ken Debondt, also of Port Angeles makes waveskis. An artist, his skis are beautifully finished with his paintings or custom artwork. See a few of his customs Here.

Over a year ago, I decided to give this a whirl myself and built a 15' SUP. Wanting something fast, I chose a displacement hulled Bark Competitor / Dominator nose with some 'Vee' to be more efficient in the water. But being a sea kayaker, I wanted to use a sweeping bow instead of the standard plum or inverted race/touring style SUP nose. In my logic, the common racing SUP bows are great in smaller chop or flat water, but in big waves they tend to stab the wave thus slowing your forward momentum. Sea kayak designs used the same bow in the 1980's but later realized that sweeping bows go over waves - not through them, thus keeping speed up and pearling less when surfing waves.

The board ended up being too narrow for my 6'-5" 230lbs frame but I've become more or less used to it. Recently, I carved a hatch into the nose to store gear and glued on a 4" SeaDog screw on hatch cover. It's an ugly duckling being I'm definitely not a craftsman, but it's fast, and I've actually beat several paddlers on Barks and similar boards in races. The interior is blue rigid insulation foam, exterior is 2 layers of 5oz S glass with a few patches of glass here and there to fill in my glassing mistakes. The foam comes in 1" and 2" thick sheets, are 24" wide, and 8' long. I epoxy the sheets together flat into two blocks, then attach the blocks together with wooden dowels which are inserted in drilled holes, then epoxied in. If you want it wider, you have to attach foam to the sides. Rigid foam is closed cell so it leaks less if you get a ding than traditional white foam. Shaping is done normally with sanding blocks, a saw or hotwire for cutting, etc. Kayak designer Sterling Donaldson in Bellingham, WA recommended using foam to shape foam.

I ended up cutting it wrong and it tends to go left, oh well, next time. The advantage is in races I can paddle on one side and when others are switching sides - I move forward a bit, yet get burned out on that side after some distance.

Since my board is unfinished, I can keep experimenting with it without worry about cosmetic issues. I may carve out the deck 1" for more stability and thus are waxing it now instead of putting on a pad. I have found out not having a pad makes my feet sore after an hour or so.
I also want to make it a pintail as I rarely use the tail in paddling (aside from the rare extreme pivot turn), thus could lose a bit and maybe gain a dash of speed.

Pacific NW Surf Artists - John Holm and Todd Fischer

Up here in the usually chilly water of the Pacific NW, we have two incredible surf artists who paint both familiar local surfing scenes as well as images from warmer places where we'd rather be after a long cold winter. John Holm is a long time commercial film director having spent part of his life in Hawaii, LA, and more recently Port Townsend, WA on the Olympic Peninsula.

Todd Fischer resides on Shine Road on the north end of the Hood Canal Bridge also on the Olympic Peninsula.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Headed to Maui? Want to Rent a SUP? Some tips..

On Facebook recently I inquired on where to rent SUP in Maui. I got an overwhelming response, here's the results...

- Naish Pro Center in Kahului,
- Goofy Foot Surf School in Lahina
- Hi Tech (near airport)
- Maui Wave Riders (on corner across from cove). Ask for Karen & Monica.
- 808 Boards,

A few months ago, Dave Kalama mentioned to me that thefts have been on the rise for SUPs on Maui. Make sure you bring along a good lock! See my posting on SUP & Kayak Security, Here.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Peanut Butter Coast: Flash Bomb

Peanut Butter Coast: Flash Bomb: We all hate wet wetsuits. They're cold, uncomfortable and a bitch to get back on. To remedy this issue, the guys from Rip Curl have been ...

(Not to mentioned sweet surfing footage of British Columbia)RC

Friday, November 4, 2011

NSI "Add a Blade" Paddle Accessory for SUP

Ever wished you could bring an extra break down kayak paddle with you on long trips with your SUP? A double bladed paddle is great for paddling upwind for long distances or for those who choose to sit down on their boards for adaptive paddling or fatigue.

NSI (North Shore Inc.) has a great add-on paddle blade that can be strapped to the handle of your SUP shaft. The blade can be stored on your deck via tie-downs when not on use.

Here's the product link:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

If you want your gear reviewed on this blog, give me a holler..

With over 300 hits a day, Stoke Magazine is a great place to have your product reviewed and seen by both SUP and kayaking industry fans. I'm also available for gear testing if you're in the process of developing a product.

I have been a boat tester for Sterlings Kayaks, do kayak reviews/testing for Sea Kayaker Magazine, and work with SUP shapers to test their plugs. I also write for SUP Magazine, Canoe Kayak, and others. My background includes sea, surf, and whitewater kayaking, and SUPs in all environments. Cheers.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Get Tim Back in the Water: Fundraiser for Tim Nelson, Details Below

Our friend and fellow surfer, Tim Nelson, was struck by a semi-truck while running to work. Tim resides in West Seattle and in an attempt to avoid the congestion brought on by the closure of the Viaduct, Tim decided he'd rather get a little exercise and simultaneously reduce the number of cars on the road, than drive his truck to work.

News Link: Here

Along with bringing blankets to homeless people (true story), Tim volunteers a great deal of his time with the Surfrider Foundation and is one of the most honest and caring individuals we know.

Tim is currently in intensive care at Harborview Medical Center. His back was broken, as well as his right shoulder, right arm and a few ribs. His skull is fractured, a lung punctured and his spleen lacerated. His injuries are severe, but his spirits are high.

Tim's recovery will be long, and expensive. Let's help him out, and get Tim BACK IN THE WATER!

Donate here to help Tim with his medical and living expenses..

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kokatat Nomad Tall Bootie

Here's a great view of the Kokatat Nomad, a tall bootie or as kayakers like to call them, "mukluk". Benefitial for keeping your feet dry and warm as we enter colder temps whether on a kayak, canoe, or SUP..

Review on Ken Campbell's "Last Wilderness" blog..

Saturday, October 15, 2011

SUP and Kayak Security - Theft Prevention for your Gear

A chat with Dave Kalama a few months ago brough up the issue of board security. He mentioned the several boards in Maui had been stolen from carslast spring. A few weeks ago, a friend sold a kayak to a guy on Craigslist who in turn had his 'new' boat stolen from the top of his car a day later.

There's several products available to help prevent theft of your gear. In looking for options, keep in mind other sports in case those products work for you. So if you're a SUP'er, also check out kayak shops for the Lasso Security Cables (designed for kayaks) which also work on boards. That's what I already have, so no need to get another system for my boards.

Here's a few options:

- DocksLocks are designed for surfboards and SUPs as the lock attaches directly to your leash plug.

- KanuLock is a great idea for both boards and kayaks. The lock is built into the steel re-inforced straps, brilliant idea.

- Lasso Security Cables: The company has a few products available. I have the "Original:Touring" model which has two loops that go around your SUP or kayak ends and secures with a cable in the middle around you rack.

- LashLock is another system originally designed for kayaks.

Thule and Yakima racks can also be locked to your car which is essential in allowing the above options to be effective. If you don't use a rack or are securing your gear to a stationary object, several of the above options still work.

SUP Surfing Magazine has an article on this topic as well on their site:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dry Bags/Sacks for Paddling

Ever need to carry extra stuff on your board or in your kayak and want to keep it dry? Dry bags (or sacks) generally have roll-over tops with a fastex clip buckle. Most are made from vinyl or similar materials to be waterproof and abrasion resistent. A few have windows so you can see your stuff inside, essential in finding that one item you need. For attaching to a board, look for bags with daisy chain straps on the side to run cam straps, a carabiner, or a rope through to better secure down. Kayak deck bags can sometimes be waterproof and are great for SUPs as well.

Best brands include Ortleib, SealLine, Seattle Sports, and Outdoor Research.

Here's a short video I made showing the Outdoor Research Double Dry Sack, which has two enclosures on one bag to ensure dryness. I've recently used this bag extensively to carry my camera gear in my kayak cockpit while revising a Pacific Northwest kayaking guide for Mountaineers Books.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Paddling Pour-Overs in Ocean Rock Gardens

California based 'extreme' kayaking group the Tsunami Rangers are known for paddling in the most hardcore conditions where the sea meets the shore in rugged cliffs, sea caves, surge channels, arches. This type of paddling is called 'rock gardening' or 'rock hopping.' Paddlers wear helmets, PFDs, wet or drysuits, and sometimes body armor to deal with the conditions. Paddlers always rock garden with others for safety and regularly practice rescues to avoid getting on the news in case of an unplanned accident.

If you want to try this on a SUP, bring rubber fins, a helmet, a board with a tough exterior such as a Starboard, Surftech Tuflite, or an inflatable. Check out the Tsunami Ranger website for more safety trips.

Here's a fun article by Eric Soares from his blog, "Tsumani Rangers / Eric Soares Sea Kayaking Adventures."

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Race Strategy for Short Sprint Courses by Dan Gavere

Pro Paddler and instructor Dan Gavere posted recently on Standupzone answering a question on how to do a short (1-2 mile) sprint race. His answer:

"Sprint for one minute and get your heart rate to 85 % of max and then back off 10% put your head down and do another mile until pack shakes out. You will see where you stand who will be near you to draft with. Then you should be able to finish out at 75-85% effort for the rest of race."

Read the entire thread here:

Dan's Instruction Site:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

How to Build Your SUP Community

In it's early days just a few years ago, SUP had grown rapidly mostly along warm coastal areas of the US such as California, Hawaii and Florida. In recent years, the sport has grown rapidly mostly in cities where water sports are prominent such as my town of Seattle. Despite the popularity of SUP here, many suburban and rural areas not far away have little or no SUP rentals, shops, or anyone actually paddling even in the warmer summer months.

Many from these areas have asked me how to grow the SUP stoke in their communities. Here's a few tips:

- Organize weekly SUP races. In Seattle, two shops, Urban Surf and Alki Kayaks began weekly summer SUP races 2 years ago. Each had only a handful of participants in the first year. By the second year each race was attended by at least a dozen or more participants. In the summer of 2011 both had up to 40 racers per event. These races do a number of things. Paddlers get to network with others with a similar interest. In the case of the Alki races, Alki Beach has a popular bike/run trail skirting the edge of the race course. During each race on lookers see the race and a few have even signed up! Urban Surf has connected with Naish which offers a prize for the racer with the best times for all 6 races. Offering the races has brought attention to each shop and a lot of new customers.

- If you're a shop or rep, offer weekly SUP demo and skill building events. In the tip above, Alki Kayaks offers a free SUP demo prior to each race. On Monday nights, they offer a Women's Night with free gear rentals and demos. Kayak clubs for years have offered skill building evenings which is great for learning new skills, networking with other paddlers, and for instructors a chance to find new students. In winter with shorter days, organize a surf movie night at a local community hall or pub. A friend does a weekly paddle with friends who all meet aferwords for a beer and surf flick.

- Sign up to become a host for your area. This group is nation wide and is a great method of finding folks to come out for paddles ranging from tours, lessons, to just casual paddles. There's no cost for anyone, is easy to set-up, and will build over time. Here's a friend's site,

- Start a Facebook page and begin to build interest. Become the local source for listing paddling events and related news. Before telling folks about your page, upload a few local paddling photos; fill out everything that answers, who, what, where, and how with contact info, a little about you and what you're hoping to create - in this case a paddling community. Ask people to 'Like' your page. The more Likes you get, the more successful your page will become.

- If business is slow when you first start out, sign up for a Groupon on Living Social type discount to advertise your business and get 20 or 30 sign-ups for lessons or tours to get things rolling. Beware though that some businesses have let their sign-ups get out of control by accepting hundreds of people for lessons which in turns overwhelms the shop and pushes away regular customers.

The benefit of rubber fins for SUPs

In my first year of SUP'ing I gained a few scars on my shin when my fin hit submerged logs, an old pier piling, and a thick bunch of kelp. If you're new to paddling - when you're going full speed and your fin hits something underneath - you face plant. In my case, I not only hit the board but also slid off the board and also hit the object below. Ouch. In time I learned to adjust my angle to avoid such collisions. Even to this day when I paddle in shallow water, I cringe when I see a rock just below the surface or a kelp forest. The kayaking stroke called a "dufek" is a great technique for moving the board sideways while moving.

Last summer I bought a pair of Pro Tech rubber fins from a local rep I work with. While they look flimsy, I found I was still able to track well, even during a race.

They're also helpful in surfing shallow beach break where I can surf into very a few inches of water without worrying about hitting the bottom or damaging the fin box. In larger surf I haven't noticed any loss of control.

Many prefer rubber and plastic fins for river paddling as most rivers are shallow and fins can be a problem in boulder gardens and shallow areas.

Kelp Beds and Milfoil:
Yesterday I paddled the Strait of Juan de Fuca near where we surfing WA State. The Strait is lined with miles of kelp beds sometimes 300 yards wide. I had to cross one of these sections to get to a rocky point of interest. Normally with a hard fin I'd be in trouble with catching the fin whether paddling forward or even more so backyards. The rubber fin skipped over the kelp never catching once. I use a coiled leash in these coastal environments where there's only small surf. The coiled leash stays on the board and doesn't catch obstructions below.

Check out our SUP classes in Seattle - Beginning to advanced instruction including freighter and tug wave surfing, coastal surfing, rivers and racing, plus PSUPA Certification.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tug Wake Surfing in Puget Sound, Oct 5, 2011

The tugs from Western Towboats put off large surfable waves in Puget Sound. We've been surfing these for years on sea kayaks but haven't scored one yet on SUPs as it requires a lot of speed to catch one of these waves. Possibly a 14-17'racing board might do the trick.


Supporters Message -
Washington Boater Exam provides an online boating safety course for Washington State. More HERE.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Surfing tidal rapids in Deception Pass St Park, WA USA

Surfing tidal rapids on the ebb in Canoe Pass of Deception Pass St Park north of Seattle. The standing waves appear when ocean swell or a westerly wind collides with an outgoing ebb tide. Not as big as Skook but good enough, and a shorter drive.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Waveskis by Ken Debondt in Port Angeles, WA USA

Here's a few new waveski's from shaper Ken Debondt in Port Angeles, Washington State. Ken started out making a SUP then a waveski for himself, then a friend, and another... A lifelong whitewater, sea, and surf kayaker, Ken now does it all including SUP'ing near his home by Crescent Beach 12 miles west of Port Angeles on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

To contact Ken, he's at:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How to Rescue a Kayaker with a SUP

Ever had to help a capsized kayaker? One of the most effecient ways to do so is with a T-Rescue.

See it here:

- Ask the kayaker/swimmer to hold on to one end of your board.
- Put their paddle and yours across your lap or under you thigh to prevent from floating away.
- Grab the bow or front end of their boat and begin to pull it towards you and onto your board so that you can get a good grab hold of the boat. Their boat should be perpendicular to your board.
- Rotate / twist their boat upside down thus emptying all the water out. You may have to rotate it back and fourth a few times to get it all out.
- Place the boat carefully back in the water parallel ot your board while holding onto it's deck lines. Don't let go!
- Reach over one end of the cockpit of the boat with both hands (opposite side swimmer is on) holding on to the coaming.
- Ask the swimmer to follow their boat's decklines to the cockpit on the side of the boat not next to your board.
- While still holding onto their cockpit coaming, ask they to climb in their boat. If they kick their feet while in the water, this will bring their body to the surface, thus making it easier to get in.
- Keep holding on to the boat until the kayaker is 100% in and has their sprayskirt attached.
- Ask about their condition. Are they warm or cold? Fatigued? Do they need extra clothes or need a tow back to shore? Throughout the rescue, ask about their condition to check in.
- Give their paddle back and shove off.

While this rescue sounds lengthly, it can go very quickly if practiced. Having both craft perpendicular makes you very stable even in big seas and breaking waves. If your legs are over your board make sure they boat isn't banging into you if in bumpy water.

Need to tow the kayaker back? See my posting on Towing:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tips for Improving Your Balance

Here's a few tips for improving your balance on your board..

Staying up:
- Keep your paddle active in the water.
- Take a few strokes once you get up.
- Get your board moving before you get on it. Momentum make you more stable.
- Place the paddle blade flat on the water when not paddling and/or when looking around.
- When in doubt paddle. Feeling tippy? Don't throw your hands above your head - Instead Paddle.

Pratice and Increase Your Balance - Drills:
- Learn to walk to both ends of your board. Keep your paddle in the water as you step to each end. Even paddle forward as you walk forward, reverse when stepping back.

- Learn the pivot turn. Slowly step to the tail of your board. At first just got back a little bit so the nose raises out of the water. Use sweep turns to turn the board around. Then step back further and try your turns again. Once near the tail, get in a staggered surfer's stance - keep your paddle active in the water! Once you stop paddling you're going in. After doing a 360 on the tail, walk back to the middle paddling forward as you go. Try again - pivot turn then recover to the middle.

- Try to turn around on your board. Some can jump around. Others should use their paddle as a brace as you slowly turn around.

- Learn to paddle pushing one rail into the water. This may turn your board, called edging. But is good practice playing with your side to side balance.

- Slowly go out in rougher water. Wear your leash and PFD. Test your skills safely, each time getting into slightly rougher water each time. Don't go above your skill level to stay off the news.

My SUP Book - Reviews for Amazon, etc

If you have and like my SUP book, please post a review on Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble! Thanks in advance!

"Stand Up Paddling Flat Water to Rivers and Surf" by Mountaineers Books, Seattle.

Wanna order a few for your store, shop, or other business?
Contact Darryl Booker, or 800.553.4453.

How to Paddle your SUP Straight

Have a problem going straight on your SUP? Obviously you take a few strokes on each side to keep it going straight, but what if you're veering off to one side or have to do 1-2 strokes rather than 4-7 on one side to keep it straight?

Some tips on going straight:

- Keep the paddle shaft vertical when pulling parallel past the rail. If the shaft is leaning in towards you (over the board) or out at an angle away from the board, then every time you take a stroke, you're turning the board. If you paddle with nearly straight arms (wrists stacked) using some torso rotation for power, this is easier to do. If have limp arms while paddling you may be pulling the shaft over the rail towards you.

- Make sure both feet are parallel to each other facing forward. If one foot is turned out you may be pushing down on that rail thus turning the board in that direction.

- When you put the blade in at the catch (nose) don't follow the curve of the nose to the rail. You'll be doing a J-stroke if you do, thus turning the board. Imagine a straight line aligned with your rail on both sides of your nose - follow that line to the rail.

- Use a loose grip on your paddle. A death grip can lead to a slight rotation of the shaft when paddling thus turning the board.

- Make sure you're using an equal amount of power on both sides. My right side seems to overpower my left (am left handed).

- Get a paddle with a dihedral angle on the blade face (also called the power face). This slight vee or angle on the blade sheds or cuts through water as your blade goes through the water. Without this feature, you blade will flutter through the water thus not having a clean flow and may turn the board.

- You can paddle on one side on some boards usually 11' and longer without a lot of ton of rocker. Do this by pushing one rail into the water (raising your other) so your lower foot is slightly wet. Paddle on the lower (wet) side. If the board turns, adjust your trim, (your placement between the nose and tail). Move back a few inches, try agin, or move forward til you find your sweet spot. Once it's found, you can paddle on one in most conditions. A strong side wind above 20kts may throw this technique off. I have one side I can do this on, but seem to over power my stroke on the opposite side.

- Adjust your center fin so it is in the back of the slot (closer to the tail). This helps with tracking. Move it forward (closer to the nose) for easier turning or for surfing.

- Fins. Ohh fins, the mystery of what to get, shape, length, etc.. Not knowing the above info many feel or are told they need a bigger fin. That'll work but try to improve your stroke first, then if nothing changes, look at fins. Longer is certainly better for tracking, but too long will add drag reducing your speed, and may get caught in weeds or kelp.

Check out our SUP classes in Seattle - Beginning to advanced instruction including freighter and tug wave surfing, coastal surfing, rivers and racing, plus PSUPA Certification.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Safety Tips for SUP Instructors & Guides

Here's a few tips for SUP instructors and guides for gear to take on the water..

Get SUP instructor certification. There's 3 programs in North America for instructor certification (see my blog posting on the subject). Such training helps instructors become better teachers and learn new techniques for teaching. Safety training is also covered. For all 3 programs, certified instructors are listed on the organization's websites. Several folks I've spoken to have receive new clients from the sites. I use Pachner & Associates LLC:

Get your First Aid card and take a Wilderness First Aid course. Both can prepare you for the worst. And sh.. does happen. You may be thinking, "ahhh SUP is so easy, there's no way someone could fall off their board and drown." Google up 'sup accidents' or related, you'll be surprised what you find.

Get Instructor Insurance and a good liablity form for your students to sign. Have your attorney check your form to make sure it's solid. Both items will help you feel more comfortable on the water and will allow you to work with companies such as REI which require $1 million in liability to teach for them as a contracter. In case of the worse case scenario accident you'll be glad you're insured. Keep your signed liability forms for 7 years.

"Hypo Kit." Kayak guides in my neck of the woods where the water is always cold have always carried a Hypo Kit for fatigued and cold customers or those that have capsized. Hypo = Hypothermia. For a SUP, pack items in a waterproof drybag, kayak deck bag, or fanny pack to be attached to yourself or your board via tie-downs. I have EZ Plugs and NSI Plugs for my boards. Cargo netting is great for securing gear to your board. Adding leash plugs to your board is the most reliable anchor to tie gear to and less obstrusive on the deck.

Ideas of what to put in your Hypo Kit:
- Warm packable synthetic clothing such as fleece, capeline, and/or poly pro shirts and hats.
- Neoprene hoods and gloves.
- Nylon or Gortex kayak style paddling jacket or packable rain shell.
- Nylon or Gortex rain pants.
- Chemical heat packets. Make sure expiration date is good.
- Waterproof water socks (neoprene, fleece, etc).
- Neoprene or similar material hooded vest and/or wetsuit top.
- For warmer climates bring warm rash guards.
- Sun hat, lip baum, sun block, sunglasses retainer, etc.

Tow Rope
Have a student who may be fatigued, seasick or injured and needs a tow? Carry a kayakers throw rope or tow belt. Some lifejackets have built in tow systems such as this one by Astral Buoyancy. See my previous posting here on Towing for Sup'ers. Tow ropes can also be used in camp to dry gear or attach to a mesh bag for keeping your beer chilled.

Lifejackets and Leashes
Make sure your students have the proper PFDs and leashes for your paddling location or trip. Inflatable belts aren't the best idea for beginners who aren't trained not only in using the belt but in paddling or falling off the board. Use full (foam) life jackets/vests for novice paddlers. Leashes keep your students close to their boards in a fall especially in wind or rough water. Doesn't look cool? Neither does being on the news.

Tool Kit
To prepare for dings in the field, broken paddles, etc, here's some basic items to help keep you going...
- Ding Repair: Solarez is great for a quick fix if you have some UV to work with. Another great product is the NSR 150 Quick Repair Kit which can fix any material, even wet quite simply. Contact Rhonda Schwab in Wa State for more info. Other less reliable but sometime useful stuff for repair include duct or Gorilla tape, and superglue (for paddle chips, etc).
- Bring extra tie-down plugs in case of a break such as NSI or EZ Plugs.
- Extra bungy for deck tie-downs.
- Extra fin screw and bolt thingy.
- Multi-tool. Also fin tools (hex, philips, etc).
- Going overnight? Tent repair supplies.

Extra Water
Most of the SUP'ers I see leaving shore have little if anything on them in terms of clothing, sun protection, and especially water for hydration. Carry extra water for your students or make sure they're carrying water prior to leaving shore via a water bottle, hydration pack, etc.

Know where you're going?
I took off on Thursday for a circumnavigation or a medium sized island part of the outer San Juans in Washington State. Once I reached the island after a short crossing, I realized I had left my marine chart in the car, (dork). This particuliar island is known for wacky currents. Despite the ebb, current was still flooding on one side, swirling on the other, etc. I had no problem finding the site (and great outhouse) but after reaching some rougher water, I wasn't sure how much further to go before the island rounded back to the car. Next time I'm preparing myself properly and doing my homework prior on the currents situation of a destination. Things to bring: Tide and currents tables (can also be written in a grease pen on your board); Marine Chart in big ziplock bag; Watch to track current/tides; and GPS to confirm locations. Ask a local. Local info even from boaters can be useful.

Got the 411 on the weather?
There's nothing worse than telling a client, "ya, the weatherman said it is going to be nice today" then gale force winds swoop in. Bummer. I don't trust the weathermen/women. In coastal places check with NOAA for your local weather predictions. Learn to understand how to read barometer readings and carry a waterproof VHF radio to re-check the weather. I use a local NOAA link that has real time readings at the location I'm paddling. Then check a webcam to confirm the NOAA readings. When you get to the water, does it look ok for the skill level or your customers? If not bail, or find a smoother or more protected paddling location.

Communication on the water:
For client trips in open water, consider using the following communication tools..
- VHF radio to check local weather, shipping traffic status which may affect your route, use to communicate with other boaters or even those in your group, and use to call the Coast Guard in case of an emergency in your group or for others in your area. Get a floating waterproof VHF by companies such as ICOM or Standard Horizon. Bring exra batteries, keep clean from saltwater, and know how to use before leaving shore. Use on high power for calling the CG.
- Waterproof Walkie Talkie: Whitewater guide and instructor Dan Gavere uses these to communicate to his students while on the river. If a student floats out of sight, he can check on their status till he reaches them.
- Cell Phone / iPhone for all of the above functions where you have service. You can store it in a waterproof bag or case. Bring extra batteries, and keep handy for easier use.
- Learn water safety hand signals, (see my book for samples). Teach your students how to communicate with each other via hand signals in case of an injury, bad wipeout, sea sickness, etc. Patting your head for example is the sign for 'I'm OK'.

Note: Research solar chargers to restore battery power while in camp.

Need more info? Check my book!

Check out our SUP classes in Seattle - Beginning to advanced instruction including freighter and tug wave surfing, coastal surfing, rivers and racing, plus PSUPA Certification.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ferrying River Current on a SUP

Here's a great video by Nikki Gregg from the SUP Instruction site. She demonstrates how to move your board laterally or rather ferrying across the river. This is an important technique for river and tidal rapids paddling as well as in surf where there's strong currents.


If you can't find the link, go to the site and check out the Tips and Techniques pull down menu.

Longboarding freighter waves in Seattle 8/4/11

A friend wanted to try to longboard waves we've been surfing with SUPs and kayaks, it worked!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Learn How to Pack Your SUP for a Trip, from Canoe Kayak Mag

This is a recent project I did for Canoe Kayak Magazine, enjoy..

Learn how to Pack Your SUP for a Trip, from Canoe Kayak Magazine,

Pros and Cons of Inflatable PFDs

A drowning recently occured a few years ago when a SUP renter was found struggling in the water and soon submerged. He wasn't wearing a leash but did have a deflated inflatable PFD around his waist. Like many deaths of this sort, it was a mystery to why he went under as he was in his mid 30's, a good swimmer, and in good shape. But, if he had been wearing a Type 3 PFD (vest) and/or leash could this incident have been avoided?

Many get into SUP for the minimalist pov and the feeling of simplicity. Several have told me kayaking always looked gear intensive, expensive, and harder to learn. This is one reason why SUP is taking off so quickly.

Keeping with the minimalist approach, C02 triggered inflatable belt style PFDs have become popular. Folks use because they don't like the feeling of a full vest style PFD and/or because it passes the Coast Guard requirements for PFDs thus keeps them from getting a ticket. SUP racers love them for the above reasons as well. I use one for freighter wave surfing to get to a break on Puget Sound which requires paddling through a section of flat water.

Type 3 Vests are commonly seen tied or strapped to SUPs for rentals. This is as effective as not wearing any floatation at all. Many shops duct tape them to the boards - goodluck removing it in a situation. Have you tried the rental shop vest on, does it fit you? A shop by me puts on kids vests on all boards, probably cheaper?

Many feel PFDs are not needed at all if you're using a leash. There is some logic in that and some error as well. A SUP paddler drowned in Oregon recently after falling and hitting his head on his board, was knocked out, and despite having a leash, drowned anyway. In 2016, a man in San Diego drowned after having a heart attack on his board. Possibly a vest PFD may of helped him stay afloat after falling in.

Some argue that a SUP is an inflatable device. In rare cases, if your leash breaks, you just lost your floatation. It'll be interesting to see how these arguments shake out in coming years as the sport matures.

Pros of a belt style C02 PFD system:
- It provides the minimalist feeling of having less gear on or to deal with.

- To some, it's less obtrusive while racing, surfing, etc.

- An option for those in hot temps or humid conditions.

- May be beneficial for those with a large belly. We've seen larger folks struggle to get back on their board with a vest pfd. If this is you, make sure an inflated C02 will fit on you properly before inflation. Do this by removing it from the bag.

Yoke Style C02 Systems - 
Most commonly seen on boaters, the yoke style unlike the belt is already on your body. All you have to do is pull the string to deflate. Some paddlers feel the neck section of this style is uncomfortable.  MTI makes one that triggers once it hits the water. Downside is it may trigger too early if wet. Good article on yoke style PFDs worth checking out here.

Cons of a belt style C02 PFD system:

- Most who have one haven't test fired it.  It's not as easy to put on as you'd think.

- They don't offer core insulation.

- They may block your peripheral vision and may be difficult to swim in. Try it!  I fire one off during our PSUPA instructor certification courses on water.

-In the case of the above mentioned drowning, if a unskilled SUP paddler gets a cramp and/or is fatigued while swimming and is treading water to stay afloat and are most likely panicked, there's little possibility of them being able to use one arm to find the pull string, pull it, and put on the inflated vest (or use it as a float)?

-If a paddler has a shoulder injury such as a dislocated arm, will they be able to use the other arm (while treading water) to find and pull the string to inflate the vest?

-If a paddler falls and hits their head on the board or another obstruction and is knocked out, the deflated PFD is of no use.

-Many wear their belts loose. A few have found that the belt slides up under their arms when they fall in the water. Try inflating it from this position.

-In my area, the saltwater rarely gets above 55F even in summer. Immersion for longer than 20 minutes can lead to numbness in your fingers quickly. Many are going out without wetsuits, even in winter. It's difficult to find and pull the pull tab with numb fingers.

-A few weeks ago, I noticed that renters once on the water took their belts off and attached them to their kayaks and SUPs to be free of the belt.

Tips on using the belts:

- Don't give them to SUP rental customers with no paddleboard experience. They'll be more likely to fall off and swim in their first days on the board. Beginners can be overwhelmed with standing, balancing and basic strokes, keep it simple for them.

- Test prior to use.  Many struggle to climb back on their boards, especially 6" thick inflatables. Try to get on your board before you get into deep water.

- If you do use one yourself or allow rentals to use the system, make sure training is involved prior to getting on the water. Fire off a sample to show it it works. Explain cons (above).
Have you actually tested your belt? Pulled the string, saw how it inflated, and put it on?

-If paddling in corrosive saltwater, clean your belt with freshwater after each use. Repack the PFD once a month.

Pros of a Type 3 PFD / Vest (not tied to your board):
- Doesn't get in the way while paddling. Whitewater kayaking is far more physical than any SUP paddling. Get one that is design for whiteater such as Kokatat, Astral, Solquist, etc. I use MTI.

- Provides good insulation in colder temps.

- Assures floatation while immersed. But not always face up if unconscious. The PFDs with the floatation behind the neck are ideal for 100% upright floatation.

- Provides pockets to put energy bars in, a night light, hydration pack, a VHF radio, etc.

- Provides impact protection if surfing or paddling in shallow water.

- Great for boater or rescue visability. Some come with silver reflective strips or you can add your own.

- You can use it as a seat while on shore. Keeps your bum insulated.

Tips for Type 3 (Vest Style) Use:
- Make sure it fits properly.  Do a Shake Test.  Should be tight enough to breath but slide up to your chin while in-water.

- Leash gets in your way?  Attach it to the straps on the front or side of your vest style PFD.  We attach it there for river and some surfing use for easier access.

Problems of getting on SUP with Type 3 Vest on?
Kick your feet in the water as if you're swimming. Do so vigorously to be effective.  This will raise your body to the surface, then slide on horizontally to the board. If you don't to this, you'll be going up and over to get on, possibly catching your PFD on the board.

For our business, we use MTI PFD's, their APF vests for (fits most) and the Cascade for me (more pockets to store a VHF, extra hood, go pro, sunblock and minimalist first aid kit for teaching. Try before you buy and check out kayaking stores which usually have a better selection than SUP/surf shops.

Read More:
Paddle Board Tips for Big People - Low Profile PFDs

Any questions give me a holler: / 206.465.7167
Check out our SUP classes - beginning to advanced instruction and PSUPA Certification.

Updated 9/16

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Groupon Type Discount Rates for SUP Lessons - An Observation

In Seattle where I live there are several locations to now learn stand up paddling. None of these existed two years ago. The trend for the summer are Groupon and Living Social type discounts where a class will be advertised as 50% off. Hundreds have been signing up to these, and one shop claimed they had over 1,500 signups in early summer.

The other options are surf and kayak shops mostly with waterfront locations who offer lessons for less than $30 mainly to draw interest from the customers to buy their gear. The third option for instruction is what I do, where I offer higher priced lessons where you get a lot more for your money and come away being an intermediate to advanced paddler.

The reality of Groupon discounts is if they offer a $60 lesson for $30, that means each party only gets $15 per person, usually for 2 hr lessons. So they make money from volume, thus being willing to accept several hundred sign-ups. Most who sign up are generally curious about the sport or are looking for cheap intro 'just to try it out' without investing more. At the tail end of a recession, it may also cater to those who are still low on their finances seeking an affordable activity.

The downside to those offering the above model is that the quality of instruction is usually poor. With so many to cater to, who has time to make sure every student gets enough attention? Two shops offer such discounts in my neighborhood. We've sat having drinks at a waterfront restaurant, and noticed dozens of beginner SUP'ers floating by below us. After a two hour lesson, most are still on their knees, paddles backwards, and a few standing rigid in bikinis fearful of falling in our 55 degree water. On windy days all are on their knees, some prone, or in the water swimming their boards back to shore. Most are dresses as if they were in Bikini, but in Seattle where water temps rarely get above 55F in summer

A busy boating channel is located just below where the the paddlers launch. With little or no instruction, they paddle directly across the 100' wide channel often into the path of power and sail boats coming from two directions. A 1-2kt outgoing current from the Chittenden Locks upstream pushes the paddlers into the Sound, and closer to oncoming boats. Most beginner SUP'ers fall over with any sort of bumpy water, and especially boat wakes. We've seen a few fall right in front of oncoming boats forcing the boat to swerve towards the shallow sandbar just out of the channel. Others have been caught or blown downwind. One guy two weeks ago had to walk his board 2 miles upwind back to the shop. A few have been rescued by boaters, a Police boat, and other paddlers.

Many shops who have regular priced lessons are fearful of these discounts as they may drive the price of paddling lessons down - or what customers are wiling to pay for such lessons. Since SUP appears easy, many aren't willing to pay much or anything for instruction. Two local shops laughed me out the door when I mentioned a SUP instructor certification course coming to town. But driving through town past the various paddling locations, nearly 95% of those on SUPs have poor technique, are on their knees, or are swimming their boards back to shore. Occasionally, I'll chat with paddlers who are frustrated with the sport as they thought it was easier. After struggling to stand for two hours, they had decided SUP wasn't for them.

As the old saying goes, "You Get What You Pay for."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Towing Techniques for SUPs

If you're a paddling guide or instructor you may come across a situation where a student/customer needs a tow after becoming fatigued, sea sick, or in a worse case scenario injured possibly from a shoulder or other injury. In my neighorhood SUP is growing so quickly, many are getting on the water with little or no previous experience or are getting into trouble paddling downwind without being able to get back to their put-in.

Here's a few options for towing a fellow SUP'er..

- Carry a kayaking throw rope or kayaker's rescue line (in a waist mounted pouch). Ask the person being towed to hold onto the carabiner or rope. Consider asking them to sit down if they can't stay up in rough seas, or if you're paddling upwind. The waist mounted systems can be easily detached from your waist with a plastic fastex buckle. You could alternatively attach your end of the line to the loop on your leash plug. It's wise to have a quick release on both ends in case of entanglement. Another option is to carry another leash and ask the person being towed to hold it while you attach your end from your leash plug.

Options for kayaking safety tow lines:
Salamander Outdoor Gear
North Water


- Similar to the technique above, some life vests have quick release strap systems to attach a safety line to. These are great for attaching your leash to while paddling whitewater. Flipping the plastic buckle or pull tab open, the attached line will slide free of the vest. Some vests have a short tow line built into a pocket. The Astral Green Jacket PFD is a good choice.

- Suggested by the ASI, give your leash to the person being towed to hold on to. Paddling standing up or sitting you can make good progress this way without adding additional lines. The downside of course if that you'll be without a leash.

- Similar to the method above, attach the leash of the person being towed onto your leash plug. Again the downside is that the towee will be without a leash.

- Attach a leash plug to your nose for connection point in case of a tow.

Suggested by PonoBill on 7/15/11:
Three ways. Bare board (no rider) put one foot on each board and paddle.

towing--the best is if there's a leash plug under the nose--I only know of one board that has this--the Starboard 12'6" -- and not all of those do. Now that I think of it my 12'2" AST might as well.

--otherwise, take the fin out and tow it backwards from the leash. You can't tow backwards with the leash in place.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Follow Ken Campbell for his Circumnavigation of the Olympic Peninsula..

The Olympic Grand Circle

Tacoma, WA resident Ken Campbell, an experienced kayak and SUP guide, is currently on a 23 day expedition to circumnavigate the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. His first day from Tacoma was a 8 hour sea kayak paddle on Puget Sound, followed by hiking, then canoeing a variety of small to large sized rivers flowing eventually in to the Pacific. Ken will SUP from Ocean Shores to Cape Flattery - the NW corner of the continental US camping along the coastal strip of Olympic National Park. He'll sea kayak from Neah Bay back to his home on Salmon Beach in Tacoma.

He's updating his trip frequently on his blog, the Last Wilderness.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Choosing Your Paddle Length

A common question I get is how to choose your paddle length.

Here's a fool proof method of determing paddle length:

- Extend your arm straight above your head, then flatten your hand.
- Your paddle handle should tuck snuggly into your palm (blade on ground).
- A few inches longer is ok, but shorter may will lead to back issues and less control and power.

Many paddle companies say the paddle should be 8" - 12" above your head. This is actually a bit short and will affect your forward speed, directional control, and bracing in rough water.

Some say a shorter paddle is better for surfing. Personally I prefer a longer blade for power and speed in getting out through the break.

A few tips to prevent arm and wrist fatigue while paddling:

- Use a very light grip on your paddle with both hands. (unless you're creekin or surfing big stuff).

- A narrow width blade will have less torque on your shoulders. I use the Werner Nitro for everything and can feel the difference on my shoulders.

- Use your torso in your forward stroke and for turning. This will take stress off your armsa and shoulders.