The importance of being DFL

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The importance of being DFL

2017 Ski to Sea Race Thoughts: The importance of being DFL. 

The 2017 edition of Ski to Sea is done and dusted. Some were victorious in the obvious ways; a podium finish and the deep satisfaction that comes from hard work and teamwork paying off. Others found victory in smaller, less obvious ways. A personal record, beating a rival or maybe just finishing the damn thing sans swim and not letting your team down. Hopes wildly exceeded for some and ego's crushed for others. In other words, it was another great race. 

Most of our local paddling talent gets snapped up by the fast teams, and as paddlers we have the distinct glory of knowing that anyone we pass or catch out on the final leg of the day is one better overall placing for the team. And then we get to charge up the beach in front of a roaring crowd to ring the bell with your teammates and celebrate the moment. It is a magical moment for everyone from the dedicated elite to the "dedicated-for-a-day" to revel in. 

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Our two teams for Boomer's Drive-In took both the overall victory and division wins in a race that isn't even remotely casual or easy to win. Despite a happy-go-lucky veneer, people train hard and they race harder as the local pecking order and social status for an entire year to come hangs in the balance. Serious, serious stuff for us athlete types. 

At the awards ceremony our teams gathered together and shook hands and thanked each other for all the work and effort that had come to a great result. As the crowds faded I savored last moments of a warm pre-summer day and watched my daughter play on the beach.

And then I heard the bell ring one last time.

I turned around and noticed a man stagger by in his paddling kit, drenched in sweat from the punishing heat. His team was nowhere to be seen and no one was cheering his finish or high-fiving in joy. The finish line was empty and so was he. More importantly, he was D.F.L.... 

D.F.L. stands for "Dead. Fucking. Last." It is not a place of honor or cheer. Like the zebra that runs just a little bit slower than the rest of us and gets eaten up, we all know it has to happen but we're thankful it wasn't us. 

As he collected his belongings and tried to track down his teammates, I wondered empathetically what that moment must feel like as I held my first place plaque. I asked myself if I would show up and race if I knew it would be my day to be DFL? In that moment I realized that his commitment to do so despite the exhaustion and humiliation was the contrast that creates the context for my own success and validation (however petty). Without him being that guy, there is no me or anyone else getting to be that guy.  

It humbled me and I made up my mind to go shake his hand and thank him for racing. And when I turned around, he had slipped away into the crowd and was gone.

Race you another day, Zebra. 


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Finally, SPRING IN BELLINGHAM!

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Finally, SPRING IN BELLINGHAM!

Barrels in a surfski? Kinda. 

Barrels in a surfski? Kinda. 

Today was the first downwind of spring, and it was LEGIT. Sunshine. Warmish Air. Wind. Ripping rides. Face shot after face shot. Barrels. Just another day in paddlers paradise. Baby I'm down... 

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Punched in the Face!

Sometimes paddling in the PNW in the winter is like trying to dance with a silverback and getting punched in the face. But we like it that way. 

But sometimes, it all comes together.  

 

 

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Digging deep to find gold.

There comes a point in every adventure when the novelty wears off. Goals fade. The sun goes down and the bitter cold soaks in and defeats the last ounce of ambition and you just want to be off the water. That's the magic place where authentic, life defining moments are born. And when you're safely home after an epic grind, those moments become memories. I live for those moments. And the next time you find yourself in a pinch, you know you've been here before. You got this, you were born for this. 

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 Bon Hiver (GOOD WINTER)

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Bon Hiver (GOOD WINTER)

Not an uncommon site after being out in bitter cold for a two hour session. 

Not an uncommon site after being out in bitter cold for a two hour session. 

We've had a stiff does of winter this year (2017) in Bellingham, and it's all the locals can talk about. The last few winters have been quite warm, dry - so this one comes as quite the stiff reality check on an account that's been a bit overdrawn. 

The trick is getting into the ski without getting your feet wet when the main dock is iced in. 

The trick is getting into the ski without getting your feet wet when the main dock is iced in. 

I've personally never paddled in so much wind in such frosty conditions (32º F is now considered warm for a downwind run). Even in the grand age of neoprene and drysuits, one must be careful not to be out too long as the rudder lines start to freeze up and so do the toes. I've come back to shore more than a few times with blue feet and uh, ...other appendages. Hang in there boys.  

It's moments like these that I you don't think about cold feet much at all. 

It's moments like these that I you don't think about cold feet much at all. 

The upside to this is subtle, but remarkable. Like the initial shock of falling in, winter hit hard and my summer time Gorge spoiled brain just wasn't on board. It whined A LOT. 

"I'm cold!" 

"Are you done yet?"

"Are we there yet?"

"This is dumb. We should go in. And drink a beer. Mmmm... Beer!"

All of those phrases have oozed from my frost bitten frontal cortex like a steady drip from a melting icicle. While I can concede that the whining was relentless, it wasn't fruitless either. 

At some point my inner sniveling wimp just decided that misery is the new normal, and my brain just let it go and got back to focusing on how much fun all this nonsense is. Either that, or the poor bastard froze to death in the process of being choked out by the inner viking whose taken up residence in my subconscious will. Yes, this winter is indeed hard. But we're becoming harder. And that's the great thing as I type this lusting after temps in the high 40's, and water to match.

The hardened mind begets a hardened hide. It's not that I am blasé about the perils of cold water... quite the opposite. But I am not afraid either. And that for me is the best part. Heading out into the wind, waves and big blue frosty sea is liberating and joyous... just like surfski paddling is meant to be.

Warmer days will surely come. But why rush such a good thing? 

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Downwind Clinics with Dawid Mocke

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Downwind Clinics with Dawid Mocke

Hooked up for a downwind clinic with Dawid Mocke during the week of Gorge Downwind Champs on a typical, medium sized day that got bigger as the run progressed. Dawid does clinics for paddlers, and shares an absolute treasure trove of downwind knowledge that will benefit everyone from new to elite paddlers. There simply isn't a better place, or event to take your downwind skills to a new level and hang out with tons of like minded people then the Gorge Downwind Champs. 

 

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Super Tuesday at Deep Cove

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Super Tuesday at Deep Cove

Not every night that you get a chance to line up with the fastest paddlers in the world and go race in such a beautiful location. Huge turnout as always (93!).

We did a staged start with the average Joe's (main group) lining up first, then the Bro's (SUP's / Prone) who did a slightly different distance, and finally a group of twenty or so Pro's four minutes back in chase mode. I love this style of racing, because it's fun to blend the fields. 

Below is a video of my race, I wound up 7th, and worked with up coming talent Ryan Paroz to try to stay close to the leaders. Sean Rice picked up a win in a classic sprint finish over Jasper Mocke and Kenny Rice. Dawid was just a moment behind in fourth. 

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Having the bucket time of my life.

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Having the bucket time of my life.

"Hey man, wake up! It's windy in the bay!" 

"Bruh... I'm tired. We've been out every day for the last ten days... Gonna sit this one out."

"C'mon, you got one more lap in you! We'll just do technique surfing... not go hard at all man." 

"Fine. What time?"

"Well it'll be windy all day... but wow, look at the forecast for 6am."

"Great. Pumping right?"

"Two fists!"

"Better text the guys, see who else will come. Or we don't go."

"Already did. Clement and Olney are both down. Bet Nelson will come too."

I've had this conversation with myself and my fellow downwind junkies every day, for the last twenty plus days. We've had an unusually windy stretch, even by Bellingham standards. And that has meant day after day after day of ideal conditions. Wind to 20. Then 30. Then 25 and back again. Warm air and clear skies contrast the flat daze of the local paddlers who are just stoked out. We keep coming back like the Pavlovian dogs we are. Only the bowl is never empty. Lap lap lap. More laps!

The result is ruinous. I'm becoming decidedly snobbish in my outlook on conditions, but always after I get off the water. "That was pretty good man. Pretty good. But not as good as yesterday. Yesterday was all time." Before I get on the water, I only see whitecaps and potential for ace rides all the way from Bellingham to Valhalla. Glory awaits. "Grab the spears Chief!"

Surfing downwind is nothing short of art for adrenaline junkies who like to run with sharp objects. You know the type. Growing up, we were the ones who sniffed glue and ate our crayons after coloring on the walls and bellowing "SPARTAAAA!!!!" at the teacher. For a relatively new surfski paddler like myself the learning curve has been a cliff that I fail upwards. Just keeping up with some of the local legends is a life goal. Even if they are merely three decades your senior. I'm not sure how they do it. But I've noticed there is a difference between those who settle for bucket lists and those make bucket time.  

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Round Bowen Challenge 2016 Race Report

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Round Bowen Challenge 2016 Race Report

The alarm went off at 3am, and I knew what I needed to do, but lacked the will to do it.

I had been asleep for a little less than three hours and had just returned home from an extensive amount of travel. I felt bone tired, and just missed being home. I love racing but haven't been training for a longer distance race with a punishing reputation, and I certainly wasn't recovered from previous several days of paddling downwind in the Gorge. The debate unfolded in the court of my foggy mind as I flirted with the edge of sleep. Arguments were trotted out for and against packing up the paddling kit and loading the ski on the car for the two two hour drive North into Canada. At 3am a lofty down comforter on a cool night is a seductive rebuttal against a season's worth of ambition. As the prosecution rested, the defense took the opportunity to remind the court there was a nearly hour long ferry ride and of course we could sleep then. Simultaneously a brilliant victory and an utterly senseless miscarriage of justice.

I pulled up to a completely empty border crossing station as the first light of the day met the flat gray sky. The only border guard on duty dryly asked what I was up to as this hour and how long I was planning to stay in Canada as his eyes wandered to the absurdity of a 21' surfski comically strapped to a much smaller Subaru Impreza. I told him that I am a recent grad of the Iranian missile smuggling college and would only be north for a day of trafficking arms to Bowen Island. As he looked at my arms, I cringed as I remembered the golden rule of border crossings; No jokes. Ever. A little humor goes a long way to getting your vehicle and all worldly possessions within turned completely inside out. He took a long hard stare at me, and then laughed out loud and waved me through. Must remember that skit for future brushes with the law. 

The ferry filled up with fellow OC, SUP, kayak and surfski paddlers. Racers milled about on the ferry deck chatting nervously about the course as the wind built to a stiff breeze and white caps started to speckle the Straight of Georgia in the distance. Bowen Island has a reputation of turning paddlers into swimmers when the wind builds from the south and collide with the extended rocky shoreline. Many of those present recalled the glory of years past and wondered what the day would hold. 

Once on the island, the race organizers informed us that we'd be racing clockwise around the island. A good call as the racers would see the most daunting stretch of the island fresh instead of after racing for a couple of hours. Wes Hammer and I also chatted with the race organizers, and asked them to not allow the drafting of double skis. In a race of this distance, being able to draft a fast double will radically distort the results for one or two paddlers on their wash. 

As the ferry left the idillic setting of Snug Cove, racers lined up bank to bank and waited nervously for the race director to signal the race start. I typically have a decent race start, but not today. To my horror an evil green mass of kelp and weed floated up from the bottom of the cove directly in front of my ski just moments after the race start. Wes was able to just slip by to the right, but I came to full stop despite cranking at full power... Completely grounded as the entire field shot away. Some of them were less then thrilled to suddenly have me parked in their way, but in my defense I was merely marking the hazard for everyone else to see. I paddled backward to get my ski off of the raft of weeds, then paddled hard and had to repeat once again as I was still tangled (despite have a small weedless rudder on the ski). 

In racing you can't always control what happens, but you can control how you respond to what happens. Once clear of the cove the conditions kicked up considerably with the wind in the mid teens gusting to 20. I started to patiently pick my way through the very back of the field, and tried to politely ask for room to paddle through the tight clusters of paddlers duking it out as they worked hard to stay paddler side up. I had a good laugh at having start such a long race so far behind as the race leaders turned into fluorescent dots on the horizon.  

The stretch of water along the south western and southern shore was a bit of a mess, but had enough movement that I could get some decent surfing and crashing glides in the rebounding swell, ferry and container ship wakes. It very much reminded me of the open coast off Vancouver Island and I loved it. I found my rhythm in the washing machine water and could still see the the leaders in the far distance, but a bit closer and decided to just have fun in the conditions and see how many places I could pick off over the course of the day. To my amazement I was able to surf my way back to the front group just before the course turned back north, within two or three boat lengths of Wes Hammer and Greg Redman and three sets of double skis another thirty seconds or so in front of them. 

Once we rounded the southwestern cape and turned north, the wind was at our backs and pushing against a strong ebb tide. Wes and Greg hugged the shore, and I took a gamble with a line further offshore where I could surf one to two foot wind waves. Their line was clearly better, and I soon lost about a minute over the next five miles as we worked our way around the islands western shores. I caught a few decent waves, but not enough to make it worth the effort and my chase effort was starting to catch up to me. 

I spent the rest of the day by myself chasing Greg and Wes. Sometimes I would make a little ground and then loose a little as I worked currents and rebounding wakes for snippets of extra speed while trying to keep a hefty bonk under control. Bob from Deep Cove had very wisely reminded me to bring some calories, and I a single GU saved me from a massive bonk. 

In the last two miles of the race, I managed to snag a monster container ship wake that allowed me to catch up to and pass the double ski paddled by Chris Dobrovony and his doubles partner for third place. Wes pulled off another impressive win after getting a small gap on Greg Redman. Looking forward to seeing how the upcoming Canadian surfski champs play out between these two dominant paddlers. 

After the race we all gathered on the dock for a beer and a fantastic salmon lunch. The top three racers from each category were treated to pie from Lime and Moon Pie Company. Simply fantastic event that I would love to race again. 

 

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Aggressive Progression

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Aggressive Progression

I am not a natural paddler, but I am learning to paddle naturally.

If you had the comedic opportunity to see my first day in a surfski, you would know just how much of a non-paddler I really was. I couldn't make it twenty feet without an unexplained swim. It was like Poseidon had a quirky and mean spirited sense of humor, and would randomly yank me from my rented V10sport without warning. Either that or it was Davy Jones hoping to score some easy company. Either way, it was hard, and I loved it and still love it for that reason. 

Part of the joy of learning new things and tackling hard challenges is learning from the best around you, as well as past experiences. This is often referred to this as "progression" competitive sport circles, and it's a big reason why I love paddling. It's also why I have tried to paddle conditions, skis and with fast paddlers that both push me and help me learn new things (safely!). 

In terms of racing progression, this year's Ski to Sea went much better for me then last. If you're not from Bellingham, you might not know that Ski to Sea is a hundred year old multi-discipline adventure race that consistently attracts Olympic level talent, which leads us locals to lovingly refer to it as the Bellingham Olympics. This year will mark my third full year of racing surfskis, and I was able to sneak into the top five for the kayak leg with a 4th place finish and missed out on third place by a mere seven seconds behind whitewater strongman turned surfski paddler Jamie Klein (what I would give to have known I was just 7 seconds back!). Jamie, like me is relatively new to the growing sport of surfski. It's fun to be a part of a new group of paddlers who are still developing and shaking up our local race results at the same time. Finish line honors went to U23 World Champion Macca Hynard, followed by the top ranked US athlete and rising star Austin Kieffer, who also managed to secure a top three overall ranking for his team, Boomer's Drive-In. Local legend Brandon Nelson showed his class and managed to bring home the overall ski to sea title for his team, and our team (Boomer's Coed) was stoked to win our division. 

But my real prize was running a decent race with no mistakes or missteps. I have recently started to focus on not making small but costly mistakes as I seek to move past the fundamentals of surfski paddling into the finer points of being a consistent and capable athlete. In last year's Ski to Sea, I managed to nearly blow my start, get lost on the course and go for an awkward swim while rounding the final buoy and getting tangled with another paddler. Not exactly material for the highlight reel, but it is fun to look back and see progress.  

Progression can take many forms... including not going for a swim around the final buoy in front of a beach full of race spectators. Seeking out messy, rebounding water has made a big difference in my development. 

Just two days after Ski to Sea, I headed up to Deep Cove, BC for the Tuesday Night Race series. This race was called a "surprise race". Racers had to find three buoys (Easter Eggs) hidden within a geographic area and round or touch them, then race back to the line. Macca Hynard showed his racing class after making a wrong turn and chasing us down. He and Wes Hammer then duked it out in a fantastic sprint finish at the end. Total distance raced was a smidgen over 8km, and my pace for a 3rd place finish was 8.3mph (I lost :30 seconds in the last kilometer!)

Finally, another area I am excited to develop in is going downwind. I've noticed that while the fundamentals of downwind are very important, the nuances are perhaps more important in unlocking the true speed that surfskis are capable of that embody the essence of our wonderful sport.

Surfing downwind in gale winds in a kayak that's 17" wide is a bit like trying to land an airplane in rough weather...  without wings or landing gear. It takes a series of subtle but intentional adjustments to keep the ski and paddler in perfect position to either surf or climb over the wave in front of you.  Like an airplane, glide is good and stalling is very very bad. I have also noticed that while every wave has its own personality, it will tell you what it is up to pretty quickly once it's formed - so there isn't much point in focusing on it. This allows me to instead to think ahead and try to anticipate finding the next wave as it forms in forms underneath and in front of me. I like to think of it as a big game of aggressive progression. 

 

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2016 PNW ORCA Sand Point Championship Race Report

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2016 PNW ORCA Sand Point Championship Race Report

Good outrigger turnout and mild conditions, although just a handful of surfski racers as there was a schedule conflict with two other local races. Kevin Olney, Brendan Donahue, myself, some guy named Greg Barton and a couple other ski paddlers who I didn't know prior to the race. More on that Greg guy later...

Weather was quirky per the typical PNW spring day. The start was shall we say "brisk"... into a stiff southern breeze, and Greg paddled out to show the rest of us the course while I tagged along. Very nice of him. On the return trip we had the pleasure of a wind shift with clearing skies, and a headwind and sloshy water to keep us from sweating too much. Nice touch weather Goddesses, you ladies have a terrific sense of humor!

Greg noticed me on his wash with about a mile to go and said something about being late for a race win and off he went. I did my best to wish him luck, but by the finish he was a minute away and probably couldn't hear me in between gasps. I think maybe he wanted first shot at the incredible buffet at the finish, or maybe he didn't want any more questions about graphene surfskis, hydrophobic laminar boundary layers or hydrofoils. Kevin Olney was in the mix and rounded out the first three a few minutes back. I think we had 60 or so racers in attendance, a great event that erased the memory of last years rebound debacle. For me at least. 

JCG FTW... 

JCG FTW... 

In a strange twist they kept score of the ski racing totals through the series and I shamelessly snagged a bottle of Jose Cuervo Gold for the winter series win. I guess good racing can be bad for your health. 

Hats off to all of those who clearly went to great lengths to make the PNWORCA Winter Race series an awesome time for all involved. It's going to be a jam packed racing schedule this spring with the upcoming Dan Harris Challenge2016 Lake Whatcom Classic, Tour De Indian Arm in Deep Cove, BC and of course Ski to Sea 2016 (aka "the Bellingham Olympics").

In other news, the New Epic V8 Pro should be in the hornet's nest soon and available for demo. We'll also have the new V5 in too for those of you looking share the love of ski paddling with friends and family or try it for the first time. 

 

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Bellingham Bay Rough Water Race, Take 2

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Bellingham Bay Rough Water Race, Take 2

Spring racing season is hard to beat here in the Pacific Northwest. Loads of great races, venues and fast racers. We've just wrapped up the Bellingham Bay Rough Water Race and the PNW ORCA Winter Series Championship Race... and we're only at the half way mark with the Dan Harris, Tour De Indian Arm (both part of the Think International Challenge), Lake Whatcom Classic and the Ski-to-Sea looming large on the horizon. Particularly stoked to hear that we'll have some visiting elite paddlers with Carter Johnson and Austin Kiefer in addition to our usual cadre of fast paddlers to test myself against. 

If that weren't enough, the mid-week race series will all be up and running again soon. If you're a racing junkie like me living in Bellingham, you can race Tuesday in Deep Cove, Wednesday on Lake Whatcom and Thursday night in Vancouver with the Big Chop series... Wow we have it good, and the sport is clearly booming.  

Bellingham Bay Rough Water: After having the race cancelled due to gale conditions the race itself went off a week later with the exact opposite of conditions: glassy water, no wind and sunny warm skies. Despite a schedule conflict with another race, the turnout was solid with a lot of the region's paddlers eager to test their conditioning in a fast, tough race over 10 miles in Bellingham Bay. 

Note to self: Pre-race meetings are apparently a good idea to attend if you want to know where the finish line is. Photo by Michael Lampi. 

Note to self: Pre-race meetings are apparently a good idea to attend if you want to know where the finish line is. Photo by Michael Lampi. 

The race unfolded like many do when the conditions are flat, with an initial burst off the line and a hang-on-for-dear-life pace to the first buoy marker.

We have an incredible mix of paddlers in the PNW; from promising juniors, world record holders, national champions, Olympians and current pros to living icon's like Duncan Howatt, racing into his 70's and showing now sign of slowing down anytime soon. 

We have an incredible mix of paddlers in the PNW; from promising juniors, world record holders, national champions, Olympians and current pros to living icon's like Duncan Howatt, racing into his 70's and showing now sign of slowing down anytime soon. 

Our initial mix involved two fast double skis, Kirk Christiansen, Brandon Nelson, and myself with Jeff Maloney chasing hard. The double ski's were powered by Joost Jeegers / Paul Clement and Eric Wermus / Elana Ecker. Joost and Clement choose a slightly faster line to the buoy and put a touch more steam into the pace, with Brandon and I happy to have their wash.

After the initial turn, the hammer came down and myself and Joost / Clement got a small gap that grew over the next mile to become about a minute on the chase pack led by Wermus / Ecker with Kirk and Brandon in tow, and Jeff Maloney just out of reach behind them. 

Jeff Maloney doing well to stay in contact despite being no-man's land with no wash to ride or pace to share. 

Jeff Maloney doing well to stay in contact despite being no-man's land with no wash to ride or pace to share. 

I traded a few pulls with Joost and Clement, and we worked to keep the pace in the low to mid 8mph range. Our gap grew with the hot pace, until the final couple of mile's when the double team offered up some testing accelerations.  

In a race that is in the 10 mile range or longer, it's impossible to think that you'll go full tilt the entire distance the way you might in a 10k race (6.2 miles). You simply can't, so planning for brutal over-max intervals and then using threshold intervals to manage your reserves carefully is key to getting the timing right to make your best move really count... but not letting the pace drop too much to let other's back into contention. In other words, you have to find a way to turn a ten mile race into a three or four mile race. 

The Epic V14 GT has been a dream ride, and offers tremendous advantage when it comes to making or managing tough accelerations. 

I decided to hang tight and wait to make my move in the last kilometer to the finish. I gave it all I had and managed to get a small gap on the Joost / Clement which I held on to until the finish for the win. Having missed the race meeting, I was a bit unsure of where the finish line was but won the race none-the-less. Note to self: finish what you start. Wermus / Ecker were the next boat in, with Kirk Christiansen the next single ski followed by Brandon Nelson, and Jeff Maloney rounding out the front pack. 

   

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Rebound practice in an Epic V14 GT

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Rebound practice in an Epic V14 GT

Getting to know my new V14 GT, and took it out to paddle in rebound waves today with a DK 2" flat water rudder and +2" seat pad to keep me on my toes. This ski is incredibly stiff and light (17.8 pounds!!!) so the reaction times need to be pretty quick. Definitely braced a few times to stay on top of it. I like to do these types of drills the day before a race to keep my mind engaged and my reflexes sharp. This translates to less nervous energy on race day and makes me feel far more comfortable and focused on executing my race plan. 

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Invite Only Racing?

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Invite Only Racing?

We are at an interesting intersection of the sport at present. Tremendous growth, new paddlers turning up all the time, and race organizers who are caught in the middle trying to ensure the safety of new paddlers and gratify the desires of the experts. This has been an ongoing issue for us in the PNW, and was brought up once again this weekend with the cancellation of the Bellingham Bay Rough Water race due to high winds. 

In particular, what is just right for some paddlers is an absolute no-go for others, and attempting to have a race that appeals to such a broad spectrum in talent and ability ends up reducing racing to accommodate the lowest common denominator or caters to the interests of the elites, which ultimately lessons the potential of the sport on both ends of said spectrum. No one really wins. Newer paddlers are far more likely to push their limits in a race setting than on a casual training paddle with a feeling that the safety boat has their back. When I started racing a few years ago, I know I did. Or, the expert paddlers will simply stop coming to yet another flat water lap fest, as I have also been tempted to do. Race venues like the Gorge Downwind Championships and the Canadian Surf Ski Championships offer much to both groups and everyone on the journey in between, which is a remarkable accomplishment in the age of attorney dictated race courses and participation medals. These are legitimate races that attract top tier talent from around the world in inspiring locations and with spirited conditions. 

As we continue to grow the sport, at some point it may make sense to go the path of cycling's USA Cycling category system and form a governing body to help with organization, insurance and athlete ranking and appropriate even participation. 

Below is another possible take that is remarkably similar to where the sport started in the first place: invite only events that are extremely limited in their nature. Just a core group of proven, solid paddlers duking it out for bragging rights over beers at the end of the day in extraordinary conditions. Less rules. Less Liability. Less money. Way more fun. 



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2016 Bellingham Bay Rough Water Race, Take 1

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2016 Bellingham Bay Rough Water Race, Take 1

Post Point often delivers the biggest waves and best surfing. Today was remarkable. 

This weekend was supposed to be the Bellingham Bay Rough Water Race, but with gail winds blowing into the 70's, the race was postponed until the 19th. So a few of the local Bellingham surfski, OC and SUP paddlers decided instead to do a Wildcat downwind run to blow off a little pent up energy. Conditions did not disappoint, and at the very tail end of this run my GPS registered a maximum speed of 18.5mph. 

As good as good gets in Bellingham Bay: Big, fast waves with smooth faces and wide periods for ripping downwind surfing. 

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Garmin acquires DeLorme

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Garmin acquires DeLorme

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As a guy that likes to stray into the deep end of the Ocean at times, this is pretty exciting. 

http://newsroom.garmin.com/press-release/corporate/garmin-signs-purchase-agreement-acquire-delorme

I've used DeLorme for two-way satellite based text communication (very handy!), but also had to bring Garmin devices along for actual nav and performance data because the DeLorme devices were lacking in this area. And Garmin devices up to this point haven't been able to communicate via satellite.

Hoping this leads to an integrated device in the near future, and that Garmin acquires Bank of America so we can mortgage said devices. 

 

 

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Just another exceptional day on Bellingham Bay.

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Just another exceptional day on Bellingham Bay.

Classic day on the bay; A nice blow that steamed into town well over forecast with wind close to 20mph gusting into the low 30's. So I took my new race horse out for a few steeplechase laps in Bellingham Bay, and the new Epic V14 GT did not disappoint. Superb handling, responsive but not twitchy and it lets me get away with bloody murder when sprinting through and over waves. Incredibly fast; max speed was 14.8 mph on an otherwise average downwind day. It really is a game changer for me.   

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Epic V14 Ultra For Sale!

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Epic V14 Ultra For Sale!

I am racing a new V14GT this year, so it's time to sell my current race ski.

This is a very nice ski, in excellent condition and weighs in just under 26 pounds. No, this is not a beginner surfski, but for a serious paddler who wants to become an even better paddler with a competitive edge at your next race, this is a proven race-winning machine. 

If you paddle an Epic V10 / V12, Think Uno Max, Fenn Elite or similar ski well, you might be surprised how easy it is make the jump to the K1 like performance of the V14. 

The V14 Ultra is a low volume ski with a very narrow catch. The seat is very comfortable, and a touch higher than most skis, which makes for a very powerful paddling position (hips tilted slightly forward, paddle entry past the foot brace). I find the ski particularly fast going upwind in small chop as well, as there is very little bow slap. The seating position does raise the CG, making the ski very responsive with a fast rate of roll (aka tippy!). As with most ski's, the more you paddle it the more natural and predictable it will feel. Remounting is straightforward with good technique, as the ski has low sides. 

Going downwind, the low volume makes it a ski that is very good at transitioning from one wave to the next. It just punches through the slop and is a great "hill climber" if you're late getting on a wave. Below is a demo of the V14 downwind, by Matthew Bouman: 


Asking $2500 USD with your choice of rudder (surf or flat-water). Located in Bellingham.

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    2016 Pacific Northwest Regional Surfski, OC1 and SUP Race Calendar

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    2016 Pacific Northwest Regional Surfski, OC1 and SUP Race Calendar

    Race Start of Winter Series #1 – Lake Union Race – Hui Wa’a O Wakinikona - Photo by Michael Hammer

    Teamed up with Don Kiesling to create a draft 2016 regional Surfski, OC1 and SUP racing calendar for the PNW. This is primarily for Oregon, Washington and BC with a few exceptions for the classics. Really cool to see there are multiple races to choose from on the same weekend, a few of which are events that will be attended by the sport's top athletes. Dates with an asterisk next to them are a best guess for when / if the race will occur. If there is a race you know of that you don't see listed below, post a comment and I'll update the list throughout the season. 

    2016 Pacific Northwest Regional Surfski, OC1 and SUP Calendar (download a PDF)

    Click for hi-res.

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