Friday, April 23, 2010

Honolua SUP Race Build Up

Paddle Fit 6 week Distance Build Up

Long Distance Build up for Honolua SUP Race.

Training Dates

May 1st

May 8th

May 15th

May 22nd

June 5th

Race Day June 12th

Instructor: - Woogie Marsh

Paddling Goals

Working on paddling Fitness - 9km worth

Introduction to Ocean Conditions

Swell Riding

Getting off an Open Beach with a 12’6 + Board

Paddle Techniques / Paddle Steering / correction strokes


On land training



Lions Park Noosa Heads

Laguna Bay Noosa Heads


8:30 am or otherwise advised before hand.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

SUP Noosa

Developing new techniques

On a test tun of the New Penetrator back in 2008.

Crossing Training with OC1

When it comes to stand up paddle technique, you can only learn so much about the mechanics of the stroke standing up. At some point you’ve got to get into a canoe (preferably a OC-1) to really break down the mechanics. If possible, have someone watch you that can give you feed back or better yet video you. Video is about the only coach that won’t lie and won’t miss your little errors. Make sure to get a few different angles. What you feel versus what you’re doing can be so far apart some times it’s scary. Why the canoe ? Good question. Because it allows you to isolate the most important part of the stroke, the upper body. By taking the legs and hips out of the equation you are left to isolate the arms, shoulders and back.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to get rid of your stand up board, I’m just advocating the canoe as a great training device. Plus for all you guys and gals getting into downwinding the canoes steering device gives you an opportunity to learn about steering easier than a stand up’s steering. A while back I was telling James Billy Watson (one of the Gold Coasts premier Long distance & downwinders) the benefit of canoe paddling to help your stand up technique. It took him a little bit to get over the hump of trying, but now I would say the OC-1 accounts for nearly half of his paddling, and his stand up paddling got even faster. Because the steering is so much easier in an OC-1, it gives you the chance to really focus on learning read the swells and to connect bumps, and as any good downwinder will tell you ” it’s all about connecting the bumps” . Once you learn that, your average speed will soar up.

One of the best aspects of canoe paddling is canoe surfing. It’s not necessarily about technique in a surf canoe, but it sure is fun. For some reason the canoe acts like a stand up board when it comes to magnifying the size of a wave. So a big wave really feels like a monster.

Paddle Technique: Recovery Phase

The Tahitian stroke recovery phase is just as important as all the other paddle stroke phases. But how do you put them all together and implement you new stroke. The first two articles: The plant, and Applying Power, are both useful even if you don’t adopt a Tahitian stroke. This article isn’t, it’s only useful if you adopt a true Tahitian stroke. The unique part of the Tahitian stroke is in the recovery–pulling the blade out of the water and getting it back out to reach, Plant, and start again.

When people first start paddling they tend to pull the paddle back as far as they can, and then recover by lifting the paddle behind them and swinging it back to the front. It’s too bad this is such a natural movement, because it’s a really bad way to paddle. You can’t add any real power once the paddle reaches your feet, any pull on the paddle as it travels back pulls the rail and tail of the board down and pulls you out of balance, and that long swing takes a lot of energy.

After people gain experience they often progress to a rough copy of a Hawaiian stroke. They pull the paddle to just before their feet, drop the upper hand out and down which pops the blade out of the water, then they swing the paddle forward to recover and bring the upper hand back into position for the next stroke. This is a more powerful, but it takes a lot of energy to swing the paddle through the stroke and there’s no time to rest.

The Tahitian Recovery

As soon as you put the power to it, start recovering by lifting the paddle out of the water like drawing a sword from a scabbard. You turn the handle with your top hand like a knob to feather the blade and help it pop out of the water. You do this feathering movement even when the wind is behind you because it helps the paddle exit the water cleanly. Break your lower wrist inwards as your upper hand turns the knob, then push upwards with the lower hand while the upper arm relaxes and follows the movement. You extend your lower arm, move your upper shoulder and arm into the stacked position, rotate your torso and shoulder forwards and punch out for the catch.

The upper arm moves through a small circle that is flattened like an almond. It adds power in the stroke by pushing down as the shoulders twist.

The lower arm adds power at the same time, pulling back with the torso and shoulder, then relaxing as it pushes the paddle up out of the water. Then it pushes forward in a gentle punch to reach for the catch of the next stroke.

The total amount of movement in the recover is a fraction of the effort required in swinging the blade back into position with conventional strokes. The downside is that your upper arm can get tired quickly from staying in a high position constantly. The trick is to relax the arm all the time you are not pulling, and let it hang from the handle rather than trying to use the upper arm to pull the paddle from the water. Your upper hand feathers the paddle, but it does it like turning a knob, a very easy movement.

The lower arm needs to relax during this movement also. You’re going to use the lower arm to push the paddle upwards, but it’s a light weight. You should feel the muscles go soft as you pull the paddle from the water. Start breaking the wrist immediately, and keep it bent softly until you start the punch for the reach. The biggest advantage of this stroke is how efficient it is. If you’re keeping your arm muscles tight when you’re doing the recover you’re not gaining full benefit.

You should exaggerate all the movements at first. Keep your initial pull VERY short, as soon as you put the power in, you stop pulling and start recovering. Your upper arm needs to hang on the paddle during recover and the lower arm should feel soft and loose. Exaggerate the relaxation. Your reach should be extreme. Go past your comfort zone and get your shoulder way out. Stack your shoulders and get the paddle as vertical as possible. You might find your paddle is too short for this long reach. Consider getting a longer one or extending the one you have.

Even in this exaggerated approach you should start seeing the benefits of the Tahitian stroke. You won’t be fast at first, and your shoulders will probably hurt. Your balance will feel off and the board will be more tippy because you are not winging out a big balance pole every stroke. Keep at it and all of this will improve quickly. You’ll find your arms are not tired after a long paddle. You’ll find you can immediately bump the cadence way up when you want to, because the recovery movement is so short, and the short, sharp power strole takes a fraction of the time. You’ll find you can get into bumps with fast strokes that feel like you are just tapping the water.

Remember, 70 percent of the power available in a stroke happens during the catch. A long stroke is something like “onnnne huuundreeed” while a Tahitian stroke is “70,70,70″. It works out that way. You have a lot more control over the amount of energy you use and your pace. You can increase the cadence, or you can pull a fraction longer or a fraction harder.

Don’t be surprised if that takes a while to learn. It has to get into muscle memory, and you have to master all the little bits. To really get it takes about a year with a lot of paddling. Here’s a quick recap starting from recovery:

  • At the end of the power stroke don’t wing your upper arm–pull the blade up and out of the water like drawing a sword.
  • Breaks the wrist of your lower hand inward and relax most of the lower arm, using only minimal effort to push the paddle upwards.
  • Upper hand holds the handle like a knob, with the thumb pointed to the side.
  • Twist the blade to a feathered position without putting a strain on the wrist.
  • As the blade leaves the water the shoulder, arm and upper torso do a gentle punch, reaching for the catch.
  • Upper arm extended, stack the shoulders.
  • Push the blade smoothly in, torso and shoulder rotation applies power.
  • Upper hand pushes forward and slightly down to aid in the power keep the shaft vertical.
  • As soon as power is applied you relax, and start the recover.
  • The upper arm motion is a fluid rotation like an almond.
  • Pay attention to relaxing muscles when you can.


Mistakes people make

  • Forcing the stroke. Relax. If you do it right your hands, torso and shoulders return to position automatically
  • Pushing too soon. Keep your cadence easy and your pull light. Get the motions down before you try to go fast.
  • Pulling up the paddle with the upper hand. The upper hand follows the paddle. You push up with the lower hand
  • Holding the handle too tight. Hold it like a knob.
  • Tightening the lower arm. Relax it while you’re pushing up. Sounds funny, but you’ll get it.
  • Too short reach. You have to get out there and stretch your muscles out. If you’re reaching short your body is all cramped up. Open your shoulders and your torso.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

May Fiesta

A couple of Races are fast approaching here in Australia, with the Salt 30 km less than a month away and a fun 1000 Flat race, then the Roar Industries Surf Race Weekend. So here’s a couple of my recommendations for the up coming season.

First go back and read my breathing article. That would be the easiest way to drastically effect your performance.

Next, hydrate. Even during training, hydration is key. There’s no point in going really hard for 75% of your workout then dying the last quarter because you’re too thirsty to exert yourself. I generally do about one 1L. bottle per hour, depending on heat, exertion,etc. Obviously that can very from person to person. A lot of people like to use camel back style hydration bags, which have a lot of merit because of their convenience, but I prefer cycling style water bottles. There’s two reasons I prefer this style. For one, I know how much liquid I have left at any given time and two, I can squeeze the bottle and launch a bunch of liquid into my mouth quickly without impeding my breathing. There’s nothing I hate more than going to suck on a camel back and running out. I instantly go to a visual of being in the Sahara and thirsty with no canteen. Unfortunately, grabbing a bottle and drinking from it and putting it back in the holder can be a bit tricky while your on a glide and trying to concentrate, but it works for me. Experiment with both and see what you prefer.

Next is food. The choices are endless when it comes to ways of getting calories, Session Savers Gu’s, blocks, energy bars, candy bars, etc. I would stay away from the real sugary stuff until the very end if possible. I tend to favour the session savers because of their ease of consumption and digestion. Again trying to eat on the run can get complicated if your trying to paddle or glide and eat at the same time, that’s why I prefer something you can just throw in your mouth easily.

Pacing tactics are also complicated and numerous so I’ll just give you my basic theory that generally works for me. Assuming the race is at least 12km, I go about 90 to 95% for maybe a minute or two off the start line, just to take the edge off my nervous energy. Then I’ll try to settle into a comfortable pace pretty quick and try and find a rhythm. For downwinders rhythm is everything. You’re better off going slower at first to find that rhythm because that is the only way you’ll ever truly fly. If you try to force it most of the time you end up expending a lot of energy and still go no faster because of it. If you do find that rhythm work it. Work it, and don’t start thinking, just work it, breathe and make it last as long as possible. You will lose it eventually but that’s natural, just start the process over again. I generally try not to exert myself past 90% at any given time so that I’ve got gas in the tank for the end, just in case I’ve got to duel with someone, or to finish really strong. Think of those 100% hits now and then as a match book. Everytime you go to that 100% level you tear a match out of the book and there are only so many matches to pull before your book is empty.

I used to be very skeptical of music during my workouts until one day, just to appease my wife, I tried it. Now I find it so beneficial that I almost can’t paddle without it. The music occupies my conscious mind so that my subconscious can go to work. With downwinds you are trying to process so much information at once that it is difficult to try and think your way through everything. You basically have to get out of your own way and let your subconscious do it’s thing.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to hit the reset button now and then. Sometimes it seems everything is just wrong, don’t fight it. Stand up straight take a deep breath, stretch your back and chest. Then put your head back down, turn your focus back up, and try and find that rhythm. Not every time out is going to be a home run, as I found out last year. But every time out can be a valuable lesson in developing your over all skills and desire.


Dave Kalama

Paddle Technique: Applying Power

Hopefully you’ve been practicing that long catch. It’s a critical component of any stroke. Now we’re going to talk about adding power to the Tahitian stroke.

The toughest part to learn is how short the power stroke is. We’re all used to stroking hard at least to our feet. Some people try to pull even further than that. To learn the stroke I want you to overcompensate, and apply the power in just a super brief pull. As soon as you apply power you should stop pulling. At this stage people can’t seem to do it briefly enough. Focus on it. I know it will feel like you’re just patting the water. Concentrate on giving a hard pull and then ending your pull and starting to get the paddle out of the water.

You’ll be surprised how well this quick pull will move your board, even though it feels like you are not doing any work. The catch and first bit of pull is 70 percent of the power in any stroke. Applying energy after the catch adds power, but only a little bit, and it takes a lot of energy since your body isn’t in an efficient position. You also get both your hands and your torso out of position for the next stroke, and you have to get them back where they belong before you can start again. All that movement takes energy. The Hawaiian technique is fast but you need a lot of endurance to compensate for inefficiency.

The Tahitian stroke is constantly lifting the nose of the canoe or, in this case, a stand up board, and it’s designed to build momentum. Your hands, torso and shoulders return to position automatically, on a circular, continuous path, and only travel a short distance. To build speed you increase the cadence, and it’s a lot easier to do that because the stroke recovery is shorter and starts earlier.

You need to get a lot of power in that first bit of pull, and to do that you need your shoulders and torso engaged. If you are doing the catch right, then your shoulders and torso are already in the right position for a stroke. So as soon as the paddle is in the water you twist your torso and shoulders back straight. Again, to get the feel for this I want you to overcompensate and do this as a sudden jerk. You can mellow out later and get things smooth, but we want all that energy firing on the first foot of pull, and then it ends.

We’ll break down the recovery and put the entire stroke together next time, but for now let’s add the basics of the Tahitian recovery stroke so you can get the paddle back out in a good catch and get the power down.

In the Tahitian stroke we don’t wing out the upper arm at all because you’d have to work to get the upper arm back up above the paddle and re-stack your shoulders. Instead you pull the blade up and out of the water like drawing a sword. Your lower arm does the work of pulling the sword. You break the wrist of your lower hand inward and push the paddle upwards. The upper hand holds the handle like a knob and twists the blade to a feathered position without putting a strain on the wrist.

As the blade leaves the water we start our catch part of the stroke. Move your upper shoulder, arm and upper torso forward in a gentle punch. Stretch the muscles forward and reach, reach, reach for the catch. The upper arm which has been extended up over your head by the sword pull, now moves a few inches inward towards the head and the torso rotates to stack the shoulders. At the catch the muscles start to spring back almost by themselves, and a firm torso and shoulder rotation applies power. The upper hand pushes forward and slightly down to aid in the power and position the shaft vertically. Almost as soon as power is applied you relax, and start pulling the sword again. Instead of winging up and down or swinging the paddle around your upper arm moves in a small circle with your hand moving in an almond shaped circle.

You’re almost there, or at least you almost know all the chords. Next time we’ll break down the recovery stroke some more, and we’ll pay attention to which muscles can be relaxed at different parts of the stroke, and then we’ll put it all together and tell you what parts to pay attention to when you’re practicing.


This weekend I had the opportunity to do a canoe race. Approximately 25 km. I rediscovered one of my own best known secrets. Breath. Quite a simple fact. We all need air, we all breathe naturally. Only this race just reminded me how important that simple fact is. All the technique in the world won’t mean a thing if you don’t feed your muscles oxygen. One of the best tips I will ever share with you is this, the harder you work, the more you must breathe. Let’s say we give the work you do a scale of one to ten, and the breathing too. If you are working at a level of 8, you must breathe at a level of 8. You cannot work at 9 and breathe at 6. You won’t last. So today’s tip is simple and short.


There are lots of breathing articles on the web. Here’s a useful one: Breathing exercises But you should find some breathing exercises that are best for you, and experiment with them.


Dave Kalama

Paddle Technique: The Plant

Most of my paddling life I’ve been using the Hawaiian / Tahitian stroke, which probably comes as no surprise given my coaching via Hotu Kerr. But my canoe partners and I converted to more of the Tahitian stroke over the last few years, and I’ve translated it into Stand Up Paddling–both for distance/downwind and for surfing. It is a more efficient stroke, but it’s hard to fully master. Picking up some of the basic elements will help your paddling, but you’ll probably need some qualified coaching along the way to avoid adding bad habits and to pick up the little subtle elements that make the stroke really work.

The best way to learn to paddle is to join a canoe club, do six man paddling, and have your partners bug you to do it right. Big time commitment though, and it will take at least a year to get good. Any good canoe paddle coach can help you with the basics, but the Tahitian stroke is not common, and they may not know the modifications that make it work for Stand Up Paddling.

Paddling is far more complex than it seems. It’s like playing an instrument. I can show you the chords, but you’re going to need a lot of practice to be ready to jam with Eddie Vetter. Even the “chords” for the Tahitian stroke are pretty complicated, so I’m going to break it down over a number of posts.

We’ll start this series with the Catch–the key to effective paddling. Catch is about three things: Reach, torso position, and timing. Reach is a bitch. Reach is what you hear paddle coaches yelling all day long.

Stand on your board in your usual stance and position, reach forward as far as you can and have someone mark that spot on your board with tape or a Sharpie. Copy the mark to the other side. Now mark several spots every couple of inches FURTHER towards the nose of your board, because as far as you can reach today is not enough.

Three body movements add reach. Stand with your shoulders square and reach your arm as far forward as you can. That’s one. Now rotate your shoulders and you can reach quite a bit further. That’s two. Now twist at the hips, turning your torso forwards. That’s three. If you do all three together with a little push–a gentle punch with your lower arm–you’ll have momentum, your joints will open, your muscles will stretch, and you’ll be able to reach even further. That’s four. A free bonus.

To make the catch work best your paddle needs to be as vertical as possible. If you reach across your body to do that your upper arm will be at a very weak and clumsy position. So you need to stack your shoulders–bend at the waist a little to get your upper arm shoulder as high above your lower arm shoulder as you can. Extend your upper arm to get the paddle vertical.

The lower arm comes forward with the torso and shoulder twist, upper arm comes over the head to get the paddle as vertical as possible, lower forearm punches forward lightly, straightening out the lower arm and extending the muscles without hyper-extension, and then the paddle enters the water just as the muscles start to contract.

Now all these new movements need to come together at the same time so your can push the paddle into the water just as the momentum ends. The timing is just about impossible at first, it’s one of the hardest things to learn, and it needs to become automatic.

Next time we’ll get into the power stroke.

Slow down to Speed up

I know, what the hell is that supposed to mean, slow down to speed up. A few years ago I stumbled up an interesting discovery when training for a really long OC-1 paddle ( approx. 250 mi.). At that distance your pacing becomes one of the most critical factors in your success, besides hydration, nutrition and rash control. Part of learning to pace for that distance is being really, really efficient. Which means maximizing absolutely every glide. How do you maximize every glide? By learning to read every bump in the water that’s within 30 yards of you and your craft. In fighter pilot terms, everything in your 7:30 to 4:30 radius.

Now for everyone looking for the secret to gliding, pay attention: There is none. Yeah, sorry to let the cat out of the bag, but here’s the skinny. You have to spend a lot of time on the water, and it has to be quality time. Pay attention to all the bumps, try to see how they move, and experiment. It’s sort of like trying to learn how to fly a plane and play chess at the same time. First the plane part, you are essentially learning to soar, using each bump to propel you along. Next the chess part, here’s where the experimentation comes into play. You have to learn to anticipate what is going to happen because the bumps you see are history, the only efficient way to get to them is to catch the bumps you can’t see yet. The only way to do that is by experimenting. Simply put, you have to screw up a lot before you figure it out. The one thing I can tell you for certain is that going straight towards your target is rarely the fastest line when bump running. The bumps aren’t going straight, so you can’t either. Most the time it’s fairly chaotic, so you have to weave back and forth to maximize the bumps.


Dave Kalama

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Paddle Fit Back On

Well with March and Easter out of the way Paddle Fit is back on.

Saturdays Morning
8:30 am
Noosa Heads Lions Park
Cost $12.00

Instructor - Woogie

Working on building into Distance Paddles
Increasing Fitness
Improving Technique

Malfunction 2010

This year the Malfunction didn't have the big surf like last year but it was still a fun little wave pumping into the little beach side Village. Over the last 3 years we have made this our Family holiday and the kids are just loving the camping ground and sleeping out in the caravan only meters away from the comp site.

Kaiya with good Friend Jet heading towards the beach

Malfunction business wise has been a great place to meet local manufactures with the same views as ourselves. It is more relaxed that the Noosa Festival and still has that great local Comp feel to it.

SUPs got an extra day this year due to the increase popularity of the sport.

On the Saturday after the Semi had been decided we heading to Currumbin Alley for a spot of 4 man Canoe Surfing. With legend Australian Watermen like James Billy Watson and Jamie Mitchell. Woogie helped re-rigg the canoe and was even allowed in the steers seat for a couple of waves.

Woogie, Kaiya, James & Jamie
Out in the bigger waves
Keahi, Taj, Woogie James & Jamie
I think it is great how these guys have got time to spend with the younger generation! and what great Role Models

I managed to get a SUP paddle on Sunday The 5 km Greenline SUP race. I have fun - kinda. I was paddling a Lahui Kai Surf Tech Model Board.

Busy March for SUP

To start off the Month of March we had our Ocean Clinic Series that we are running with the Noosa Beach Boys Surfing Club.

This is a great way to start getting more people into the surf!! but with knowledge of the unwritten rules of surfing. Teaching respect and personal responsibility in the surf to help prevent surf rage which was high over the month of March and into the Easter long weekend.

Woogie getting a great wave from Bottom of Johnsons into First point.

Johnsons was a great place to teach the surf skills and help develop a healthy relationship with the local surfers.

We had the weather on our side leading up to the Noosa Festival of Surfing with a Tropical Cyclone sitting off the Northern Queensland coast generating some great waves that set Noosa Points alight.

The Noosa Festival of Surfing also got some great waves with many boards broken over the week long festival.

We had the pleasure of meeting Candice Appleby from Hawaii - She came out for a couple of weeks to compete in the Noosa Festival and the Malfunction in NSW. I am pretty confident to say she had a ball while she was over here and got some great waves with the boys on the day she landed in Aussy.

This is Candice at Johnsons on the Saturday before the Comp.
Woogie During the heats at Noosa

Festival Results

1st James Billy Watson
2nd Keahi de Aboitiz
3rd Jackson Close
4th Noel Graham
5th Matt Lumley
6th Zane