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.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Slightly off topic - Extreme Sea Kayakers Charge Huge Tidal Rapids..

These sea kayakers are pushing the limits of the craft and skills by charging tidal rapids across North America paddling into huge whirlpools and other gnarly whitewater conditions in saltwater.

Definitely worth a peek -

Pics from the 2011 Kalama Klinic at Urban Surf in Seattle 4/28

Here's the pics from the April 28th 2 hour Dave Kalama Klinic on Seattle's

Lake Union at Urban Surf. 27 paddlers came out on a windy and cold morning to take the clinic. One came from Homer, Alaska, and 3 from Vancouver BC. Here's the link.. Kalama Klinic

Also see Dave's informative site,

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fins for SUPs

What's the purpose of a fin?

- Fins help keep your board going straight. If you remove your fin, you'll go in circles. Longer fins (depth) will track easier. If your board has a lot of rocker, you'll need a longer fin to help it go straight. Some whitewater SUP'ers remove their fins to avoid entrapment or breakage on rocks.

- Fins also help keep you balanced. Longer fins are better for stability.

- In surf, multiple fins help keep the tail of the board from slipping on a steep wave face. If carving down a wave, the 'side bites' or small FCS fins on the sides grab the water surface and keep you on track.

- Single Fin
Best for smaller waves, flat water, racing, and beginner boards. Usually they're longer and up to 12".

- 3 Fins, also called a Thruster
Designed for surfing to give you the most amount of control, but they are fine on flat water and can help tracking too.

- Rubber or Plastic Fins - cheaper, and also good on whitewater where breakage may occur.

- FCS Fins require a Allen (hex) wrench to screw in.
- Longboard Fin Boxes require either a flathead or Philips depending on the screw used.

Click Here for a great video on Fins..

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, April 21, 2011

Check out my really short video on Surf Etiquette

While surfing a great set of freighter waves in Puget Sound, my neighbor Mark plowed into me - or maybe I was in the way? Either way, it happens.

Basics on avoiding collisions in the surf:

- Learn Surf Etiquette, or

This is a good one,

- Pay attention to others around you.

- Like crossing a busy street, look both ways before catching a wave. Don't take off unless you have a clear path below you.

- Don't paddle out where others are surfing in. Use a rip or paddle out on out of the path of others surfing in.

- If there is a collision, don't yell, fight, or otherwise, talk it out - be cool.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tips for Better Stability

Feeling unstable on your first time on a board? Here's a few tips to increase your comfort level.

- Make sure you start on a board big enough for you. As a beginner, try a board that may be bigger than what you think you need. In time once you've gained your sea legs, you can try a board this is more narrow. Beginner boards should be at least 30" wide. The bigger you are the wider you'll need. I like 31"-33" wide and am 6'-5" tall, about 230lbs.

- Not sure about standing up on the water? Draw an outline of the board in the sand and practice standing up on solid ground. Have flexibility issues? This is a great way to figure out how to stand up from a sitting position. I've had students that couldn't bring their legs forward to stand up, or even get up. There's always a solution, you just have to practice.

- Stand up in the middle of the board. Adjust your 'trim' back and fourth til you feel you're in the middle. Have a friend tell you if you're in the middle.

- Make sure both feet are pointing forward, and are about 12" apart (width of your shoulders). I had a student last week who had one foot that couldn't point forwards, thus the board dipped on that side. Wider is more stable than closer together.

- Paddling makes you more stable. Once you stand up immediately take a few strokes.

- When in doubt - paddle. In rough water if you begin to loose your balance, keep paddling. Beginners tend to stand up and lean back with the paddle above their head to regain balance - usually falling in. Instead train yourself to dig the blade in the water instead of stop paddling.

- Static Brace - If the above doesn't work and you feel you're going in use a brace to prevent yourself from falling in. Slap the flat portion of the blade on the surface of the water as you begin to lose balance.

- Sweeping Brace - In the above situation, another method of a brace is to slide the flat portion of the blade across the surface of the water in one direction to help regain your balance. Apply pressure to your lower arm as you sweep the blace across the water.

- While standing, make sure you knees have a micro bend. Locked knees will send you for a swim.

- If you need to look behind you, or up, place the face of the paddle flat on the water. Push the shaft of the paddle down a touch with your outer arm to apply pressure to the blade.

- Another version of the brace above is an advanced brace called the 'sculling brace'. Place the blade flat on the water by the middle of the board and while rotating your torso, slide it back and fourth on the surface while pulling down on the shaft to apply pressure to the blade. The brace above is a static brace, this one is an active brace.

- After taking a stroke, instead of pulling the blade out of the water, twist your wrists back which exposes the powerface of the blade to your rail. While still in the water, slide the blade face forward parallel to the rail back the catch (nose) - like slicing a knife through melted butter. Essentially you never take the blade out of the water during your forward stroke. Again, having you blade in the water adds stability, so in rough water, current, or surf, keeping your blade in the water throughout your entire stroke will make you more stable.

- Bending your knees lower helps you become more stable. Think of your knees as shock absorbers as the water passes underneath.

- Still can't stand up? It's ok to sit or kneel while paddling. Use these lower positions to practice your forward and turning strokes, or until you reach smoother water before you try to stand again.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What Board is Right for You?

The first thing every student says to me is "I don't have good balance, will I be able to stand up?"

One of the biggest mistakes people make in getting into SUP is trying or buying a board too small or narrow for their size, then after falling in several times, deciding the sport isn't for them. The #1 rule for beginners is to look for a board that is appropiate for your height and weight. At 6'-5" and 230lbs, I sink anything less than 10' and feel unstable on anything less than 30" wide. Bigger is better to start. Once you get some water time and gain your sea legs, then you can decide if you're comfortable getting a shorter board. Try before you buy.

Types of boards -

6' - 10' - Great for kids, smaller folks, short distances, or experienced surfers. 29"-33" wide.
10'- 12' - Best for your first board, all arounder boards for many uses, tall folks, and first time surfers. 8" to 33" wide.

12-6' - Stock class for racing, and/or an all arounder board for beginners, tall folks, small waves, etc. Comes in a round or pointed nose, planning hull or racing nose/hull. 30-31" wide.

14' - Mostly a faster racing, downwind, and/or touring board, great for longer distances, very stable, also great for tall or larger folks. Comes in a round and pointy nose. Some have tie-downs for gear. Seattle shaper Bobby Arzadon built a 35" wide board for a huge Samoan Seahawk player called the 'Bamboocha'. Most are 23-29" ish wide.

18' - Unlimited - Same as above but even faster! Longer is often faster. Great for long distance racing, downwinders, and touring. Usually 27" wide. Consider a lighter board for easier carrying, lifting on your car, etc. 18' noses tend to be pointed.

Fiberglass/Epoxy - Most common. Made from foam wrapped in fiberglass and/or carbon.

Inflatable - Very light, surprisingly durable, great for living in apartments, condos or travelling. But also easier to carry than a 'hard' epoxy/fiberglass board.

Is an Inflatable less stable than a fiberglass board? Not necessarily.  Many are very stiff.  Stability really lies with any board with width vs thickness vs length.  There's 'unstable' fiberglass and inflatable boards.

Other things to consider -

- Always try before you buy (paddles too). Many come to me after they bought a unstable board, asking what to get next. Is it too heavy to carry? Is it stable? Does it feel slow or fast?

- How are is your carrying distance to the water? Get a lighter board if this is an issue. There are wheels for SUPs and kayaks that can help in long carries. And shoulder strap systems.

- How tall is your car? Do you need help putting the board up?

- What type of paddling do you want to do? Racing, fishing, surfing, rivers, flat water, easy, downwinders, touring, expeditions, not sure?

- Budget? There are plastic boards for $300, epoxy for less than $1k, and hollow carbon boards over $3k. Pros and cons? Plastic is heavier and slower but can takes a beating. Average board is epoxy over foam. Carbon is light but expensive and some boards may not take hits well. Think about what suits you best. A neighbor bought a used Liquid Shredder from me for his kids and summer lake house. It could be used as a raft, fishing platform, multiple kid boat, etc...

Board Design -

Rocker - the hull/bottom curve of the board. More curve is easier to turning or surfing, but will be slower on flat water and harder to keep straight requiring a bigger fin.

Nose - the front. Some are rounded, some are pointy. Pointy makes it easier to paddle upwind, and cut through waves paddling out in surf. Some have surf ski or 'kayak' style noses for more effecient paddling thus faster with less effort.

Tail - the back end. Differnet types of tails - Pin is best for racing; Square is most stable; Fish Tail is great for surfing and turning quicker, etc.

Rails - the sides. Rail design helps determine how a board turns, it's stability, etc. Sharp rails are more stable but turn sharper and will catch current in a river thus flipping you. Pros and cons. Many boards have a pointy nose, rounded rails in the middle and sharp rails in the tail.

Deck - Top. Most sups have a traction pad. Those that don't can be waxed for traction. Boards with short traction pads can be waxed in the non pad areas, a good idea for surfing.

Bottom / Hull -
-Planning hull is flat.
-Displacement is round like a 1/2 circle.
-Some have concave hulls.
-Vee is well, 'v' shaped in the middle of the hull which helps keep the board straight and sometimes helps it turn easier depending on the amount and location of Vee. Too much can make a board tippy.

Note: Some boards will be advertised as a 'displacement hulled'. Few SUPs are true displacement hulls. Some have 'kayak' style noses with a point nose, with vee then flatten out to a planning hull under the feet, then round out in the tail to displacement or planning with sharp rails.

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

Friday, April 8, 2011

You don't need an ocean to find big waves. Just go to the Great Lakes..

For years the Great Lakes have taken down full size freighters and on a more positive note also provide local with world class surf thousands of miles from teh ocean. And it's freshwater. The lakes were featured in 'Step into the Liquid', and now there's even a dedicated surfing magazine for the region, Great Lakes Surfer.

The Lakes are essentially Seas, much like the Black Sea or Red Sea, both of which also have surf. They are so wide or long that wind can build up fetch over a distance and build waves, sometimes well overhead barrels.

Here's a fun link I found this week from Red Bull, great waves -

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tips on Keeping Your Wetsuit Free from the Stink

There's nothing worse than a stinky wetsuit. The ol' rule of thumb is to not pee in your suit. Of course it's a Murphy's Law of sorts that as soon as you suit up, you gotta go. Even if you don't pee in your suit, body ordor can build up and smell like you did.

How to avoid the stink? Here's some tips:

- Wash your suit in fresh water after every use. Hang dry.
- Dip your wetsuit in water with an order eliminator product such as McNett's MiraZyme.
- Hand wash your wetsuit with a wetsuit shampoo such as McNett's Shampoo.
- Put your wetsuit in the washer on a gentle cycle with wetsuit shampoo. Hang dry.
- Make sure you dry your wetsuit, gloves and booties 100% for every use.
- Use a bootie, glove, and wetsuit dryer to speed up the drying. Air drying can take days.
- Put cedar sachets in your booties to reduce funky ordors.
- Pour very hot water in your booties to help kill funky ordors. Dry thoroughly.
- Use dish soap to clean your suit by hand or while in a gentle cycle in the washer.
- Baking Soda might work by hand or in the washer.

Have more tips? Give me a holler!

Read my SUP Mag story on the wild conditions at the 2011 Surftech Shootout

From SUP Magazine...

Though the athletes need little reminder of the raw conditions that won’t soon be forgotten, we present a few fresh photos and tales from the recent Santa Cruz PaddleFest. “Gnarly,” and especially “crazy” are the first words from the mouths of the standup racers and surfers describing the third annual Surftech Shootout and first annual Surf & Sand Duel-athon, presented by SUP magazine, March 18-19 in Santa Cruz, Calif. Despite falling trees, evacuations, and road closures, the contest went on. — Rob Casey

Read the story...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Proper Wrist Position on Your Paddle

One of the most important factors in preventing pain in paddling is to keep your wrists in line with your forearm for both your upper and lower hands. Another important tip is to not use a death grip on the handle and paddle shaft. Doing so not only builds tension in your arm, but also takes energy away from the rest of your stroke. Unless you’re dropping into a bottom turn surfing or paddling in high winds, where losing your paddle would be an issue, then you should be holding your paddle with the lightest grip possible. Here's a few images of how to hold your paddle to prevent pain or possible injury. Read more about this in the Fitness chapter of my book which is written by fitness professional, Nikki Gregg.

Spring Surfing on the WA coast -

Monday, April 4, 2011

Brent Rice Memorial Swim 8/20 Seeking Support Paddlers!

From founder Justin Moser:

My name is Justin Moser I am the Founder of the Brent Rice Memorial Swim of the Sound. Last year you helped spread the word that we were in need of volunteer safety kayakers and I was wonder if you could do that again for us by advertising our swim on your website and to your members. This year our swim is on Saturday August 20, 2011 starting at 9am. The swim is 2.3 miles from Des Moines Beach Park to Point Robinson on Maury Island. Anything you can do for us again would be a huge help!

If you are interested in helping us again please let me know.

Thank You
Justin Moser
Founder Brent Rice Memorial Swim of the Sound