Archive for the ‘Tips & Techniques’ Category

Be a better paddler – Swim Drills Keeping Your Body Straight

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Coach Robb ( illustrates some drills that you need to implement into your swim workout to avoid your hips dropping in between every stroke. Once you implement these drills, you will avoid the sinking hips syndrome and improve your efficiency in the water immediately (as illustrated by a lower stroke count with less effort).

Swimming is a common cross training sport used by top paddlers from all disciplines, and it’s known to develop strength and endurance as well as mental toughness from being isolated for long periods of time.  If you’ve ever tried to have a conversation with your lane partner you’ll understand what we mean :-).…!/CoachRobb……

SUP Pro Talk Workshop with Suzie Cooney

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Buy Suxie Cooney's New Vid Buy Suxie Cooney’s New Vid

Available at

Suzie Cooney has released an educational and informative 2 hour, 3 part video on stand up paddling. All levels of paddlers will appreciate this all points overview and in depth production. This video was produced on Maui as the SUP Pro Talk Workshop on the beautiful grounds of Lumeria Maui with Suzie Cooney. The unique presentation and hands-on class was designed to introduce all levels of stand up paddlers to open ocean safety and endurance, learn about the health benefits of SUP, and review what to do when minor and major medical emergencies or incidents might occur.

Additionally a special emphasis of the lecture discusses and illustrates proper wave etiquette and courtesy, board safety management, downwind paddling techniques and safety tips with a special emphasis of exiting Maliko Gulch, board and paddle review, display and talk of SUP related gear and accessories, and lastly an opportunity to learn “how to” increase your fitness specifically for the sport of SUP or stand up paddling, with a circuit style of training session where those who attended participated in to test their strength, balance and courage. There are plenty of helpful tips for all paddlers.

Special guests and speakers include Oahu physician Clay Everline, M.D. co-author of SURF SURVIVAL the Surfer’s Health Handbook and Jeremy Riggs, sponsored downwind paddling champion. Jeremy is also a private SUP coach. You can learn more about Jeremy at

Sponsors include: Naish International, Kaenon Polarized Eyewear, Indo Board Balance Trainer, Camelbak, Scosche Health & Fitness, Pocket Fuel Naturals. This video was produced by Carl Rozycki of InVision Maui Productions, Barb Utech.

Suzie Cooney, a local community and world-wide ambassador to the sport of SUP, a downwind race competitor and coach, is also a sponsored Naish SUP Team rider who specializes her expertise in fitness training with specifically designed programs to help all levels of paddlers increase their power and fitness for stand up paddling and other water sports.

This event and workshop also helped promote awareness for a cause that Suzie supports, mental health and raise money for the organization spirited by Glenn Close, Bring Change 2 Ninety percent (90%) of the funds raised were donated.

Since 2009, Suzie has organized (23) twenty three FREE professionally lead SUP events.  Most notable is the world’s first, free and largest SUP event that drew over 430 women from around the world. That event,  “Stand Up To Women’s Health & Fitness,” was produced in conjunction with the Four Seasons Maui, in January of 2010. It was supported by 30 local and national sponsors, included inspirational guest speakers, hula dancers, live music and amazing prizes.  Event day was met with unseasonably head-high shore pounding, board breaking surf. Because Suzie planned ahead and had organized adequate and amazing volunteers in both land and water teams (including a water medical team) no one was hurt. When Suzie’s volunteers included a Navy Seal boat of qualified waterman and lifeguards, only smiles were seen among the participants. What a positive way to begin a new movement.

Available at

Paddling Science – If I lose weight, will I be faster?

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Paddling  sports such as standup (SUP) paddleboarding, kayak or surfski amongst others can be thought of as moving a hole through the water. This hole is created as a result of water displaced by the hull. The total weight of the paddler(s), plus the weight of the canoe and gear, equals the weight of the water displaced by a loaded hull – this is Archimedes Principle (“Eureka!”). So if the weight of the paddler(s) increases, the amount of water displaced increases. Since the weight of the displaced water equals the density of water times the displaced volume of water (submerged lengthx widthx height, a cubic dimension), we see that to first order weight is proportional to the length of the hull cubed.

As you paddle your “moving hole,” water is continually rushing in behind the hull to fill the hole it just left behind. This is why wake riding works: you are essentially pulling along a chunk of water as you paddle, which a waking canoe can sit in. The mass of this moving hole increases in proportion to the amount of water displaced by the hull, which is linearly proportional to the weight of the paddler(s). From Newton’s Second Law, the force you exert to accelerate a canoe is proportional to the mass you wish to accelerate. So, if your weight increased in the off-season by 5%, then you must apply 10% more force to accelerate your C-1 to the same cruising speed as last year. Why 10%, and not 5%?

Because you must accelerate not only your (expanded) mass, but also the increased mass of water entrained by the hull – a heavier paddler displaces more water, which you have to pull along with you. So that 5 pounds you gained from all that Christmas cheer will actually cost you around 10 pounds on the water the next time you catch the lighter paddler that always smokes you. A 10- pound weight gain will cost you around 20 pounds, etc. And since the hull slows down ever so slightly between each and every stroke, you are slightly accelerating the hull with every stroke just to keep it at cruising speed. Makes you think twice about that second helping of stuffing…

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.

Read and subscribe to  Zen Waterman

Video – Advanced Paddle Steering Strokes

Friday, April 20th, 2012

SUP Paddle Technique series #6- steering the board, this video goes over the basic steering stroke and more advanced steering techniques including the crossbow turn and kick turn aka pivot turn.


Video shot by Robert Stehlik and Len Barrow to go along with our Zen Waterman project. Please also follow their blog. Mahalo for watching!

Dan Gavere – 1080 Flat Spin 360 Body Variable

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Dan Gavere Master Instructor at completes the 1080 Flat Spin 360 Body Variable on the river in WA. This is entry number 2 for the Boardworks, Whats Your Move Contest.


Prone or Surfing Paddling Technique

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Advice from the world’s best on how to maximize your stroke and catch more waves by Dr. Tim Brown.

One thing I think we can all agree on is that to be a good sufer you must possess an effective, strong, fast paddle stroke. Ever wonder if you’re using the most effective paddling technique? I certainly do. Especially if I’m paddling out in waves of consequence and you see the telltale dark, ominous shadow moving towards you from out the back!

We’ve received quite a few comments regarding paddling, so it’s just a natural progression to speak a bit more in-depth about the subject. I reached out to some of the best surfers in the world and asked their opinion on what are the keys to an effective, efficient paddle stroke.

The tips are seemingly simple, but implemented properly, they should upgrade your ability to catch more waves, have more fun and, with some of the training advice we’ve provided over the past few months, make you feel better while doing it.


1. Keep relaxed. When you’re paddling, don’t tense up and get all stressed. Relax the shoulders and keep everything loose. People tend to miss a wave or get frustrated and you see them thrash or look like they’re chopping wood or something. Keep it simple and stay relaxed – that’s the best way to move along quickly.

2. Hand position. People ask me all the time how I hold my hands and fingers when paddling. Do I keep them close together or have a slight gap? I personally just relax the hand and it tends to have a slight gap. If you keep your fingers together, it feels unnatural — like you have to try to keep them like that.

3. The catch. Have you ever watched a good swimmer’s stroke underwater? Maybe you should. You want to try to copy the same stroke that they are doing under water and transfer it to your stroke on your surfboard. (Especially if you are thinking of paddling Maverick’s after that last swell!) Here’s a youtube example of this.

4. Feel the water. Yes, that’s right — feel the water. You need to feel the pressure of the water against your hand from the time it enters to the time it leaves the water. The more you feel it, the harder it is on your arms but the faster you will go.

5. And if you are after that extra edge and want to take it to the next level, try to grab a paddleboard and do a couple of sneaky training sessions to strengthen your stoke.

KELLY SLATER [Nine time World Champion]

1. Place feet together
2. Paddle with your stroke under your board, almost compressing water against the bottom of your board.
3. Keep chest/head up so you can see and then lunge down into the stroke when needed.

LUKE EGAN [Former World Tour surfer/ Parko’s righthand man]

1. Touch your chin on your board when paddling for a wave.

JOEL PARKINSON [World Title runner-up]

1. The more hollow the wave, the deeper and harder the paddle stroke.
2. The mushier the wave, the more you want to stay on top of the water with a lighter, less-water-penetration, quicker stroke.

MICK FANNING [Two-time World Champion]

1. Long, powerful strokes. Pull from the lats.
2. Head not too high.
3. Switch on your core for stability.

GREG LONG [Big Wave Champion]

1. Position yourself on your board correctly. Where you actually lay will be different depending on what type of board you ride, but each board has a sweet spot. You don’t want to be too far back on the board. This causes the board to be too high and makes you push through the water. If you are too far forward your nose will pearl into the water. You want to be perfectly centered so when you do start paddling your board is on a nice, even plane.

2. Get a full arm extension with every stroke. I often see people who do an awkward, chicken-wing paddle where their arms enter and exit the water prematurely. Your hand should be entering the water at the full extension of the elbow and never before.

3. When you are at the full extension of your stroke, your fingers should be held tightly side by side creating a cup or paddle with your hand. Do not slap the surface when your hand enters the water. It should enter in a graceful diving fashion.

4. As you pull through your stroke, try and get your arms as deep as possible. I like to create a slight “S” motion with my stroke bringing my arms down the centerline of my board. Try and keep your wrist and forearm in one line.

5. Pull through your stroke in one continuous motion until your arm is fully extended behind you. Again, do not prematurely pull it from the water. In doing so, you lose power and your stroke is ultimately much less efficient. Not to mention you look like a chicken.

6. When you pull your hand from the water, do so in the same graceful fashion as when you entered. Splashing or throwing water behind you is wasted energy.

7. As you become a more advanced paddler you can get even more power from your stroke by implementing your core strength into the paddling motion. As your arm reaches forward your torso will slightly lift forward with it. As your arm pulls back, so does your torso adding even more muscle and power into your stroke.

ERICA HOSSENI [Top female surfer]

1. Long, deep, full arm strokes use less energy expenditure for longer sessions.
2. Place your chin to the board when paddling for a wave. This keeps more momentum and speed going when you pop up.

MATT GRIGGS [Surf trainer/fitness expert]

1. The focus: Don’t sprint! Paddling should be looked at as your rest time. Riding waves is the explosive part, so you don’t want to arrive out the back only to catch the perfect wave and have nothing in the tank to ride it. Paddle efficiently, breathing calmly through your nose. Breathing through your mouth inspires flight or fight response which can make the body rigid, inhibiting recovery from your last wave and potential on your next one. If you paddle calmly with the right technique, you will go faster anyway.

2. Technique: Work in your natural range with correct posture and communication between every muscle. Literally, “feel” all your muscles working, not just your shoulders. Don’t reach too far out or you’ll shut down the communication between muscles and feel disjointed. Not only does this fuel imbalances in the body, but this lack of balance in the muscles will carry through to your feeling of balance on your board when riding a wave. Keep your head in line with your spine, feel your core stabilize and use your lats so it’s not just your shoulders doing all the work. Your muscles should feel open with support from the rest of your muscle community, not rigid and alone in the workload.

3. Training: The best training is to pay attention to correct technique when you are doing it. Maintenance of balance is the next focus so a good exercise would be Superman postures daily as well as stretching through shoulders all the way into the neck to keep the movement free and easy.

LAYNE BEACHLEY [Seven-time world champion]

The most effective training for surfing is surfing — and the same goes for paddling. Very few people do exercises that correctly develop the muscles and endurance levels required to surf for a decent period of time before fatigue sets in. If you can’t access the surf as much as you want to because, let’s face it, there are only so many hours in the day, I recommend the following exercises to keep your body strong and relatively surfing fit even while you are out of the water:

The Plank – a great core strengthening exercise which will essentially activate all the muscles you use when surfing (shoulders, abs and legs).

Swimming — including hypoxic breathing, which will increase your lung capacity and confidence to remain calm when being “rag-dolled” underwater.

Push ups – you’d be very surprised how many of these you do during an average surf session.

Squats – it’s important to have good leg strength to help you stay standing. Considering the amount of effort the average surfer exerts to first get out the back and then catch a wave, the last thing you want to feel when you finally get to your feet are jelly legs.

I’ve taken some of the fittest athletes in the world surfing, including as Martina Navratilova, and the overwhelming common theme is the early onset of fatigue due to the repetitious motion of paddling. (Surely you have seen the size of her shoulders!) 85% of surfing involves paddling so becoming a strong paddler will certainly enhance your time in the water.

One of the downsides of getting older for a surfer can be the loss of normal mobility. For instance, look at a 12-year-old get up and walk away from sitting in a chair. They are fluid and move without restriction. OK, now watch a forty or fifty-year-old get up and slowly start to walk away — a completely different look. The kid is off and running with ease, while the adult is still trying to combine the standing up with moving, using muscles that are stiff and tight and that do not function as they did when they were used to moving and being flexible. Perhaps you have morphed into the “guy/gal behind the desk” because over time you have molded to a corporate image while sacrificing the very mobility and fitness that provides you with the ability and energy to surf, move and recover like a kid. It makes it so much harder on you to paddle and surf when you have limited mobility/flexibility.

Most of us know that the guy who has a hard time picking up his chest and head off the board is probably not the guy that is going to paddle-battle you for a wave. It takes so much energy and extra effort for him to even paddle out, let alone to be able to be efficient and functional as a surfer. This “tight” surfer will spend at least twice the amount of energy to accomplish the same in the water as someone who is flexible and mobile enough to paddle in proper posture without straining their neck, shoulders and/or upper back.

If you have a tight upper body and you try to paddle, it’s as though you are trying to paddle with an extra 50 pounds sitting between your shoulder blades and pushing your chest, neck and head down to your board. You can handle it for a while, then fatigue sets in and surfing stoke diminishes because it’s just less fun when your body is opposing your commands.

Dr. Clay Everline, a medical doctor specializing in water sports and sports medicine on Maui, adds these factors to the mix:
It is not always speed, endurance or power, but position that gets the wave. Wave selection is probably one of the most important factors in paddling for waves. Conversely, knowledge of a given surf break (currents, swell direction, bowls) will influence how much strenuous paddling is involved in getting out to the lineup.

Legendary shaper Dick Brewer noted that a professional surfer can plane a shortboard and get into just about any wave with only three or four well-timed and well-executed strokes. Whereas beginners can be caught inside for twenty minutes on a good-sized day before even getting to the lineup…if they make it at all. That is why it has been stated by many surf-philosophers that nature is a better regulator of crowds on big days than any intimidating local.

The only other muscular endurance and postural factors I can think of to help you paddle are:

During the pull-through phase, avoid hyperflexing the wrist (causes flexor carpi ulnaris tendonitis), over internally rotating the shoulder during pull-through (causes impingement) and focusing on pushing water back with triceps. Triceps endurance conditioning may help for long paddle expectations.

Low back hyperextension should be mitigated. The most dangerous complications of this can manifest in novices with surfer’s myelopathy. Prolonged back hyperextension for hours can pinch off the blood supply to the spine and cause paralysis. Most cases have been seen in Hawaii, presumably due to complications of air travel with this condition. Novice surfers appear to be predisposed to this condition as they have undeveloped core musculature relative to the demands of surfing and potential for dehydration (Aviles-Hernandez, J Spinal Cord Med 2007; 30(3): 288-293), in my opinion from not being properly acclimatized to their environment. Core muscle condition may also play a part in speeding recovery and preventing further episodes.

Some serious scientific paddling research


Dave Kalama – Three Common Mistakes

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Dave Kalama - 3 common mistakes in paddling
When I was in high school I did a lot of ski racing and was fortunate to have some very good coaches work with me.  One of the things that always intrigued me was how the right combination of words could have a profound effect on a person’s understanding and visualization of a desired movement. So much so, that my only goal in life was to be a ski coach because I enjoyed the challenge of finding that word or phrase that could change everything for someone trying to learn a new movement. Telling someone to bend their knees isn’t always effective, but telling someone to bend their knees as if they were sitting down in a chair gives them a very specific image of their goal. Telling someone to reach will really only get most people about 80% of the way there. Telling some to reach as if a $100.00 bill were just outside their grasp, usually will get them the rest of the way.

I’ve been traveling a lot in the last six months, which means I’ve been coaching a lot in the last six months. Which also means I’ve had the opportunity to observe what are the most common mistakes people make in their paddle strokes.

One general tip that I think everyone can benefit from is to analyze every single part of your stroke.  If a movement doesn’t serve a specific purpose in making your stroke work, then change it or get rid of it.

Perhaps the most common mistake is to lower your top hand too much during the recovery or exit stage of the stroke. The reason you want to keep your top hand at shoulder level or higher is that the lower you take it, the more you have to raise it again to get into proper reaching position. The more you lower it, the more wasted movement you’re creating for yourself.

The first reason your hand will drop too low is because you pull the paddle back too far. In order for your paddle to go past your feet, your top hand has to drop to accommodate the angle. The reason that’s bad is because it is very difficult to generate much power or momentum once the paddle has gone past your feet and also at that point you are actually starting to pull yourself down into the water. The fix: Don’t pull the paddle past your feet and then your top hand won’t drop too low.

The second reason your top hand can drop too low is because during the recovery stage (moving the paddle forward to reach again), you lift the blade too high out of the water. I see people lift their paddles any where from six inches to three feet over the water while bringing the paddle forward. That’s anywhere from five inches to two feet eleven inches too much. Unless your paddle is much too short the only way for your blade to get that high is to drop your top hand to the side to accommodate the angle. Technically your blade only needs to be a fraction of an inch above the water to move forward without hitting. One way gain awareness about where your blade is during this phase is to actually touch the water on the way back to your reaching position. So while you’re swinging the paddle into it’s forward position give the water just the slightest tap at the half way point. This will insure that the paddle is not too high as well as give you instant feedback on how high the blade is relative to the water. As long as the front edge of the paddle is slightly higher than the back edge, your paddle won’t dive down into the water when you tap. Once you have a feel for it, just skip the tap and go straight to the reaching forward position.

Keeping your top hand above your shoulder can take a lot of energy, and fatigue you quite quickly, so here’s some free extra energy. Support the top hand by supporting the paddle with your bottom hand. Your bottom hand has good leverage, so it can do the work easily. This allows your top hand the opportunity to rest for a split second while the bottom hand is doing the work for the top by using gravity as an ally. By hooking your finger tips and cradling the paddle shaft in your bottom hand you can support the weight of the paddle and your top hand quite easily. That’s a lot of things to remember in mid-stroke, so you might cue that support when you break your wrist inward to feather the blade. Let your lower hand hold the weight and push the paddle forward toward the reach position while your upper hand rests.

One good way to be aware of your top hand is to actually focus on it and watch it for five stokes. I mean actually pick a freckle or knuckle or whatever is on the back of your hand and for five strokes keep your eyes focused on it. If your hand stays in front of your face you shouldn’t have to move your head, if you find you are moving your head to keep your eyes on it, then you’re moving your top hand too much, and you can tell if the drop in your hand is down or to the side. The trick to this is locking your eyes on the chosen spot and don’t look away or past it.

The second very common mistake is not getting the paddle all the way into the water. If you can see any part of the blade when you start to pull then you need to go deeper. A specific goal you can aim for is to have the top of your blade three inches under the surface of the water. This will enable the blade to do it’s job and permit you to get the most for your efforts. Another way to think of it is to get your ice cream scooper all the way down into the ice cream, so that you can get a full scoop. 

The third and perhaps most important mistake I see, is people working way too hard. One example I’ve been giving people lately is this, imagine drinking a glass of water. You would grab the glass with very little effort, you would bring it to your mouth with very relaxed muscles, and doing almost no flexing of your muscles at all. Now imagine grabbing the glass with so much effort you almost smash the glass, imagine bringing it up to your mouth now with every muscle flexed like a body builder posing, the glass would be vibrating and water spilling over the rim. While that my be an exaggeration, I do see people exerting that type of force while trying to paddle. Paddling most of the time needs to be a very flowing and rhythmic action, not a tense muscle flexed series of positions, but rather a constant continually moving movie. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place to exert yourself, but if your base stroke comes from a place of rhythm and flow, when you exert yourself you will be much more effective and efficient. The best fix for it is to greatly reduce your power level and learn how to use your technique as your driving force, not your power output. Decrease your power to the level that you don’t feel like you’re doing any work at all, and just concentrate on technique. You’ll be surprised at how fast you go. Just like drinking that glass of water, get to a point of calm relaxed movement before you start chugging. Have fun.


Dave Kalama 


Visit Dave’s site: A Waterman’s Journal: Dave Kalama

Dan Gavere SUPInstruction Series – Eddy Turns

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Master Instructor Dan Gavere shows us how to do execute an eddy turn on a stand up paddleboard in moving current. Eddy turn refers to the action of moving from the main current into an eddy, or vice-versa, and is also commonly referred to as “peeling” in and out, or “eddying” in and out. Simply put, eddy turns are the most important river running skill to develop.

How to Surf Better – Paddle faster w/ Watermans Jamie Mitchell

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Somewhere on the way to his 10 championships, Jamie Mitchell picked up on a few things that can make anyone’s stroke more streamline. Photo: Hodgson/A-Frame

We could go on and on about the delicate intricacies of making you a better surfer (and trust us, we undoubtedly will) but there’s a seldom-sung-yet-hugely-important side to surfing that’s far too overlooked: Paddling. If you want to surf better, you’ll need to start catching more waves. And if you want to catch more waves, you’ll need to become a stronger paddler. To get your arms churning at capacity, we rang up 10-time paddleboard champ Jamie Mitchell for some insight.

There’s much more to being a strong paddler than just moving your arms faster. According to Mitchell, using your body to its fullest—along with the surrounding elements—is paramount. Whether you’ve got the arms of a crocodile or the wing span of Owen Wright, if you’re simply jabbing at the water as opposed to fully extending your arms for each stroke, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Further, if you’re paddling to the inside and see a chop, make the most of it. “It’s not just about throwing your arms around faster,” says Mitchell. “It’s about body positioning, looking at the ocean, and reading what’s going on in front of you and using it to your advantage.”

If you want to paddle faster, you’ll need to make a conscious effort of how you paddle. “We could all put a bit more thought into physically feeling the water in our hands when we pull through it,” says Mitchell. “You want that nice, strong feeling of tension against your hand when you paddle. That alone will transfer into a much stronger stroke.”

Talk to any swimmer and they’ll tell you that the key is pulling every centimeter of reach out of each stroke. To an extent, the same mantra holds true to surfing. “Say you’re in a paddle-battle at Snapper or J Bay for priority, that’s when you want to really extend your arm, open your torso, and get the most out of each stroke and move past your opponent,” says Mitchell. All those extra inches gained will add up.

Like any sport, if you want to paddle faster, you’ll need to cross-train. “There are a lot of things that you can do to make yourself paddle faster,” says Mitchell. “If you really want to get serious, go get yourself a paddleboard, go downwind, and try and catch a few bumps. You’ll pick up a few things about the ocean that you wouldn’t have thought of before.”



Jamie uses the SPF33 Sun Cream – Buy Now

Read post on Watermans Applied Science Sunscreen For Waterman!

Stoke technique video analysis from SUP racing workshop

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

This is a 18 minute video from our North Shore SUP racing workshop held this morning, Aug. 21st.
We had 8 participants and two coaches:  Dennis Pang and myself.

If a picture says a thousand words, video says even more and seeing yourself paddle is very helpful, so I focused on getting everyone’s stoke on video both from land and from a wide angle camera mounted on the front of the board.  The video is intended mostly for the 8 participants to understand their stroke better and find small things they can work on.  I think anyone trying to make their stoke more efficient, fast, and powerful can benefit from watching this.

Refining your stoke is not something that happens overnight, you need to put in the time and practice and the more you do it, the more efficient your stoke will become.
There is no right or wrong way to paddle but one thing that all good paddlers seem to have in common is good reach and catch.
Thanks to all the participants, I hope you had a good time and enjoy the video, please leave a comment!

Video stroke analysis at the Blue Planet SUP race workshop on Aug. 21st, 2011.

If you are confused by the terms used in the voiceover, please read the technique posts here- parts 2,3,4.
In retrospect, I should have added some video of a pro paddler with good technique.

In the photo below, Danny Ching shows excellent form during the power phase:  shoulders stacked, paddle vertical, arms straight, transferring the power from the core and back directly to the paddle.

photo: Chris Silvester

Robert Stehlik

Read Full Article on Zen Waterman

Dave Kalama ” Spin’n and Grin’n “

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

My good friend Pat Myers has been in town the last few days, trying to collect some footage of me, and threw together this little piece of some fun south side action. Hope you like it. Also a quick congratulations to Connor Baxter for doing such a great job in the Molokai to Oahu. I didn’t have such a good day, but he sure did. He truly earned it and I’m sure there will be many more to come. Aloha, Dave

Ps. Check out the clip


Visit Dave’s site: A Waterman’s Journal: Dave Kalama

VIDEO – Whitewater SUP- How to Ferry across current

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

SUP expert and fitness trainer extraordinaire Nikki Gregg shows us how to traverse across currents in fast running water.



Saturday, July 30th, 2011
Ben Aipa Fin DesignIf you are like most surfers and SUPers you have probably spent a lot of your time looking at your fins.  It has been said that fins are inch for inch the most critical performance feature on your board.   Fins have always interested me and after thirty years of surfing I still have not totally figured them out.  Fins may seem perplexing,  yet when it comes to surfboard fins, the basics are quite simple.
The Basics- Rake, Height and Base Length

Base Length
The base of the fin is simply what it implies.  That is, the distance from the tip of the front of the fin-base to the tip of the back of the fin-base.  For the basis of this article we shall simplify things.  As a good rule of thumb the wider base will usually create a looser feel to the board while a narrow base will sometimes be create a tighter, stable board.   As an example of this, a Liz Twin Fin (a type of loose board small wave board) will have an extremely wide base length to heighten its pivoting and maneuverability characteristics.  On the other hand a traditional California Noserider will have a narrower based  fin which will help stabilize and stiffen the board during critical noserides.

Fin Rake and Height
Fin rake is the distance from the tip of the rear base to the tip of the extreme top end of the fin measured at a 90 degree right angle. This sounds complex but it is easy to measure.   To find your rake, take a ruler to the tip of the top of your fin (the closet point possible to the tail).  At a right angle to the fin base follow the ruler down to the bottom of the board.  Mark this point with an x with an erasable pen.  Measure the distance from the bottom rear tip of your fin to this point.  It is usually just a few inches yet this design feature has large ramifications in the performance of your board.  A fin which has a longer rake is more “swept”.  These fins are great for larger, hollow waves as their swept aspect holds the tail in the wave in critical sections.  Swept fins with high rake are used also on noseriders  as this type of tail is less likely to spin out in high and critical noserides.   Despite this, swept fins can make a board to tight and sluggish in small mushy waves.  For these types of waves a less swept or more “upright” fin with a wider base is more feasible.  They help you pivot in tighter arcs and have more release (the ability to quickly re-set the trajectory of your board).

Fin height is also very important.  Obviously a 9 inch high fin will sit deeper in the water and have more holding power.  The deeper fin has less chance of spinning out in bowling sections as it holds the tail of the board down.  The disadvantage to this is you will have a little more drag and fin to deal with.  This is great if you want to noseride but if you are a hot-dogger a high fin may hamper your style.  On the other hand a fin with lower height (4.5 + inches) may be looser.  Many small wave short boards have smaller up right fins to maximize their maneuverability and shorten their turning arc.  Shorter fins may also have more release than deep higher fins.  Despite this when the waves get big and hollow a shorter fin may “pop” out of the water and cease to hold your tail in the water.  This is called a spin out

Avoid Dogmatism
The above rules are only very broad generalizations.  Many surfers have their theories which they will die by.  Keep in mind that creativity is part of the fun of our sport.  Anything may work therefore don’t be narrow minded.   Mark Richards rode virtually horizontal twin fins at Hawaiian 10’ foot sunset and won numerous times.  They were not supposed to work but he made them work.  Kelly Slater gets away with riding small wave fins at gigantic Margret River Australia.  It is truly amazing at how fin performance stereotypes can be completely incorrect.

I have ridden the stupidest looking fins and they worked wonderfully for reasons that I cannot really fathom.   My favorite fins are what you call runners. Ben Aipa gave me a pair to try. They were literally 1 inch high and have an extremely long base length and no rake whatsoever.  People laughed at me at the beach when they saw the fins.  For some reason they worked admirably.   I have also used curved fins extensively.  If you look at the fin” head on” they are actually curved inward in a semicircle.  Again, they were one of the best set of fins that I ever had.
In the end, fins are a-lot of fun and an integral part to our sport whether it be surf SUPing or surfing itself.  It is important to keep fooling around with fins to find a system that suits your surfing.  My next article, which will be out in about a week on this post, will deal with fin configurations.  Do you ride a quad, tri-fin, single or a twin?   You could write a whole book on this yet the basics are fairly simple.  Until then, have fun with your fins!

Len Barrow, July 2011.

Read Full Article on the awesome Zen Waterman

Flatwater speed test- unlimited SUP’s

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

The S-16 standamaran came in a big wooden crate.


Last week Evan Leong and I had a chance to test Mark Raaphorst’s S-16 Standamaran prototype that he was shipping to New York for a race with a stopover on Oahu.  I have been wanting to organize a speed test for SUP race boards for a while, so this was a good opportunity to comparison test unlimited boards in flatwater conditions.  Please check the spreadsheet for detailed results and watch the video for more information on the test.  Next up will be speed tests for 14′ race boards and 12’6″ race boards.  For manufacturers, please contact me if you have a board you would want to have included in future tests.
It looks like something Batman would paddle if he was into SUP, although his would probably be all black.

Flatwater speed comparison test of these 6 unlimited SUP race boards:

Listed in order from fastest to slowest in test results:

18′ x 25″ Ohana
17’6″ x 25 1/8″ Dennis Pang
16′ x 28.5″ Standamaran SIC S-16
17’4″ x 26 1/2″ SIC Bullet
18′ x 26″   Bark
17′ x 26 3/4″ Naish Glide

distance .21 miles, 
Est. wind speed= 5 to 15 knotstest pilots:
Jared Vargas
Anders Jonsson
Robert Stehlik
For the spreadsheet with test results, click on this link:
Spreadsheet with test times and results
Please watch the video with voiceover for more information on the test

Related posts:
Is lighter really faster? Weight comparison test
Unlimited race board comparison- planing vs. displacement hulls
See the discussion of this test on the Standupzone


I realize more runs are needed to get meaningful data.  We will also try to include more data, like board weight, price (I like the idea of speed per $), board photos from different perspectives (outline, rockerline) in future tests.  We originally planned to do two rounds of testing but ran out of steam after doing 12 sprints, so it will help to have more paddlers next time.

Run 1 times were with the wind and Run 2 times are going back upwind, so that’s why Run 2 times are slower.

Regarding which boards we are used to, these boards are usually used/ owned by:
Jared: Ohana
Anders: Bark
Robert: Pang

Here are some of my thoughts:
I expected the standamaran to do well upwind with the smooth entry but in the test it did not compare well in the upwind legs.  Why?  I’m not sure but my theory is that the wakes coming from both tips and intersecting at the center of the board create a wave that adds drag at higher speeds and limits the top speed.  Going into the wind the small chops might exaggerate  this effect.  I’m not sure though, just a theory.
At normal speeds (not sprinting)  the standamaran seems to have very low friction and it takes very little to maintain a speed of around 5 mph.

All the boards have pros and cons and which board will be fastest depends on the paddler and the conditions.   So why were some boards faster than others?  There are so many variables and to try narrow it down to just the width is just not realistic even if the numbers seem to indicate that.  I have tested two 12’6 prototypes with identical length and width with the main difference being the rocker and entry and the board with more rocker was actually faster and had a cleaner entry.   Regarding length, I know that most 14′ boards are significantly faster than most 12’6 boards and that most unlimited boards are faster than 14′ boards but at some point (over 16′ it seems to me) adding more length does not always translate into more speed.
Shaping a fast race board is more art than science, I think.
Paddler weight is important too, as the same board will have a different entry and exit depending on the weight of the rider, so the rocker line and volume have to match the rider weight

I also want to stress that this was a flatwater test that only compares speed in very limited conditions.  In open ocean races many other factors come in, including stability and I just want to point out that the 17′ Naish board, which came in slowest in our test has a great track record with many wins in downwind races.

Read Full Article on Zen Waterman

Maui’s Maliko Run – The Mecca for Downwind Training and Racing

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Paddling Maliko Gulch to Kaului on a stand up paddle board is an awesome summer activity. The nine mile run is fully exposed to strong trade winds making it a great spot for windsurfers or stand up paddler’s looking to take advantage of the 35 knot winds. There is a ton of fun to be had running down wind, catching bumps and surfing up to 100 yards (sometimes on a open ocean swell).

It draws thousands of eager stand up paddlers and OC1 adventurers to this place, but also to give a heads up to the hidden challenges that can be very dangerous and can make for a disastrous run. If you think you are ready to attempt your first Maliko “downwinder”,  go with someone who is experienced.

Ho’olaule’a – literally, it means “celebration”, but for paddlers, it’s also an expression of gratitude. Each July, they hold our interpretation of this storied Hawaiian tradition on Maui’s north shore. The multiple events blend elite competition with family-friendly cultural activities and gathers some of the world’s best SUP and OC1 paddlers to race the legendary Maliko downwind run for training and racing.


The deep gulch of Maliko Stream runs from Pu’u Alaea in the Hamakuapoko ahupua’a down to the sea. It stretches from Olinda, past Makawao, and down through Haiku. At its seaward end, the gulch widens into a flat-bottomed valley and ends in a small, narrow bay with steep rocky sides and a small boulder beach at its head. Access to the bay from the Hana Highway is a small dirt road on the Hana side of a bridge that spans the gulch.

The water is usually muddy and dark because of the run-off from the stream. Large rocks sitting on the shallow ocean bottom protrude above the surface of the water and sometimes small surf forms on the rocks. Large waves can create powerful rip tides and a lot of surge at the mouth of the bay and very large surf sometimes completely closes the narrow channel into the bay.

In pre-sugar days when the stream had a continuous flow, there were a number of terraces in the valley. According to E. S. C. Handy, “the gradually rising land of Hamakuapoko in earlier times would have been suitable for dry taro but not for wet. It was probably well-populated and cultivated….” On old land maps, the land east of the gulch was a patchwork of small landholdings, an indication that families worked and lived on this land.

The Haiku sugar plantation, organized by George Douglas in 1858, out-produced all others within four years after it was started. During that time the company built its first mill on the grounds of what is now the Baldwin estate. Cane was ground there and shipped out of Maliko Bay for 23 years.

The most famous story connected with the gulch involved Henry P. Baldwin during the construction of the Hamakua Ditch. In November, 1876, Baldwin organized the Hamakua Ditch Company to carry water by tunnel and ditch from the Nahiku district in East Maui to the dry lowlands of Central Maui for the sugar plantation in Paia that was owned by Baldwin and his partner Samuel T. Alexander. A lot rode on the completion of the irrigation system.

Earlier that year the Reciprocity Treaty signed between the Hawaiian Kingdom and the United States gave Hawaii the advantage of duty-free sugar. Alexander and Baldwin secured a water rights lease from the Hawaiian Kingdom for water rights in East Maui. The ditch had to be completed within two years or all improvements would revert to the government.

The project was the first great irrigation project in Hawaii, and as it progressed, the stakes of the young entrepreneurs’ gamble got higher. California sugar magnate Claus Spreckels secured a lease to water rights below and beyond the Hamakua Ditch from the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1876. One term of this agreement said that if the Hamakua ditch was not completed on time, Spreckels would get the water rights held by Baldwin and Alexander.

Everyone watched with great interest as the Hamakua Ditch Company crews hacked their way through 17 miles of dense, rain-soaked forest. One of the project’s major problems was crossing the deep gulches between Nahiku and Haiku. Pipes had to be run down one side and up the other. The men rappelled down the cliff faces and climbed up the other side as they worked their way towards their goal.

The workers balked when they reached Maliko Gulch, the last and largest obstacle. The extremely high, steep cliffs of the gulch were daunting. Baldwin, who had lost his right arm in an industrial accident in the mill at Paliuli in Paia in 1876, personally went to the site and lowered himself down the cliff to show the men that it could be safely done. Inspired, the workers completed the ditch just before the deadline.

In 1913, the Kahului Railroad Company constructed a steel railroad trestle across Maliko Gulch that extended the line from Paia to Haiku. At 684 feet long and 230 feet high, it was the highest railroad trestle ever constructed in Hawaii. (The Hawaiian Consolidated Railroad on the Big Island had a trestle that was longer, at 1,006 feet, but it was only 193 feet high.) The Maliko trestle was located just below Pu’u O Umi and was used to support the irrigation conduit of the Hamakua Ditch. The huge structure was dismantled and scrapped in the 1960s, but many of the old concrete foundation blocks can still be seen.

The major attraction these days at Maliko Bay is the public boat ramp, constructed in 1976. Located on the east side of the bay, the concrete ramp is well-used; there are few launching facilities on Maui, after all. Both private and commercial fishermen use the boat ramp for Maliko Bay is considered to be one of the best akule and ‘opelu grounds on Maui. To the rear of the beach is a large coconut grove with several corrals and a riding arena. Known as the Double A Arena, it was built by Danny and Wilfred Awai, who own the property. Rodeos and related events are regularly held there.


Fine Tuning the Rudder by Robert Stehlik

Monday, July 11th, 2011

I like racing on unlimited boards with rudders.   The rudder makes these long, straight tracking boards surprisingly nimble and fun in the bumps.  I avoid using the rudder when trying to catch a bump as it creates extra drag.  Once planing on the bump though, using the rudder can help to follow the bumps or change direction without noticeably slowing the glide.  You can step back with one foot to lift the nose of the board while keeping the front foot on the rudder.  On steeper bumps you want to step further back with both feet off the rudder to reduce the wetted surface and allow higher speeds.

With both feet off the rudder, you can surf the bump off the tail by using the rails like when surfing.  When the front foot is off the rudder, it goes to “neutral”,  the straight position that the rudder is supposed to return to when the pedal is released.  To minimize drag from steering, the rudder should be in “neutral” most of the time with most steering being small adjustments from the straight position.  Doing a downwinder on an unlimited board with the rudder not straight in neutral is awful, it’s like trying to play nice music on a guitar that’s out of tune.  I’m surprised how many people suffer through downwind runs on boards that cost thousands of dollars with their rudder systems completely out of tune, or worse, dropping out of a race because their screws got loose 😉 (I won’t mention any names here).
If you live on Oahu and would like to have your rudder system tuned professionally, bring it to Blue Planet Surf Shop, for everyone else here is a do it yourself guide to fine tuning your rudder system.  The pictures are of a SIC Bullet that my friend Evan Leong ( is kindly letting me use in a race tomorrow.  The basic concept can be used on any board, all rudder systems allow for a way to adjust and fix the neutral position.

Guide to tuning the rudder system
The SIC ASS system (Advanced Steering System) is notorious for the adjustment screws getting loose and out of tune.  I don’t like to tune the rudder on a regular basis, so I put some loctite (red) on the screws before making the adjustments for a semi-permanent fixed setting that should not get loose or need any more adjustments for at least a season or longer.  While you are at it, also put loctite on the screw in the center that holds down the pedal, I have heard of those coming loose as well.

Cable tension
The cables should be snug but not overtightened.

Neutral position.

Let the Loctite cure overnight, then get on the water  and most importantly, have FUN….

Continued – Read Full Article on Zen Waterman

Downwind Coaching video by Robert Stehlik

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Great video by Robert at Zen Waterman – He has a great blog so be sure to subscribe to his feed

Downwind Clinic video- with Nicole Madosik, Jared Vargas, Morgan Hoeserey, Kainoa Beaupre

Monday, May 16th, 2011

One of our customers asked me if I could join him on a downwind paddle and give him some tips.  I invited some other customers and got help from some of my friends who also happen to be some of the fastest paddlers on Oahu to put together the first Blue Planet Downwind Paddle Clinic the week before the BOP Hawaii.  We filmed the tips we gave on the beach before getting on the water and I put them together in a series of downwind paddling clinic videos that are 4-8 minutes each.  If you have not seen the previous post, please also watch the video with Hawaii Kai run downwind racing tips.  The last video (Part 6) has some gopro video from the water where you can see some of the participants putting what they learned into action.

Blue Planet Downwind Clinic part 1 with tips from Nicole Madosik and Jared Vargas

Blue Planet Downwind Clinic – Part 2 with tips from Jared Vargas and Morgan Hoesterey

Blue Planet Downwind Clinic- Part 3 with tips from Robert Stehlik and Kainoa Beaupre

Downwind Clinic- Part 4-Kainoa Beaupre with more downwind tips and line to Kaimana

Downwind Clinic- Part 5, Kainoa Beaupre talks about the inside line from Kaimana to Fort De Russy

Downwind Clinic – Part 6: End of the beach clinic and into the water

Timing and Efficiency
There is a good game on called 40 strokes, where the goal is to go as far as possible with 40 strokes using the waves.  It teaches you timing and to use your strokes as efficiently as possible (although it is limited to two dimensions, in real life, going left and right can make a big difference).  I have been able to get a score of just over 1900 but have not been able to get over 2000 as some others have.  For tips, read some of the comments posted.


Read Full Article on Zen Waterman

Training Day with SUP Elite Racer Rob Rojas

Friday, May 13th, 2011
By Rob Rojas

Lets get creative!!!

Hey friends! Hope all is well out there in the active people world. I know everyone is out there striving to train harder, striving to paddle faster, striving to perfect their buoy turns, and always searching for that secret potion to improved performance. What I have been thinking about lately is how to make workouts more fun and how to get creative especially while away from home or the gym that we find all too familiar and perhaps even boring after a while.  

The other day I was at a well known populated island off the coast of California, (Catalina), on a trip. I had with me my inflatable SHUBU made by Boardworks, a Quickblade paddle, a pair of Oneill Hyperfreak shorts, an Oneill Squidlid, a mask, snorkel, and fins. I only had about an hour to kill as the sun was still behind the horizon and I was at Emerald Bay, Catalina. One of the most pristine mooring spots on the island.
I told myself “I only have an hour so I’m gonna kill myself, (figuratively speaking), during that hour. I inflated my SHUBU, (actually broke out in a sweat doing so), and started paddling around Indian Rock for my warmup. I saw the kelp was laying down pretty good which meant two things. Number one, I would get a good up hill paddle against the current, and two, when the current is running, so are the White Sea Bass. The White Sea Bass is a highly sought after elusive game fish fish found on the West Coast. Those who seek the White Sea Bass are a select group who don’t like to brag, are very patient, and exemplify what being a true sportsman is all about.

Some thoughts on water flowing over a paddle- by Robert Stehlik

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011
Quickblade’s Jim Terrell recently came out with an excellent video breaking down the SUP stroke with high tech video analysis. .
The video analysis clearly shows that on longer raceboards at cruising speeds, good paddlers plant the paddle and move past it.  It shows Rob Rojas in slow motion, planting the paddle, applying power with the shaft bending and no visible “slippage”, the blade merely rotates at the waterline. With his forward momentum, he actually pulls the blade out in front of the spot he planted it.  To me this clearly shows that once the blade is planted, the water is compressed against the face of the blade and there is very little “slippage” or backward movement.  This made me think more about how a paddle blade moves through the water.  I’m not a scientist or paddle designer but just want to share some of my thoughts.
When people talk about paddle blade design they usually explain how the shape and design of the blade moves through the water, visualizing how the blade face gets pulled backward through the water.
In reality, during an efficient race stroke, there is very little movement of the blade once it is planted.  The water is compressed against the face of the blade and if the force is applied at the right time in the right dosage, there is very little slippage or movement of the blade backwards, it is effectively planted in the water, not moving through the water.
So, most of the movement of the blade through the water occurs when the blade is sliced down into the water during the catch and when it is pulled out of the water during the release.  In both cases, the paddle moves sideways, or tip first with water rushing past both sides of the blade.
When you think of it this way, most of the water flowing over the paddle is not flowing over or past the face of the blade but moving sideways, during the catch and release.  When designing a paddle the concern should be to make the sideways movement during catch and release as smooth and efficient as possible as this is the way the paddle travels through the water the most: slicing into and out of the water.
Instead of looking at the face of the blade, look at the edge/ tip and side profile of the paddle as that is the direction the blade moves through the water mostly.  It seems to me that a thin, flat blade should be most efficient slicing through the water sideways, while paddles with big spines, concaves, curves or other features designed to “catch” more water will only disrupt a clean sideways entry and exit.  It seems that a mild dihedral close to the waterline will not disrupt the waterflow during entry or exit much but maybe Kialoha is onto something with their completely flat, relatively thin blades.
It also means that it does not matter whether you put a sticker on the face or back of the blade, the sticker edge might cause a tiny bit more friction on either side during catch and release, but should not make a difference during the power phase.
So what’s up with those “magic” golf ball dimples on the face of the Quickblade elite racer blades? Some people seem to think they are designed to “hold” more water…
Read Full Article on Zen Waterman

Other Articles on Zen Waterman on interest:

Paddle Technique – Reach and Catch

Paddle technique – Power Phase

Paddle technique – Stacking shoulders


The art of the forward stroke by Quikblades’ Jim Terrell

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Love or hate SUP, the art of moving forward through the water is universal.  Surfing, Kayaking and swimming all draw from the same basic principals to obtain maximum efficiency whether you’re trying to catch a wave, cross the finish line or simply get from A to B.  Quickblade’s Jim Terrell is a four time Olympian (most for USA!) and a true athority when it comes to stroke technique.


Buy Now