Archive for the ‘Tips & Techniques’ Category

Connor Baxter wins Maui to Molokai Crossing

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Maui to Molokai Crossing:
by Connor Baxter

The morning started off with a big shake in the middle of my deep sleep. I woke up to my mom saying, “Wake up it is time to go.” It was 4:30am. Fumbling down the stairs, getting to the kitchen – I ate some breakfast quickly, got in the truck and we were on our way – across the island to the west side.

The 27 mile Maui to Molokai (M2M) race started at 9:00am at Fleming Beach Park. But, we had to be there by 8:00am to check in on the beach.

My dad, mom, friend Mike, Bart de Zwart and I launched our boat at Mala Wharf. We got up to Flemings around 7:40am – and immediately started preparing for the race. Getting the SUP race boards off the boat was not so easy – and my board ended up with a huge hole in the side from a cleat digging into it. Luckily we had duct tape – so I put it on and was ready to go.

For this race, I decided to try something a little different. Instead of starting off slow and taking it easy, I started off hard, took the lead right away, and put a little gap on my competition. After the start, I started to catch swells and surf down towards Molokai. And the closer I got to Molokai it got better and better. The swells got bigger and the wind got stronger. For a while all I was doing was surfing – hardly even paddling. In the beginning the wind was 8 to 12 mph, then by the middle it was blowing 18 to 20 mph, and towards the end it backed off again to 10 to 15 mph.

I crossed the finish line in 1st Place – completing the crossing in 3 hours and 16 minutes, which was my fastest time to Molokai from Maui, beating last years time of 3 hours and 29 minutes.

The top six places SUP and times:

1st = 3.16.21 = Connor Baxter
2nd = 3.22.56 = Livio Menelau
3rd = 3.33.14 = Mark Raaphorst
4th = 3.34.19 = Bart de Zwart
5th = 3.52.48 = Jeremy Riggs
6th = 4.00.49 = Thomas Maximus

The awards ceremony – as always – had excellent food, a great group of people and a good ending to a long day!!

I want to thank my sponsors for all their support – Starboard, Nike 6.0, Maui Jim Sunglasses, SIC, Dakine, EFX Technology, GoPro Cameras, On It Pro, Waterman’s Sunscreen, Sunrite Maui and Hi-Tech Sports.

Also a big Mahalo to all the event organizers and volunteers!!

Aloha –
Connor Baxter


Photos:  Karen Baxter!!!




How to Get Started Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011
DVD The Ultimate Guide to Stand Up Paddling

The fast-growing sport of stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is a fun, easy way to go play on the water. With a minimum of equipment, you can paddle anything from ocean surf to lakes and rivers—no waves required.Paddleboarding offers an amazing full body workout and is becoming a favorite cross-training activity for skiers, snowboarders and other athletes. And since you’re standing at your full height, you’ll enjoy excellent views of everything from sea creatures to what’s on the horizon. It’s almost like walking on water!

You need just a few key pieces of equipment to enjoy this sport:

  • Stand up paddleboard: This is by far your most significant gear investment. Sizes are based on the paddler’s weight and experience. More experienced and lighter paddlers can choose narrower boards. Novice paddlers should choose wider, flatter boards, which offer more stability.
  • Paddle: Stand up paddles have an angle or “elbow” in the shaft for maximum efficiency. Choose a paddle that’s roughly 6” to 8” taller than you are (though some manufacturers recommend an 8” to 10” differential).
  • PFD (Personal Flotation Device): The U.S. Coast Guard classifies stand up paddleboards as vessels, so always wear a PFD whenever you’re paddling navigable water.
  • Proper clothing: For cold conditions where hypothermia is a concern, wear a wetsuit or dry suit. In milder conditions, wear shorts and a T-shirt or bathing suit—something that moves with you and can get wet.
  • Sun protection: Wear sunscreen and sunglasses.

Techniques: Getting Started

Carrying Your Board to the Water

If your stand up paddleboard has been designed with a built-in handle, carrying it is a breeze. Just lean the board on its rail (edge), reach for the handle and tuck the board under one arm. Carry your paddle with the other hand.

For longer distances, or if your board has no handle, you can more easily carry your paddleboard on your head. Here’s how:

  • Stand the board on its tail (end) with the deck (top of the board) facing you.
  • Lay your paddle on the ground within easy reach.
  • Grasp the rails (the edges of the board) with both hands.
  • Walk yourself under the board so that your head is about midway between the nose (front) and the tail.
  • Stand upright with the board overhead, still holding it by its rails.
  • Now bend down and pick up your paddle and carry it alongside the board.
  • Head for the water.

Shop REI’s selection of paddleboarding gear .

Read the rest of this article>>

Dan Gavere – New SUP instructional video ULTIMATE GUIDE TO STAND UP PADDLING

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Great Video DVD Ultimate Guide to Stand Up PaddleDan Gavere has teamed up with filmmaker Chris Emerick to produce a new SUP instructional video.

Here is what they have to say about the video…. Whether you’re a beginner trying to stand up on a board and take your first strokes or an experienced paddler looking to improve your skills, The Ultimate Guide To Stand Up Paddling is for you. Follow legendary paddler Dan Gavere as he guides you through this easy to follow, step by step video that will help you become a more confident and efficient paddler. Filmed in HD on the beautiful waters of Hawaii and Oregon by award winning cinematographer Chris Emerick, this video aims to be the best stand up paddling “how to video” ever released. he Ultimate Guide To Stand Up Paddling is for you. Follow legendary paddler Dan Gavere as he guides you through this easy to follow, step by step video that will help you become a more confident and efficient paddler. Filmed in HD on the beautiful waters of Hawaii and Oregon by award winning cinematographer Chris Emerick, this video aims to be the best stand up paddling “how to video” ever released.

Buy “The Ultimate Guide to Stand Up Paddling” by Dan Gavere – Stand Up Paddle instruction and techniques from beginner to advanced

Get your mind right – Dave Kalama

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

I’ve offered quite a bit of technical information over the last year playing with this blog. Hopefully some of it helped you. But I’m continuing to learn new things myself, both about my own approach to challenges and about coaching. One thing I’ve discovered is how important mind set is. I guess I’ve known it all along, but lately that fact seems to be pushed at me in new ways.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to wander off into psychobabble. First of all, I’m not qualified, and second I’m just not all that touchy-feely. But in looking back over the instructional articles I’ve written, I see that I refer fairly often to the mental aspect of meeting challenges. I’ve kind of glossed over it and left just enough of a trail to connect the dots yourself. But I think I should address it straight on: Mind set and/or intention can have a huge influence on performance.

For example, the other day I was teaching someone to surf, and they were having a lot of trouble committing to the act of standing up once they caught the wave. So I told them they looked like they were standing up to go clean a toilet (meaning not very motivated). I want you to stand up like you are going to get a double dip of coffee Haagen Dazs. As soon as I said that I could see their whole attitude change from “maybe I can” to “you bet I will”.

Just a tiny swing in intention can give a significant chance of success. Sure enough that’s just what happened. I know they were ready to quit–to paddle in disgusted with surfing. Instead they stayed out another hour, had some real success, and most likely will be a surfer for life. Besides helping them it also reminded me how significant mind set is, not only for myself, but for instruction as well.

Anyone is far more likely to succeed in executing a challenging task if they are motivated to believe they can do it. In my experience the best way to make them believe is to give them a mental connection to something they can already do. That’s why I usually ask lots of question at the beginning of a coaching session to find things that I will be able to relate my explanations to. If I can explain something to a person in terms that already make sense to them then I can most likely get them to do what I’m trying to teach them.

I think people build a mental picture that helps them aim for a goal. If they can imagine achieving what ever goal they have set for themselves they can get there quicker. I think the connection to things people already can do helps them break the goals into manageable pieces, They can imagine achieving something much closer to their current ability, and when they get there they can appreciate the success. If the only mental picture you have is of pulling off a driving cutback when you haven’t successfully popped up on a board yet, you aren’t connected to a goal that’s going to improve your current performance. If your mental picture is something like “I’m going to pop up on this board like I’m excited to get there”, then you will, and you’ll taste success.

Mood is also just as important. So if you can relate the current task to a past pleasurable experience then most likely the mind will be more engaged in the specific goal or task, thus the mention of coffee ice cream (hey, I know it works for me). Involuntarily you get an internal smile because that thought makes you happy. That’s the perfect mind set to being physically and mentally open, to learning new movements and balances. If you can create that good mood prior to learning or for that matter racing, performing, or competition, you give yourself the best chance of success. That’s not to say you put your head in the clouds and walk around in la la land. You’ve got to be focused on the task at hand. But if you do it with a positive confident attitude, it can make all the difference in the world.

Let me know what you think. I’d like to hear how you focus your mind on goals and keep yourself motivated. For that matter, anyone out there teaching or coaching folks, I love to hear how you maintain motivation and focus in your students.

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

Dave Kalama – Kalama’s 50/50

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

As my coaching efforts increase, so does the necessity to be creative with my explanations of what I’m trying to convey. You can only say “Reach, Dammit, Reach” so many times before your student only hears “blah, blah, blah”. So I came up with a simple paddle exercise and a drill that does all the explaining for me, exhibits why reaching is so much more efficient, and helps you build a good reach into your stroke. I named it the Kalama 50/50 because that’s how we’re going to analyze your stroke. Not the most memorable name ever, but hey, at least fifty doesn’t begin with a K.

This exercise is for any kind of paddling, and it’s effective whether you try it in an OC-1, a SUP or even something low performance like a rotomolded kayak.

Use a more traditional Hawaiian style stroke for this exercise. A Tahitian stroke already emphasizes the front part of the stroke so it won’t show reach efficiency as clearly. This is a two part drill to show the effects of reaching versus paddling past your half way point of the stroke. What you are going to do is break the stroke into two parts, the front half and the back half. Then, once your mind wraps around the reality that reach is more important than power, we can work on the second part, making you faster and much, much more efficient.

First, a little prep. Sit in your OC, kayak, or stand on your board in your trimmed position and reach as far as you can. Loosen your grip on the paddle, stack your upper shoulder to the keep the paddle vertical. Push your lower shoulder forward as far as you can and let your upper shoulder move back to balance the movement. Let your top hand come a bit over your head. Strain forward a bit, reaching as far as you can. Mark the spot where the blade would touch your boat or board with contrasting tape so you can see it easily. Get back on the board or boat and try to get past the tape. Move the tape to whatever new spot you come up with. When you have as good a reach as you can do with moderate strain that’s your target. As you learn to use muscle stretch to increase your reach you’ll go well past it, but that’s for another time.

Now stroke a few times with your traditional stroke and see where you’re pulling out the paddle. In a canoe it’s probably somewhere around your waist, on a SUP it might be somewhere around your toes. If it’s past your waist or toes that’s fine, we want your natural stroke. People who paddle well past their feet are the most surprised by how little power that develops. Mark that paddle exit point with contrasting tape.

Now take your tape measure and find the midpoint between the two tape strips. Put a third strip there.

First I want you to just paddle the back half of your stroke for a few hundred feet. Put the paddle in at the mid mark and pull back as far as you want and as hard as you want. Just make sure that when you do the second half of the drill, you exert the same effort. Make a mental note of the speed and acceleration you generate. Now I want you to do only the front half of the stroke for a few hundred feet. Reach as far forward as you can and only pull back to the middle tape mark. Now make a mental note of the speed and acceleration, if you are able to use a GPS in the monitoring of the experiment, even better, but it’s such a big difference that you really won’t need it. I’ll let the results speak for themselves.

Here’s a video that illustrates the drill:

But DON’T just watch the video and say “okay, I’m convinced, I don’t need to do the drill, I’ll reach harder”. There’s a big difference between watching a demonstration and experiencing the feelings. You wouldn’t even think of learning to ride a bicycle by watching a video. Your body needs to be convinced, it needs to know where power comes from. It can’t be just a theory.

Now here’s the second part. Now that you are convinced, I want you to leave the tape in place and concentrate on your reach and SMOOTHNESS for the next few weeks. Do not push to apply power. Adding power to your stroke is the easiest thing you can do, but it covers up all the technical flaws and mistakes in your paddling and it will not make you fast. Watch Danny Ching paddle some day. Sure, the dude has some shoulders, but his reach is huge, his application of catch and pull is so smooth the water just gurgles, and if he’s working hard it doesn’t show. Sure, he has a twenty year head start on you, but he didn’t get great by practicing mistakes, and neither will you.

Focus on reaching the tape with every stroke. Keep your form as clean as you can so your muscle memory for a good stroke will start to embed. Shoulders stacked, relaxed twist, Reach, Dammit, Reach, and then apply power gently and smoothly. Stop applying power as you reach the middle tape and just do the recovery however you’re used to doing it–right now we don’t care much about that piece. We’re focused on reach and smoothness now, don’t add any more complexity, this is tough enough.

Keep your cadence slow and hesitate slightly just before you push the paddle in order to load your upper body to it’s full potential and then unload on the paddle as you drive it down into the water. Some time in the first few hours of practicing this you will suddenly find this magical moment when your stroke merges with your boat or board, and everything flows effortlessly forward. It may not last, but you’ll know what we’re shooting for.

It’s quite a simple drill but it really helps to illustrate what part of the stroke is most important to focus on, and also shows why the Tahitians would spend most of their time focusing on the most effective part of the stroke. Hopefully after you’re convinced about how important reaching is, you’ll be inspired to focus on all the techniques that help you to maximize your reach to get the most out of your effort. I’ll show you more later, but for now, Reach, Dammit, Reach. Have fun.

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

Dave Kalama – Costa Rica Vista Guapa Surf Camp

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Costa Rica here we come. In just about two months the Kalama Kamp crew and I will be hosting our first camp in Costa Rica. I’ve been to Costa Rica a few times myself, but I have a feeling this will be the best one because we will have one of the best surfers in Costa Rica, Alvaro, to help make sure we end up in the right places at the right times, thus taking full advantage of local knowledge. I’ve already started to brush up on my spanish, most of it focused on three sayings that seem to get you pretty far. Donde esta la playa ( where’s the beach), un cervesa por farvor( a beer please) and another important one, donde esta el bano ( where’s the bathroom ). I’ve even changed John’s name to Juan for the camp and Brody is El Mono( The Monkey ). I hope you’ll consider joining us, even I’m tired at the end of our Kalama Kamp weeks, from doing so much and having so much fun. Below is some more info that Brody put together on how to sign up and general info. Hope to see you in Costa Rica. Pura Vida, Dave

Kalama Kamp is coming to Vista Guapa Surf Camp ( from Saturday, April 9th thro ugh Saturday, April 16th 2011.  Spend time with renowned waterman and Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) pioneer Dave Kalama.  Kalama Kamp Costa Rica is a weeklong SUP adventure retreat featuring private instruction, daily SUP activities and nightly social gatherings.  The all-inclusive (excluding airfare) Kalama Kamp offers the unique opportunity for SUP enthusiasts to explore one of the world’s most coveted surfing destinations while receiving personalized instruction from top SUP industry experts.

“We are thrilled to host Kalama Kamp at Vista Guapa,” explained Alvaro Solaro, co-founder of Vista Guapa.  “We guarantee that it will be the SUP/Surf experience of a lifetime in beautiful Jaco Beach with instruction from some of the industry’s best watermen and top surfers in the world.”

Kalama Kamp Costa Rica will include one-on-one instruction from Kalama, the Hawaiian Big Wave Surfer and Windsurfer who is considered one of the driving forces behind the reemergence of stand up paddling into the watersports arena.  Additional instructors include Solano, Stand Up Fitness founder Brody Welte and John Denney of Jupiter Paddleboarding.  Kalama Kamp is limited to 12 spaces assuring the most intimate, personalized SUP experience possible.

“We are stoked to be bringing Kalama Kamp to Costa Rica, one of the most beloved surfing spots in the world,” added Welte, founder of Stand Up Fitness.  “Kalama Kamp Costa Rica is the perfect opportunity for anyone, regardless of skill level, who wants to take their paddleboarding experience to a completely new level and meet like-minded individuals. Kalama Kamp Costa Rica is ready to embrace the Pura Vida lifestyle!”

Nestled on five beautiful acres of hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Vista Guapa is an upscale surf and stand up paddleboard camp offering a first class surfing vacation for water lovers of any skill level.  Run by Solano, the camp is located in the well-known surfing destination of Jaco Beach and conveniently located with easy access to some of the best surf breaks on the Costa Rican Pacific coast.  In addition to surfing and stand up paddleboarding, Vista Guapa guests enjoy a range of outdoor activities including yoga, canopy tours, mountain biking, fishing trips and kayaking in partnership with local tour companies.

Kalama Kamp Costa Rica is currently accepting registrants for this exclusive opportunity.  Rates are $3499 per person and are all-inclusive excluding airfare.  To reserve space in Kalama Kamp Costa Rica, please call 727-902-4294 or email

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

Dave Kalama – Tempo Paddling Techniques

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Photo Darrell Wong

So you’ve read all the technique articles, watched all the videos on you tube, maybe even attended a clinic from one of the pros. You’ve spent countless hours processing all the information and tried to integrate it into your stroke. Maybe you’ve even gone as far as having some one video tape you so that you can go through it with a fine tooth comb, and slow-mo it like the sports analysts do on any given Sunday. Well there’s one little detail you seldom hear in the stand up world… tempo( or cadence ). In outrigger it’s quite a common term because of the team work factor. Everyone must paddle exactly together or blend as they say, and at the same rate or tempo.

There are many factors that determine your speed, for instance, the amount of power you apply, efficiency of your technique, fitness level, board design, etc. For the sake of argument,  let’s say you paddle pretty much the same every time you go. So the easiest way to control your speed is by the number of strokes you take per minute, or tempo. If you only take forty strokes per minute no matter how good they are you will only travel so far, but if you take seventy stokes per minute( provided they’re good strokes) you will travel a lot further.

The trick then becomes setting your tempo to three key factors. One, your technique, be it Hawaiian or Tahitian. Two, your fitness level, meaning how much cardio stress can you put on your body and maintain a certain level of efficiency. Three, your level of power output. When anyone of these factors is too high you’ll reach a point of diminishing returns, simply meaning, that you no longer can maintain a efficient movement when you’re trying to hard.

Because the length of a stand up paddle is so much longer, you will do fewer strokes per minute compared to the rates of an outrigger paddler. In an outrigger, the Hawaiian stroke can vary from the low fifties to upper sixties, whereas the Tahitian stroke can be anywhere from the lower sixties to the low mid eighties. For stand up you can subtract five to ten strokes per minute for the longer paddles.

Setting your tempo on a stand up is a very subtle thing because adding five strokes per minute is barely noticeable. That’s just a little more than one stroke more per fifteen seconds, which by the way is generally how you count your strokes. Count the number of strokes you do in fifteen seconds and multiply by four.

If you’re more of a cardio type person you should lean more towards a Tahitian style stroke since the rate is higher and will require more cardio endurance, thus playing right into your strength. If you’re a bigger stronger guy perhaps you might slow your stroke down and take advantage of your strength by powering your paddle a little deeper. Whatever you favor naturally I highly recommend mastering both techniques as they both use slightly different muscle groups, which allows for less fatigue because of load sharing throughout the body.

So instead of always working on just your technique, try adjusting your tempo to suit your stroke and technique to enhance both factors and become that much faster over the long run.



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

Mark Colino – New Years resolutions

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Mark Colino - New Years ResolutionIt’s that time of year again. Most people no longer bother to make New Years resolutions, or they are short lived as life’s distractions overwhelm the promises we make to ourselves during the celebratory final days of the past year. Maybe some advice from one of the the wisest men in history might  help you stick to your 2011 training resolutions. King Solomon (king of Israel in 970 bc) had humble beginings, gained it all, lost it all, and finally, got some back. He experienced life’s ups and downs and wrote 3 books of advice based on what he learned.


SUP Clinic – Nikki Gregg & Dan Gavere April 3-8th 2011

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Join us us in beautiful Costa Rica at The Zancudo Lodge for an all-inclusive 6 day and 5 night adventure of training, fun & inspiration at our 2011 SUP clinic; with SUP fitness evangelist and founder/owner of NRG Lifestyle Fitness Nikki Gregg and her partner Dan Gavere of Werner Paddles. Nikki is known for her fun, yet challenging, workouts where results are hard earned. As Nikki likes to say, “There is nothing worse than a boring workout!

Package includes:

  • All transfers to and from San Jose and Zancudo lodge.
  • Max 1 night lodging in San Jose.
  • All lodging at Zancudo Lodge.
  • Three full meals a day at the lodge.
  • All alcoholic/non alcoholic drinks during meals.
  • Two seperate day tours at the lodge.

Dave Kalama – Use Your hips while paddling

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Many of the technical parts in a good stroke come from canoe paddling because canoe paddling and canoe strokes have been practiced and refined for hundred, perhaps thousands of years. Extending your arm all the way forward, twisting the upper torso towards the extended arm, bending at the waist slightly to extend all the way forward, extending the shoulder itself forward to get absolutely every inch of reach you possibly can.  All of these are vital to maximizing your potential, and any good canoe paddling coach will pound them into your practice. But there is one thing you won’t hear from canoe paddling coaches because its unique to Standup Paddling. Using your hips.

Hip movement is an overlooked but critical element of thrusting forward. I like to tell people to envision pulling yourself to the paddle as opposed to pulling the paddle to you. The main reasons for this is because when you envision pulling yourself to the paddle, you will naturally try to pull your whole body to the paddle. By default that means pulling your hips( or your center of mass) up to the paddle, whereas when you try to pull the paddle to you, you will automatically drop the hips back and anchor them there so that you can pull the paddle to you, just as you would pull a rope in a “tug of war”. What’s the difference between the two? Pulling your body to the paddle creates forward momentum, pulling the paddle to you doesn’t.

As always, you need to exaggerate the movement to feel it’s effect, and then add it to your conscious practice. As you do that it will pattern into muscle memory and become part of your stroke. To integrate the hips thrust them forward while you are pulling on the paddle, so that as the shoulders and torso pull back the hips thrust forward and meet in an upright body position. You will feel the board thrust forward as the movement draws your feet under your hips and you straighten. Just thrusting the hips into the stroke at any random moment won’t do much. It has to be synchronized with the pull of the paddle, so that your maximum point of hip thrust corresponds with your maximum amount of pull on the paddle. That hip thrust can easily account for an extra inch or two of forward movement per stroke. Again, as an individual action it doesn’t account for to much, but when added up over thousands of strokes it can begin to make a significant difference.

In pure flatwater paddling or long distances you won’t use this stroke element constantly, it uses your large central muscles which burn a lot of energy. But if you practice the movement so you can engage it smoothly over the length of a sprint it can help you catch bumps for down wind. In sprint races it can be your ace in the hole, that lets you break away from the pack, or pass your rival before the finish.

Best of luck with integrating this into your stroke. I know these fine tuning elements can be hard to master through a written description. I’ve had a lot of success in teaching these refinements at Kalama Kamps and individual training sessions. It’s really interesting to see how much faster people can paddle when they  pull together all these bits–even in a single day of instruction. If you visit Maui remember I am available for one on one coaching when my schedule allows. The winter big wave season makes that a little more difficult to coordinate, but if you’re interested just contact me through the “Contact Dave” tab at the top of the page or just fill in the Contact Dave form in the sidebar.

Aloha, Dave

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

Mark Colino – The Ice Man cometh….

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

If you live where temperatures go below freezing in the winter, you have 3 choices when it comes to flat water paddling:

Jamie Mitchell Suzi Cooney for Kaenon Sunglasses

  1. Don’t ( Not acceptable if you’re truly hooked).
  2. Buy a plane ticket to somewhere warm
  3. Dress appropriately and go!

Since #1 & #2 aren’t in my current budget, I’ll share some tips for #3.

  1. Before getting dressed, put some high energy music on to get you psyched & elevate your heart rate.
  2. Get dressed indoors!  Don’t wait until you are at your launch spot to get dressed.  If you start warm it’s easier to stay warm.  If you start cold it’s harder to get warmer.
  3. Wear a wicking layer under your paddling pants or sleeveless longjohn (Starboard makes a nice one)  & a tight fitting wicking layer under a looser paddling jacket. You will sweat no matter how cold it is.  A full wetsuit is too restrictive for flat water training or touring where you’re most likely are not going to fall in.
  4. Wear 7mm booties & 6mm mitts.  Your feet are farthest from your heart & not moving much, so get thick booties!  Bring a water bottle with hot water in it and pour it down your boots right before you start.  Gloves allow for better grip & switch on the paddle, but mitts are warmer since your fingers are all together. Come spring, when you take them off you will find you actually improved your efficiency!
  5. Wear a moisture wicking beanie (Da Kine makes one). If you go heavy wool style, you’re sweat will start to freeze on the hat. (not good)
  6. Don’t forget your hydration pack. Even in the cold your muscles need to be hydrated.
  7. Don’t paddle alone & wear a leash!  In freezing temperatures, things can wrong real fast!
  8. If you need motivation, imagine yourself beating an arch rival who is sitting at home getting slow & heavy.  Or how fortunate you are to have the physical ability and means to be able to sup.

Remember, excuses don’t excuse us! They accuse us. I’ll see you out there.

Mark Colino is “Head” Coach of Stand Strong Paddle Fitness, a sales rep for Starboard SUP’s & a Northeast mullet head.  for more info go to

Mentally recovering from a sub-par performance

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Excerpt from Book “Paddling out of your mind” by Mark Colino available from Distressed Mullet

Post your own content to PaddleAthlete

Get over it, and get on with it! The catch phrase my sports psychology professor drilled into us to avoid wasting time and energy. It was now time to practice what I preached to the many athletes I worked with over the years.

I trained, ate right, and acquired the best board possible for the 28 mile NYC SEA Race. It was close to my home turf and I expected a lot from myself. I built up its importance and started to put a lot of pressure on myself. Some of the best paddlers from Hawaii , California & the East Coast were present.

I got schooled, spanked, slaughtered and left in the dust. 4 days later, I was still “beating myself up” over it.

Here are a few things to keep in mind to avoid falling into the abyss of self doubt:

1) Realize some things are out of your control, such as the weather, what other paddlers do, and if it’s a sup surf contest, the judges.
2) Ask yourself 3 questions; what did I do that I don’t want to do next time?, what did I not do that I want to do next time?, and what I do well and want to continue doing?
3) Learn from the past, set goals for the future, but live in the here and now. As Kung Fu Panda once said “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is the future, but today is a gift. That’s why they call it the present”.
4) Success is never final and failure is rarely fatal. Get over it and get on with it!

Stay wet & stand strong!

Northeast Mullet Head Starboard rep Stand Strong Paddle Fitness coach – Mark “el hammer” Colino

Dave kalama – Paddle Tips – Reach, Dammit, Reach

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Paddle Technique by Dave KalamaIf you ever spend any time with me or almost any other paddle coach for that matter, you’re going to hear that phrase or something very similar.

The key to any stroke, Tahitian or Hawaiian, stand up or canoe, is to reach. There are a lot of other components to a stroke but I firmly believe that reach is the most important and the hardest to master. First let’s talk about the three reasons why it’s so important.

The first reason is the very simple one that no one seems to think about–we take a lot of strokes going almost anywhere. If you shorten your stroke you have to take a lot more of them. A few lost inches of reach doesn’t seem like much at first, but most people stroke about a thousand times per mile. So a thousand or ten thousand strokes later, it starts to really add up.

Second, muscles are elastic, especially once they are warmed up and working well. The muscles you use to extend your reach are not the ones you’re going to use to put power into the paddle, so it’s a good division of labor. When you reach hard and plant the paddle your muscles spring back some, and you get a little free ride right at the most critical and demanding part of the stroke.

Third, all the methods that extend your reach also ensure that major muscle groups are engaged in your stroke. You can’t get a good reach with just your arms, you need to engage your shoulders, back, torso and hips to really get out there. Once those muscles are engaged they can go to work effectively.

There are essentially three ways to extend your reach. I want you to practice and tune each of these ways independently as well as together. See them as steps that flow together to get the paddle out into a good catch.

One, and perhaps the most obvious, is to completely extend your lower arm forward, even a slight bend in the elbow will rob you of a couple of inches when the paddle enters the water.

Two: Fully extend your lower shoulder forward. The movement is unfamiliar at first, so let’s reverse it into something you are familiar with. Stick your chest out as far as you can. When you lift your chest up high, you must pull your shoulders back in order for your chest to stick out. The movement we’re aiming at is the opposite movement. Collapse your chest and to extend your lower shoulder forward. This movement should account for at least three to four inches of reach and perhaps more if you really accentuate it.
You don’t have to strain to gain reach, just good technique and body position will get your paddle out there with minimal effort.
Three: Upper body twist combined with a slight lean forward. Big gain here. Twist in the direction of your lower hand to at least a forty five degree angle. More is even better. This twist will extend your reach another five to six inches and gets your upper arm into position so you can keep the paddle close to 90 degrees to the board. Throw in a little body lean and your talking even a couple of more inches. Be very careful not to bend in the lower back, but rather bend at the hips. This will keep you from putting any unnecessary strain on your lower back.

Lets add it up, an extended arm will get you two inches, shoulder extension is good for four inches, twist and lean account for eight inches, and all in you should be able to get at least an extra fourteen inches of reach with these simple techniques, as apposed to a simple beginner’s arm reach stroke. If you maximize each portion you will get even more reach.

Remember reason number one? Let’s call our reach gain an even foot to keep the math simple. For a little ten mile paddle (10,000 strokes) that’s ten thousand feet–about two miles. Or thinking about it a different way, that’s two thousand stokes less for the same ten mile distance.

Now here’s the hard part. The real challenge to reach isn’t the technique, it’s the discipline it takes to maintain it as you get tired. Even the best paddlers in the world fight with shortening their stroke as they fatigue. So first get the technique right, then start to really start to work on keeping it right.



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

Surftech SUP Academy Launches

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

SurfTech SUP AcademySurftech, the world’s largest manufacturer of surfboards and stand up paddleboards aspires to set the international standard for SUP instruction and fitness programs.Products:The Surftech Stand Up Paddle Academy is working hard to establish itself as THE resource for the delivery of comprehensive instruction, certification and continuing education in Stand Up Paddleboarding.

Complete certification programs packaged with the highest quality stand up paddleboards and equipment, instructional aids, and Surftech’s worldwide brand and marketing support will present qualified clients an unparalleled opportunity to become part of an internationally recognized team.

The official international premiere of the Surftech Stand up Paddle Academy will take place in Puerto Rico, December 3-8 as a part of the “Paddle Royal”, the flagship event for SUP in the Caribbean.

For class registration and more info :

Bodie Shandro //
Director of SSUPA

: Noelle Kozak //
Master Instructor

: Suzanne Yeo //
Master Instructor

Nose Riding

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Nose riding looks easy, all you really do is stand there, but for many it seems like a mystery that’s unsolvable. With a couple of simple tips you can not only have a clue but most likely find yourself logging some serious tip time.

You can noseride on almost any SUP board, but there are certainly some shapes and designs that are easier than others. In general, a round nose offers more support than a pointed one, and moderate nose rocker keeps the tail from being levered up. A little concave in the nose helps as well. Some folks like a little V in the tail to make steering the board from the nose a bit easier–but I’m not a fan of V, to me it makes the rail to rail transitions too much like flipping a switch. It also helps to have a long fin to keep the tail under control if it’s levered out the back of the wave.

First and probably the most important is positioning. Positioning on the board is important but positioning on the wave is most critical. If there were a secret it is positioning yourself high up on the face. This serves two functions. One, because of the steep angle at the top of the wave, it is easier to keep the nose from pearling, and two, the crest of the wave essentially peels over the board  and holds the tail down so that it counters your weight at the nose.

Next, positioning on the board is a delicate dance of balance and control. The idea of course is to get yourself as close to the nose as possible, hopefully to the point of hanging your toes over the nose. The problem is the closer you get to the nose, the less control you have over the board and the more the board wants to pearl. The control issue is managed by delicate steps on your way to the nose, being careful to keep your weight centered over the stringer, or middle line of the board, this will keep the board traveling on the same line and hopefully maintain that high line that makes it much easier.

You can shuffle around to move on the board, but it upsets the board quite a bit and makes it hard to keep the board trimmed. Still, you might find shuffling around to be easier at first, and there’s no harm in it, but sooner or later you’re going to want to cross step. Cross-stepping is the classic way to make your way to the nose. Not only does it look cool, it also enables you to maintain control of the board. As you cross you can control the pressure on your toes and heel to keep the board flat. If you aren’t already cross-stepping around on your board then now is a good time to learn. You can cross step anywhere for practice, even though it might look weird to your spouse or friends. Knees bent, weight balanced evenly between toes and heels, pick up the rear foot, step over the toes of the front foot and place it a few inches or so in front of the prior front foot. Transfer your weight to the new front foot, keeping toe and heel pressure balanced, move the new rear foot around the heel of the front foot and place it a few inches ahead. As the shampoo bottle says–”lather, rinse, repeat”. Going backwards is the reverse of frontwards of course. The biggest problem you’ll have is keeping the pressure on toes and heel under control. Don’t try to go fast until you have full control of your weight and balance.

On a shorter board it might take two steps, on a 12 footer, maybe four steps, but in either case it will be an even number so your dominant foot is forward. As you cross step make the last step a bit longer to reach the magic spot on the nose. Once you get to the nose keep most of your weight on your back foot. This will help keep the board from pearling. The coveted hang ten takes much more practice and comes after you’ve mastered the hang five.

The paddle can also be used as an aid in balancing once you commit to the nose, by skimming it across the surface as you ride. If you feel the nose on the verge of pearling you can either step back to keep it from going under or just put more weight on your back foot if a little adjustment will suffice. You will also discover that you actually can have some control over the board from the very tip. By pressuring your toes or heels the board will veer slowly to one direction or the other. Again, experimentation is key to learning this skill and many falls will come between you and success, but ultimately you will make it.  Another tip that will make it a little easier is to try and ride on your front side whenever practicing. This will allow you to integrate your toes more into the equation, which are more sensitive to fine balance adjustments. You will want to master it in both directions though ultimately. Good luck.



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

Stand Up Paddle Tips – Using Your Paddle

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

One of the special attributes of stand up is the paddle. The paddle itself , as we all know, is not unique to stand up yet, I believe that the paddle is the key to it’s functional success in the surf, and thus gifting stand up as a more efficient form of surfing. Like many other paddle sports, the paddle is the source of locomotion, but people are just starting to explore it’s other uses. At its best the paddle is the key to balance, leverage, locomotion and steering.

So if the paddle is the key to this spectacular sport, how do we maximize it’s use? While the little subtle uses are endless, I will try to impart a few tips that I’ve found helpful while doing stand up in the surf. to keep this article length manageable I’m just going to cover a single turn set: A bottom turn leading into a cutback. I believe that if you think your way through this turn set, then visualize it, and then practice it, it will lead eventually to doing all your turns with more power and control.

All photos courtesy of Darrell Wong

For the sake of this article I will assume you know how to catch a wave. Once the wave is caught, you are faced with the task of making that first bottom turn. Because the typical stand up board is much bulkier than a standard surf board, the force or leverage it will take to turn with authority are much greater. Standing in the middle of the board will not allow you to put the necessary downward force on the rail to sink it into the water enough to take advantage of the rail outline and the rocker profile. So you must move your foot further over to the rail to a point of almost hanging your toes over the side of the rail. While this will give you the needed leverage to control the rail, it also will create a situation of instability because you can no longer use the width of the board to stabilize your balance because of your proximity to the edge of the board. This is where the paddle becomes the critical counter balance to this over leveraged scenario.

Naish Glide Stand Up Paddle Board REI

Dave Digs on the Naish Glide – Check it out!

Skimming the blade of the paddle across the surface as you lean into the turn offers a way to lean into the rail yet balance yourself.  The paddle counters your lean and provides the stability and leverage to make sure you don’t fall face first on to the wave. I’m regular foot so I  will explain the technique I use from this perspective, for goofy just flip flop the orientation of the wave so you can adapt it to your stance. Remember that we are not talking about making a gentle turn, and that the bottom turn leads into the cutback. You want to steadily increase how hard you drive these two turns until you are tossing spray with each carve.

For your front side bottom turn on a right hand wave you will want the paddle on your right side. Even if you catch the wave while paddling on the left quickly switch the paddle to your right side, just as if you were about to take another stroke( with the blade angle reaching forward as usual). It’s important to have your upper hand on top of the handle to give you maximum control of the paddle while using it to skim across the surface–you simply can’t do these turns if you’re choked down on the paddle shaft.

As you begin your bottom turn move your back foot as close to the rail as possible without stepping off the board. Next, reach out the paddle towards the wave and skim it across the surface of the wave. Do this by dropping your top hand down towards your waist just as you would during the return portion of a normal Hawaiian stroke, but this time reach out further to the side with your lower hand, to extend the paddle face out away from you and towards the face of the wave. Use your top hand to tilt the leading edge of the paddle slightly higher than the trailing edge to ensure that the paddle does not dive down into the water and catapult you onto your face.

As you drive yourself into the turn and approach the finishing point for the bottom turn, use the paddle as an initiation point to transfer your weight from your toes back to your heels. As the board comes back underneath you follow this with a significant step across the board with your back foot from the bottom turn rail over to your cutback rail once your weight starts to be centered.

While you are transferring your weight, make a wide sweeping motion around the tail of the board with the paddle from your fore hand side to your back side and begin to use the paddle as a lever to pry with as you push down with your back foot, which is now on the inside of your cutback rail.  This prying motion allows you to accentuate the push that you can put on your back foot. The key here is to not lever so hard that you stop carving the turn and start sliding the tail. Practice will be your greatest ally here. It should feel as though you are pushing with your top hand and pulling with your bottom hand, the pushing with your back foot will supply the counter force to your pulling with the bottom hand.

Don’t treat these as two turns, think of them and practice them as one. Think of the paddle position and motion as you make the turns, because it is the paddle that enables you to press the rails hard enough, and compromise your balance by railing the board without falling in.

Use of the paddle as an aid in turning is almost a necessity in my opinion, but it is a subtle technique at times while sometimes it can be very forceful. The key is practicing and experimenting with the amount of effort to put forth on the paddle at different points throughout the turn. Good luck.



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

Tip – Sequencing Techniques

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Why do really good paddlers seem like they use less energy but go faster?  Because they can sequence their coordinated movements into a efficient continually flowing series of executed moves. For every movement you have a set of muscles that enable you to make that movement, but you also have a set of muscles to do the opposite. Quite simply, a set to push and a set to pull. Which means if you don’t coordinate the firing of those muscles you could potentially be pushing and pulling at the same time, which means you’re fighting yourself (not efficient).

Perhaps that is overly simplistic.  However, I’m hoping that you see even though you may have good technique, until you learn to sequence the firing of your muscles in order to execute that technique with maximum efficiency you are fighting against yourself to some degree. Of course learning a new movement requires experimentation, which means a series of trials and errors until you find the correct coordination.

When I teach people a new technique, I try to keep the tasks to a minimum so that they can attack a new movement without being overwhelmed.  The fewer movements between each part of the stroke, the more efficient. One of the most important tips that I give when teaching a new stroke is to use very little power. Before you can apply any power you need to truly learn the movement. Once you feel some mastery of the technique, then you need to work on the efficiency. In other words, start with your body and muscles completely relaxed. Move into your stroke slowly trying to call upon only those muscles that are necessary to execute that move. Any extra muscles that fire in that process can be considered counter-productive.  Once your movements become relaxed and flow from one part to the next with rhythm and coordination, then you can start to apply small increments of increased power. Keep in mind that it doesn’t necessarily have to feel like a lot of effort to be fast.

Think of it like a symphony. Every instrument by itself really only makes noise, but when all of those noises are coordinated and sequenced in order, they can create a magical experience of sound that can have a profound effect on all that hear it. I’m sure everyone has said or heard someone say ” that guy makes it look so easy”. Well that’s because he has mastered every movement to a point of making it look easy and for him it probably is. Have fun.



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

Tip – Climbing White Water

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Here’s a quick tip that may help you with getting over white water.

When I’m in my four man surfing canoe and we’re paddling back out through the surf, as we approach a white water, there are basically two things we try to do.  One, pick up a little extra speed on the approach, and two keep paddling right through the white water.  The same is true for stand up.  On the last five strokes prior to hitting the white water, pick it up a little to maximize your inertia that will help carry you over it.  Next, and this is where most people make their mistake, keep paddling through the white water (or at least take a stroke) as the nose of the board initially hits it, in order to pull yourself through the first part. This serves two purposes, it will help get you over the initial climb and two, your blade will be in the water already to act as a stabilizing device in case the white water is trying to knock you off.  What you don’t want to do is raise your paddle high, which I see people do all the time.

The next little key to success is to move your normal back foot back slightly just before impact, this will help create a little extra stability.  Meaning if you are regular footed in your surf stance, then move your right foot back prior to impact and vice versa if your a goofy foot.  How much you move that foot back is dependent upon how big the white water is.  Ankle to knee high white water and I will move it back maybe six inches to a foot.  Knee to waist, a foot or two, and head high and over I will move that rear foot back at least two to three feet.  One of the main reasons to move the foot back is to shift your weight back slightly so that the nose of the board will be elevated as it meets the front of the white water.  The trick becomes moving your weight back over your front foot just after impact to aid the board in climbing over it.  If you stay on your back foot to long it will usually end in popping a wheelie and then flying out the back door.  It also helps if you can have the paddle on your front side, meaning your right side for regular stance and your left for goofy.

I hope this helps and good luck.



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