Blue Planet News

July 27, 2016

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Stand Up Paddling 100 miles in one day: The California 100 race

Paddling for hours on end on a Stand Up Paddle board sounds exhausting and boring to most but I find it enjoyable and a great way to get in tune with my body while letting the mind wander.  Training for the Molokai to Oahu race in 2009 was the first time I paddled hard for more than 4 hours at a time and I found that I really enjoyed it.   We started doing longer training paddles, including paddling around Oahu in 3 days with my friend Jeff Chang.  

When I first found out about the California 100 race, going down the Sacramento river for 100 miles in a single day, I was immediately interested in doing it.  After planning on doing it in 2015 but being unable to pull it off, I was able to complete the race in June 2016 and finishing it was a great feeling of accomplishment for me. 

18 SUP catamaran Blue Planet Cali 100

Designing the board:

I thought the ideal board for long distance racing would be a catamaran and started designing the board in my head.  For me doing this race started with designing and building a custom catamaran for long distance racing.  The 18' catamaran I designed consists of two narrow hulls that are connected with two "iakos" (connecting parts)  which results in low drag, great tracking and excellent stability as all the volume is in the rails.   The biggest downside of this design is that it does not turn well, it paddles like it's on tracks and takes a lot of effort to turn. On the river this did not matter too much as most turns were gradual.  After designing the hulls on the computer I had them built at our board factory, we then installed screw inserts and built the connecting iakos (removable and adjustable with screws) at our workshop.  We finished the board just in time to ship it to California so it did not give me a lot of time to test it but I did do some testing to see which width would work best before building the iakos.  

As both bows create wakes that intersect in the middle between the hulls I suspected that changing the width might have an effect on how much drag was created by the the wakes, so I tested the hulls at a total widths of 24", 26", 28", 30" and 32" wide and could not find a measurable difference in speed.  What did surprise me was that even at 24" inches the board was still quite stable and easy to paddle.  This is because all the volume is in the rails from nose to tail.  For the race I used it at 25" wide as I found it more comfortable to paddle at a narrower width which allows a shoulder width stance and keeps the paddle strokes closer to the centerline.  I did not fall off once during the race and only dropped to one knee a couple of times in the bigger riffles, so stability was not an issue for me at the 25" width even in the rough water and eddies.

Logisitics:

One of the most challenging parts of this race was planning everything.  I shipped the board by container ship to LA.  I flew to LA, rented a car, picked up the board at the shipping warehouse on Thursday evening and started the 8 hour drive to Redding in Northern California, staying at a Motel on I5 along the way.

California 100 SUP

The list of required gear for this race was:

Mandatory Equipment List

  • Cell phone (most carriers have continuous coverage along the river)
  • Coast Guard approved type III inherently buoyant (not inflatable) vest style personal floatation device must be worn at all times while on the water to comply with event insurance.  Prone paddlers may use inflatable type III pfd’s.
  • (for 100 milers only) 2 Chemical lights, 12 hour type, fixed to bow and stern of boat for night travel (also called glow sticks)
  • (for 100 milers only) Minimum of 2 forward facing lights (Headlights or bow lights or one of each is fine. The second is a backup)
  • Space Blanket
  • Method of carrying at least 1/2 gallon of fluid per person at all times
  • 1 whistle per boat
  • First Aid Kit (you may want things like anti-diarrhea, blister treatment, pepto bismol, band aids and tape)

I did not have a support crew, luckily the race was well organized and Teresa Rogerson helped my with my pre race questions.  I packed some food in bags for each of the 3 checkpoints where I could re-fill with water and get nutrition and I arranged my car to be dropped off at the finish by a shuttle driver service.

Somehow it all worked out and I made it to the start just in time on race morning, ready to go.

Race Day:

It was a chilly but beautiful morning on race day and we launched at a boat ramp and lined up for the up-current start by the Sundial bridge in Redding, California.   After paddling upstream for a few minutes, we rounded a marker that started the 100 mile long downstream course.  The race was open to all types of paddle powered crafts with competitive and adventure class and relay and shorter course options for those that were not up to doing the 100 miles solo.  One of the teams was a fun loving crew of 5 on a SUPzilla board.

start California 100

start California 100 supzilla

The current was swift, especially on the first part of the course and small rapids and riffles made it exciting.  The current also required constant attention as you always want to be in the part of the river that has the fastest water flow and not get caught in eddies and slower moving current.    The river split up in several places and there is a faster shortcut on the right side in the beginning of the race that I missed.  

Riffle SUP standamaran Cali 100

The miles were ticking my quickly and I was paddling and chatting with David Gilman who was on a surfski in the adventure class and was setting a good pace for me.  We soon reached the first checkpoint at mile 22.  This page has maps of the river and shows the checkpoint locations: http://www.riversforchange.org/california-100/course-maps/

Cali 100 race

checkpoint one Cali 100 race standamaran

Each checkpoint had food and water, which I refilled and we had to check in with a race official who made sure we were ok to keep going.   After a short break I headed back onto the river ahead of the other SUP's in the race and feeling strong.

Checkpoint 1

On the second leg, I did not see anyone else on the river for long stretches of time and I started to get into a steady rhythm and focused on the current.  My legs and feet started feeling a bit numb so I tried to keep my feet and legs active and moving around.

I was surprised by how beautiful the river was with many undeveloped stretches and frequently changing scenery, some sections have canyon walls on both sides, lots of birds, including bald eagles.  At "China Rapids" the river goes though lava rocks with faster moving riffles and is especially beautiful and fun. 

China rapids California 100 Sacramento River

Dave Jensen, who won the solo SUP division in all previous races was doing this race as a relay with his wife Judy Jensen and he was starting to catch up to me which motivated me to keep a stronger pace.

The second checkpoint was about 53 miles into the race on a gravel bank in Red Bluff and I allowed myself a bit more time to eat a sandwich and took a lot longer that I probably should have in retrospect.  When you are on the river you are in the current, so even if you are not paddling you are still moving and it is very hard to make up break time on land.  This was my first time paddling this far though and I wanted to make sure I could finish though, so I did not worry about it too much.  John Acosta, the second place solo SUP paddler got to the checkpoint not too far behind me on a 14' board so that motivated me to get get back on the river.  

It was getting pretty hot and I was starting to really feel exhausted but I tried to keep a steady pace.  I splashed myself with cool river water to keep cool and kept drinking and snacking along the way.  I just kept focusing on reaching the third and last check point and tried not to think how many more miles I had to go.  Reaching the third checkpoint after about 10 hours of paddling was a big relief  and I know that after about 80 miles of paddling, I now had "only" 20 more to go, almost there!

I refilled my water (but not all the way apparently) and did not spend too much time at the third checkpoint.  The last part of the race was kind of a blur, the river kept curving through the landscape and it was often hard to pick the fastest line, I just tried to follow the main flow of the water and always had to pay attention to the current.  The field was very spread out by then so I did usually did not have anyone else to follow.  I ran out of water with 5 more miles to go but I knew the finish was close and I started to get a second wind and picked up the pace a bit.  I finally finished race, the longest time and distance I had ever paddled in 12 hours and 51 minutes.   Hitting the beach at the finish felt good, a great sense of accomplishment.  I had to walk around for a while to get all the feeling back in my feet but my body felt good, considering, I did it!

This is a link to the GPS data from my Garmin watch that shows the course on a satellite map, speed, stroke rate, heart rate (not accurate when it gets wet), and more.  My average speed was 7.7 mph including the stops at the check points.  I'm estimating that without any current my average speed over 13 hours would have been only about 4-4.5 mph.

John Acosta came in on his 14' board about 20 minutes later and looked exhausted, like he left everything on the river.  

John Acosta California 100

 

The mood at the finish was great and I wanted to stick around longer to watch the other finishers but I also wanted to get some rest. 

The 5 man SUPzilla team finished in 16 hours 38 minutes, before darkness, a great accomplishment.

California 100 finish

 

The awards ceremony the next morning was a fun event with good food, music, drinks, and great people.  

 

Rivers for Change also held a river cleanup on Sunday afternoon but I was already on my way back to LA by that time.  I packed up and shipped the board on Monday and caught a flight back to Honolulu, all together a great weekend.  Now that I know I can paddle 100 miles, I want to do it again and do it faster.   I also feel like I'm ready for even longer distances.  I have been following Bart de Zwart's ultra distance racing posts on SUPracer.com and am now planning to do one of the ultra distance multi day races next year, the Yukon River race sounds like another awesome adventure. 

 

Photo credits: Cebolla Mendes, Lisa Thomas, Lexi Thomas, Tom Gomes.  For more photos, please check out the California 100 facebook page.

 

 

 

 

Learning to Fly on a Foilboard while we are waiting for the Stand Up Paddle Foils

The videos Kai Lenny posted of SUP downwinding on a foil sparked the imagination of the Stand Up Paddle community. Flying over the surface seemingly effortlessly was like a dream come true and we wanted to do it too!

Jeff Chang offered to take me foil boarding using his kite board and kitesurfing foil that he got used from a friend, towing behind his jet ski. Our first attempt was pretty unsuccessful and we found out that it is a lot harder than Kai makes it look.

On the second attempt, the foil mast broke at the base and Jeff decided to shorten the mast shaft from about 40" to 24" length and also slightly modified the angle of the rear stabilizer foil to make the foil more stable. With these changes and some more practice we were finally able to maintain some flight with the foil on the third attempt and it felt amazing!

Blue Planet Surf Shop has pre-ordered foils for Stand Up Paddle surfing and down winding from GoFoil/ Starboards.  We expect to be one of the first shops that have these new SUP foils in stock, contact the shop if you are interested in pre-ordering one. Please subscribe to our channel to receive updates on our efforts to learn this new and exciting sport and tips on how you can learn it, too.

Aloha, Robert Stehlik

For more information on the SUP foils we will offer, visit: http://gofoil.com

 Watch the whole playlist for more videos on SUP foiling.  

 Flying a foil is harder than it looksFlying over the surface feels so smooth and effortless but it's a lot harder than it looks.

Kai Lenny makes SUP downwind foiling look easyKai Lenny making it look easy

 

Naish foilNaish is coming out with their own foil design soon.

modified kite foilThis is the modified kite foil we were using

Go Foil Stand Up Foil prototype

The go foil SUP foil prototype

 

 

April 29, 2016

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2016 Da Hui Race 4th of July race board rental special: $75 for 3 days or free transportation

Aloha!

If you are planning to participate in Oahu's biggest Stand Up Paddle race of the year and need a board to use, we can help!  Our store will be closed on 4th of July this year so our staff can participate in the event.  We are offering all our premium carbon fiber race boards for a low flat rate of just $75.  

This includes either free delivery to the start and pick up at the finish or up to 3 days of use if you want to do your own transportation- you can pick the board up anytime between 10 am and 5:30 PM on July 3rd and drop it off anytime on the 5th by 5:30 pm.  If you would like to keep the board longer, additional days are just $25.  As always, our rates include an adjustable paddle, leash, rack pads and straps if needed (carbon paddles available for $10/day upgrade fee).  We have a big selection of high performance race boards made by Blue Planet, SIC, Starboards and more, reserve one early for the best selection.  If you decide to buy the board you rented, you will receive a full credit of your rental fees.

To reserve a board, please go to this page, check out our listing of available boards, and make the reservation with a $75 deposit.  In the notes section, please put your board preference and if you want us to deliver the board to the start or pick it up yourself:

http://blueplanetsurf.com/products/rental-reservation  

To sign up for the race and for more information on the event, please visit:

http://dahuipaddlerace.com

 

April 24, 2016

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Molokai to Oahu Race (M2O) 2016 race board rental and buy back programs

Are you looking to rent a board for the Molokai to Oahu race on July 31st 2016?  We have high performance downwind boards available for rent for the Molokai race.

The rental fee for use of one of our high performance carbon boards is a $400 flat fee which includes 7 days of board use.  We have 14' Blue Planet Bump Rider boards, 14' SIC bullets (V1 and V2 models) and 17 Bullets available for rent.

We also offer the following:  purchase a new race board from us, after the race you can either keep the board, sell it yourself, or we will offer to buy it back for 30% off the new price (if there is no major damage to the board).   This offer is only for new boards purchased from our shop less than one month before the race and sold back within a week after the race.

If you are interested, please order the board at least one month before the race.

Please call our shop for availability and pricing, or check our available inventory spreadsheet for available boards (click tabs at the bottom to see all the inventory)

Molokai race board rental program

m2o race rental boards

 

buy new SUP

buy new SIC paddleboard

buy new SIC bullet SUP

Connor Baxter on paddle length and SUP stroke technique video

I recently had the chance to sit down and interview Connor Baxter at the 2017 Starboard distributor meeting on Maui. I can't post the video on his updated version of the Bolt paddle yet though I can say it felt great.  This video features Connor talking about the length of his paddles for SUP racing and Stand Up Surfing (his paddles are dramatically shorter than they used to be) and has some great stroke technique tips.

Connor explains how he uses his legs and core muscles more and keeping his upper body relaxed.  He also talks about his choke down stroke, "porpoising" his board when sprinting and some other great insights.  You can't argue with his results, please give the thumbs up on youtube if you enjoy this video and subscribe to the blueplanetsurf youtube channel!

 

 

Connor Baxter demonstrates his stroke technique in this video and talks about how it changes over the years, including a dramatically shorter paddle length, and how he watches and tries to mimic the strokes of other top paddlers like Danny Ching and Travis Grant at races.   He uses the analogy of pulling and propelling yourself past a fixed steel pole on a skateboard by pulling the hips back and then throwing them forward, a good analogy. 

This is a link to a facebook video of Georges Cornsteadt that shows him using the forward thrust coming from the hips in a paddling drill:

https://www.facebook.com/robertogymtahiti/videos/473010436211879/

 

Evan Leong and I discuss stroke technique and this video in this episode of Board Meeting:

 

Connor Baxter stroke technique

How to Stand Up Paddle Board with Verena Mei

Learn how to SUP with Verena Mei and Blue Planet Surf.  

Verena is a professional race car driver who grew up in Hawaii and recently moved back to Oahu.  She got into Stand Up Paddleboarding and has been a great customer and supporter of Blue Planet Surf Shop.  In this series she is getting tips on safety, technique, board handling and more from Blue Planet Surf founder Robert Stehlik.  This series of 11 videos covers all the basics of Stand Up Paddling and also goes into some more advanced stroke technique.  It's basically like getting a private SUP lesson for free, compliments of BluePlanetSurf.com.

Here is the first video in the series:

How to Stand Up Paddle Board with Verena Mei, Part 1: Safety

 

SUP is a great, fun, health and safe sport if practiced with some common sense.

Basic points covered in this video are:

1) Be aware of conditions.  When you are starting out, light wind and protected water are the best conditions for learning quickly.  Light winds are fine but the chop created by the wind will make balancing more difficult and you should always make sure to paddle into the wind first to make sure you can get back to where you started.  Don't go out if the wind is strong, offshore winds (blowing you away from the shore) can be very dangerous as they can carry you out to sea and usually get stronger the farther out you get.

2) Always wear a leash.  In Hawaii we are not required to wear a personal floatation device when Stand Up Paddle boarding but you should always wear a good leash and make sure it is attached securely, that way your boards is always attached to you and acts as your floatation device.

3) Know how to swim.  This should be self explanatory, but before you learn how to SUP, you should learn how to swim first.  The rule of thumb is: don't go out further from shore than you could swim back on your own power.

This is the second video in this series: board handling and gear

In this video we cover how to protect your board from heat and fin damage, how to safely lift up and carry your board and some things to consider when choosing your first board.  At Blue Planet we always recommend trying several SUP's before choosing one as nothing beats trying a board to get an idea of whether it will work for you or not.  Balancing should be challenging at first, as your balance quickly improves.  We often talk to customers that bought their first board without trying it first and then finding out that it is just not a good board for their needs.  Let's face it, it does not matter how cheap a board is or how great the deal seems to be, if you don't enjoy using the board and it sits around collecting dust, it's a waste of money.  We want you to get out on the water and enjoy your board, so we want to make sure you get one that is right for you.  

Click here for more information on how to choose the right board and watch the video.

Click here for more information on our free SUP Clinics for Blue Planet customers.

 

A common mistake made by beginners is holding the paddle backwards, this video shows how to angle the paddle correctly and why:

 

Being able to steer the board is very important, this video covers steering (or sweeping) strokes vs. forward strokes and how to turn the board:

 

This video goes over how to stand up on the board without losing your balance:

 

Falling in is part of learning, this covers how to fall in safely and how to get back on the board easily:

 

Most beginners tend to "grab" the board with their toes, this covers how to keep your feet from going numb or cramping and how to move your feet on the board:

 

This video goes into slightly more advanced stroke technique: feathering (twisting the blade when exiting the water) makes the stroke much smoother and more efficient and the sooner you learn it, the easier it is to learn it.  When we coach more advanced paddlers that have been paddling for a long time without feathering, it is very difficult for them to adjust their stroke, so try to learn this right from the start:

 

The five phases of the Stand Up Paddle stroke: Catch, Power, Exit, Recovery:

 

Doing the twist:  using less of your arms and more of your torso and core muscles to power your stroke:

 

Making your stoke more efficient by reaching forward and keeping the power phase in front of your feet, where it is most efficient:

 

We hope you enjoyed this series of videos, please subscribe to our youtube channel and watch our latest videos, we post new videos on a weekly basis.  

Aloha, Robert Stehlik and Verena Mei

How to SUP with Verena Mei

 

Blue Planet Surf Shop expansion celebration

Thank you to everyone who was able to attend the event and for making it a great celebration!
Here is a photo album from the event:

Feel free to tag yourself and friends and add your photos. Aloha! Special thanks to event sponsors/ supporters: Kona...

Posted by Robert Stehlik on Sunday, March 20, 2016

AccesSurf Fundraiser and Shop Expansion Celebration Invitiation:

This is an open invitation to all Blue Planet customers to join us for a celebration and fundraiser for Access Surf from 6 pm-8:30 pm on March 19th.  A $10 donation to Access Surf will get you two drinks, pupus and a raffle ticket, the grand prize is a new Blue Planet SUP board.  Surfer Joe Teipel will be the MC, we will have a blessing of the new parking lot, warehouse, and our re-modeled and expanded retail space.  We will present a new mural by artist Hilton Alves who will sign his artwork at the event.   Our shop staff will be on hand to show you the latest Blue Planet gear and we will have some great offers for attendees all day long.  

Parking: The event will be held in the parking lot, so our parking lot will be closed after 4 pm,  please find parking elsewhere and walk to the event.  If you are not able to free parking close by, paid parking is available the the Blaisdell Center, a short walk away.  

We hope you can attend, please RSVP to raelyn@tlcpr.com

Blue Planet Surf SUP HQ celebration invitation

 

This is a sketch by Hilton Alves with the mural he will be painting on the back walls of our shop this coming Wednesday- Friday March 9-11, 2016.

mural sketch for blue planet surf by Hilton Alves

 

All proceeds of the event will go to:

AccesSurf is a nonprofit creating community based programs for anyone with a disability to enjoy the water!

 

Included with your donation is the chance to win this Blue Planet 10'2" x 32" Easy Model with adjustable paddle and many other door prizes.

Win this 10'2 Easy model yellow 2015

 

This event will be a lot of fun, we hope to see you there!

Aloha,

Robert Stehlik and the Blue Planet crew

PS: Please remember to RSVP to raelyn@tlcpr.com so we know how many guests to expect.

 

Updates:

Here is a video of the back walls of the shop getting prepped for the mural.  Hilton Alves is planning to start painting the mural on this coming Wednesday, March 9th, we will post videos of the process, stay posted!

 

 

The mural is finished, Hilton will put some finishing touches and sign it at the event.  He also donated an original painting (valued at $2000) as a door prize for our fundraiser event, thank you Hilton!

Blue Planet parking lot mural by Hilton Alves, SUP HQ

Hilton Alves donating a painting for Accessurf event at Blue Planet SUP HQ

Here is a time lapse video of Hilton paining the mural over 2 days:

 

 

Update 3/15: 

Darin Leong offered to play live guitar and Ukulele music at the event from 6-7 pm

 

Live Auction!

Auctioneer Joe Teipel will auction off some items with part of the proceeds benefiting AccesSurf.  This is a list of the items that will be offered at the auction, more items may be added depending on participation:

1) 10'6 x 34" Blue Planet Multi Tasker Air inflatable SUP package- retail value $1049

10'6 Multi Tasker Air Blue Planet iSUP

For details: http://blueplanetsurf.com/collections/inflatable-sup/products/blue-planet-106-x-34-multi-tasker-air-isup-2015

2) 11'6 Rock Solid SUP- retail value at $699

Rock Solid SUP at Blue Planet

For details: https://www.facebook.com/bpsurf/posts/1044062185657745

3) 11'4 x 35" Blue Planet Soft Top SUP, retail value $599

For details: http://blueplanetsurf.com/collections/stand-up-paddle-boards/products/114-x-35-soft-top-sup

4) Blue Planet Adjustable SUP paddle, valued at $59

 

 

Thank you to everyone for making our event a big success!  Here is a photo album with photos of the event: 

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1194523127254575&type=1&l=ad56a4a4e2

 

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