ACA Level 3 Fundamentals of Surfski Instructor Certification Workshop - San Francisco Bay Area

WHO: This workshop is for anyone interested in teaching Surfski.

WHAT: During this comprehensive three day course you will learn the latest and most effective teaching methods, be assessed according to the ACA's L3 Surfski Instructor Criteria. By the end of the course participants should have the paddling skills, technical knowledge, rescue ability, teaching ability, group management, and interpersonal skills necessary for certification. Note that certification cannot be completed unless during some period two conditions necessary for assessment are present during some portion the certification
course. The four criteria are: 10-15 knot winds, 1-3 foot seas, 1-2 foot breaking waves, 1-2 knots of current.

WHY: The American Canoe Association is the nation's leading organisation for paddler education in SUP. As an ACA certified instructor you will be certified to teach and able to obtain insurance to cover your classes.

WHERE: This class will be taught out of 101 Surf Sports in San Rafael, CA and other locations in the Bay Area.

WHEN: The 3 Day course begins at 9.00 am on Saturday, August 19th, 2017.

COST: $399.00 (Note: Fee does NOT include ACA Instructor's Manual or SEIC dues).

Bookings for this course will close August 1st, 2017

Cost does not include surfski and paddle rental. It is recommended you use your own board because you will be familiar with its handling characteristics but if you are flying in, boards & paddles can be rented from our 101 Surf Sports.

Book Your Spot:

Instructor Trainer:
Ben Lawry

DABS High Altitude Surfski Champs

READY, STEADY, GO: The start bunch and all celebrities with the wave maker.

READY, STEADY, GO: The start bunch and all celebrities with the wave maker.

SURFSKI races along the coastline have been growing in popularity, and paddlers in Gauteng are feeling left out, especially as rivers are becoming more polluted. Not that there are many river choices in Gauteng, anyway.

The decision to host a Gauteng High Altitude Surfski championship race annually has taken the paddling community of surfskiers, SUPs and sit-on-tops, the various kayaks or canoes, by storm. The championship race takes place in early March and is growing from strength to strength, with superb sponsorship from Euro Steel, Adreach, Fenn, Set and a number of private individuals. The top celebrity paddlers come from far and wide to challenge the Gauteng champions.

Multiple Dusi winner Andrew Birkett, the world surfski and marathon champion as well as multiple Dusi race winner Hank McGregor, the Olympian bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley and two-time world surfski champion Jasper Mocke were just a few of the celebrity South African paddlers.

TAKING ON THE BEST: Members from the Johannesburg Canoe Club, based at Wemmer Pan, thoroughly enjoyed the only high-altitude surfski race in the world, especially with numerous world-famous paddlers in the bunch. Ryan Ziervogel and Warren Ziervogel – boat 102 – orange vest /blue sleeves and green cap.

TAKING ON THE BEST: Members from the Johannesburg Canoe Club, based at Wemmer Pan, thoroughly enjoyed the only high-altitude surfski race in the world, especially with numerous world-famous paddlers in the bunch. Ryan Ziervogel and Warren Ziervogel – boat 102 – orange vest /blue sleeves and green cap.

The race was hosted on Saturday, March 4, at Emmarentia Dam at 15:30. The race consisted of 10 laps of the dam, making up a 10km hard, fast time trial.

To add to the celebrity status on the dam water were Siseko Ntondini and Piers Cruickshanks. These two paddlers come from diverse backgrounds. One is from Moatsoledi informal township in Orlando Park, Soweto, and one is an English teacher from Rosebank. There challenge to partner up inspired a movie, Beyond the River, which will be released in South Africa in April.

To simulate surf conditions, a number of motorboats and other watercraft revved motors up and down the centre of the dam as the paddlers made circuits on the outside.

Enormous fun was had by all, especially the spectators, passers-by and drivers.

Martin van den Bergh, chairman of the Johannesburg Canoe club, and Morgan Ziervogel, the top Gauteng woman paddler, were among the 150 paddlers in Gauteng who completed the 10km race, finishing in 50 minutes as the third mixed-double surfski finishers (male/female combination). Son and father combination Ryan and Warren Ziervogel also enjoyed the event, finishing in 56 minutes.

ENJOYING THE CHALLENGE: JCC members at Wemmer Pan thoroughly enjoyed the only high-altitude surfski race in the world, especially with numerous world-famous paddlers in the bunch. Martin van den Bergh (red top) and Morgan Ziervogel (white top) paddle away.

ENJOYING THE CHALLENGE: JCC members at Wemmer Pan thoroughly enjoyed the only high-altitude surfski race in the world, especially with numerous world-famous paddlers in the bunch.
Martin van den Bergh (red top) and Morgan Ziervogel (white top) paddle away.

Article reprinted from:  Photo credits to:  Gauteng Canoe Union.


USACK/ACA Merger updates

USA Canoe and Kayak are moving ahead with plans to merge with ACA.  Yesterday, Adam Van Grack, chairperson for USACK released a statement updating the public on the current status of the transition.

Whether this will be a positive change remains to be seen, but for many the change appears to be welcomed, based on the solid reputation and history of the ACA.

Dear USA Canoe/Kayak Members:

The USA Canoe/Kayak Board wanted to let all of our Members know that recently the American Canoe Association (ACA) applied to the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) to become the National Governing Body for canoe and kayak sports.  ACA's application has the support of the USA Canoe/Kayak Board.  As a result, the ACA and USA Canoe/Kayak just received communication from the USOC that the USOC is "positive about the ACA’s application and want to conclude the application review process as soon as possible."  


We (along with ACA) will be working with the USOC in the coming days/weeks to work on all potential transition issues and ensure that the application process proceeds as smoothly as possible.  Assuming ACA's application moves forward, there will be a series of public meetings in which members of USA Canoe/Kayak will be able to comment on the potential new National Governing Body.  As soon as those meetings are scheduled (and new governing body documents are available), we will provide all our members with that information.  In the meanwhile, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or any of the USA Canoe/Kayak Board Members.


Adam Van Grack
Chair, USA Canoe/Kayak

Preliminary Results From Shark Bite Challenge 2017

The weather cleared and the wind calmed allowing the Shark Bite Challenge to come off today without a hitch.

In the Men's 8 mile, the top three finishers were Matt Bouman 1st, Oscar Chalupsky 2nd, and Nate Humberston, 3rd.

In the Women's 8 mile, Teneale Hatton took first, followed by Kata Dismukes in 2nd, and Sara Jordan in 3rd.

In the four mile race, Ted Burnell took first overall, and Pam Boteler took first in Women.

Lisa Malick and J.C. Malick took first in mixed Waterman Challenge.

Stay tuned for full results later.

Photo Credits:  Ted Burnell

Your Vote Counts---Help Hank McGregor Win Sport Personality of The Year

Help Hank

World Surfski Champ and all around decorated paddler Hank McGregor is a finalist for the 2017 Discovery Sports Industry Personality of the Year Award.

Mcgregor is among four finalists that also include: 

Doug Ryder – Ryder Cycling team Dimension Data for Qhubeka

John Comitis – Cape Town City FC Owner

Mimi Mthethwa-Zulu – Netball South Africa President

The award is decided by popular vote, so you can make your voice heard and show your support for one of the best in the sport below.

You can vote at the following link:

More on Hank:

Hank McGregor is a family man, with a wife and toddler. He works a day job, running a small construction company, but McGregor is very far from average.

The man from Durban has one junior and eight senior World Paddling Titles to his name, as well as countless canoeing and surfski honours. He has won every paddling race worth winning in South Africa, and many beyond our borders.

Even more extraordinary is that McGregor claimed his seventh and eighth world titles in 2016, at the age of 38. But his story doesn’t end there.

McGregor is nominated as ‘Sportsman of the Year 2016’ at the SA Sports Awards (up against Chad le Clos and Wayde van Niekerk) as well as for ‘Sportsman of the Year 2016’ at the World Paddle Awards.

McGregor is a superb athlete and a wonderful sportsman and role-model who deserves every inch of the recognition bestowed upon him by the worlds sporting fraternity.

Evidence of Influence in the Industry

  • McGregor and his wife initialised ‘The McGregor Paddle Series’ to give back to the sport as well as recharge it. The series ran over 6 weeks, with 6 races in August and September 2016. It was a massive success resulting in 116 Novices taking part and over 800 finishers. They aim to take the series national in 2017.
  • McGregor is the most multi-talented and diverse athlete across all paddlesports.
  • He is a multiple World and SA Flat Water marathon champion, multiple SA River Marathon champion, Multiple SA surfski champion.
  • Awarded the inaugural ‘Sportsman of the Year’ at the World Paddle Awards last year.

Evidence of Use of Creative and Innovative Marketing

  • His brand continues to grow with the growth of paddlesports and with his social media platforms, bringing it to a much larger audience than ever before.
  • The “Hank McGregor” brand consists of a number of elements used to create and distribute unique content: Twitter, Facebbok, YouTube, Instagram and media management.
  • The content is designed around specific race disciplines in which McGregor competes in, which include live updates at major events, race reports, pre and post-race interviews on Hank’s YouTube Channel and press releases to the media.
  • Over the last 3 year’s McGregor has been aligned to some very strong brands in the paddling industry including Team Kayak Center for canoeing and Team Epic Kayaks for surfsking, as well as Gara Paddles and Mocke Paddling as equipment suppliers.
  • With every sporting personality there comes a character behind the performance and results. McGregor’s work ethic and focus stand out when anyone mentions his name.
  • McGregor is at the pinnacle of the watersport world and with his success he has been able to make a great name for himself in the community, in the public eye and in the media.
  • Hank has also had commercial agreements with Euro Team and Jeep Team SA.

Evidence of Achievements

2016 Results

  • Hong Kong Dragon Run, World Surfski Series 1st
  • Cape Point Challenge 1st
  • SA Double Surfski Championships 1st
  • 50 miler (K2) 1st
  • Dusi Canoe Marathon 2016 (K2) 2nd
  • Umkomaas Marathon 1st
  • Molokai World Ocean Classic 1st
  • SA K1 Marathon Championships 1st
  • Mauritius Ocean Classic 1st
  • Berg Canoe Marathon 1st (11th win, record)
  • Durban Downwind, World Series 1st
  • World Marathon Championships: gold K1 and K2, world record 4th consecutive K1 title
  • Winner of the Doctor Surfski race (Australia)
  • Winner of the World Surfski Series

2016 Award Nominations:

  • Sportsman of the Year, SA Sports Awards
  • Sportsman of the Year, World Paddle Awards

Career Results:

  • Junior World Marathon Champion
  • 6 x Senior K1 World Marathon Champion
  • 2 x Senior K2 World Marathon Champion
  • 1 x Senior K2 World Marathon Silver Medalist
  • 3 x Molokai World Surfski Champion
  • 11 x Berg River Canoe Marathon
  • 2 x Dusi Canoe Marathon
  • 4 x Durban World Cup Surfski Winner
  • 8 x Varsity College Surfski Series Winner
  • Winner of all National titles in surfski, flat water canoeing and river canoeing in the same year.
  • Winner of every surfski race and canoe race on the South African Calendar.
  • National Colours in 3 sports: canoeing, surfski, lifesaving


Adventurethon Magnetic Island 2017 Race Wrap Up

After a week of wild rainy weather and then cyclone Debbie prep the lead up to Adventurethon Magnetic Island was one we watched with keen interest. As locally we breathed a sigh of relief when she headed further south, we were also sad to see many of our southern neighbours & competitors affected by the cyclone.

Saturday morning we were pleased to see beautiful, calm conditions and slightly lower humidity than previous few days. And as athletes began arriving for check in…

Fast paced start for all paddlers from Horseshoe Bay, with Spectator and support boats creating some wash which the top paddlers made the most of.

Townsville local Luke Smythe set off with a cracking pace and the field responded. Kris plain putting the hammer down to surge ahead by a few hundred metres by the exit of Horseshoe Bay.

Paddle Start

The Horseshoe Bay to West Point paddle leg rewarded paddlers with spectacular views, big boulders and rocky shoreline as well as some small runners that needed a lot of work, once out of Horseshoe Bay.

The VW Enduro competitors made the most of the protected bay with some flat and fun racing. Adam Smith leading the way and then in the 2nd lap Adam Beale from cairns surged ahead to take the ski lead

Back in the BNG Sports Ultra- Kris Plain’s rudder broke at Horseshoe Bay, amazingly he kept ahead of the field (though he lost around 8 to 10 mins off his prime pace was still able to keep ahead). The lack of rudder allowed him to take a really shallow line over the reef.

Luke Smythe had an awesome paddle and looked very comfortable, coming in off the paddle only 3 minutes behind Kris Plain.

Sam Stedman put in good efforts with minimal paddle training (as his lead up had spent mostly running) and with a decent paddle to Picnic he found himself in a good place to make up time on the run.

In the women’s field, it is always exciting seeing such a great group of women battling for top spot. But the camaraderie amongst them all was also noticeable, with a healthy respect that each of them was doing something pretty spectacular today. First female off the water was Laura Dunstan, beating a lot of the rest of the field. As a Magnetic Island local, this is an event close to her home and heart and she headed out on the run almost 10 minutes ahead of her nearest female competitor, Lia Johnson and then Olga Poberezovska about 5 mins behind Lia.

Honarable mention to Team Billys Crew, whose paddler had not paddled before and did a 2:55 minute paddle AND managed to complete the 20km.


Duathlon start 0740

The Dirty Duathlon competitors rocked up to Picnic Bay – it was so good to be able to include previous years favourite part of the course – the jetty – to start the runners off on their event. Runners made their way then along the Picnic Bay mall and out towards the next sections of their run, before their epic climb up to Checkpoint C.


This years course included a ROCK HOP and ABSEIL (Ultras only for abseil). This was a very exciting part to the course, and definitely gave competitors some added excitement and adrenalin. There were some scary moments, especially with a few first time abseilers – but with 4 ropes and 2 instructors plus extra marshals kept the process was kept very smooth.

It was great to see everyone in the Ultra get in a do the abseil section!

The rock hop was pretty rough and the exit of the rocky bay was a search for the ribbons to find the way out with some high lines tough terrain and slippery dry scrub between rocks.

A few sunbaking backpackers gave a much-needed boost to the mid pack field in front of Xbase along the beach.

Into the forts there was some great climbing into the forts themselves.

The NEW Enduro format was enjoyed by competitors – with the ability to sprint each leg and still have a great day out. The protected paddle, shorter bike course and run, all very productive to the short course specialists who like it fast. It also makes a perfect stepping stone for those people wanting to step up from the Taste of Adventurethon.

The descent from the Forts pretty gnarly in to Radical bay, with VW Enduros going via track and the Dirty Duathlon and BNG Sports Ultras going via the rock hop. The rock hop section was pretty challenging and for some people who had never done sections like this before it was tough. Don’t worry – those rocks will still be waiting for you next year.

Rob Smythe– had a cracker of a paddle and was super fit and looking well placed in his age group, before he injured his calf after run. Heal fast Rob.

2 lap courses are fun if you love the course…and we really do! We are so thrilled to share this interesting, challenging course with competitors and love seeing how much everyone has a love/hate relationship with it.

Those that got in early were happy to avoid heat with the 2nd laps for the bigger racers a bit cooler.

Descending after the first 2 climbs is fun with erosion bars creating a good launch pad for the experienced riders.

Some quick road sections linked the trails and gave a cooling effect with the speeds on the downhills.

What comes down must go up again in a loop and so the pipeline trail up to CPC was little easier but still a hard climb and the prospect of doing it 2 x might be a bit daunting at first climb. The addition of a few natural ramps over erosion mounds allowed a better climb to the top.

CPC disqualified competitors for “drafting” as an April fools joke and had competitors chuckling away. LOL

The pipeline descent had also had some work done and a series of pallets magically appeared on the downhill between drops… the Enduro and DH riders really ate it up riding the entire thing with others taking the safest option and walking a few of the steeper ramps.

After the pipeline it’s onto the Horse tracks with a couple of creeks and cools shaded winding tracks to recover on.

Sam Stedman commented that he, Kris Plain & Luke shared the CPC ascent together on lap 1 and that on the descent he opened up and smashed out an awesome descent where his knicks touched his back wheel (I believe we have on video).

At the end of the day, Sam Stedman was able to make up time on his run and crossed the finish line first, in a time of 5:19:13, followed by Luke Smythe 5:29:12 and Kris Plain (from WA) in 5:41:46.

The women’s top finishers were Laura Dunstan 7:16:22, followed by Julie Sager 7:56:08 and Olga Poberezovska 8:27:38.

For full results, including Enduro and Duathlon times and winners, see the website HERE

Thoughts from Us

We are so stoked that people took the challenging course on, it’s tough and requires constant upgrading of your skills, something that can keep you motivated to train and continue to develop as an Adventurethon athlete.

Magnetic Island really turned on great weather and showcased an amazing landscape framed by granite boulders of which we were able to enjoy.

The addition of the abseil and the forts was awesome and the rock hop was a real reward for those that did the prep work on technical rocks etc before the event.

Cool mentions

Bill Whalley – old sentimental favourite shoes gave out, he did a couple km with no shoes, then marshal Adrain offered shoes about 3 sizes too big….shoes wrecked, socks wrecked .

Kris Plain paddled from West point with no rudder – makes it a tough day out for anyone.

Kevin – Back again after last years Magnetic Island and really enjoyed the new format.

Zac Pope in the Dirty Duathlon administered first aid a few mins top…helped with a bleeding leg on course…no blood not going hard enough 

Girls were all close at paddle – was a really great vibe amongst them all – encouraging and cheering each other on.

Lia Johnson – was unwell leading into the race, but wanted to do it so badly, she was careful and measured and DID IT! You rock Lia.

Spectator Boat was a very enjoyable addition for us this year (& we would love to provide this for you again in the future – stay posted). Judy (partner of Bill Whalley and both visiting from WA, said she loved being on the spectator boat. It enabled her to be right there IN Bill’s race, seeing what he was seeing and experiencing, and instead of just talking about what he saw at the end of the day, it was a much closer connection. She loved it.

Craig McPhan, after a dnf last year, had a score to settle. Then when cyclone Debbie blocked his ability to get north (from Mackay) he was feeling more and more desperate that he would be unable to make the race. Then on Friday, he was thrilled to discover he could get through and we are very hapy to tell you that not only did he finish, but he did his BNG Sports Ultra in a very good time too. Great work Craig!

Keith Wilson had a cracked rib leading into the event – we know we breed them tough in Queensland – but we can just not get over how repeatedly people are kicking butt on these courses despite having things to overcome.

Toby Neilsen (from New Zealand) had a really awesome abseil –  very fast and confident – it was great to see him back again.

Special SHOUT OUT to our awesome volunteers – seriously magnificent effort you all gave over the entire weekend. With a brand new course, and very hectic lead up, we were grateful to have such a friendly, reliable and super bunch of volunteers – THANK YOU


In closing, it was a bummer we lost a few competitors and helpers  to the cyclone affected areas but happy to have had an event to put on as with the cyclone headed for us and only turning at the last min we were happy to have anything happen at all. We are so proud of everyone (those who came and those who couldn’t because of the cyclone, be it flooded in or off helping with recovery) and we look forward to seeing you all next event.

Turns out Maggie was perfect.

Thanks to Joel Savage at Adventurethon Australia

Full Results:




A Different Kind Of Race: Tocobaga Draft --- by J.C. Malick

On April 1st, on the shores of Indian Rocks Beach, FL along the Gulf of Mexico, 7 paddlers in OC1s (2) and Surfskis (5) lined up for the first annual Tocobaga Draft. The Captain's meeting included a moment of silence for fallen surfskier David Bell along with a few words from the town's mayor, RB Johnson, and the National Anthem before the inaugural South Florida Surfcraft Challenge got underway. 

At 8:48 am, the paddlers started from the beach and headed to the first yellow marker 1/4 mile from shore. From there, under the watchful eye of a US Coast Guard cutter, the racers rendezvoused with their power boats and made their way to the turn buoy just south of Clearwater Pass (5 miles one-way).

Beach Start

Beach Start

The first team, North Florida Watermen Flavio Costa and Nate Humbertson, joined at the last minute by JP Atherholt who found himself without his teammate, Jean Raas (who suffered travel issues) finished the 10 1/2 mile course with a lightning speed of 1:23:43 escorted by boat Captain Serbo Simeoni.

Flavio Costa, Nate Humbertson, and JP Atherholt

The Winners!

The second team and only mixed team, Lisa Malick and Michael Canfield, finished with a time of 1:48:58.

Lisa Malick and Mike Canfield

The 3rd team overall, Team CrossSUP Christian Cook and Ralf Steitz crossed the beach finish line in a time of 1:58:47.

Christian Cook and Ralf Steitz

The awards ceremony took place in Largo, FL at the local craft brewery Barley Mow where racers enjoyed a special Tocobaga Paddle Stout (Maven Chocolate Milk Stout with Coffee) as well as five varieties of ice cream donated by Sponsor Working Cow Ice Cream (a local St. Pete Ice Cream maker).

Good Beer = #1 Prize For Paddlers!

The awards included personalized medallions from Hertz Pottery, Custom Tiki Toss Paddle trophies and a White Elephant Award Box exchange.  Additionally there were prizes from Sponsors including Wawa, Epic Kayaks, Vaikobi, Goodboy Kayaks, OWS Leo, Don Kiesling (DK) Rudders, PaddleSmart, Hammer Nutrition, Tiki Toss, Nelo Sprint Training and Resource Center, SBR Sports, SolRx Sunscreen, Clearwater Paddleboard Company, Road ID, Tunaskin, Crazy Paddlers, DD3 Surfskis, Watersports West, Jolyn, Kailoa, and Hook Tribe.

1st Place Crew

2nd Place Crew


Of course the best was saved for last with the David Bell Memorial Traveling Trophy presented to JP Atherholt for continuing the safety initiative and stoke that David Bell shared with his paddling Ohana! The trophy was presented by David's wife, Kristin Bell, along with her son Liam. JP was awarded the trophy along with items donated by Ocean Paddle Company (Michael Canfield, Owner) including a Road ID, Mocke Leg Leash, and Mocke PFD for exhibiting exemplary behaviors during and after the race; behaviors often exhibited to others by David Bell in prior area races.

Kristin and Liam Bell

JP Atherholt helping carry another paddler's boat -- exemplifying sportsmanship worthy of the David Bell Trophy

The organizers of Tocobaga Draft (JC and Lisa Malick) would like to thank everyone that made the event a success and look forward to continuing the tradition in 2018!

2017 Racing Kicks Off

Aside from a few early season events, the next two weekends mark the kickoff of the North American racing season proper.

Florida's wildly popular Shark Bite Challenge along with newcomer Tocobaga Draft, Wesley Echol's Narrow River Race, the left coast's Silver Blade International Regatta, Southeast Paddle Series opener the Beaufort River Quest and from deep in the heart of Dixie's Bluz Cruz race all mark the upcoming calendar.   

For a quick overview:

Shark Bite Challenge: 14th Edition of this race looks like a good one.  Demo's, vendors, warm weather with white sand beaches and crystal clear water make a great way to thaw out after winter.  Top racers from the region will be on hand as well top paddlers Oscar Chalupsky and Teneale Hatton.

Oscar  Chalupsky

Oscar  Chalupsky

teneale Hatton

teneale Hatton

Beaufort River Quest:  Southeast Paddle Series get's started in the beautiful seaside town of Beaufort, South Carolina, made famous by resident best selling author Pat Conroy.  River Quest will be held inside the bay and will complete short laps all visible from the downtown area spectators.

Bluz Cruz: 22 mile blitz down the fast moving Mississippi River.  This will be the Twelfth edition of this race and these gulf region events are always special.  They have their own way of tackling racing in this region and having a good time is paramount.

Narrow River Race: Longstanding New England race hosted by's Wesley Echols.  Races in this area are always well attended and are almost always pure ski's. Great competition---always top guys tow the line.  This year they may be dodging a snowstorm.

Tocobaga Draft:  New installment.  Looks like a great time drafting behind a boat down in Florida's pristine waters.  Info here:

Silver Blade Regatta:  Hosted by the San Diego Canoe and Kayak Team, this event should have an international flavor and will primarily feature sprint boats with ski's also taking part. 

We've had a warm winter, allowing a rare opportunity to spend more time enjoying the unseasonable weather on the water.

Of course, with more paddlers spending more time in the bucket this should translate to some pretty fast racing right out of the gates.

And it's not just what's directly in front but the next several weeks.  2017 will absolutely hit the ground running with a buffet of events.

Surfski racing in the states is starting to suffer from double and even triple booking.  If racing's your thing, you've probably already found that you may have multiple venue options on any given weekend.

Not a bad problem to have really, is it?  Even if math isn't your strength, it's easy to see that surfski popularity is on the boom.  

And right on time too.  The ski is more accessible than ever.  Short ones, long ones, fat ones, skinny ones, light, bombproof, carbon, glass, plastic and everything in between--there is an entry point for everyone.

And with an increase in popularity comes the benefits for the rest of us: more industry development (more product innovations), more races and events, more coverage and more friends to share the good times with.

It's a good time to be on a ski! 



Vancouver Island By Surfski: Coda---N. Cryder

Day 4: Wednesday, July 29th I got up early to head out in search of water. The moon made for a bright, clear morning and I was in high spirits. After an extensive search, I found the stream bed in the forest. It was dry except for a few deep, still holes that had numerous signs of wildlife visitation. But there it was, water! As I began to treat the water I made note of the various tracks in the soil. Coyote, Racoon, Deer and... oh, a Mountain Lion! As the significance of these tracks sank in I had a very still, quiet feeling that I was being watched. Chiding myself for my imagination, I carried on with my task. But I couldn't shake the feeling and was happy to exit the dark forest with my prize and hide intact as the sun rose.  

Sea sores and waterlogged feet. Sorry lads. 

Sea sores and waterlogged feet. Sorry lads. 

I was on the water by 9:00am and felt good physically, and was motivated to soldier on despite my setbacks and the increasing number of sea sores (saltwater abrasions) that were beginning to appear all over my body. I use a mix of body glide and petroleum jelly to try to limit them. The petroleum jelly does a good job of slowing the waterlogging of skin. The abrasions that this will cause are similar to 2nd degree burns. Petroleum jelly is crucial for your hands that suffer particularly badly, but one must be careful to put the petroleum on well before one grabs a paddle shaft. This works for the first 6 to 8 hours, but after that it wears off as the friction and miles pile up. Anything that has skin to textile contact (even neoprene!) will abrade in the saltwater. More so skin on skin. High quality paddling clothing and skin tight rash-guards will help, but all bets are off when you are out for 12 hours or more for several days on end and cracking the whip physically. The other aspect of sea sores is preventing them from getting infected. Easier said then done. I was careful to save a little freshwater for a sponge bath at the end of each day, and to use clean bandages and Neosporin at night. This eats a lot of time, but its a mandatory care regiment to keep your body running strong for so many days out in a harsh environment. 

My target for this day was to clear the Hesquiat peninsula, and make my way to a camp at Hot Spring Cove or possibly Flores Island Provincial Park where I would likely have good access to water. This task proved very difficult, with a strong current pushing against a light, on again / off again NW wind and a large western swell. There were times when I made great progress, and this was the first time on my entire trip that I managed to catch ride on a handful of waves resembling a downwind paddle. But otherwise, I found the seas confused, bouncy and with very little directional energy to work with. Just mile after mile of hard paddling in messy, overhead water. 

Quick lunch break and changing my water bags. The number of beaches sheltered by reefs is remarkable, but sometimes getting past the reefs can be a bit hectic with crashing waves and plenty of rebound to test your skills. 

Quick lunch break and changing my water bags. The number of beaches sheltered by reefs is remarkable, but sometimes getting past the reefs can be a bit hectic with crashing waves and plenty of rebound to test your skills. 

At one point I was paddling past a buoy offshore of Nuchatliz, noting the strange mooing sound that it makes as it sways in the swell. I recall staring at the buoy and reminding myself that sharks often hover near buoys in California. "Good thing to remember. Yup!" And then I glanced down to check my compass and noticed a shark swimming with me directly beneath my boat. Silently shadowing a strange new fish. I stopped paddling and just stared, totally absorbed like a child at the aquarium in the moment. The shark then swam up beside me, tilted its head out of the water and stared at me with a jet black marble eye before disappearing. I noticed a large number of gills, and figured it was probably a six gill shark and was roughly 6 feet long. Not big enough to worry me, but maybe it was someone's little sister? ONWARD!  

As the day and miles rolled by, I approached the Hesquiat Peninsula at roughly 6:00pm feeling tired, but motivated to make the most of the day. However, the western swell made this a very demanding and dangerous crossing, as the breakers appeared to form three to four miles offshore, and zoomed towards the reefs closing out the entire bay. I thought I would be clever and save some miles by taking a tight, inside line. Upon doing this however, I was suddenly in a very dangerous spot as the reefs here are maze like and sometimes do not go all the way through and are loaded with kelp beds. And on this particular day 20 foot barreling waves were making easy work of the reefs, blasting over them and into a washing machine that made my local 520 bridge rebound look absolutely adorable by contrast. With the sickly, white lighthouse staring me down me like a witch tower out of the Tolkien trilogy, I delicately alternated between paddling over and through the tops of the breaking waves, and then turning back into them to surf down their backs to pick up speed as I tip toed my way through the gauntlet. After punching through an oncoming wave I took a deep breath and sprinted into the next rushing blow. I was so thankful to be in a solid, stable surfski as I was paddling at my absolute threshold in an absolute no fall zone. In my climbing days, we'd call this being run out on mank gear with a bad case of shaky leg. 

Once clear of the lighthouse and safely past the backline, I had a difficult decision to make. The wind was picking up quite a bit, and I really wanted to make my goal of Hot Spring cove which I could see roughly ten miles away. I had at this point paddled 62 miles of rugged, open ocean. But the sun was setting, and it meant with some degree of certainty that I would be paddling an open water downwind in the dark. On the other hand, given what I had just gone through and feeling rattled, Hesquiat had a menacing, dark presence and I simply loathed the idea of a camp here. Remembering that the mileage is always greater than it appears, I reluctantly decided to head into Hesquiat bay reasoning that I could make a fast, efficient camp and exit in the morning. 

As I paddled into the bay past a feature known as "Anton's Spit", I noticed an old sailing ship anchored just off shore. I wondered if perhaps it had been run aground there, as it looked to me in the fading light to be in rough shape and in shallow water. I thought it worth a closer look, and was surprised to see that the ship was occupied, and had a thick black smoke coming from a chimney pipe below deck. It's wooden boards had a slick, black oily finish with a tattered tarp and old dingy on the back that gave it a creepy vibe. I joked to myself that it was good to know Captain Sparrow had found a proper place to camp in between films. 


The bay itself has a shallow water sandbar that enables a strange wave to form very suddenly out of the still water; breaking and then rebounding as it rips across the the bay. Like a wake of a ghost ship from an age past. If I were in an empty ski, this would be a very fun wave... but not tonight. Not now. This shit was getting old. I paddled up to the shore in the dark to the location listed on my map as a good camp, and realized that the shoreline of the bay was made up large, basketball sizes rocks jumbled on top of each other. I muttered "What next?" to myself as I contemplated briefly heading back out to sea in the dark, but then decided against it and to try to get the boat up on the beach without damaging it. It was here that I was nailed by an oncoming wave at the worst possible moment and instantly regretted asking "what next?" just moments before. It was a tremendous effort to keep my footing and I nearly dropped my beloved, loaded boat on these rocks which would have been a very severe blow. In saving the boat however with my last ounce of strength, I felt a sickening tear deep in my shoulder muscle and cried out. Not able to set the boat down in the waves, but not able to walk either. Just standing there. Frozen in a battle with myself. I took a few deep breaths, focused, and let my feet carefully try to find a solid footing in between the stones as I balanced on the slippery rocks and waves. It worked. I staggered step by agonizing step over the course of ten minutes out of the waves until I could set the boat down ever so carefully on the rocks. I then used my haul bag and raced two loads of gear out of the boat up the beach to my camp. After retrieving the now empty boat and bringing it to the shore, I realized I had missed a very nice, sandy beach. Ahah, maybe next time... 

I made a hasty camp under the light of a full moon. I was physically waisted from the day, demoralized, and my shoulder muscle throbbed as I used the last of my fresh water to make a quick dinner. I debated not making dinner, but knew that I would need the calories to face the day to come. My map indicated a lake nearby, so I reasoned that I might be able to find it and draw water in the morning.

As I fell asleep, I heard a pack of wolves howling in to each other in the forest and summed my inner Jeff Bridges to mutter a gruff "Fine. Come see me. I'll be here." Sure enough, they did. I was woken up by their bickering as they went through my hastily made camp at 3am that morning. I decided to try and scare them off, and used my camera flash and a deep shout to send them running. Maybe not the most delicate way to make friends, but I was in a very bad mood and decided it was my day to be the bigger badder wolf. It had it's intended effect. Almost to the degree of comedy. I felt like a total jerk as I fell back to sleep. A big happy jerk. An important note: I had taken to the time to secure my food well outside my camp in a bear bag hung from a tree. As a guy who's spent a lot of time in the mountains, there are some rules you just don't break. Ever. 

Day 5: Thursday, July 30th I awoke just before dawn very tired, very sore and very thirsty. I grabbed my light, ate some kippered snacks and choked down crackers, nuts and dried apricots for breakfast and broke camp as I wrestled with my morale. I did my best to cheer up, noting the fine weather and the potential to rebound. But my inner Gollum called my bluff. "This is not going well. We're losing precious. Piece by piece. Minute by minute this is slipping away from us Precious." Everything was hard. Packing was hard. Moving was hard. Thinking was hard. Complaining was hard. I briefly made a foray in search of the lake and water, and after taking a bad fall in the thick forest, I decided to retreat and just leave.

Getting on the water, I was thankful to be out of the ocean swell in a flat, quiet bay. It hurt a LOT to paddle, and as I slowly limped out of the bay I dared a final look back to Hesquiat. It was there that I realized I had paddled past some houses that night and not seen them. Crazy. 

I entertained the idea of trying to rally and make it Ucluelet. But the more I paddled, the more I realized that that my strength was ebbing and my sea sores were getting quite bad, making it very painful to just sit in the ski. I knew that this was likely the beginning of the end of my attempt. Or maybe even the middle of the end. I had mixed feelings. The fighter wants to go on because the fight is still on. The tired, broken man knows sometimes dreams are just dreams. I chew on these thoughts and decide to make my way towards Tofino and try not to come to a hasty conclusion. Just paddle and see if things improve as the day progresses.

Then then wind comes from the southwest, and pushes steadily against a NW swell and makes the sea rise up in hissing white caps. I should care a lot about this, but I do not. I am numb to each slap in the face by the oncoming waves. I limp on, puttering forward. Not advancing as I have trained myself to do, but not stopping as I have trained myself to do. Defiant. Willfull. Pissed. Tired. Lonely. Wounded. Defiant. 

Eventually I slip past the reefs and into the wind shelter between Flores Island and Bartlett Island in the early afternoon, and the beauty and still water of Clayoquot Sound seduces me. The sun is shining. The air is warm. And then, a family of gray whales surround me as I destroy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They are in a good mood and now I am in a good mood. My Avatar moment comes screeching to a halt as a jet boat roars up stuffed full of tourist in matching fluorescent orange jump suits. They wait jealously outside my holy wale circle, impatiently glaring at me. I am right in the middle in their shot, and they paid good money for this. Asshole. I casually paddle to the back of the whale boat, where I commend the warden for his work with the inmates. My joke earns his empty, glaring stare. Time to go. 

I limp into Whitesand cove, and am greeted warmly by some fellow kayakers and a hiker. I learn that there is water in the nearby village and limp my way into town. I also make contact with my wife, and let her know that I have found a good, sheltered spot and will spend the day resting to see if my shoulder is workable. I know it's not, but after years of working towards this goal, I owe it to myself and those who believed I could do this before pulling the plug.

Day 6: Friday, July 31st The next day I make a quick study of my injuries, and decide that this is the end. I spend the day cleaning wounds, stretching sore muscles and soaking up the sunshine and getting to know my fellow beach friends. All of us come from different places, but are from the same tribe. Doing our best to live good lives that we think count for something. I make coordinate with my family, who have worked tirelessly to make arrangements for a pickup in Tofino. Incredibly I learn that my dad is flying out from Montana and then driving my truck to me. And other family have offered to do the same. Damn, its nice to be so loved. Damn I love my family back. 

Day 7: Saturday, August 1: I head into Tofino in the morning and make good time on the fast currents, despite my shoulder. I have been offered a tip to head to the Kayaker's Inn, as they are very friendly to expedition paddlers and will likely let me stash my boat on their racks. Friendly was an understatement. I was greeted by a guide on the beach, and then introduced to Liam and a Tasi named Meg, who offered me a fabulous cappuccino and a hot shower.

I wandered around town the rest of the day in a dazed culture shock. Trying to adjust to the sudden influx of people, commercial zeal and cocktail of languages that is Tofino. 

And then, I realized that I already missed the wild, beautiful places that I had just worked so hard to leave. Imagine that.

Read more from Nick Cryder at:

A World Record Attempt Delayed

Traci Lynn Martin, who is attempting to set a World Record for paddling 8600 miles in 265 days, suffered a setback on Monday when she had to be rescued from Lake Huron.  The conditions were cold and the lake full of ice.  Ms. Martin appears to have gotten off course as a result of a malfunctioning GPS, and consequently was still far from shore when she asked for a rescue.  She was cold and hypothermic when found, was treated at the scene, but declined further treatment.  She has suspended her attempt for two weeks, during which time she will travel home to Missouri to be with her sons.

Below is a video located on her Facebook page that give some ideas of the condition of the lake.

Ms. Martin who is 52 and an experienced expedition kayaker, is determined to kayak the full coastline of the Great Lakes.  Due to the length of the trip, she started in March, after a mild winter in Michigan, to ensure she would have sufficient time to complete the journey.  Unfortunately, recent cold weather has delayed spring longer than hoped for.

Her plans and more about her expedition can be found at here



Vancouver Island By Surfski: Part II---N. Cryder

Day 2: Monday, July 26th I woke up at 4am utterly drained from my phone's antics and having slept very little. I set to figuring out a communication plan with my family should my phone completely fail. I was using my phone in tandem with an original DeLorme inReach which does not have a screen and must be paired with a smartphone for detailed communications. The device is a good one, very reliable and simple. However the tracking feature and battery life was a challenge, as a four hour tracking interval drained the batteries in just one day. In order to make my remaining batteries last for the entire trip I was forced to log my location at night without much communication back home. 

I was on the water by roughly 9am, another disappointment, and decided that Lawn Point was likely my best bet as a target for the day at roughly 50 miles away. Modest by my standards. 

Conditions were rough in the early morning with a beam swell, short period, and a wandering wind with lots of rebound on overhead waves. Skies were overcast with high clouds and temps in the low 60's. I quickly adjusted and found a fast pace as I set out south, averaging 6.5mph running with the current about two miles off shore and very much enjoying the cool conditions. 

I greatly prefer to paddle offshore for a handful of reasons. It makes going from point to point more efficient, and greatly reduces the rebound of the sea meeting the rocky shoreline. Less rebound means more boat run, and more boat run means more speed. Another aspect of paddling farther offshore is that the capes / points can be very technical, with tricky fast moving breaking waves that zoom into shore to meet the reefs and kelp beds. At times, it was far simpler to just paddle around them on the outside then risk being thumped inside or having to pause to consider my approach. I also quite like the feeling of being alone in the ocean. It is a strange form of freedom that I found in mountain climbing that energizes me in a way that few things in life can. In our modern, hemmed-in world, being truly alone is a very fine luxury. Finally, it's a lot of fun to sneak up to a boat full of sport fisherman several miles offshore and suddenly ask "HEY GUYS! WHICH WAY TO VICTORIA?!" at the last possible moment. They really love that. Trust me. 

Lawn Point looks exactly like a giant lawn as you approach from the water. Accessing the beach is a bit unnerving until you clear the reefs and kelp beds. I landed on the beach just as fog set in. That would have complicated navigating the reefs significantly. 

At around noon, the current switched and my pace slowed a bit to the low 5mph range. Decent, but much slower than I am accustomed to because of the severe weight of the boat. The wind built throughout the day, and became a stiff SW breeze by early afternoon along with a south western swell. I arrived at Lawn Point at roughly 4pm, feeling strong and tempted to continue due south to cross Brooks Peninsula in the evening. After contemplating the risk of an exposed crossing at night in unfamiliar territory with a formidable reputation, I decided to call it an early day and attempt to get a better night's sleep and an early start the next day. I found Lawn Point an iconic and beautiful location, but loaded with fresh bear signs and no water. I used my desalinator to good effect. 

The desalinator makes 1.3 gallons of water per hour of pumping, which with my water budget meant 2 hours per night to just make water. The device weighs 7.3 pounds. Not great. However, the act of taking water from the sea and converting it into drinkable water is right up there with human flight. I felt like I was robbing the world's greatest bank as I quietly pumped water from a tide pool in the dark of night to supply the next day's water. 

Day 3: Tuesday, July 27th My phone was in a much better mood, and was able to take a charge from my portable solar charger and stay turned off. Good dog! I slept very well, and had a visit from a bear and her cubs in the early morning hours as I made my breakfast. They calmly walked by my tent and paid me no heed as I held my breath with a death grip on my bear mace while the JetBoil quietly hissed. This may be the one time in my life when I was thankful to have a simple bowl of oatmeal instead of bacon and eggs for breakfast. 

Ominous clouds start to form over Brooks Peninsula at dawn. Will the weather improve or deteriorate? Time to roll the dice. 

At first light, a dense cloud started to form over the peninsula, making me thankful for the modern reality of GPS as I headed south in low visibility in search of the day's challenge. The swell remained south western, but had picked up significantly in size and period. It gave the ocean an erie, slow, heaving sensation. No wind. No sight of land. No sight of me. Just a crazy guy paddling in a gray, featureless room towards a place of great reputation. 

Brooks Peninsula and Solander Island in the distance. 

I arrived at Cape Cook at roughly 8:30am, just as the morning clouds lifted to confirm what my GPS had been telling me all morning was indeed true. This is Brooks! 

As is well documented, Brooks Peninsula has a strange, magnetic power and a curious rebounding wave effect that has sent many a sailor missing. I felt a bit like Indiana Jones as I committed to a center line between Cape Cook and Solander Island, and found conditions at first deceptively mild. The further I went, the weirder things got. Flat water would surge very quickly in a direction completely contrary to the swell and wind. And when that newly formed wave meets the swell, expect a fast ride upwards as the two waves throw you a party underneath your boat in the form of a pyramid shaped wave that is about the size of a modest house. It was a wild, fast ride, and this was a very mild day. This is what I had imagined, and hoped for, and I loved every second of it. 

As I rounded the cape proper and faced the east, I was somewhat dismayed and amused to see a vast sweep of coastline with roaring waves closing out the horizon in front of me. The swell direction, out of the south west, was setting off waves that looked like runaway mining trucks three miles offshore that were just huge and fast. I am sure a big wave surfer somewhere in Tofino is grinding his teeth as I type this. Sorry bruh!

As my eyes worked their way down the infinite coastline the clouds parted and a light breeze picked up behind me and the swell became more westerly. It was if a spell had been broken, and my spine tingled at the hope that I might get some usable wind. I made note of the very distant shoreline, checked my GPS and decided that an open ocean crossing of roughly 25 miles in such fair weather was worth the risk in distance gains. But before I set off, I made the decision to attempt to go ashore at Nordstrom Creek to get out of my wetsuit (I was now very hot in the full sun) and change my water bag before committing to a very long, open ocean crossing. 

As the big waves went off around me, I used the ski for a couple of very fast rides into the beach towards Nordstrom Creek by choosing smaller waves and riding in on the back of one of the big ones. Committing in a place like this. Yet a little surf experience at complicated shorebreaks can pay big dividends in situations where the speed and complexity of the water is overwhelming. The key for myself is to simplify the situation by only focusing on one wave at a time. Ignore the rest and do your best to get the timing right.  

Once on the the inside there is enough of a reef to cancel most of the waves, but three to four footers were still coming through and dumping onshore with very fast frequency with boulders and kelp beds mixed in to keep it true to the spirit of Vancouver Island (Aka a technical, high stakes landing in the middle of nowhere that will leave you in trouble if you get it wrong and break something). I timed the last wave to perfection, hopping out of the ski and grabbing the bow and letting the wave swing the tail towards the shore so I can then run the the ski up the beach with the nose on the sand. I use this technique because the awkward moments after a surf landing are very vulnerable to rider and steed, and my ski has an extra large surf rudder under the stern that prevents a traditional shore landing. 

I executed this approach like the Red Baron himself, and enjoyed a euphoric, silly moment of relief as I took a deep bow for my imaginary audience. And in a rare moment of truly divine humor, a long legged and shaggy bear casually walked out of the forest and walked directly towards me. And then it sat down and just stared at me, tilting its head sideways as we stood looking at each other for a long, awkward moment. Both of us marveling at the insanity of what was unfolding in this very isolated place. Like a Farside comic that might have a tragically dark punchline.   

I snapped out of it and hustled back out into waves. Hoping the bear wouldn't be up for a swim as I calmly opened the back hatch between waves, switched the water bag and took off my neoprene paddling jacket, keeping a close eye on the shore. As I did this, the bear started to walk out into the surf towards me. I slammed the hatch shut hopped on the ski and managed to leave skid marks on the waves as I peeled out of there like a Clint Robinson wanabee. I checked the transcript from my mental tape and it reads: "SHIT... SHIT! SHIT FASTER SHIT SHIT SHIT!!!" 

"Never mistake a clear view for a short journey." -Cowboy Proverb

Once past the backline I took a deep breath, ate some lunch, and had a laugh at the absurdity of what had just happened. I also made some mental notes about being more patient on beach landings and to remember to request more prayers from friends and family because I had burned through their entire supply in one morning. I was ready to get back to work and set off towards the far skyline of Kyuquot Sound and hopefully make camp at a promising location called Rugged Point.  

At some point the scale of Vancouver Island is simply unavoidable. It will confront you and break you down. I learned this repeatedly on this trip. Muscling past yet another cape, only to stare into the fading landscape as it blends into the next horizon. This time was a bit different though and after paddling for four hours against a strong offshore current towards my landmark target it just didn't appear any closer. The GPS assured me it was, but it was taking forever as I plodded along in what felt like the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I turned around to have a final look at the Brooks Peninsula, and it was still very close.

*sigh* "No one mentioned that Brooks would follow me." 

It's a funny thing how temptation finds you in even in the remote places. I completed the crossing and made my way through the outer reefs of Kyuquot sound in the hot sun towards Union Island, feeling parched and tired from a long day out. A fishing boat sped up to me and came to a sudden stop. The guys said they had seen me crossing in the open water earlier, and were curious if I wanted a beer!? They were concerned to see someone that far off shore, and had kept tabs on me as I crossed. Not so alone after all eh? I declined the offer of the beer, explaining that I was on a mission around the island and could take no assistance, however frosty and lovely. The kindness of total strangers here in Canada is not lost on me. 

Rugged point is both rugged, and wonderfully beautiful. 

Eventually, the miles gave way and I steamed into the white sand coves of Rugged Point, where I had hopes of finding a stream and not having to make water to save some time. Upon landing, I was simply overwhelmed yet again by the endless beauty of this great island. As I marched up the beach, dragging my poor ski by the nose in the sand, I noticed a number of footprints. In particular a set of footprints from a child that appeared just minutes old. It brought a smile to my face to think of my own children one day running around this very beach, and I made a promise to myself to return as I set up my camp for the night. 

I scouted for water, and could not find the stream indicated on my map in the fading light. So after dinner I went to find a good location to desalinate water. This is a bit tricky, as on a wide beach you must be able to pump water away from the surf and waves. I found what I thought was a good rock, and started to pump water. Unfortunately, the location was not good and the desalinator intake sucked up rocks and sand, which tore the fragile membrane inside the pump and rendered it useless. I suddenly had to adjust to the reality that my trip was now entirely dependent on finding fresh water in a severe drought year. I also had the even less attractive idea set in that I now had the privilege of lugging a seven pound, $2600 paperweight in the nose of my boat for the next 500 or so miles. First class white guy problems, every last one of them. 

Part III---Finish

Vancouver Island By Surfski: Part I --- N. Cryder

The surfski is far from a one dimensional craft. If you think the ski is only for racing and catching waves, you'd be wrong.

Bellingham paddler Nicholas Cryder drives this point home with his attempt at circumnavigating Vancouver Island on a custom built Epic V10 Sport, morphing the stable but fast V10 into a true cruiser replete with sealed bulkheads.  

"Envy" ---Custom V10

Follow Nick on his journey as he attempts the daunting task of paddling around Vancouver Island on a surfski:

My name is Nicholas Cryder, and I am a competitive surfski paddler and expedition adventurist living in the Pacific Northwest. 

I started my athletic life as a serious cyclist, and moved to Belgium when I was in my teens to race internationally. I became deeply disenfranchised with the sport in the late 1990's, yet at the same time was personally enriched by the strategic and training disciplines imparted to me through my formative years. Upon my return to the US, I discovered mountain climbing and was enamored with the relative purity of the sport and the intensity of mountain climbing. The physical suffering and psychological battles of alpine style climbing were familiar to me, but doing so in a beautiful setting and without any finish lines was novel and enlightening. The extreme nature of the sport was a constant threat, and eventually I shifted my focus to backcountry ski mountaineering and less committing days in the backcountry. 

Nick with hammer down

My love affair with the ocean is quite new for me. As a native of Montana, I was never particularly drawn to the water it until one fateful day my stepfather let me take his Hobie peddle kayak out in the Puget Sound. It looked like a plastic barge and I was skeptical. Until I actually hopped in it and started pedaling. I instantly knew this would be a new passion for me. It combined many of the best attributes of both cycling and mountain climbing, but offered a seemingly limitless number of places to go explore. When I am on the water, I feel a distinct and intimate connection to the world around me. But there is freedom too. There are no fences or gates. No traffic jams and no close calls with angry commuters. Just open water, and limitless potential for adventure and personal enrichment.  

My passion for speed and challenge has led me to embrace the surfski, a famously tippy but fast interpretation of the sea kayak. It demands the ultimate mix of cycling-like physical conditioning and mental toughness, but offers a stiff dose of adrenaline and adventure in a fashion similar to my alpine pursuits. Add in the ability to do multi-day trips, and you have a very special sport indeed. 

August 10, 2015

Below is an extended trip report from my recent attempt at the circumnavigation record for Vancouver Island in late July of 2015. I made the attempt unassisted, meaning that I had to carry all of my own gear, water and food (with no resupply at any point). 

DAY 1: Sunday July 25th, 2015 At 7:30am on Sunday morning, I said my farewell to my good friend Paul who had agreed to drive me to the put in at Port Hardy. The drive to Port Hardy was sobering. As you wind your way north the island just keeps unfolding endlessly. And when you finally make it to Port Hardy after many hours on the highway, you are only at the tip of the diving board. 

The second sobering moment was loading my ski with 100,000 calories of food, 10L of water, and enough camping gear to stake a claim on the Klondike on my way home. Lifting a boat this heavy (130 pounds!) and walking it down the boat ramp is no small feat. Doing this in the surf zone was something I didn't even want to think about. I did my best, using two climbing slings to create a reliable and simple harness to lift the ski and walk it down the ramp. Once in the water, the boat moved remarkably well. Just don't expect to catch anything but the steepest runners in this puppy. 

As I left the marina in the fog, my mind settled into the day's work and I found my standard paddling rhythm quickly. I enjoyed clearing skies as I paddled against the current in the Goletas Channel, and made good time to Shushartie Bay where the current switched and I picked up my pace considerably, averaging 7mph as I headed out to meet the ocean. I paddled on the island side of the shore, planning to use the Tatnal Reefs in the event the Nawhitti Bar was an issue (it was not). I had planned to change my water supply at Cape Sutil, but was approached at landing by a black bear who I discovered was feeding on a carcass of some kind. Water would have to wait. 

Naturally I elected to keep paddling, arriving at Cape Scott at roughly 4pm very dehydrated and hot, but in high spirits and ready to face my first real challenge. I found conditions hectic and up to reputation with large, standing waves (10' faces) and some very confused water. My rough water preparation paid big dividends. I was able to make short work of the transition around the cape without any hesitation in the surfski and with only a few sea lions for an audience. However, the heat of day and short water supply caught up to me and I had to deal with a major bonk and a bit of heat exhaustion once I had rounded the cape. I was forced to head in far sooner then I would have liked, and camped at Guise Bay. 

Guise Bay is sheltered by reefs from the Ocean swell, and could pass for a tropical cove. 

A disappointing first day, but not a total disaster. That night however, my phone went completely bonkers and would randomly turn itself on and ring. It did this for six hours, and would wake me even though I had placed it in a small dry sack and buried it in the sand. Suspecting water as the culprit, I took the silica packets from my freeze dried meal and placed them with the phone in a small ziplock bag to try to help it recover. 

Guise Bay was tremendously beautiful, and surprisingly well attended by a mix of hikers and a couple of fellow kayakers. It was here that I met another paddler who was also traveling around the island, but without the pressure of a record attempt. I suspected he would enjoy his circumstances much more then myself! As a strange matter of chance, I would later run into his son in Tofino who asked me out of the blue if I happened to have seen his dad out there. Small world indeed. A side note on Guise Bay, the Tsunami debris from Japan was littered across the beach, and some of it had been repurposed to good effect as chairs, tables and even mooring balls for those looking for a game of beach volleyball. 

Next: Part II---Day 2-3


Featured Race: Tocobaga Draft, April 1

The Inaugural Tocobaga Draft will run this coming Saturday, April 1, at Indian Rocks Beach in Florida.  This race was mirrored after a race on the West Coast called Richard "Dick" Ryder Race.

Teams of two racers will pair up to ride the wake/draft of a power boat escort 10 miles and will have a 1/4 mile sprint start and finish from the sandy shores of Indian Rocks Beach (bonus if there is a downwind leg in the Gulf on that day). The fastest team to the finish line at the beach will be crowned Chiefs of the Tocabaga Draft with runner ups through third. Teams are responsible for securing their own power boat and reimbursing the boat captain for gas and incidentals.  

The race will be limited to single surfskis and single OCs.  The race directors, Jason Malick and Lisa Malick, have secured some great sponsors and are hoping to make the race bigger next year.

Practicing for the Tocobaga Draft


Top of the class finish for 2017 FNB Surfski Series

The 2017 FNB Surfski Series came to an exciting end with the Varsity College Surfski Challenge and the Varsity College SA Schools Championships taking place at the Marine Surf Lifesaving Club on Friday evening.

Appropriately, Hank McGregor and Hayley Nixon claimed Race Ten win’s and by doing so they wrapped up the overall men’s and women’s titles for the second year in succession.

Euro Steel/Carbonology’s Nixon had to finish well at the final race of the series to secure the title and with the threat of Bridgitte Hartley racing the final race of the series, the pressure was on. However, Nixon powered her way home to win by just over a minute ahead of Hartley in second with Kyeta Purchase in third.

It was an impressive seventh win of the series for Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks’ Hank McGregor who just pipped Capetonian Kenny Rice to the post while Matt Bouman rounded out the podium.

Much of the focus of the evening was the Varsity College SA Schools Championships which provided some exciting race across the Under 18 and Under 16 divisions with William Wood from Selborne College in East London taking a tight win.

“I have been working really hard for this and when I was behind after the first lap I just put my head down and made sure Hamish (Lovemore) didn’t get away from me,” Wood mentioned after his win.

“It was a proper, hard race and I felt good from the beginning but it was a really good contest throughout the race.”

The race was a ding-dong battle throughout the second lap with both paddlers not giving an inch, however it was Wood who got the slightest of gaps coming into the finish which was just enough to hand him a memorable win.

“On the final downwind leg we were matching each other run for run but I managed get a run ahead of him and he got caught just behind me which gave me the space I needed.

“I just held the gap for a bit and grew it slightly coming into the finish.

“Such a great feeling to be able to win a race that I have been working towards for so long and take back the title to East London!” a satisfied Wood added.

Young Under 16 paddler Ulvard Hart came home in third place in the boys section with Hamish Mackenzie just behind him to take second Under 16 and fourth overall.

In the girls race it was FNB Surfski Series regular Sabina Lawrie who was too strong for the rest of the girls field as she finished eighth overall and just under three minutes ahead of Christie Mackenzie in second.

Zara Wood was the third girl across the finish line and was the first Under 16 girl to finish the 8km course. Cara Waud was second Under 16 and sixth girl to finish.

On another jam-packed Friday evening at Marine SLC Luke Nisbet and Jenna Ward showed their class once again to finish third in the doubles category and claim another mixed doubles win whilst Jason Ekstrand and Clinton Cook took the overall doubles spoils.

Mthebeni Mhkize was the strongest boat in the 4km short course, however the strongest boat in the race was the visiting doubles pair of Andre and Helen Wood.

Carmel Billson was in fine form as she finished the short course as the third single ski and first female ski. She finished ahead of Siobhan Sharp in second and Jenna Nel in third.

In the stand-up paddleboard category Nick Park-Ross once again showed his skills to claim another win. In the ladies SUP category it was Danica Bartho who finished top once again and finished fifth overall.

SUMMARY OF RESULTS – Varsity College Surfski Challenge and Varsity College SA Schools Champs

1.Hank McGregor 31.24
2.Kenny Rice 31.42
3.Matt Bouman 31.45
4.Wade Krieger 32.47
5.Gene Prato 33.43
6.Grant van der Walt 33.58
7.Bailey de Fondaumiere 34.12
8.Emil Torstensonn 34.14
9.Tyron Maher 34.16
10.Jordon Clauson 35.10

1.Hayley Nixon 36.39
2.Bridgitte Hartley 37.30
3.Kyeta Purchase 39.08
4.Kerry Segal 39.18
5.Pippa McGregor 40.23

1.Jason Ekstrand/Clinton Cook 31.26
2.Thomas Lovemore/Felix Richter 32.52
3.Jenna Ward/Luke Nisbet 33.02

Mixed Doubles
1.Jenna Ward/Luke Nisbet 33.02
2.Raquel Arcediano/Gareth Miles 35.43
3.Rowan Matthews/Jenna Matthews 37.39

Women Doubles
1.Emma Broberg/Emma Andersson 36.26
2.Wilma Deyzel/Lyn Bennett 40:16
3.Sharon Armstrong/Kelly Biljoen 41.52

1.Mthebeni Mkhize 20.09
2.Bruze Jackson 21.16
3.Carmel Bilson 22.48
4.Kevin Oliver 23.00
5.Dave Rees 23.11

1.Carmel Bilson 22.48
2.Siobhan Sharp 23.12
3.Jenna Nel 25.05

1.Andre Wood/Helen Wood 18.56
2.Jody Taylor/Duane Taylor 19.28
3.LAnce Howarth/Jade Howarth 21.18

1.Nick Park-Ross 25.27
2.Brandon Read 26.34
3.Jon Ivins 28.08
4.Matt Swemmer 28.36
5.Brendon Germaine 29.07

1.Danica Bartho 29.00
2.Lande Williamson 29.28
3.Charlotte Atherton 30.07


1.William Wood 34.14
2.Hamish Lovemore 34.38
3.Ulvard Hart (U16) 36.21
4.Hamish Mackenzie (U16) 36.25
5.Stewart Little 37.15
6.Brendon Delport 37.31
7.Alex Masina 38.08
8.Sabina Lawrie 38.16
9.Kelly Ashton Tarr 39.02
10.Matthew Maroun 39.50

1.Sabina Lawrie 38.16
2.Christie Mackenzie 41.21
3.Zara Wood (U16) 43.20
4.Teegan Hardwick 45.44
5.Alice Edwards 46.19

1.Ulvard Hart 36.21
2.Hamish Mackenzie 36.25
3.James Matthews 43.43
4.Petrus de Klerk 48.03
5.George Edward 1:08.04

1.Zara Wood 43.20
2.Cara Waud 47.25

Reprinted from:

Events Calendar on Surfski News is UP AND RUNNING

Surfski News has made an effort to load a variety of surfski events around the world onto our events calendar.  You can see "Upcoming Events" in the center of the home page.  

It can be searched by country and/or date (spell out the month).  A list of abbreviations used for the countries appears above the search box.

The idea of this calendar is multi-fold.  1) it will be a place to locate events and registration links.  2) It will be a quick and dirty way to see results (SN intends to add the link to the results as soon as one is available.  3) It will be a place to link race reports that we receive so that one can get a feel for the flavor of the event when planning next years excursions.

We hope that if you have events you would like to see on the calendar that you will send us the info at and that if you would like to share race reports you will also send them to us.

An example of what we hope we can build going forward is found here:

The Battle Rages On the Bayou: Bringing in the 2017 Race Season In The Southeast --- Elmore Holmes

Mike Herbert and the Pellerin Triplets

Mike Herbert and the Pellerin Triplets

It was sunny and beautiful in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, the morning of March 18 as racers converged on a cove at the eastern end of the Back Bay of Biloxi for the Battle On The Bayou canoe and kayak race.  This would be the eighth annual edition of this event, and for those who like to ask "What's new this year?" the most obvious answer would be the new race course.  In past years paddlers started in this cove, turned up into Old Fort Bayou, and followed this coastal creek some nine and a half miles to a finish line next to The Shed barbecue joint.  Looking to rein in the sprawl of the event, race director Mike Pornovets decided to make this year's course an "out-and-back" configuration, looping around an island about four miles up the bayou and returning to the same place it had started.  This allowed the event to be concentrated at one venue--the Gulf Hills Hotel just up the hill from the starting area--and eliminated the need for a shuttle to get racers from The Shed back to their cars.

When I arrived at the race site I found a familiar cast of characters assembled.  There was little question who the favorite was to take the overall title: even though it's been quite a few years now since he made his three U.S. Olympic teams and won his medals at the world championships, Mike Herbert of Rogers, Arkansas, has kept himself in outstanding physical condition and continues to be a factor in races all over the country at the age of 56.

Elmore Holmes and Jeb Berry

Elmore Holmes and Jeb Berry

Another boat expected to be in the hunt was the K3 paddled by the 15-year-old Pellerin triplets of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.  Carson, Conrad, and Peyton Pellerin have grown up racing across the Gulf South region and in the past year they have surpassed my own racing ability.  I'd last seen them in September at a 9-kilometer race up near Jackson, and while I was able to hang with them for most of that race their sprint off the starting line and their final surge toward the finish line were faster than I could handle.  I came to Ocean Springs this weekend curious to see if they could sustain a higher rate of speed over the entire 8.25-mile course; if so, they would be out of my league.

I figured my own competition would come from the likes of Phil Capel of Sherwood, Arkansas; Shane Kleynhans of Brandon, Mississippi; Jeb Berry of Gulfport, Mississippi; and the Louisiana tandem of Randy Hargroder and Brad Rex.

Nearly 150 boats--kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards--maneuvered onto the starting line, and just after nine o'clockthe starting gun fired.  Mike Herbert sprinted into the lead with the Pellerins in pursuit.  I quickly found myself vying for the third position with Jeb Berry on my left and Shane Kleynhans on my right.  As we rounded the tip of a sawgrass marsh and headed up into Old Fort Bayou, I settled onto Jeb's wake and we opened a couple of boat lengths on Shane, whose training has been limited this winter due to a knee-replacement surgery in early December.

The Gulf Races Always Bring Fun Hats!

The Gulf Races Always Bring Fun Hats!

I was hoping that if I could withstand the triplets' initial sprint I might be able to climb up onto their stern wake like I had done at Jackson last fall, but they were having none of that.  Their rapid development has indeed continued through the winter and steadily they pulled away from the rest of us.  As they approached the Washington Avenue drawbridge they appeared well within striking distance of Mike.

I let them go and focused my attention on Jeb, who as far as I could tell was alone on my stern wake.  I threw in a number of surges during the first half of the race with the hope of dropping him, but he wouldn't drop.  As we rounded the island for the return trip I let him take the lead for a while, and even though he told me he'd been working hard to stay on my wake, he wasn't paddling like he was on the ropes now.  I sat on his wake and tried to save some energy for a strong finish.

Battling in the Bayou

Battling in the Bayou

The story up front, as recounted to me afterward, was that the triplets were hanging close enough to Mike that Mike decided to drop back and ride their wake for much of the race.  By the time they entered the final stretch he'd had all the rest he needed to turn on his world-class speed and pull away to win by about eleven seconds.  It was a good win for Mike, but I'm impressed by the Pellerin boys' accomplishment: while I'd figured it wouldn't be long before they were able to hang with athletes of Mike's caliber, I didn't think they would be there quite yet.  I look forward to rooting them on as they travel through the world of flatwater sprint racing and national teams and all that kind of thing.

I felt anything but rested after some ten minutes on Jeb's wake, but as the Washington Avenue bridge came back into view I knew it was time for me to make my case for third place overall.  Once we'd passed under the bridge it was tempting to think we were "almost there," but we still had the better part of a mile to go.  I tried to paddle as strong and efficiently as I could without blowing out everything I had too early.  Finally, when we rounded the last turn and could see the finish buoys, I decided it was time and I began my last furious push.  Even as I became more confident that I had third place in the bag, glances over my shoulder revealed Jeb's bright yellow boat still there, closer than I would have liked.  At last we crossed the line two seconds apart, according to the official results.

Lauren Drummond

Lauren Drummond

Shane came into the finish about seventy seconds later--not a bad effort for him considering his recent medical experiences.  The Hargroder-Rex K2 came in several minutes behind Shane, and Henry Lawrence of Brandon, Mississippi, completed a very respectable effort shortly thereafter.  Phil Capel was the first non-race-boat finisher, winning the class for fast touring kayaks.  The top overall female finisher was Lauren Drummond of D'Iberville, Mississippi.  The complete results are now posted here.

Henry Lawrence

Henry Lawrence

No question about it: the 2017 race season is now underway here in the southern United States.  I'm reasonably satisfied with my first race and I look forward to more competitions with many of these same paddlers along with a host of others.

PHOTO CREDITS to Doug Heller.