Time out for family and friends

Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe

This year has been a nonstop, last minute, traveling roller coaster; chasing swells, snow storms, competing, training and working with sponsors. It has been one of those dream years with endless swell for the last 5 months with no end in sight.

Sometimes you get so immersed in the moment and forget to slow down and spend quality time with family, loved ones and old friends. So I decided to take some time and go to Lake Tahoe to visit my mother for her 73rd birthday and see my sister’s 8 week old son William and of course spend some time on the ski slopes with old friends.

I packed my truck like a boy scout, ready for anything; skis for the snow, tow boards incase the swell got big on the way home, kites and kite board if it got windy and of course my SUP board. As usual, I started driving just before midnight because I can’t stand wasting daylight driving when I could be doing something athletic outside. I arrived in the parking lot of Squaw Valley just as the mountain opened Monday morning. I totally miss this place and it’s great to be back at my old stomping grounds. I grabbed my skis and took a couple runs to warm up to my new ski boots and eased into the ski state of mind. Mid afternoon, I met up with long time friend and ski photographer Hank DeVre and  Tom Wayes to get some fun afternoon, late light ski shots in.

gliding the dust on crust

“It’s funny, no matter how long you’ve been away from a sport, your memories and mind set are like you never left, but your muscles and confidence are telling you a different story. Sure enough, the reality of new boots and not skiing every day like in the past, took it’s toll and I couldn’t get to the bottom fast enough to get them off. “slipping on a pair of running shoes after that nightmare was sheer ecstasy”.

Off to my sister, Janet’s house on the lake to see my new 8 week old nephew William and visit for a while. It’s so awesome to see my little sister all grown up. I would just get lost staring at William’s eyes and watching him squirm and make funny faces. It’s amazing how perfect his fingernails and eyes were and how jealous I was of his new ligaments and joints; what I could do if I had those again….. ha ha … My sister and her husband cooked a nice dinner and shortly after I was left snoring on the floor next to the fireplace.

my little homey
here's to the next generation of ski racers, go get'em Willie...
my sister multitasking as usual

I woke up early the next morning to work on the computer and had a nice breakfast with the family. Shortly after, I called to wish my mother a Happy birthday and told her I was still in Hawaii and would not be able to see her for another week. I could tell she was a little bummed out, but happy to hear my voice; which went exactly as I had planned. An hour later I met my sister and surprised her at her house. She was soo happy and completely beside herself. We celebrated with a bottle of champagne and plenty of good laughs. I am so lucky to have such a great loving family.

my mom happy as can be with little William and my sister

By mid day the sunny blue sky milked over with the new arriving snow storm. Mom was content to finish some work at home and I raced back to Squaw for a couple hours of free skiing as the snow started to fall. Nothing like storm skiing in the trees. That evening my sister prepared  an awesome birthday dinner for mom at the house. My mother still blows my mind how well she skis, windsurfs and stand up paddles at seventy three years young. I hope to follow in her footsteps for as long as possible.

excellent tree skiing at Squaw Valley
like mother like son. Bitsy, charging at the Ta-Hoe-Nalu SUP race

The snow dumped all night and by morning we had 8″ at the house and 18″ on the mountain. I hooked up with Hank deVre and free skier Myles Clark for a morning of shooting. It was a game of peak-a-boo sun light, where the sun would pop out of the clouds for about a minute to shoot and then it would start to snow and then clear up again and so on etc. It’s very trying on your patience as you watch all your friends do laps around you in the fresh powder all morning, but in the end you get the goods.

it's going to be a good day on the hill.
patience is the key to getting the goods

Around lunch time the clouds made it challenging to get a good shot and we decided to free ski for the rest of the day. Myles and I took the KT22 chair up and hiked up to a steep peak called the Eagles Nest which is a 120 ft vertical rock wall that needs to be caked with a Sierra cement snow pack (wet snow) that sticks to the steep rock walls to be skiable. At the top of the peak, you will see a beautiful black, welded steel Eagle that was put up there last year in honor of Squaw valley’s Shane McConkey; (worlds best free skier and base jumper that was killed in a ski/base jump accident in Italy March 26th 2009)

remembering good friend Shane McConkey, the worlds best.......
The Eagles Nest drop off

Shortly after a couple laps on the KT chair, I ventured over to the Headwall chair that was closed all morning do to avalanche control. The snow was pretty insane and after a couple laps down the face and and the Bell Towers, I was lucky to make it on the chair one last time as they closed it behind us because of a major ski accident. We were pretty shocked as we looked to our left off the chair to see about 15 people huddled around someone that had fallen through the jagged cliffs on the lower Bell Tower section.  Growing up skiing in Squaw Valley, you always see injuries, but when it’s in an area that only the best usually ski; you hope and pray that it’s not anyone you know. The ski patrol closed off all sections leading to that side of the mountain, so we skied down the face and decided to pack it in for the day. I met up with Hank at the corporate office to see about the next days shooting plans and got word that the injured skier was CR Johnson who had died in the accident up on the hill. We were completely shocked and sick to our stomachs because we had just seen them in the lift line the run before. How could that be? Why? Does not make any sense; all these questions pop into your head and there are no right answers. Another fallen Squaw Valley  ski hero who had pushed his slope style aerial skiing into the back country free skiing world. It was and is a sad day for the ski world.

CR Johnson, world professional Free skier, who inspired the world with his creative vision.
The man in all his glory doing what he does best. he will be missed, but never forgotten.

That night was a tough one, good to be with friends and family. Live life to the fullest because life is very precious and you never know what will happen. Be happy, make a difference and make sure to stay close with friends and family.

The crew, Hank deVre and Myles Clark

After a long night of deep thought and prayers for his friends and family, I awoke to sunny, clear blue skies. It was a perfect day to ski powder with CR and enjoy Gods wonderful gift of life. This was a perfect day for shooting at Squaw Valley because there were still a couple parts of the upper mountain that had not opened the day before do to avalanche control. Hank deVre and I met Myles Clark at the top of Squaw at the Silverado chair, where he was scoping a couple cliff drops in the canyon. There was plenty of untracked powder everywhere, so we each picked a couple zones and went to work. Myles stomped a beautiful landing in the trees off a nice 40 ft fall away cliff wall and shortly after, I carved a long drifting turn down a spine drop off into the valley floor. It’s a humbling trip to get back on your skis after a 2 year break and just send it off a rock and hold your composer in the air and stick your landing safely. It was great to ski with Myles and watch him work lines in the cliffs and it also gave me a good act to follow which boosted my confidence back to the way it was when I was skiing every day.

Squaw Valley always has the goods after a good storm
Hank, always hard at work and the poor guy has to carry that 45 pound angry midget everywhere we go.
Pure comedy, Hank holding his huge cat "Woody"

It’s always a pleasure to work with photographers like Hank because we both know each others style and what it takes to get the best shot and in turn he brings the best out in me. We take the chairlift back up and scout a couple more lines on the high traverse where we find a variety of powder turns and rock drop offs. Time passes so quickly when your having fun and sure enough we had milked this run for all it’s worth. It was 3:30, “quiten time” and I still had an 8 hour drive home to tackle; so I said my goodbyes and went to my sister’s to pack up and meet my mother for a quick bite.

my inspiration and biggest fan.

After a great steak dinner with mom, I downed a large coffee and started my  8 hour drive back home to Dana Point. Talk radio mixed with Rap music and a couple Monster energy drinks and I was home by 4 am.

As I reflect back on these past few days; I am so thankful to have such great friends and family that have enriched my life.  Life is short, be happy and make a difference.

Stay tuned for my last minute trip to Makaha for the Kui Kaika big wave SUP surf event.

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North Shore “Sunset Pro Big wave SUP surf” event

Just when I get used to being at home, sure enough another swell is set to hit Hawaii where “The Sunset Pro” SUP big wave event was on call to start the next weekend. I pack a couple 9’9 Hobie SUP mini guns and a duffle bag full of gear to stay for 10 days and made arrangements to stay with my good friend Sean Jenson and his family on the North shore. Leaving my family for more then a couple days is always hard, but I’m very fortunate to have a strong understanding wife that makes it easy for me to stay focused and do these last minute adventures while holding down the home front.

Traveling last minute these days is a lot more of a pain then it used to be and now I find it takes some major creativity when it comes to traveling with a couple board bags. I used to just throw a big smile and a little small talk and half the time, I wouldn’t even get charged; but now it’s a gamble on who you get at the ticket counter and how good you packed your 2 SUPs and paddles in one bag etc… ha ha

Blane Chambers showing me his training secrets to riding Hawaiian Juice.
Blane and his daughter and Dave Chun, full bellies and happy..

A quick 5.5 hour flight to Oahu and I meet up with Dave and Meg Chun from Kialoa paddles and Blane Chambers of paddle Surf Hawaii SUP boards for a nice local style lunch and a couple laughs. Early the next morning l paddled out for a couple hours at Sunset to get my boards dialed before the trials event started later that day. “The Sunset Pro” SUP trials were blessed with 8′-10′ ft glassy perfection. It was pretty impressive to see all the different styles of big wave riding and how the new young generation is really pushing the sport. The clear stand outs of the event were 17 year old Kai Lenny, 12 year old Riggs Napolean and 15 year old Slater Trout who won the trials. After the event finished mid afternoon, several of us paddled out for another super fun session till dark.

Aaron Napolean giving words of encouragement to his son, Riggs who stole the show"
Casey Trout and the Paddle Surf Hawaii crew watching as Slater wins his last heat of the day.

Up early with the roosters for another great clean 8’ft morning SUP session at Sunset with Robby Naish, Dave Kalama and kai Lenny. We all shared  some fun waves all morning and as the late morning crowd thickened we respectfully paddled in for some food. My favorite thing to do when I’m hungry, is ride my bike to Teds Bakery and get a tuna sandwhich, drink and a chocolate Haupia pie for desert and kick it on the beach while checking the surf.

My kind of lunch break. "so good, you could have 3"; and the Haupia pie, done already.........

While waiting for the new swell to arrive, I kept myself busy, paddling every morning and afternoon, went for mountain bike rides, swam, body surfed and and ran the beach every day. I even got to join Bonga Perkins and Billy Watson and a friend and paddle the 4 man outrigger (surf canoe) into a couple waves at Sunset and cammy’s. You have to take advantage of the warm tropical weather, when your in a wetsuit all Winter at home.

Always good fun paddling the 4 man canoe in the surf with the boys. Thanks Bonga..
enjoying the view above Sunset and backyards after a good mountain bike ride.
A view of small Sunset from the hill.

finally the swell started to fill in Tuesday evening and by Wednesday morning Sunset was 15′-18′ ft and almost closing out. The Sunset Pro SUP big wave event was on. I paddled out with a handful of paddlers to get a crack at a couple big West bombs before the first heat started. Every so often, a set would close out the channel taking out a couple paddlers to the beach and an hour later, only 3 of us were left standing. It was awesome trying to figure out where to position yourself and wait for the bombs without getting steam rolled. My last wave in, was a lucky late air drop on a pretty big set that pealed all the way across the channel almost connecting with the Left at Cammy’s.

catching a bomb on the morning of the Sunset Pro SUP event.
A perfect day to test the true watermen of the sport.

The event ran 3 heats of the first round before calling it off, “due to challenging, dangerous conditions”. I guess some of the competitors got pretty beaten up and pounded by the waves with a hand full of broken boards. I was pretty ticked off to say the least because this is what many of us trained for and dreamed of; to showcase the sport of big wave SUP surfing in some of the biggest, challenging waves you could ask for. We traveled so far, now we had to sit and wait for a smaller more manageable day, while the first 3 heats got the chance to compete and show their big wave skills, completely unfair…………

We spent the rest of the afternoon towsurfing at Backyards and Phantoms and called it a day. sure enough the next 2 days were super windy and stormy, so Jamie Mitchel and Billy Watson and I motored to the West side for some cleaner fun conditions at Makaha. We were blessed with 6′-8′ ft surf and only a handful of guys in the line up. Always a good adventure on the west side.

Looking back at the top of the point at Makaha.
hitting the West bowl section and having fun...
I always love hanging with these guys.. Really great watermen. Billy, Jamie and I at Makaha

Woke up early as usual and rode my bike down to check the conditions and see if the event was on at Sunset . The conditions were still pretty messy and the swell had dropped to 8′-10′ ft and with the swell dropping the next couple days the event had to go today. It was a total buzz kill to think how good we had it, but sometimes you just got to go with the flow. The waves were all over the place and you really had to be at the right place at the right time. it was anybodies game. The judges wanted to see you ride the biggest waves yet the small ones were the only ones connecting through to the inside and the bigger sets would just mush out with a couple lucky ones connecting inside. The heats were 30 minutes which went by pretty fast. In my heat posted up outside picking off a couple good sized sets but they never connected and finally I got a good one where i made a couple good turns and did a snap in the bowl section thinking I could ride it out, and dug a rail and got plowed. I noticed that Bonga and the others were sitting more inside getting smaller but good rides and that’s what made the difference. That was pretty frustrating and my worst heat ever; but you have to loose to win and hopefully I got that out of the way for next time. That’s where racing is so much better; first man across the line wins, no politics. etc….. ha ha.. just have to take it with a smile!!! The one thing that really put a smile on my face, was watching my Hobie team mate and good friend TJ Saeman surf so well making it all the way to the semis. Congrats to him and all the other great athletes that really represented the true watermen style so well.

Sunset Pro SUP final day
frustrated with the conditions and my choice of wave selection, but all in all it was fun.
Congrats to Kai Lenny for surfing so well and winning the Sunset Pro

Now, back to paradise and the finer things in life; hanging at the Jensen family house on the hill with the Saemen brothers….

Sean Jensen, singing his favorite Hawaiian love song.... ha ha
nothing like wild bore at your finger tips. ha ha
You always have to take time to smell the flowers. ha ha

The next morning, the Saeman brothers and I enjoyed some really fun Sunset and got a couple fun ones at Backyards and then early afternoon drove to the  South shore to hang with friends and SUP in Waikiki. For how crowded the beach was, we got waves everywhere. Later I hooked up with the brothers and Candice Applebe and friends and had a couple cold ones at the Sunset pro after party at Lu Lu’s. It was one of the most hilarious nights of people watching with the Saeman brothers I could remember. It’s amazing what a little alcohol does to some people.

Waikiki

I love early mornings like this when everyone is hungover and your the only one up and on it. I went for a fun early paddle at Sunset and then caught a couple lefts at Cammy’s and bodysurfed the shore break for a while. A quick ride to Ted’s Bakery for some pastries and maybe a pie, just kidding and then back to the house to see if anyone was actually moving. sure enough the brothers were up making breakfast and talking story about the nights escapades.

It was our last day before going back home and checking in with the reality of the real world. I packed up my boards and bags ready to leave for the red eye that night and then we all went down to Sunset for a surf and some last day R&R.

You know your on the North shore when you see these flags.
What an awesome fun group of friends to enjoy the North shore with.

Another great adventure where I challenged myself and put all my hard training to work to enjoy some solid size surf, compete with great watermen and make new friends. Many thanks to my sponsors and to the Jensen family for sharing their beautiful home in paradise and to Ted’s bakery for all the chocolate Haupia pie…..

stay tuned for another adventure with friends and some more new challenges coming soon……..

“Wade” first snow adventure

We have had our Newfoundland dog for about 3.5 years and never had a chance to take him to the snow. With snow reports showing 5′-7′ ft of new snow in the local mountains, it was time for my wife and I to take the wooly mammoth to the mountains. It’s pretty awesome to watch your dog explore new things, especially when he was running through the deep snow and he kept bottoming out.

A dogs life is pretty good.

Too much fun with mom.
Ok, kind of tired already and what a great way to cool off....
on a mission
what a stud..
ok ready for a nap...

Powder one day, fun swell the next.

going on a mission, might as well take it all......

After a great day of deep powder, storm skiing, I joined the boys for an early morning wave hunting mission up to Central coast in hopes of getting some good waves on the tail end of the big storm. The rain had finally passed and the storm swell was starting to clean up as it slowly dropped over the weekend. When we got to the harbor, we packed a variety of boards (tow boards and a couple mini SUP guns) ready for a full day of fun. The harbor entrance was closing out completely, so we had to zig zagged our way through a couple set waves to open ocean.

sets were closing out the harbor entrance.

We worked our way up the coast to our favorite deep water slab and noticed that the waves were totally washed out with a heavy bump from the storm. We sat and watched several set waves totally close out and explode into the shelf; making it look unridable, but we decided to give it a go anyway. There was too much water moving as the set wave hit the reef and it was impossible to find the tube, let alone get a clean wave with a good ride.

The one that got away.
no where to go
looks are deceiving....

I caught a hand full of undesirable rides with a couple heavy punishing beatings, trying to find the barrel. After one of the Saemen brothers hit the reef with his back, we decided that it was not worth pushing ourselves to where someone might go to the hospital and we called it a day. With a quick jet ski ride back to the harbor, we were back on the road down the coast hoping to score some better waves before dark. Two and half hours later, we found ourselves perched on the rocks at little Rincon watching double overhead waves break through the pier with only 3 guys out. We all rushed to get our suits on and made the mad dash for the beach. The paddle out was a bit challenging trying to time the sets for a long flat spell; but a good 10 minute grind through some good close outs got the heart pumping again.

what a fun line up
fun juice for my 8'6 SUP
banking off the top

We all managed to get some really fun long waves and every now and then one of us got stuck on the inside battling the close out section for a while. It was a good session to see how far i could push my little 8’6 SUP in some solid juice. The board paddled a little slower then my bigger boards, but when you got into the wave, it really lit up like a short board, drawing nice sharp turns and handling speed with ease. Just before sunset, I caught  a really nice set wave that wrapped all the way down the point and on my last turn, decided to kick out to catch one more and got steam rolled by the next wave, snapping my leash. “I got greedy and paid the price with a nice long swim in.” ha ha…

alway fun to kick out with some speed.

As luck would have it, a surfer grabbed my board before it hit the rocks and all was good. We packed up once again and watched another beautiful sunset on the ride back home. I may have made the wrong call to go up the coast, but in the end we scored a perfect point break with only a couple guys out and that’s what a good adventure is all about.

“Sometimes a trip may not go as planned, but if you just go with the flow, you always will have a good time.”

Another epic sunset to cap off a great wave hunting mission...

So Cal storm Powder day

We have been plagued with 4 days of torential rains, wind and heavy waves and of course some great low elevation snow. I hooked up with long time friend Dave Reddick of Powder magazine and drove up early Friday morning to enjoy a good Southern California powder storm day. It was pouring rain all the way to the canyon entrance and as we made our way up the mountain road the rain turned to snow at around 3,ooo ft. I couldn’t believe it; we were an hour and fifteen minutes from home by the beach and it’s dumping snow like an epic winter storm in Colorado.

snow was dumping on the way up the hill to the mountain.

We cautiously climb the last couple miles to the ski area parking lot and are the first ones there.  The great thing is that Mt Baldy is a small family run “mom & pap resort” which is rare to see these days, especially here in Southern California. Who would have thought. As we pull up to park, we see a huge piston bully tractor pushing snow to clear the small parking lot and to top it off he parked his truck with the lights on to light up where he was going. Kind of classic.

who needs snow plows, when you got old faithful.
family operation with a lot of snow to clear before the masses hit the slopes.
it was just dumping snow. I get the same stoke when the offshore winds start to blow with a new swell in the water.
This is the warming hut and ski patrol office at the base of the mountain. "kind of cozy"
they had to dig out the chair by hand for a couple hours and finally got rolling mid morning.
so stoked to get steep and deep so close to home; it's been 15 years since i last skied here.
it was dumping all day and reminded me of skiing a good storm day at Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe
frozen Southern Cal pine.
riding the chilly old slow wooden bench seat chair to the top. I think my butt is pretty numb by now......
Dave Reddick of Powder magazine shooting deep pow, storm shots.
It's been 2 years, I can't believe I still remember how to ski or at least keep from hitting the trees. ha ha
nothing like really getting back into the swing of things after about 10 turns. ha ha
Low elevation snow covering century plants and cactus on the way home.

I want to thank Dave and company for a great day. It was a great last minute trip, with friends to enjoy another one of Mother Natures gifts and a great reminder of how much I miss skiing and the beauty of the mountains. “Life is funny, just when you get in a groove or a routine where everything is safe and cozy, you get an opportunity to go back and do something you lived for in the past and you find that love for it again and wonder why you ever stopped doing it.” It’s a humbling yet refreshing reminder of how lucky we are to enjoy what we all love to do.

” So get out there and get back to living and enjoying Mother Natures Rainbows.”

“A Lucky window,” Cortes Banks, take 2

This El Nino season has been a busy one with strong consistent swells hitting Hawaii and the West coast almost every week. The hardest part, is choosing the right location to catch the swell and most of the time we have made the call within a couple hours of leaving. This swell was no different; after studying the swell and wind charts, we were still up in the air because every site had a different call on what the winds were going to do. We put our heads together and decided to roll the dice and go with our gut feeling and if it was wrong, we were ok with that.

A couple hours of packing the boat, loading the skis, food etc; we were off into the night with our thumbs crossed. The conditions were a little rougher then the last go out, but still manageable. We woke with one hour to go to partial foggy skies with a little wind chop out of the south. A couple rain squalls passed with super strong winds and as they passed the seas would turn calm again.

Finally, our first site of the reef bank, showed a couple rolling mountains capping with some good sized sets, but due to the high tide, not really doing it justice. We motored around for an hour and decided to wait it out. The wind and rain came and went making for challenging seas to just sit and wait, so we decided to slowly motor one way for 45 minutes and then motor back. Motoring in one direction kept the boat from rocking back and forth and making anyone sea sick. We passed the time watching a couple movies and eating with one eye always peeled at the ocean. By mid afternoon, we passed through a big rain squall and the wind switched slightly out of the South East, grooming the ocean with a slight manageable texture.

West bowl runner.
one of the few inside West bowl waves that had a nice pocket.
This pilot buzzed by us several times, checking the waves.

We could see a lot more white water off in the distance and with only 3 hours of sunlight left, we quickly got our wetsuits on and skis ready to unload as we motored back to the reef. The ocean still had a little bump on it, but every 2nd wave of the set was super clean, so we decided to tow in and make the most of what little time we had left. You had to be pretty selective due to the wind bump, but every now and then a really nice set would come our way with a nice fast inside race track through the West bowl. We rarely let any waves go by and every now and then paid with a good beating on the inside trying to out run the West bowl.

I got a lucky set that connected from the outside and raced through the west bowl.
racing the bowl section
Bryce laying down a nice gouge.

We had a solid 2 hours of really fun waves and then the onshore wind really kicked in hard making the waves pretty bumpy and blown out. The seas really got rough, so the captain decided to keep the boat moving with the swells while we patiently loaded all the skis back on the boat safely. Once everything was strapped down and secure, we continued our journey South of the boarder to check another set of reefs that might be protected by the wind. The captain motored all night and through part of the morning until we hit one of the off shore islands we had been looking to surf.

Sure enough after an hour of rounding the island and checking each point and cove we found a wave that was breaking on an outside reef and on the bigger sets, would peel all the way to the inside of a cobble stone beach. the wave needed less tide, so we decided to anchor and eat lunch and slowly get our paddle boards together for an afternoon session.

so close, yet so far away. still motoring.. "are we there yet?"
it's always exciting when you find a new wave and get the chance to surf it.
Another treasure of surf exploration.

After lunch, the tide got lower and the wave started peeling from the outside section all the way through to the in side. The outside peak still had a bump on it from the wind making it a little challenging for stand up paddling, but when the only crowd in the water is the crew you came with, it’s all good.

getting ready for a good paddle session.
nothing like a good game of cat & mouse.
Days end.

We paddled for a couple hours and towed into a few before dark, before loading everything up for the long haul home. the captain motored all night and we arrived back in the safety of the harbor late the next morning. Some adventures go as planned and others are a crap shoot, but if you plan for the worst, it always ends up better.

A big thanks to the captain for keeping us safe and being understanding when we wanted to wait out for better conditions. In our case, patience, paid off even though it was a small swell.

keep posted for what Mother Nature throws my way….

jet lag swell chasing

early morning glory....

Still buzzing and a little jet lagged from a great trip to North Carolina; I hurried home from the airport while on the phone pin pointing where it would be best to catch the last day of the swell. After a quick pit stop at the house, a little quality time with my family and I was back on the road headed North to meet up with fellow photographer Dave Puu. Dave’s artistic vision brought us to a secluded cobblestone point just before sunrise.

All suited up, with my 8’6 Hobie SUP and kialoa paddle; I quickly navigated my way through the  6′-8′ ft pounding waves just as the sun started peaking over the coastal mountains. The strong offshore winds and the golden glow of the sunrise made every wave look like a priceless work of art. The long period swell made the big sets inconsistent enough to squeak back out before the next series of waves came marching in. The great thing about stand up paddling is that you can see sets way before they get close and then you can chase them down like a hunter, picking off the best one of the bunch. The angel of the swell was so perfect that you could get some rides down beach over a hundred yards long.

After 3.5 hours of nonstop surfing and paddling, the wind turned onshore enough for us to call it a day and get some food and move to another location with a better protected point at low tide. A quick bite and a half hour of scoping waves, we found ourselves scoping a couple dredging rock point breaks a half hour South. The swell was hitting these uncrowded points perfectly. The only thing making it questionable was that the wave would hit the shallow sand bar and bowl into a racing, dredging sand barrel about 1o’-15′ ft off the rock wall. One mistake and you were getting a rock tattoo.

one mistake and your rocken it!!
dropping into the sandy wedge

Nothing like a different kind of challenge to fuel the fire of another adrenaline rush. I paddled out along the rock wall studying the waves as they peeled by. As i got to the top of the point, I caught the last wave of a 5 wave set and barely made the air drop, high lining it in the pocket and just escaped getting denied at the end bowl. What a rush!! i paddled out with a little more confidence and decided to wait for a bigger set. Before I could even pause another wave reeled my way. I quickly turned my board down the face, sliding into the pocket with ease as it hit the inside shallows I could see the roof of the wave close over me, pumping as fast as I could go, I blast out of the first section about to kick out, but I roll the dice and push on back dooring the next sand bowl and find myself trapped with no place to go. The end bowl slams the door tight spitting me into the rocks. I gain my footing on the shallow sandy bottom only to delay the inevitable. I pull away from the rocks and try to dive under the next wave and get smashed on the bottom, breaking my paddle in my hands. Luckily there is a break in the waves and I gather my garage sale together and paddle on my stomach to the safety of the deeper waters. “wow, what a great way to experience both sides of the spectrum and still get away with minor bruises. I humbly paddle inside and call it a lucky day.

locked inside.
uncrowded perfection
Always the best way to end an epic day of surf.

“Nothing like exploring the good and the bad and walking a way with a smile.”

2nd annual Cold Strokes Classic

leaving warm California for the East coast.

This was one of those special chaotic times where chasing big waves fell on the same time as a big SUP race. There was a pretty solid Winter swell hitting Hawaii with perfect conditions that I really wanted to chase at the same time as the “Cold Strokes Classic” SUP race that was put on by Jeoffrey Nathan, owner of Coastal Urge in Wilmignton, North Carolina. Kialoa, my paddle sponsor, was the title sponsor of the event and had asked me to fly out and help promote and race in the event as well as teach a paddle and race clinic.

I was torn because I really wanted to do both, but this was a great opportunity to help push the sport of SUP racing and meet a lot of the East coast paddlers who are driving the sport on the Right coast. I had heard that the weather was unseasonably cold with highs in the mid 30’s, so I packed like I was going on a ski trip; “kind of funny to be paddling when it’s cold enough to snow.”

Nothing like a frozen fountain

I flew into Wilmignton, N Carolina Thursday night and met up with Dave and meg Chun, Owners of kialoa paddles and Jeoffrey and kat Nathan, Owners of Coastal Urge and visionaries of the Cold Strokes Classic paddle. We all went to a nice dinner and discussed our game plan for the paddle event and race clinic.

work is never done; now I know what writers cramp feels like. ha ha

The next day started with a great breakfast at the hotel with Meg and Dave and 2 box’s of  SUP magazines and posters that Coastal Urge wanted me to sign to give away to all the races at the event. Around mid day we visited the Coastal Urge SUP store before going to dockside to set up the Kialoa tent and get ready for my paddle and race clinic. I was so amazed to see so many stoked people from all over, like Florida, S Carolina, new Jersey, Michigan and New England at the paddle clinic because it was so cold and windy. After a half hour of lecturing on paddle stroke and racing tips we all headed to the water for a good paddle. It was great to see everyone so pumped on paddling  and eager to take it to the next level.

going over some paddle technic before hitting the icy waters of North Carolina

Later that evening all the racers gathered at the Dockside restaurant for the opening ceremony dinner where we were all treated to live music and a Polynesian fire dance. Shortly after, I showed a quick 10 minute  SUP video that Chris Agular from “The Stand Up project” edited for me. and then we ended the night with some great music from a local live band.

Polynesian fire dance at the opening ceremony.

“A good nights sleep and ready to roll for race day”. Another great breakfast at the hotel with all the racers and then off to the event site for an 11 o’clock skippers meeting. “Could it be any colder”?? 28 degrees out with a light North east wind, just perfect for a good day of paddling…..

Kialoa team mate Karen Wrenn, sharing the love..
Elite race start.short course racers about to start.

I bundled up in work out leggings, sweat pants, wool socks, 5 mil booties, 2 breathable long sleeve shirts, thick gloves and a beanie. Not having my race board, I decided to paddle along side the recreational racers and share the stoke of racing. The Elite racers started their 7 mile paddle first and the recreational racers started their 3.5 mile lap shortly after. It was pretty awesome to paddle along side so many excited paddlers that were so stoked on the sport. I would paddle hard for a couple minutes shouting words of encouragement to the racers next to me and then I would stop take a couple pictures and paddle to the end of the pack, making conversation from one person to the next; back and forth, the whole time. It was great!! I can remember The huge smile on the last finishers face when he beat me through the finish line. “Paddling along side all of these super stoked people was so refreshing and it really opened my eyes on how lucky we are to be doing what we love to do.”

Racers paddling under the first bridge of the race.
on the way to the finish line.
Byron Kurt, 1st place Elite finisher "Team Hobie"
Team Hobie stoked on the East coast.

It was awesome to see my Hobie team mates “Byron Kurt finish 1st and Colin McPhilips finish 3rd behind good friend EJ in the elite race. “job well done, boys…” and a big congrats to Brandi for throwing it down for the ladies..

within a half hour of finishing the race, I was off to the airport to fly back and catch the swell hitting California. “Kind of crazy, but with the epic El Nino Winter we are having, it’s hard to let a good swell go.”

I really want to thank Jeoffrey Nathan and his wife Kat for putting together such an awesome, well run event and to Meg and Dave from Kialoa, for sponsoring the event and flying me over and to all the great East coast paddlers that I met paddling. And a huge thank you to my wife for holding it all together during my crazy travel schedule.

I hope to see you all the next time…

Aloha…

The Day After (swell chasing)

I was still buzzing from my Cortes Banks Dream trip and could not even think about sleep, so I zipped home, switched out a couple SUP boards for smaller surf, checked the buoys and decided to continue my SUP mission with a 2 hour road trip up North……..

offshore and empty....

I called my good friend, renowned surf photographer Dave Puu as I was driving into Ventura around 5:45 am . He never misses a sunrise with a swell in the water. We met up at one of the local beach breaks to check the conditions of the surf and 5 minutes later had a game plan and hit the road. When shooting with Dave, your always searching for artistic perfection and when the conditions don’t seem to be all time, you  still hit the water knowing that Dave’s keen eye always finds the magic.

from Cortes Banks to freight train heaven.....
home sweet home...
So many tubes, i still can't sleep... ha ha

We checked a couple more spots and finally settled on what I call “the studio”. Surf was a couple feet over head with a bone chilling 15 mph offshore breeze. I suited up and grabbed my 8’6 Hobie SUP board and hit the water. We worked a dredging Right handed sand bar that offered up a couple long draining spitting tubes with it’s fair share of close out beatings. Three hours later we were ordering breakfast at The Cajon Cafe exchanging stories of the morning goods and setting up for the afternoon plan of attack.

With the tide dropping and the swell slowly on the decline; we took a gamble and headed South towards Malibu. The boys shared a local low tide sand spit that throws a backwash wave into the in coming set creating a super steep, square , grinding, wedge of a tube that peels right down a rocky point. Dave suited up and swam out with his water camera to get a different view of the action. We managed to beat the crowd and score a couple really fun back wash bowls before the welcoming comity swarmed the peak.

setting up for the take off was super challenging, but well worth the rewards..

We dried off and headed South once again checking several points on the way and finally stopped shortly before sunset at a small point beach break. Nothing really enticing to motivate the crew, so they called it a day as Dave and I contemplated one more go out in hopes of capturing some of the mystical sunset that lit up the inside section of the point. I quickly raced down the rocky cliff and paddled out catching wave after wave as the sun slowly set behind the dark ominous clouds. I rode my last wave in  with the biggest smile on my face, knowing we had scored once again finishing the day with another epic sunset. There’s nothing more satisfying then hearing Dave say “that we really killed it today”. “What a great way to end my 48 hour wave crazed treasure hunt.” I packed up my truck, said my goodbyes and started my long journey home.

still going...
epic shore break closeouts.
what a great way to end the sleepless wave marathon....

Home at last; my wife, my dog, a hot shower and dinner and the rest is history……

Stay tuned to another wave filled adventure coming soon…..