Posts Tagged ‘Training’

The Riding Bumps The Book – SUP and Paddleboard Training

Saturday, April 5th, 2014



[SUP] 6 Annoying Things About Stand Up Paddling (& Others)

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

SUP’s 6 Most Annoying Traits

I love Stand Up! In fact I’m doing Molokai on a Stand Up this year. The fact is that observing SUP closely enough exposes some annoying traits so why not talk about them.

1. I’m a Team Rider

198344_10150159147483103_7399797_nOne of  SUP’s most annoying realities is the number of newly minted racers who are being added to a board builder brand as a “team riders”.  To be fair this phenomenon is not restricted to SUP alone but if  you choose your equipment for this reason alone, you’ll possibly end up on unsuitable and possibly inferior equipment.  The amount of  “quid pro quo” will vary but it is most likely implied that you promote the product at the same time on your social media or to your paddle circle. The natural inclination to be proud of what you own is being exploited and unless you feel the mere fact of being on the “team” is enough of the payment to being a brand donkey and board tester then please go for it. We all have our preferences and relationships, but I would never sacrifice my fun and comfort for a marginal discount on a board. As a secondary reminder when someone sends you free sunscreen and you promote it to your 3,500 Facebook friends or followers as the most unbelievable product you’ve every laid eyes upon, you’re probably getting a bum deal.

 2. A SUP is not a Paddleboard

Pete PetersonA SUP is a Stand Up Paddleboard not a Paddleboard! Believe me when I tell you that the differences lie beyond the obvious fact that a paddleboard is paddled prone using the paddles that god himself provided and a SUP is not. There a few good other things that differentiate SUP and Paddleboarding.

Most importantly is the fact that Paddleboarding originated when Tom Blake, the pioneer in paddleboard construction, decided to start building boards back in the early 1930’s which is a full 70 odd years before the modern SUP appeared. Based on it’s pedigree it deserves to be considered an activity in it’s own right and not some derivative of SUP. This seems to be the most common misconception out there. Brian Szymanksi Catalina ClassicIn fact the heritage is so ingrained in the Hawaiian culture that it was while restoring historic Hawaiian surfboards in 1926 for the Bernice P. Bishop Museum, that Blake built a replica of the previously ignored olo surfboard ridden by ancient Hawaiian Kings. Blake won the Pacific Coast Surfriding Championship on a very similar 16′ board. This event was the first Mainland event integrating both surfing and paddling, and there have been paddleboard races run ever since.  The other more esoteric reason as to why the difference matters is that a paddleboard is a bonafide torture device willing to hand out a slaughtering to even the most fittest of athletes and it deserves recognition. However, no matter how many times this fact is pointed out by paddleboarders, the marketers of SUP boards continue to use it interchangeably. Annoying!

3. Go on every wave

SUP-Drop-in“In the beginning there were old assholes on longboards and now the same selfish pricks have graduated to SUP.”  It’s NOT the craft but the person blah blah. I won’t bore you rehashing old tired isssues but I will urge you to focus on re-adjusting individuals SUP surfers attitude  as apposed to lumping everyone together. I am not your standard run-of-the-mill surf industry follower who is is untouched by surf history. I have a healthy respect for it and realize the impact SUP surfers are having. Believe it or not I would recommend SUP surfing as a change in the routine to any surfer. In fact I will always take time to SUP surf in shifty, and mushy waves mainly because it’s really good exercise and super fun.  That being said here is the reality. The lineup is not the place for the unskilled and of course when you’re learning it’s best to go to dedicated beaches or uncrowded beach breaks. You will improve at SUP surfing much quicker if you surf uncrowded beach breaks and don’t take the easy route. Surf up and down the coast, catch a wave or two and move on to the next spot. Until you’re skilled enough to function exactly like a surfer in the lineup you should stay away otherwise it’s annoying to everyone and we don’t want that.

4. It’s the engine

Gerry_Lopez_SUP_MolokaiI have a few friends who obsess over the minutia of the race equipment they own, and spend thousands of dollars and countless hours trying to tweak their boards and paddles to go faster. It’s the same concept as replacing your iPhone only a few months after you bought the previous iPhone which at the time you thought was amazing. It’s like chasing the dragon! In fact new boards are only better as you start use all the features they offer. Get my drift?

This phenomenon is a tri-geek/OCD thing and I totally get it.  While a good board definitely doesn’t hurt, it really cannot replace training and genetics as a means to being faster. There is little point trying to reduce your board by a pound or two and then carrying 25 extra one’s around your waist is there? No one is implying that everyone needs to perform at the level of Jamie Mitchell or train as hard as Rocky Marciano, but it’d be helpful spend the time focusing on the aspects of your paddling that you will be able get the most out of.

If you want to get faster go here and buy Roch Frey’s e-book on Paddleboard and SUP training it’ll be the best $30 you can spend.

Now let’s talk about genetics a bit in cardiovascular physiology, stroke volume (SV) is the volume of blood pumped from one ventricle of the heart with each beat. An average person’s SV is around 70ml while a top professional triathlete , an example of  the pinnacle of endurance (without the epo), has a SV around 200ml. During rest and exercise, your heart must continuously pump blood throughout your body so a high SV is a huge benefit.

Take me for the example. I’m a pretty average surfer and paddler in my late 40’s – 5’10” and weigh in at a whopping 190lb’s dripping wet. Through lots of very hard yards I learned that I was born with a crappy SV and it hasn’t gotten any better as I get older. It’s not an excuse but merely a statement of fact. I am a steam engine and I have to respect that. Riding Bumps did a great article on Speed Training For SUP and Paddleboard racers which talks about this.

I have also realized that no amount of board tweaks will help me more than a few minutes in a 6 mile race.  A new super fast carbon race board to replace my previous super fast carbon race board will help even less when I’m in the Molokai Channel where the difference between me and the winners can be measured in lots of hours. My focus on equipment becomes comfort first and only then speed. The reality is that I must first focus on becoming as fit as possible and dial in my nutrition . This is the low hanging fruit. The rest is just ego. When I surf I ride wider, flatter and thicker surfboards which I know can hold may weight, so when I choose my paddle equipment I make sure I am on boards that allow me to translate as much of my effort to a forward motion, rather than sideways energy which often happens when on unsuitable equipment. The bottom line is I play to my strengths and try to reduce the impact of my weaknesses because it’s annoying if I don’t.

5. Always Pay to Look Like a Pro

elite05_t607The great thing about SUP is that it brings all kinds of disciplines together in a very unique fashion not seen in any other activity to my knowledge. This is most likely because SUP has a low barrier of entry for any level of athlete from World Champions and Olympians to weekend warriors and beginners. One can often find triathletes, surfers, runners, cyclists, K1/C1, OC, Kayakers and athletes from a bunch of other disciplines congregating at any one SUP event. Most either have picked up SUP seriously, are using it to cross-train or are involved just because it’s the funnest thing you’ll ever do. Each individual discipline have their own annoying traits but for now I’ll just pick on Triathletes and Surfers.  🙂

An individual style or image is particularly interesting when approached from all of these different perspectives. A triathlete moseying on into the SUP world may be quite familiar with the concept of dropping a fortune on their gear. In fact they are admittedly ahappiest when kitted out to the point of resembling a roving Christmas tree. Tri-Suppers are quite willing to splurge on kit emblazoned with a hundred logos without a dime of sponsorship. I mean keeping up with the Jone’s has driven many a triathlete into the poor house, but has most definitely kept a smile on the collective industry’s face for a few decades. So we expect it when Tri-Suppers to show up at the starting line of the flatwater short course looking like a Special Forces operator about to HALO jump into Afghanistan . Electronics up the wazoo, 17 different types of nutrition, fanny packs, full Carbon custom race boards, “team” stickers, Go Pro’s, Radios, satellite training aids and the list goes on. I kid the Tri-Suppers I really do, because in reality they are the few paddlers who are supporting the high end of the SUP gear industry and we need that to counteract the loud sucking sound emanating from the bottom.

On the other end of the spectrum are the surfers. Surfers are inherently lazy and minimalist in nature, and all they want to do is ride bump. A flat water grind is the worst possible scenario for a surfer, and they will capitulate and show up only if it’s a fitness paddle to prepare for a Channel or downwind race. Don’t get me wrong though surfer’s are tough and fearless in any conditions, but they are in the best mood when it’s windy and the waves are big. They usually have no interest in self promotion and a real surfer will logo their board only under extreme duress like when they need to pay for their Molokai support boat or a trip to Nias with the mates. When they are forced to wear any paddle gear outside of a pair of  trunks they will usually show up at the start line looking reluctant, almost embarrassed like a dog forced to wear a sweater on a cold day. More often than the only things a surfer shows up  to a SUP race with is a bottle of Gatorade and a holier-than-thou attitude.

Now the point of this rambling is to identify the annoying part of this mix of personalities and styles. It really comes down to the extremes. The people who have it down are the folks who frequent the middle ground, spending when necessary and are unconcerned about what people think but are addressing their personal needs. That’s balance and is legit and fun and not annoying.

6. It’s Going to be Huge

2k14-Buyers-Guide-Button-supIt’s pretty obvious that SUP has has seen pretty impressive growth for a nascent activity and that growth likely to continue in fits and spurts for many years to come. It is also true that the world has changed and things progress far quicker than they used to in the past which somewhat justifies the mad scramble. But let’s be honest that the adoption of Stand Up Paddling makes it roughly equivalent to Parachuting in in terms of participation numbers. Plus we have a long way to go to overtake any of the activities that have been around for decades. So be patient in the meantime and have a good time because that growth will come.

If you want an idea of the growth possibilities nearly 50 percent of all Americans ages six and older, or 141.1 million individuals, participated in at least one outdoor activity in 2011, making 11.6 billion outings. As far as participants in 2011, canoeing had 9,787,000 usersrecreational kayaking had 8,229,000 users, sea kayaking had 2,029,000, whitewater had 1,546,000 users and SUP had 1,242,000 users. Slightly dated admittedly but it’s the best I can do. As a reference, if you want statistics about the major paddle sports this is a report done in 2009 and this great analysis.

But no-one really knows exactly how many Stand Up Paddlers there are in the USA right now never mind worldwide. It’s still a relatively small number when compared with other paddle sports like Kayaking or Canoeing, and minute in comparison to activities like running, biking or surfing which in itself has roughly 23 million participants. So based upon the feeling of some that SUP will never exceed the level of Recreational Kayaking anytime soon, it’s probably a good idea for the industry to learn to treat their current customers like they are going to be future people of influence. Take the the time now educate them and encourage your sponsored athletes to be inclusive of newcomers.

As long as SUP industry participants keep value in the picture and don’t make products too technical they probably won’t end up in a pile with Windsurfing. So pay it forward and the industry will grow quicker and retain it’s fun factor. Be humble, be kind and inclusive and put the old ego to bed.  Otherwise is truly and unbelievably annoying to be around you!

Quick SUP Training Tip From Suzie Cooney

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

This exercise for stand up paddling is designed to increase your total purchase power from your entire shoulder complex directly to the blade of your paddle. It also engages and strengthens your entire core! RESULT: Maximum stroke power!

This exercise is GREAT for surfers too and is for all levels of paddlers.

Coach Robb – Swim Training How to Us a Kickboard

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Swimming fitness is a integral part of training for any paddle sports. Speak to any coach or top paddlers and more than likely you’ll find they spend a good deal of time in the pool. Here is a video from Coach Robb Beam on kickboards.…!/CoachRobb……

Coach Robb illustrates the correct way to implement kick board exercises into your swimming program. After implementing these techniques, you will immediately reduce your hips dropping in between strokes as well as improve the leverage of your core muscles to improve your power output in the water.

To order the second edition of his popular swim workout manual, please send an email to and put in promo code YTV2A in the subject line to save 50% off the normal price of $49.00 for this manual. This manual will instruct you on how to swim with little effort, minimize your risk of injury and provide you specific workouts to help you achieve your personal training goals – from weight loss & fitness to fast swimming for open water swimming in a triathlon.

Welcome to Paddle Fit

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

From Modest Giant  –

PaddleFit is owned by fitness and SUP mad man Brody Welte. Brody has been a friend of ours for years and we have helped him develop his brand (in our previous life as designers) and Chad has been shooting the brand images for PaddleFit for the past 3 years. A big part of Brody’s and PaddleFit’s mission is to provide people with the tools to become healthier and happier through outdoor fitness and SUP (Stand Up Paddling). This piece was shot over a 4 day trip down the PCH starting in Santa Cruz and ending up in San Diego. The goal… to give people a taste of the PaddleFit lifestyle. Enjoy!

COMING SOON – We will be partnering with PaddleFit to film a training program series that will inspire and encourage people to get outdoors and change their body and state of mind.

PocketFuel is My Rocket Fuel for Optimum Sports Performance

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A cool company, with smart folks who really get it. Let me know what you think? I’d love to learn what flavors you liked!
See you on the water,
Suzie Cooney, CPT
Owner of Suzie Trains Maui, LLC
Follow @SuzieTrainsMaui

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Chuck Patterson & Karen Wrenn teach a SUP Stand Up Paddle clinic at Adrift Tahoe

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Learn to Paddle with Chuck Patterson & Karen WrennPro paddle athletes Chuck Patterson & Karen Wrenn teach a Stand Up Paddle clinic at Adrift Tahoe during the 2010 Quiksilver TA-HOE NALU Paddle Festival at Lake Tahoe..posted by Karen Wrenn

Visit her site!


George Plesk at Molokai – gives us an idea how rough it was!

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Molokai2Oahu George Plesk
Here’s a clip of George Plesk at the Molokai2Oahu race this year which gives a fantastic view into the conditions out in the channel – Blustery and uneven – definitely a challenge and a ton of hard work for sure.


Jim Terrell Founder of Quick Blade on Stand Up Paddle Technique

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

4 Time Olympic paddler Jim Terrell on paddle techniqueJim Terrell, a 4 time Olympic canoeist knows a little about paddling, here he shares what he feels are the 4 most important components of paddling. This is a slightly older video (December 2008) but extremely useful and very relevant to today SUP racers. Highly recommended for all paddle Athletes!


8 Yoga Poses for Ultimate Paddleboard Stability and Balance

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

8 Yoga Poses for Ultimate Paddleboard Stability and Balance

I want to show people how joy, health, fitness and spirituality can be a perfect combination. Making the link between how you feel after yoga and how you feel on the water, fact that you feel balanced/focused (you are out of your head) fit/healthy and ‘alive’ on the ocean is something a lot of people get stoked about. I’m so grateful to the life I’m living. It is a choice to have this lifestyle and I am happy that it gives me a chance to motivate and inspire other people to discover or follow their dreams and passions in life.-(Anne Marie Reichman)

SUP Yoga

How About a New Paddle Board Yoga Technique this Weekend?

Thursday, July 29th, 2010


Anne Marie Reichman’s Paddle Board Yoga

How About a New Paddle Board Yoga Technique this Weekend?

Hello Faithful Reader,

It’s almost the weekend.

You should be making plans to paddleboard.

If you’re not going out this weekend to paddle waves, rivers, and lakes…

Then I’ve got one question for you…

Why the HECK not? ; )

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

That’s me quoting one of our stand up paddle board pro’s, quoting Wayne Gretzky.

When I first took this job I was promised the opportunity to interview some of the most amazing people in the Stand Up Paddle Board Industry and Anne Marie Reichman is the epitome of an amazing rider. I got the chance to interview her the other day at her home in Maui. She is super positive and definitely pushes to ride every wave, even if it is “out of my league.” She said that the first step to becoming a pro rider is…duh…riding waves but also getting some amazing balance and stability through yoga.

That night she gave me a great technique to get 100% more stability and balance on my board (I’ll tell you it in a bit, it’s really good) and she taught me an amazing mental attitude trick for stand up paddle board yoga because 60-80% of Yoga is your mind and the rest is your board it is a non-physical act respecting your bodies limits.

I never knew that mental attitude and the right board mattered so much but by doing what Anne Marie said I got more flex from my Vinyasa paddle board routine than I ever had before and I never forgot this simple technique.

You can see Anne Marie Reichman teach that technique and all the lessons she taught me about waves, yoga, and picking the right board soon on the Official Starboard Stand Up Paddle Board Blog’s Video section along with my upcoming interview with Scott McKercher.

Now let me tell you about that mental technique she taught me… : )


Anne Marie Reichman’s Paddle Board Yoga

Tips and Techniques

The technique that Anne Marie taught me that night was a technique originally created by Joseph Pilates, that’s right the guy who invented Pilates. Also who I am sure is not a big fan of getting out of crowded classrooms and spreading out on your portable yoga mat (aka the Whopper) in a free class room.

What you need:

A board with super stability: Anne Marie recommends the 10’0”x 34” Whopper, a board with super stability that you can still ride in the waves.

A good paddle from a reputable shop

A body of water: lake, bath tub, ocean, pool, lake, river, it doesn’t matter with the Starboard Whopper every drop of water just got a lot more stable.

How to do it:

Grab your your paddle- now grab your board: Mr. Pilate’s was a big fan of a few well-designed movements…. and will Anne Marie is and I am, so that makes three. As you approach the patch of water you plan to stake out as your own Yoga temple.

Start by working with balance with the stroke not thinking too much more in the moment; with the current, with the wave, with your timing, with your own endurance.

This sounds super easy right? But it’s a little bit harder than that.

Approaching Zen:

Focus on the approach to the patch of water you will use and being 100% in the moment by the time you reach your destination if you have one.

Make your paddle strokes smooth, as though your paddle is searching for nothing. With one last stroke take the paddle in your hand and glide to your target spot. Take a moment to be inspired by the water around you and it’s fluidity and let that set the tone for your routine.


“Play with the paddling on the board and try out new yoga poses, it is the next challenge to either develop your balance and stability better by using one of Anne Marie’s Ultimate 8 Yoga Poses for Paddleboarders or you can play completely surrounded by water, ocean, and/or turtles on your board.

A big part of this technique is don’t be afraid to laugh if you can’t chill out on the water and have a good time where can you?


Paddleboards no matter how stable they are… even our 2011 Whopper can’t give you balance it takes physical and mental work so don’t bring your mp3 player out for the first couple of times.

If you’re going out with a group remember you don’t have to speak. There are no noise issues.

Doing Yoga on your paddle board is a creative extension of yourself the paddle and the instrument of all things you want to do for your body.

Remember even if you can’t do a head stand on your paddle board the first trip out that Yoga is in its roots unifying the mind, body, and breath. Being still is the hardest mediation.


Let me know how it works out!


Send me an email on Monday and tell me how this technique worked for you. With your feedback we can probably make this e-mail/blog even better.

-Benton Kerchner

P.S. If you want to get more Paddleboard Tips and

Techniques and a Subscription to Starboards Paddle Board E-Mail

post a comment or e-mail me and I’ll add you to the list.

Nutrition and Me

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

SUP racing Food Wars. Byron Kurt, E J and myself talking body fuel…
Chuck’s Pre Race Nutrition
Pre race prep nutrition has always been very important to me, whether I’m racing, training, paddling long distance or SUP surfing; I always make sure I’ve fueled the machine.
During a normal week of training, I get all my nutrition supplements from Nutrition Zone and I have 3 stacked protein shakes a day, Blended ingredients – (High protein/carb matrix powder, glutamine powder, Amino acids, multi vitamins, fish oil tablets, 2 bananas, strawberries, blue berries, egg whites, Flax seed oil, bee pollen, honey, scoop ice cream and non fat milk) around 1500 calories each along with my regular 3 meals a day.

Everybody has their own way of fueling the body while training and what works for me may not work for you, but you can have a lot of fun experimenting.
The day before a race is where I stretch and take it easy and boost my carb intake with pasta, potatoes, rice and bread. I also make it a point to over hydrate with lots of water all day long.
The morning of the race, I wake up early and have a big bowl of oatmeal and a protein shake. it’s really important to eat food that digests easily so that you don’t have a full stomach and get a cramp while racing.
An hour before the race, I will drink a high potassium, electrolyte filled pre work out shake and half a protein bar, followed with another 22 ounces of water. As long as I’m completely hydrated, I can paddle a 10 mile race without taking any water with me. If I’m paddling long distance like the Molokai crossing, I will eat a bunch of Hammer gels, drink pure coconut milk and have a bag of plain pasta or a carb/protein drink to keep me fueled for the long haul.
At the end of the race, I will run to the car and drink another high protein/carb shake and a bottle of coconut milk to help replenish my muscles and help with quick recovery.
I have this ritual that I share with another racing competitor “Thomas Shahinian” that after every race we both eat a huge piece of Claim Jumpers double chocolate cake and a tall glass of milk. I have a huge sweet tooth, so to me that is the same as an ice cold beer. ha ha
The most important thing to remember when choosing your pre race and post race nutrition; is to stick with what works for you and if you want to change and test other products, make sure you do it with plenty of time before a race, so that if it does not agree with your body, you can always go back to what worked in the past. Many times, racers will try something new while racing without testing it before hand and then they get sick or hit the wall or bonk because their body reacts differently then what it’s used to when your pushing it at a high level.
Train hard, eat often, remember to rest and on race day, never look back the race is in front of you, but always remember to smile when it’s over. Happy racing and I hope to see you on the water.

Visit Chucks Blog

My world of racing

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Name     Chuck Patterson
Home     Dana Point, CA
Height & Weight    6’2   ,   220 lbs
Equipment:       Hobie 12’6 Elite Carbon Race, 14′ Elite Carbon Race, 18′ Unlimited Elite carbon Race
Paddle:           Kialoa, Nalu & Shaka Pu’u paddle blades with custom 86″ stiff shaft.
Additional:       Rainbow Fin co.  CWP Race weed fin 10″-12″, OnIt racing speed polish, Watermans sunscreen, Hobie sunglasses, H2O Audio waterproof Ipod music case & headphones, pre & post race nutrition by Nutrition Zone.

I enjoy training in rough, windy conditions on a shorter board then what I would use on race day. Long & short distances, sprints & down winders; I love challenging myself in everything.

Mark Johnson shaping my Hobie 18' unlimited race board

Visit Chucks Blog

Wave skiing, Turning Dreams Into Reality

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Best Spring skiing, California style.
I can remember when I was growing up, drawing those huge perfect waves with a surfer that looked like a tiny ant in a massive tube on my binder at school. Back then it was only a dream and now we are doing it. Like Dave Kalama, I grew up skiing and as I got older started racing and competing in the Extreme Free skiing events. I lived and skied in Squaw Valley,  Ca and was fortunate to make a good living traveling and competing, filming and getting photos in the magazines. I learned to surf at 13 years old and started to compete windsurfing shortly after. I spent many early season months before Winter training; living on Maui, Hi and got into the big wave scene surfing, kite boarding and tow surfing. I found that the combination of skiing steep lines and jumping cliffs in the back country really helped me with riding big waves.
No fear of hights, helped me blend my skiing with big wave surfing.
Dropping in at Jaws, just like the steeps of Alaska.
back in the later 90′s my good friend Shane Mc Conkey, world Champion free skier and base jumper and I were always talking about exploring the idea of taking water skis out into the big waves in Hawaii and skiing the waves like we do the mountains. In 2000, I got a pair of custom jumper water skis and while living on Maui, got the opportunity to tow into a couple big waves and experience for the first time what I had always dreamed about. The skis were a little too big and boxy, which made them hard to turn; but they could glide for a couple hundred yards with ease. I knew it was more of a stunt; something fun to explore, been there, done that kind of thing; so I moved on.
Earlier this year, free skiers Mike Douglas and Cody Townsend spent 6 weeks on Maui trying several different types of water skis on the waves and really pushed wave skiing to the next level. They had been working with Wave ski builder Jason Starr, who designed several styles of wave skis that really worked well in riding and turning on the waves. they had found that using ski boots with ski bindings mounted to the skis really helped control the ski while edging and turning at high speeds.
Shortly after, I spoke with Jason Starr about giving it another try in bigger surf and in February got a box with 2 pair of Starr wave skis. I mounted some old Salomon race bindings and grabbed a pair of my old ski boots and ski poles and waited for the next swell to give it another go. With the great El Nino Winter we were having, I was not sure if in late March we would see anything big enough to give the skis a try. Finally a small north west swell with warm weather was forcasted to hit over the weekend.
The Starr wave skis, mounted and ready to go
We found that ski boots and ski bindings were the best to use at controlling the skis for edging and turning
I rallied up the Saemen brothers and Eric Akiskalian with surf photographer Rob Keith for a trip up North in hopes to explore another reef slab that had not been surfed for the last couple years because of windy conditions. Mother Nature, once again shut us down with strong outer water wind conditions, so we decided to drive North to find something more sheltered by the winds that still had a little size.
tools of the trade make for a great adventure.
Another early morning on the road
2 hours later we found ourselves setting up the jet skis and suiting up for a full day of exploration on the water. After a twenty minute jet ski drive down the coast we found a small liquid mountain of a wave that broke off a shelf and peeled right and left into a small bay. The wind had shifted, making the ocean surface a little bumpy, but at this point I was determined to try the skis, no matter what. I quickly unpacked the skis and poles and wrestled my ski boots on, which nearly killed me because I forgot to bring soap to make it easier to slip my wet feet into those concrete shoes. I placed the skis down in the gunnel of both sides of the ski and carefully clicked my boots into the bindings. I grabbed the rope and jumped in the water. What a weird feeling it was just floating in the ocean with skis on my feet; as if I had just fell off the chairlift or something…..
waiting for a set wave and feeling like live bait for Mr. Whitey.
Eric started up the jet ski and pulled me out of the water, so I could get used to the glide and see how these things really turned. Finally a mid sized set wave rolled in and he whipped me into the peak from the side and as I let go of the rope I skated across the liquid surface edging lightly, keeping my speed so I could make it through the inside section, kicking out safely in the channel. That was so weird but so challenging, it was addicting. Eric whipped the ski around me and I gripped the rope and we took off back to the outside in search for another moving mountain.
letting go of the rope before I drop in. Just like getting off the chairlift……
Every wave I caught, the more comfortable and playful it was carving and gliding deeper into the bowl section. Using the ski poles really made it easier to control my balance and keep my body and hands in a natural position like snow skiing.
POV shot, gliding at the bottom of the wave.
Carving a high speed turn on a Spring day.
tucking through the flat section at the end of the wave….
On one of the bigger set waves, I can remember dropping into the pocket and watching the wave just start to run on me and as I carved back to the shoulder, the white water just engulfed me like an avalanche and I just leaned hard on the tails of my skis and after a couple seconds of blindness, I shot out like a cannon and glided into the channel. I had a couple close calls like that, but luckily never had to take any nasty beatings. The bindings on my skis were race bindings that had a super high din setting (binding release setting), making it just about impossible for the skis to come off even if I got caught by the lip and thrown over the falls. For that reason, I kept within my comfort zone and slowly pushed it more and more as my confidence got better.
out running the Avalanche.
Everything was going well, then as I kicked out of a wave, I noticed that one of my skis felt super squirrelly as if I had broken the tail off. I had lost one of the trailing fins from the tail of the ski that helps it track in a straight line. I dropped into another wave, but could not keep the ski in control and decided to count my blessings and regroup for another day of swell in the future. We packed up all the gear and we slowly made our way back up the coast, stopping off at another fun slab for a couple lucky tubes before heading in. My goal, is to get a tube with the wave skis in the near fand this is the place to do it.
ski boots off, lets play.
I'm still a grommet………

I want to thank and dedicate this adventure blog to long time friend and visionary, World free skiing Champion and base jumper, Shane Mc Conkey. “You are and always will be one of my biggest inspirations”.
I also want to thank Jason Starr, Mike Douglas and Cody Townsend for breathing new life in this great new challenge and I look forward to where we take this…..
Thanks to Eric and the Saeman brothers for your support and to Rob Keith for all of the great photos.
Stay tuned for more crazy adven

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