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.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

SUP Racks - Keeping it Simple

Investing in your first SUP can be an expensive endeavor.  Boards tend to run above $600, then you have your wetsuit, paddle and rack.  On top of basic cross bars, many also purchase the SUP racks, which also add height to your car.  I'm just a cross bar, foam pad and cam strap sort of guy.  Others like my friend Ryan are a soft rack and cam strap (no cross bar or rack) sort of guy.

Ryan says his soft rack has travelled with him to South Africa, South America and beyond.  It's just two foam pad which straps can be ran through. Straps then go through the doors and attach inside the car.  If secured properly your board will be secured solid on your car.  Add nose/tail straps to your bumpers if you have a board 14' or longer are stacking boards or expect high winds.

Last month I had a loaner car and strapped my board to my car using a folded over yoga mat.  The stickiness of the mat kept the board from sliding on the roof and the cushiness of the mat protected the car roof.  I use straps attached to the Subaru Forester side stock rack things.

However you do it, do a shake and shifting test before you get on the road.  Check your work a few miles down the road to make sure it's still secure.  You may get a slight dent on your car but it should recover after releasing the strap pressure.

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, May 15, 2014

Packing a SUP for Overnight Trips

Packing a SUP for an overnight trip can be tricky if you're on a 11-6 to 14' long board.  If you're in non tropical climate packing enough warm clothes, sleeping bag and tent can be a problem.  But smart choices and clever packing will allow for more things to fit on your board.

5 Tips for Packing a SUP for an Overnight Trip..
- If your board doesn't have leash plugs on the deck to attaching ropes/bags to, add some using plugs by NSI (spectral loops) or Seattle Sports.  Usually 4-6 plugs will do on the nose in front of where you stand.  Give more thatn 24hrs to cure before attaching rope/bungy.

- Use cargo netting from a fabric store (rope not bungy) instead of the stock X crossed bungy that comes on most boards. The X shape isn't enough to secure most items down. I've seen a few students lose water bottles from that arrangement.  Kayaking deck bags are also a great solution. Some are waterproof and others like Seattle Sport's Parabolic Deck Bag are shaped to allow for water to pass by without too much drag.

- Pack with minimalism in mind.  Small down sleeping bag vs big synthetic bag.  Tarp and/or bivy instead of a tent.  One pair of camp clothes with packable coat.  Pack food and misc small gear into pots to save space. Pack dry items in dry bags then all into a waterproof duffle bag.

- Gather what you need and pack into dry bags.  Then decide what you can do without.  Pack again then remove again til you have the absolute basics.  Carrying too much also means paddling a heavy slow board.

- Do a test run before your trip to make sure you gear isn't too heavy to paddle, won't shift in wind and waves or will be a weather cocking (wind shear) issue.  Can you right if after a capsize?  How far/fast can you paddle with 35lbs of gear on your nose?

Watch my video on How to Pack a SUP for SUP Magazine, here.

Who's doing overnight SUP tours?
- We are!  1-2 night guided tours on Puget Sound in Washington State. Click here for more info.

- in British Columbia, Norm Hann Expeditions.

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.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Why you Shouldn't Paddle into Boat Waves

Do you have a tendency to paddle into waves on flat water to be more stable?  Have you been told this by an instructor?  

I see this a lot in my classes where students have been told to do so in previous classes.  With large stable SUP boards there's no reason to do so.  Here's a few tips of how paddle over waves easier.

When a wave appears, do the following..

- Bend your knees and keep paddling.  Don't turn into the waves - Keep your course.

- As the waves begin to go under you, again keep paddling with knees bent.  Forward momentum makes you more stable (like a bike) and bent knees act like shock absorbers allowing for the wave to pass under you (similar to skiing).

- If at a stand still, place a flat paddle blade on the water at your side with knees bent, even in a squat. The paddle acts as a brace or outrigger making you stable, again knees are shock absorbers letting waves pass under.

Why you shouldn't turn into waves:

- If in a busy boating area or boating channel (note green/red buoys), turning into the waves means you're turning into the boating channel and possibly in the route of another oncoming boat.

- Why change your course?  If you do, you'll have to correct and go back to your starting point after (or if ) the waves pass.

Summary - The manuever above is super simple and easy.  Waves are unavoidable, learn how to paddle with them vs avoiding them.  Learn to take waves on all sides of your board without changing course.  We let them pass under us, then turn to surf them!

How to Start a Simple SUP Race - 12 Tips

Wanna build SUP community or your SUP business?  

Doing weekly SUP races can really help.  12 few tips:

Keep them on one evening (or weekend morning) throughout your season (or year).

Consider doing the race in a popular area. The more people that see it will want to get involved. A friend does a race by a boardwalk. Folk have actually seen it, took a quicky lesson then did the race and became regulars.  At the same time our local beach has access issues, so we minimalize our time on the beach having racers enter the water immediately then paddle to our starting line offshore.

Keep Simple.
Races can get complicated, so keep simple.  We do a Monday evening summer race, no prizes, small fee which goes to charity, one heat but if there's enough 12-6's or surf style boards we'll separate them into their own category (but same heat).

Make it free or super affordable. Ours is $5, proceeds go to charity via our local Elks Lodge.  We made $600 last year.

Get Legal.
Make sure your racers sign liability waivers.

Be Safe. 
To keep incidents to a minimium or not at all, require PFDs, leashes, proper clothing for the water temp, and a safety talk before the race to make sure everyone knows of any hazards on the course.  We keep ours out of boating areas.  If ours goes on open water, I'll post a safety board/boater to help anyone in need. Be in radio/cell contact with that person and make sure they actually can rescue a person.

Be Creative.
Add buoy (or other safe obstruction) turns, change the course weekly, add an obstacle course.

Open to All.
Allow all skill levels to compete. We have sponsored pro racers and folks who learned to stand up the week prior.  Everyone supports each other.  The pro guys cheers on the beginners as the cross the line.

Find a community group or company to sponsor the race.  The Elks provide our racers with free parking, and allow us to come up after for drinks/food.  A product sponsor could donate schwag for prizes.

Create simple forms to track racer info: Name, paid, waiver?, board length, time.

Use your phone stopwatch or a manual stop watch. Write down times as racers cross the finish line.  Some use WebScorer.

Document the Race
Shoot video and/or stills of the race start, finishes, and after shots of racers celebrating.  Use these for your social media and to send to racers.