Archive for June, 2012

Is Lighter and Thinner Really More Maneuverable: A Personal Story

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

By Len Barrow

Author Len Barrow on 15 pound heavy LongboardCommon knowledge would have it that lighter thinner boards are more maneuverable and superior to heavy and thick boards.  Many of my friends are obsessed with the weight of their boards.  You don’t know how many times I have heard the phrase “check out how light my board is” in the past.  This article will explore the advantages of how a heavy board can be utilized.  I will also add in an amusing recollection of my first time riding an ultra-thick and heavy board.You might find it strange that I would argue the merits of a heavier board as this seems counterintuitive.  Today, everyone is trying to get boards that are as light as possible.  Light boards have a plethora of positive aspects but let us not fail to look at the advantages of a little extra weight on your surfing SUP or Longboard. Meet Power with Power (loading the spring)Ben Aipa used to tell me “power meets power” in surfing.

What did he mean?  Well, if you have a powerful lip you want to bash, you cannot hit it gingerly, or with little force.  If you do this you will get swatted like a fly.  When you hit a powerful lip you need to drive into it with the speed acquired in a bottom turn which is released in a powerful connection with the lip or in a long noseride.  This is where a heavier board can have advantages.  As the board has more weight and mass you can derive more energy off your bottom turn than you can on a lighter board.  This is because you really have to get low and over your board to bottom turn on a heavier board.  You have to “put the board on a rail” and store the energy from the bottom turn, like a compressed spring, to release it off the top or project this energy into a long noseride.  A heavy, thicker board allows a surfer to “store” energy in a bottom turn just as energy is stored in a spring.  This energy may be later transformed in to speed, just as when a spring is released it dispenses with its energy.

This “efficient use of energy” allows you to hit a powerful lip that is throwing down at you. In essence, you match power with power.   Heavy boards are conducive to “spring” power surfing like this.  A heavier board forces you to surf properly.  These boards help you establish a good “line” in your surfing.  By saying this I mean that you have to bottom turn before every top turn.  Your surfing looks good as you are drawing swooping lines on the wave, just like an expert snowboarder or skier draws big lines down a mountain.Style and Flow on a Heavy BoardHaving a heavier board can have advantages in relation to your style.  Sometimes surfers with ultra-light boards often look jerky.

Ultra-light equipment can have problems on windier days as the board gets blown around by the wind. Also, they don’t slice through the water as efficiently as a heavier board.  As an extreme example, imagine a lighter yacht verses an ice breaker.  In icy water with chunks of ice the yachts line will be disrupted by the ice as the yacht is forced to make jerky direction changes as it encounters obstacles.  On the other extreme imagine a heavy ice breaker.  It just smoothly slices its way through the ice due to its large mass which is converted into energy.  The same applies with your board which influences your style.  Super light longboards can sometimes make a surfer look jerky.  Again, they are also almost impossible to ride when it is windy as the board is overcome by the winds resistance.

If you have ever have seen an expert traditional long boarder (Joel Tudor, Donald Takayama)  on a heavy longboard you will notice that they stand up straight and use the minimum amount of movement as the board is doing much of the work.   They just slice through the water and flow, almost as if surfing were a wonderful dance.   Heavier boards allow you to flow from one section to the next in a fluid motion or dance just as an ice breaker has no problem moving through ice. Quite simply a heavy board and its mass creates your speed and thus you have a minimum of body movement. In this way a board like this can improve your style.  If you don’t believe me look at videos of Joel Tudor and Phil Edwards.  They are riding tanks (hence the term Tanker), some weighing over 20 pounds, and they have beautiful styles!The above discussion may seem a bit theoretical yet I have firsthand experience with heavy thick equipment.  The following personal story is an account of this.Heavy, Thick Boards…..A Personal StoryWhen I first got into longboarding, I had a problem.  I was surfing on an ultra-light longboard which forced me to hunch my back and I was hitting the lip and surfing in a weak manner with an ugly “line”.  Ben Aipa said I looked like a mosquito trying to bite someone.

He also likened me to an a’ama crab as I looked like a crab as my back was so hunched over!  He also likened my backside bottom turn to someone “taking a shit”.  Ben Aipa’s solution to my “crab/mosquito” style was to purposefully glass my board heavier and make my board a little longer and thicker.    At the time I did not know that Ben was going to “cure” my style deficiency with a heavier and thicker board design. I ordered a board and as usual I just let Ben shape it as I had full trust in his abilities.   When I got the board I was horrified.  It was super heavy and super thick.  The longboard was 3 and ¾ inches thick (a normal longboard thickness is 2 and 5/8 to 3 inches thick) and  it was glassed with double layers of 6 ounce glass!  In my head I was like “oh my god, how the hell am I going to ride this”. I did not say anything as I did not wish to offend Ben Aipa.  He looked at me and told me to surf the board and stated “You don’t want to look like an A’ama crab right……go surf and tell me what you think”  He then added… “Leonard, this board is to be surfed on, don’t ride it”.  I was like WTF?  Perplexed and confused at his coded language, I left the shop. ( Ben always used paradoxical saying that are like little riddles, just like Zen Koans.  He truly is a Zen master when it comes to surfboard design and he had a plan for me!)Anyway, I showed up at the beach with my new board.  My friends laughed at the design.  They said it looked like a “door with fins on it”.  Some of my friends commented, “Ben’s up to his silly designs again” and some warned me that “Bens Aipa is steering you down the wrong road”.

I shirked away in embarrassment and jumped in the water.  As I paddled the board I was surprised at how the board glided through the water.   It was a windy day and the board was just slicing through the chop.I caught my first wave and stood up.  A section began to form in front of me. Automatically I put the board on a rail and began my bottom turn.  The heavy board had so much momentum that I flew off the shoulder after the bottom turn.  I thought to myself, “I could use this momentum in an off the lip!”.  As I caught the next wave I waited for a section to form up and I bottom turned and used the speed derived from my heavy and thick board to hit the lip extremely late.  On any other light board I would have been thrown off, yet with this heavy board, power met power and I slammed into the lip and made the landing.  I thought in my head wow…..this is what Ben meant by “surfing” the wave and not “riding” it To Ben “Surfing a board” was all about engaging the rail deeply with big off the lips and committed cut- backs.  “Riding” was what I was doing before.  Riding to Ben was soft, unengaged “boring” surfing.  I was finally learning how to truly “surf”!

As the surf session progressed I found that the board was a spring that allowed me to load and release the energy where ever I wanted to.  I had one of the best sessions of my life.  I came in to the silence of my friends as they were watching me surf.  They could not understand how a thick and heavy board could be so maneuverable.  Suddenly, out of the side of my eye I saw someone standing down the beach.  It was Ben Aipa.  He was secretly watching what I would do with the board.  He had a huge smile on his face!  I smiled also.  No words needed to be conveyed. Zen Surf Master Ben Aipa did it again.I later went on to qualify for the US championships.  I won it on the same thick heavy equipment that Ben put me on.  Don’t be afraid to experiment with heavier and thicker boards.Thanks Mr Aipa for teaching me to “SURF” and not to ride.

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PocketFuel is My Rocket Fuel for Optimum Sports Performance

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

by Suzie Cooney, CPT
I’d like to introduce to you what I use for a turbo session on the water and for the long endurance paddling runs down Maliko Gulch. I squeeze my PocketFuel into my mouth and get ready to feel the energy I need to perform and play.

Smart athletes and weekend warriors plan, prepare and properly fuel. The worst thing you can do is head out for a session and not have healthy, sustaining energy that you need to be at your best. Besides crashing on a wave having your energy crash is just as bad. I’m totally guilty for getting to the beach, all pumped up and heading out with only maybe a banana and cup of coffee. For me that is a disaster and the sign of a short, lame session and poor performance.

Twist, squish squeeze and enjoy! There are 5 crazy, delicious flavors and my favorite is called Chocolate Haze. Other flavors include Crunchy Banana Blueberry, Chunky Coconut Cherry, Chocolate Espresso and Chia Goji & Honey.  All are organic, gluten-free, vegan and packed with whole food ingredients; primarily almond.

The appropriate combinations of protein, carbs, healthy fats, potassium, magnesium, chloride, sodium nicely balance your electrolyte needs while you perform.  Remember, proper training requires you to plan ahead and plan after your session. Restoring your energy resources in your body will help you recover faster, repair the muscles you just broke down and allow you to charge again the next day.

Everything you need is just a squirt away. Sometimes a whole 3 0z. packet will last me a full 10 mile Maliko downwinder. I purposely have in my truck a packet and eat half along with good hydration about 3o minutes before I head down. What’s totally cool, is that since the package itself can easily fit into my hydration pack, if I need to sit and ingest more, it’s so easy and not messy and can stay dry even in big swells!  They also come in convenient 1.8 ounce sizes too, perfect to put in your surf shorts.

My body accepts all the ingredients very well and I can digest easily. Some other products that are designed to do the same thing cause my blood sugars to spike too high and then the worst thing happens, I crash and lose steam. Not cool.

To learn more about PocketFuel and where you can get the energy you need to power up your paddling, go to

A cool company, with smart folks who really get it. Let me know what you think? I’d love to learn what flavors you liked!
See you on the water,
Suzie Cooney, CPT
Owner of Suzie Trains Maui, LLC
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The 2012 Rocky Mountain Surf Festival and WW SUP Championships

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

By Dan Gavere

I look forward to this event every year and the opportunity to share my passion with others who also get the same killer feeling out of Stand Up Paddling on the river. In its 4th year the RMSF has evolved into an event showcasing the progression of stand up paddling whitewater. My hopes are that as the Festival evolves it will attract more known talent from other areas in the US and hopefully the World. Here’s my story on the event from a competitors perspective.

Going into this event I must admit I felt a bit more pressure than in the past. There were some new competitors and their equipment was dialed. Training for me consisted of paddling my local 5 mile run down the Hood River which after 20-30 trips this winter I started to feel pretty comfortable. Every run down I thought about this event and how all this practice would hopefully payoff in Colorado. So I took every opportunity to get out there and go for every eddy and every fun move everyday, some people don’t like my aggressive spastic A.D.D. style and sometimes it bites me in the butt in the line up, but I just can’t sit there and wait and watch. I need to PADDLE!

Low water blues was all I kept hearing before pointing the Black Box van East so I made a new plan to get out and try more river running since the water would be low and Colorado has a few Gems that need to be SUP’ed. After all the epic Glenwood waves we’ve seen year after year for the last 3 years at anywhere from 9,000-26,000 cfs this years event would only be serving up a paltry 3500 cfs. The main Kayak Park in Glenwood (under the East Glenwood River Bridge) transforms itself into formidable “ledge hole” that spans 2/3 of the main flow leaving a nice channel on each side and one of which on the river right has a perfect medium sized waves with a small break and fast ride. The wave riding portion of the event would be my weakest this year as I had seen some of my competition and they were ripping! To my surprise however the organizer cancelled the wave surf and replaced it with a Circle SUP event.

Saturday morning started off like any other these day’s. Yep that’s right a 4 shot latte and Boom I was ready to charge at a moments notice, however I was a bit pre-amped since I got up at 5:30am. For some reason when you get old you don’t need to sleep I guess? Lets just say I was the first customer at the bux that morning. The first event was a 4 mile sprint in a mass start format from the G-wood kayak park to South Canyon which has a few class 2 rapids. My board of choice was the Starboard Race, but more than anything the key no matter what board you were on was a good “hole shot”. I made sure to get into my “surf/sprint stance” before the start if the race so I wouldn’t have to change into the stance after and possibly compromising an awesome start. The whistle went off and the first thing I did was grab down low on blade for an accelerated ”choke stroke” style which really gives an me more mechanical advantage off the line and just feels better than any other technique for me. I got through the first drop in the lead which was important because the pack was getting messy and I could hear shouts, and paddles clashing with composite just behind me as I tried to accelerate out of the exit where the fast tail waters are. There was no doubt a few F’bombs that could be heard but it was all with a laugh, as good sportsmanship and good clean racing is what it was all about. Around the very next bend a mere 300 meters from the start I got blasted by an upstream breeze of at least 20 knots just steady and full of turbulence.

Once again w/o even thinking about it I was back into “choke stroke” mode for another good mile. The wind was fierce and all I could think about was getting my body profile down and digging deep into the current. I checked my rear views and I could see C-Mac, B-Redden, and Mikey T battling it out and drafting for position. I took my time to setup the last rapid and most difficult rapid through South Canyon where I took the left line to avoid certain carnage on the right side where it looked nasty, shallow and the massive bridge pilling pillowing water off its upstream side didn’t look to inviting either. As I turned to see behind me after shouts and cheers from the “spectators” on the bridge above I could see paddlers in the water and off of their boards, others spinning like tops and a few charging after me. I could literally see the whites of their eyes from a half mile down stream! I was glad to not be there in the “pack” having to fight for it like I had in the past year’s, but still I knew there was another .5 mile to go so looked forward and charged for a sprint to the finish. With a final time of just over 23 minutes and slowest time for the coarse over the last 2 years the low water had made a big difference, but the winds may have been even more of a factor with gusts hitting over 30kts at times. I could taste blood as a I gasped and then coughed in the dry mountain air. As the field finished I could see some epic battles and passing going on just after South Canyon, and it’s obvious the level has gone way up in racing in Colorado this year. We all loaded into the school bus rafting shuttle for a ride back to the top thanks to Timberline Tours.

Next was a massive sand which and latte numbero deuce before a micro nap and race number 2 for the day. I downed a H2oOverdrive with some Powdered Greens and BAM ready for “live action” like a refined but slightly less wiskey tango Turtle Man. The second event was the SUP Cross and I was really hoping they would make the course challenging to showcase and bring out the paddlers with the skills. The event didn’t dissappoint as we all charged through our heats there were several heats where the last paddler caught the eddy the highest and fastest to go from “worst to first” in a blink of an eye.

The currents were challenging and I was some issues keeping my board online through some of the eddie’s. I knew it would be a smash up derby in the corners so I had a strategy of getting the hole shot and hopefully completing my turns before I got a board between the legs or into my tail. The strategy was working through every round untilthe final with Tavares. I went too low and he hit the eddy perfect to ace the turn and the inside line. I paddled around the outside and he pulled ahead but since I had taken the outside line I also had more current and by the time we crossed the finish I had enough time to pull myself past him since I was in more current which made for an epic finish. I had literally past him Mike with only 10 feet to the finish. We were gasping for air and di a high five. High and stoked from the race we recounted the run and it was nothing but smiles and stoke. These are the moments that make me truly like doing this stuff. My legs were burning and my throat cried out for a Cold PRB, I was toast. I headed directly to the PBR Beer garden where we all pounded a few congratulatory tall boys with the boys and girls of SUP Whitewater Colorado. Then it would be eat sleep repeat and I was a happy camper. They let me act as “event security” so I camped on premise in the Outside Van and only a brief 50 mph windstorm for 30 minutes woke me up.  I thought my boards were going for a flight.

The next morning after my 4 shot latte I was having a hard time motivating and so was everyone else. It was COLD. We all milled about until 10 and then started getting fired
up when Mark Gambill the local SUP brother started setting the Buoys. Today’s course would basically be the same Boarder X as the day before, but much more technical which I was happy to see. Paul Teft the organizer of the Rocky Mountain Surf Festival, deemed it the “Circle SUP”.  They set us up in seeded heats and we once again had a great time watching as the crux maneuver decided whom would advance and whom would not from each heat.

The juniors were fierce and the co/ed Teft twins took no prisoners as they battled each other to the bitter end in each match up. What fun it was to watch the girls smoking the boys and all the back and forth lead changes kept everyone viewing on the edge of their rocks. The final heat of women was even more awesome and dramatic than the juniors complete with stylie turns, crashes and official rulings not to mention 4 or five different lead changes through the short race. After the dust had settled it was Nikki Gregg for the win on the Inflatable Astro and she could also be found heading straight to the PRB beer garden to ease the throat burn from the hot Colorado heat and wind.

I hoped our final wouldn’t be so crazy but in a flash it had started so I grabbed down low with my lower hand virtually on the throat of the blade and paddled straight for the first turn buoy. Accidentally I counter steered and we all got pasted together. I had the inside line and got out front only this time we had to run the meat of the drop. This was the crux and with Mike only 3 feet of my tail I knew it had to be stuck or I would throw it away. The drop came quick and I was way off line but I reached forward and simultaneously un- weighted my board for just a slight second as it dropped into the whitewash behind the powerful hydraulic. My board disappeared for just a moment under my feet but stayed on line and straight. I landed back down and got one or 2 powerful strokes in right away.

Then we had to make 8 more turns around closely set buoys and cross traffic. It was exciting and mike was right there every stroke of the way but I was able to go wider and more conservative around the turns because my straight speed was a little better. I pulled it off and once more Mike Tavares was right there to the end proving I need to watch my back because there are plenty of excellent paddlers out there learning and ripping on the river. Happy as a clam I claimed it with a fist pump and wooo hooo. All I could think about was how stoked I was for a 4th title and bog ass PBR. Thanks to all my sponsors and friends and family. This is a great feeling to be winning and hopefully a pioneer in a new sport that will be around till the cows come home. Do the cows ever come home anyways? I hope not!

Level 6
H2O Overdrive
Harvest Blue
Pocket Fuel

Thanks to Paul Teft from Enviro Action Sports the Race Producer/Director of the
Thanks to Alex Manzo from Kayak Huasteca for the getting the killer pics of us racing.