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, August 22, 2014

Where do you put your keys?

When paddling there's always the issue of where to put your keys.  Some may bring the key with them, storing it in a wetsuit pocket or placing it a waterproof bag tucked in their wetsuit or around their neck.

Over the years, I tried different methods to store my keys on land - some successful, a few not so.  The stick it in the bush idea was a fail. I once came back after dark and took a bit find the right bush. Some place the key in the gas cap, others use those magnetic boxes to be stored under the car somewhere

For those seeking land based safe storage locations, here's a few smarter options:

Masterlock Key Safe
This is a large combination lock which can store up to 5 household keys. Paddlers on Standupzone suggested locking the save to their car grill and to their tow hitch.

Hitch Safe
An innovative idea, the combination lock box slides into your tow hitch.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How to Paddle Your SUP Out Over Surf Waves

Trying to figure out how to paddle a SUP out over surf waves?  

Here's a few tips..

- Aim directly at the incoming waves.

- Gain speed in forward or surf stance using short strokes similar to a race start.

- As the wave approaches - if in forward stance - put one foot back to raise the nose out of the water a bit.  Make sure both feet are on each side of the center line.  Both on the center line will be unstable.

- When the wave hits your nose, squat down - but keep paddling.

- When the wave crests or breaks under you board - keep paddling.  Here, many stop paddling mistaken, thinking they're over the wave.  On big powerful waves, if you stop paddling here - they'll kick you backwards, and you'll have to start over.  Keep the speed, don't stop paddling til you're 100% over the wave.

- One tip here is to push a rail down on one side of the board to angle board over the wave crest. This allows the board to cut through the wave and releases wave energy on the upside of the board, especially if you have a round nose board.  Pointed nosed boards slice through waves easier.

- If there's more waves coming - keep paddling for the next one.

                                           Watch my video of paddling over several waves.

Safety Tips:

- Don't paddle out directly behind another surfer.  If they get kicked backwards, they'll crash into you.

- Don't paddle out where others are surfing in.  Use the sides of the surf area to paddle out.

- Always use a leash.  If you fall or get kicked back, your board will take off and possibly collide with others behind you (loose ski effect).

- If you're a beginner in the surf, find your own wave away from experienced surfers. Unless you can turn with pinpoint precision out or down a face, keep your distance.

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 15, 2014

How to Put a Single Fin in Your SUP

How to put a Single Fin in a SUP.  

-Flathead or Philips screwdriver (depends on your screw type)
-Stick or additional screwdriver to help fish out the metal plate if you drop it in the slot.

-Unscrew metal plate from fin.
-Slide down angled slot into fin box. Must lie flat once in. Fish out if it drops in incorrectly.
-Place the little nub sticking out of the fin in the wide hole of the fin box slot.  Make sure fin is sloping backwards towards tail of board.
-Slide fin to back of board in fin box slot.
-Place fin flat down in slot.
-Using screwdriver, slide flat plate in line with screw hole in fin.
-Attach fin screw through fin hole to connect with the metal plate.
-Make hand tight. Don't over tighten it.
-Once secure - Do a shake test of fin to assure it's secure.

-Fins usually don't float.
-Buy extra fin screws and plates as they're easy to lose.
-Have a headlamp available if you're doing this at dusk.
-Use a quick release fin system to avoid this procedure. (QFR, Larry Allison, ImagineSurf)

For more info on fins and fin installation check out my book:
Stand Up Paddling Flat Water to Surf and Rivers by Mountaineers Books.

Contact me or any questions or additional tips:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Put your ID on your Gear

Over the years I've managed to leave a paddle at various locations. In one case I left the paddle on the Washington coast 5 hours from my home in Seattle.  A few days ago, I once again left a paddle at a beach where I was teaching near my house.

In all of the above situations the paddles were returned to me because I had my company sticker or other type of personal ID on the paddle.  The Coast Guard suggests having your ID on your boards as well in case if drifts off, or worse case you're lost and they know where to return the gear to.

For instructors - having my sticker on the blade reminds my students which side is the power face.

For stuff like leashes, I add a colored piece of electrical tape to one section so I can tell them from my students if in pile.

I use DieCutStickers in Seattle.

Note my company sticker on my paddles.  

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, August 12, 2014

An Easier Way to Put Your Board on your Car

Here's a super easy way to put your board on your car.  The method is especially helpful if you're solo and have a long or big board.

Place a yoga mat on the ground to protect your board and create a non slip surface when setting the board down.

See my additional car rack tips for SUPs and kayaks here.

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.

The Fear of Falling off a SUP - 4 Tips on Falling off a SUP

Every time I start teaching a paddle board class, students express their fear of falling off the board.  The reasons vary from not wanting to look bad, feeling embarrassed, a sense of failure or simply not wanting to get wet.

My first response is Falling is not a failure.  In fact not falling or trying not to means you're not having fun and will feel stressed, stiff or uneasy during your paddle or class.  As the old paddling saying goes - you're not trying hard enough if you're not falling (or getting wet).  I've heard paddlers say "I've done this two years without falling off." Have you ever tried getting back on your board? In some cases not doing so is a failure as you'll be risking your life as well as others who may need to rescue you.  Plus you're not having that much fun avoiding falling all the time.

I can tell if a student is looking stiff or unusually quiet during a lesson.  It's a relief for both of us once they fall in - they're always relieved realizing it's not as bad as they thought, they feel refreshed commonly saying "the water actually feels good!"  In cooler seasons my students in wetsuits realize how comfortable and warm the suits are after falling, thus become off season clients thus not waiting for summer to come.

Admittedly there are the days when I'm wearing shorts on Puget Sound and I don't want to get wet knowing I don't have replacement clothes in the car, and/or I'm planning on going somewhere after my paddle.  In those cases I'll try to avoid falling in, and each time I realize that experience isn't as fun as embracing getting wet.

One of the things I love about SUP is the openness of being on a board and being able to fall off at anytime (or climb back on).  As a kayaker, we wore dry suits, worked on our Eskimo rolls and rescues all the time - all to avoid getting wet or exiting the boat.  When I take students to paddle in the tidal rapids of Deception Pass (saltwater rapids) north of Seattle, everyone swims - including me, and we're all loving it!

4 Tips for falling off a SUP - 

- Dress for immersion or the water temp.  Many get into SUP for the minimalist feeling but too little clothing means you'll fear falling in.  Finding the right balance of clothing to balance the air and water temp can be tricky.  If you think you'll fall a lot, dress for it!  I carry a Seattle Sports deck bag on my board to store extra clothing if I get cold - or to store clothing if I'm too hot. Nice to have options, especially if the weather is changing.

- Don't dive in unless you can see the bottom.  Check the water depth with your paddle if the water is murky. When you do fall in - fall on the water as flat as you can to prevent from hitting the bottom.

- Wear a leash to prevent from getting separated from your board.  We see a lot of folks with leashes on their boards but not wearing them - sketchy if you ask me especially if you're offshore.  How far can you swim?

- Vest style PFDs / Lifejackets prevent you from falling all the way in.  If it's on your board, make sure you can remove it quickly if needed.  Many rental shops don't have the appropiate sized PFD for you - make sure it fits you before going out.  Kayak stores have great fitting PFDs if you need one.

Read here how to get back on your SUP.

About to take a dip off my 17' SUP

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.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Inflatable SUPS - Which One to Get? Geat article in the Wall Street Journal I was Interviewed for...

What are the benefits of inflatable SUPs?  Which one should I get?  Read more from this Wall Street Journal article.. Here

Tips for buying an inflatable:

- Try it first.  Make sure you it's stable for you.

- Determine if you need interchangable fins. Some have fins moulded in, others allow to change fins.

- Some are 6-8" thick. Make sure you can get back onto in deep water.

- Get a car battery powered unit to blow up the inflatable saving you some work.

*Typo in article - inflatable SUPs don't have epoxy in them. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Tips for Aerodynamic Positioning of SUPs on your Car

SUP are big compared to traditional surfboards and will most likely put a drag on your vehicle's fuel mileage.  But you can try to reduce the windage with creative positioning of your boards on your vehicle.

I run a mobile SUP business and am on the road all the time, sometimes driving several hours to clients or for group trips to places we love to paddle.  I've found that by placing the boards further back on my car's roof I can reduce drag and increase gas mileage a bit.  This also helps reduce additional drag from strong headwinds.

4 tips for reducing drag:
- Place your boards on your car so they don't stick over your windshield too far. (see picture)

- Place the most narrow part of the board to go forward and over your windshield.  On a surf style epoxy board that's your tail - upside down. For Displacement boards the nose may be the most narrow part of the board.  Inflatables may not have this advantage since the rail foil and overall shape tends to be wider.

- After strapping down, do a shake test to make sure your boards are secure to your rack.

- Add a red flag to the board ends sticking out over the rear of your car.  Sometimes a fin may work if that's the tail of your boards.

My rig - boards pushed back above windshield with Mile22 Straps

5 Additional SUP Rack Tips:

- Place pool noodles or pipe insulation foam in between your boards if stacking.  Boards with a lot of rocker (bottom curve) or displacement boards with raised deck shapes can make stacking difficult. If rockered boards are spinning a bit, place foam (or a towel) in open areas.  Or add foam or a towel where displacement boards may rub against each other when strapped down.

Pro paddler Matt Parker's racing board stack

- I usually carry my boards finless to make stacking easier.  Get quick release fin systems to help with attaching / removing fins.  QFR, ImagineSurf and Larry Allison have quick release fin options.

- I use Mile22 2" wide straps for my big loads or displacement boards.  These add additional security while underway.

- Downside of surf style boards placed tail first deck down means you may have difficulty getting into a car with a hatchback.  Sometimes I carry boards deck up if I need to get into the back of my car.

- Surfers are known to have their boards fin up, tail first. The purpose is not only for efficiency but also in case your straps get loose, the fin will keep the board from slipping out.  Ideally your straps shouldn't be so loose you'll ever loose a board anyway.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

5 Tips for Better Summer Paddling

5 Tips for Better Summer Paddling

- Avoid putting sunscreen on your forehead.  If you sweat it'll drip into you eyes and burn. Ouch.

- Wash your hands after putting sunscreen on, otherwise end up with a slippery paddle shaft.

- Wax your rails (near deck) to add grip when climbing on, especially in bumps.

- Wax your paddle shaft for a better grip.

- Hydrate before going out. If you're thirsty have a few sips.  I get migraines if I don't hydrate properly, so keep it flowing throughout.  I also use electrolyte tablets such as NUUN to help out.