Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Labor Day Weekend: Kent Island Relay

Labor Day Weekend In Kent Island is our most favorite race weekend of the year.

This year we took the SUPER Fleet north to the best outrigger race of the ECORA season for a SUP relay.

I was going to put something on the blog immediately after the Labor Day Weekend but a few things delayed this post. I was waiting for some actual race photos (as evidenced by the lack of the same above), if you have some send them in and I will post them.
The surf has been pretty good this summer (see the posts below).
It has taken me this long to clear the Mai Tais out of my system! (see photo above) We went through two 5 gallon coolers full of Mai Tais!

We had 24 hardy souls that showed up to paddle SUPs and race Sunday morning.

Hardy souls because they raced 35 miles around Kent Island the day before in 6-person Hawaiian Outriggers and then partied like rock stars after wards until the wee hours of Sunday morning. That qualifies them as hardy. But getting on a SUP board, paddle around for a few minutes and then relay race around a half mile (+/-) circuit, that makes them...SUPER paddlers.

This woman was still smiling after falling off her board no less than a half dozen times. She was one of the last to get off the dance floor the night before...Hard-core!

Then there was this paddler. Her first day out on a Stand-Up-Paddle board and she had it down. Spinning around on the tail ala SUP Rodeo. Must be the cool board.

Special thanks to all of our schwag sponsors. These two good looking paddlers look even better with some Revision Hellflys on.

Freedom Surf has been the real savior for the inaugural SUPER season. Without Dave Shotton's support, there wouldn't have been a SUPER series. Boards, paddles, leashes and cool schwag...he really leaned forward. Any one that got out a board and had fun owes Dave a big Mahalo. DaKine rep, MikeConnolly, stoked us out with cool shirts, leashes and some killer hydration systems that will be handed out at the final two SUPER races, Oct 11th and Oct 18th, in Sandbridge and Seaford respectively. So come out to Sandbridge the weekend of the 11th and have some fun. Hopefully Mother Nature will cooperate and we can do a downwinder. Either way the Baja and the Pineapple Lanai will be open, the beer and grinds will be good!



Sunday, September 14, 2008

False Cape "Small Kine" Wave Sequence

Cool series of shots taken by Cindy at False Cape state park in the outer banks of Virginia.
Sweet 10'6" SUP Surf made by Tim Nolte for Bill "Corky" Graf.

We loaded up all of our gear (boards, coolers, etc) on to a couple of boats and headed south through the Back Bay. A half mile walk through the state park empties out on to a deserted beach with no sign of human encroachment as far as you can see. We were here last weekend after tropical storm Hanna and the waves were excellent. This is our new, get-away-from-it-all destination.

Bill Has the coolest board hauler I have ever seen. Breaks down in to two separate pieces, holds a half dozen SUPs plus and rolls easily across soft sand. (especially when you have a large Samoan pack mule!) I will get all the pertinent info and post it here later. What a nice weekend.



Friday, September 12, 2008

Downwind Hanna SUP'ing

45 MPH winds with 50+ gusting!
Let me start out by mentioning that it wasn't a dangerous paddle.
The Back Bay of Sandbridge is shallow. Every time I was blown off the board, I was able to stand up on the bottom. I was wearing a leash. I was never more than a few hundred yards from shore and people knew where I was as noted by the photos. Never paddle out into a situation where you aren't certain if you can get back in!
My only mistake was leaving the 9" race fin on the board when the stock "Shark" fin would have given me much better hold on the short/steep/fast wind-waves.
Once I was moving truly downwind it wasn't a big deal. I had to crab across the waves for the first 15 minutes or so and that was an adventure. During an exceptionally vigorous gust of wind I was blown off the board and as it cart wheeled over my head, it sounded like a helicopter rotor. The board was literally flapping on the surface when I retrieved it...without a leash, I would have been walking/swimming home and someone would have wound up with a 12'6" storm trophy in there yard. Possibly sticking out of their house!
After successive blow-offs and once I cleared the point that would give me a clear shot towards the Mill-pond and home, it was game on. The JL Distance was stable, fast and tracked very well.
it took me less than 20 minutes to travel the 2 miles to the house and that was with a stop to conduct an interview with the local news station. I didn't bring the GPS but I am sure I was moving at speeds approaching ocean SUP surfing for most of the time I was on the water.
Good stuff but near my fun - insanity threshold!
Play-hard but play safe.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

Equipment Tweaking


It's been an incredibly busy summer and I have not been able to work the blog as originally intended. That being said; let's play catch-up now.

Fins: If you look at the picture above of all the fins together you get an idea of what I started with and where I ended up, from a stocl JL fin to the race specific Seeker. The JL comes in with "Great White" type proportions at a whopping 14 inches tall and a lot of surface area. That seems like just too much fin for a downwind racing SUP. We paddle outrigger canoes and a 21 foot single-person outrigger has a dagger like 9 inch blade for a rudder. I spoke with the guys at Freedom Surf and they contacted RFC to have some prototypes made up. RFC sent a 9", 10" and a 13" dagger. For 95% of the East Coast conditions I think the 9 inch is more than enough fin. The other fins in the photo were surrogates I ran until the Seeker came in. Normally I would run some side-by-side time trials using my GPS to determine if there was a measurable advantage between fins. In an effort to seperate my geeky outrigger tendencies from the laid back surf aspect of SUP I used the tried and true "seat of the pants" method quantifying performance. I invited some paddlers over, stocked the Tiki Bar with rehydration materials and we did some short idtance runs up and down the canal behind the house. While insuring we stayed properly hydrated we all agreed that the Seeker "felt" faster. Good enough.

Paddle: The Kialoa Shaka Pu'u is light. Anti-gravity light. Everything about this paddle is right for me. The shape of the main tube (I have some issues saying "shaft" and perect in the same sentence.), the size and shape of the handle and the blade design are all perfect. I have ordered this same blade, from Kialoa, with a wood shaft for my outrigger paddling.

Stickers: Whatever...I am a geek. Mahalos to Freedom Surf, Kialoa Paddles, O'Neill and Revision Eyewear!

I am going to work extra hard to keep the site up to date...stay tuned we are going to be racing next weekend.
A Hui Ho,

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend Virginia Beach

For the last 5 years the hard working crew of the Virginia Longboard Federation have put on a special event called the Steel Pier Classic, that harkens back to the grass-roots surf contests of days past. The event pays homage to the boards and surf styles from the '50s through today. This year the VLF invited the SUP surfers to participate in the SPC and broaden the spectrum of classic surfing styles from the past. It doesn't get much older than the Beach Boys stand-up paddling with the outriggers and tourists along the beaches of Waikiki.
Along with the festivities of a weekend long surfing extravaganza the event organizers made sure that the fact we were all out enjoying the freedoms afforded to us by our fallen warriors was not forgotten by those present. The VLF Board organized a beautiful traditional Waterman's paddleout for all fallen men and women of our Armed Forces, with flowers and a helicopter fly over by a local news station. The photos taken from the helo are really cool.
Mahalo Nui Loa to the Virginia Longboard Federation and all the volunteers for putting on such a positive event and opening the way for the SUP sweepers to participate with the lay-down crowd.
Aloha and a hui ho,

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Holo Niu - Kent Island, Maryland

17 May 2008 Kent Island Maryland: where the Annapolis Bay bridge touches down on the far side of that structure is the heart of paddling Aloha on the eastern seaboard.
The Kent Island Yacht club is a dichotomy of two distinctly different groups of boat lovers. The Captain's cap/Topsider/white pant wearing Yachtsmen and women of KIYC have embraced their somewhat slower moving, Hawaiian shirt/board-short/slippah clad kin of the Kent Island Outrigger Canoe Club, with true Aloha spirit. You have a wonderful mix found nowhere else that I know of. The lawn outside the Yacht Club looks just like the banks of the Ala Wai canal in Honolulu with 6-person (OC-6) canoes rigged and stacked, ready to go as soon as the crew slides them into the cool waters of the Chesapeake. This place is so cool, our Canadian paddling ohana drive the 15 hours from Toronto just for these race weekends! We are going to return the gesture and drive the SUPER fleet to Toronto for their July 4th weekend event to be held on Lake Ontario.

We pine for our weekends in Kent Island almost as much as our yearly treks to the paddling mecca of Hawaii! This year we brought the SUPER series boards and raced.
We stayed true to our word by working the wind and wave for a fun downwind 3 mile leg to the narrows at Kent Island but we had to finish through the narrows fighting the current and the same wind that was so helpful earlier. All six SUPER racers were on identical 12'6" Jimmy Lewis Distance boards so it was up to the paddlers, not the equipment, to decide the outcome of the event. The downwind leg kept all of us close for about the first mile, until we cleared the lee of the island and then the "surfers" jumped on the wind bumps and the gap opened. Two of us, Lang and myself, were with-in a boards length of each other going in to the narrows. Lang lives and paddles here and his knowledge of the current and eddies through the narrows put him in the lead as we came to the final slog around the spit that the Yacht Club sits on. At this point I must add some clarifying information: Lang competed in that morning's 8 mile single person outrigger (OC-1) race just before we kicked off the SUPER race...in fact all but one other SUPER paddler raced in the outrigger race! Now Lang is leading me into the final stretch and I was relatively fresh (except for some pre-race exercising the night before).
He stumbled around the last corner and I tested the sprint speed of the JL.
With the fact that he had two races under his belt it's hard to be satisfied with the slim 10 second win. Must train harder.
My wife, Anne, continues to dominate the women's SUPER Series through a solo effort.
We would love to see some more wahines out on the JLs.

The Kent Island Outrigger Canoe Club had trophies, grinds and BEER for everyone.
Revision Hellflys were handed out to all the paddlers for their efforts.
These kick-ass sun glasses were purpose built for our men and women war-fighters but they look great and the lenses are on par with the "foofy-stuff" that you would pay a lot more for.
Thank these same men and women that have volunteered to defend our great nation this Memorial Day weekend...every weekend for that matter.

The race finishers as follows:
Name Time
Bill Gassett 45:05
Lang King 45:15
Jeff Firkin 49:00
Rusty McLain 52:43
Chris Rababy 55:56
Anne Gassett 56:20

We have some local events scheduled around the Virginia Beach area through June and then on to Toronto for the next race.
Be cool and paddle hard!