Saturday, May 31, 2008
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
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:
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!
Monday, May 5, 2008
The conditions were perfect, 20 -25 mph winds, straight up the beach, sunny and warm!
The only limiter for the "race" was the lack of distance we would be able to paddle and then get back to the start. We took the 2.5 miles for what it was; an opportunity to go really fast and have fun. There wasn't any opportunity to hang out at the start as you started getting pushed as soon as you got out in it. Every paddler for him/herself and see you at the finish!
Kevin Kahikina and Bill Graf brought their own boards but left them on the beach to try out the Jimmys. Safe to say they were very happy with the decision. The last I saw of them was their elbows and back sides. My wife Anne paddled her 10' JL Surf specific SUP and stayed right with them. It was smokin' fast and every ripple was a potential ride. The next time we get conditions like that we will paddle till we can't and figure out the way back home later.
The (un)official results for the first ever Stand-Up-Paddle-Eastcoast-Racing series race goes like this:
- Bill Graf 12'6" JL
- Kevin Kahikina 12'6" JL
- Craig Vaughn 12'6" JL
- Anne Gassett 10'0" JL
- Bill Gassett 12'6" JL
- Frankie Dole 12'6" JL
While we SUPER paddlers were out exploiting the wind. The ECORA OC-1/2 outrigger paddlers were slogging it out for more than an hour of racing. Freda Rosso, the race organizer from MAPA took pity and shortened the upwind finish and I know the seated paddlers were grateful. After the outrigger paddlers finished their death march race a few brave, arm weary souls picked up the long SUP paddles and took a quick 1 mile spin down the beach. I believe they had fun...mission accomplished. Freedom Surf and Revision Eyewear hooked up the winners with killer schwag. Bill came in one outfit and left in another! In fact everyone that paddled got schwagged and that will be the goal for the rest of the season, you paddle, you get schwagged. More fun, get it? We all busted a move for Mama Rosa's Pizza joint where the food and beer was sweet. Many mahalos to Freda and the rest of the MAPA crew for their Aloha and organizing the race.
Next event will be at the East Coast hub of Aloha, Kent Island Outrigger Canoe Club Maryland, where we will crank it up a notch. Don't think for a second that we are going to end this season with out a little pain. But fun will be the focus. Pain with out it, isn't...fun.