Some background on our addition with SUP.
One of my (Chris here) main passions in years past was paddling outrigger canoe. Seeing my sister’s best friend (who lives in Kauai) come in and finish the Newport to Catalina channel crossing every year (when I was living in Huntington Beach, CA) always intrigued me. At some point, I started searching for some info on paddling and found some clubs. I started paddling with Lokahi out of Long Beach and was immediately hooked.
Growing up with asthma and allergies, I’d never been a runner or endurance sport enthusiast of any type. Anti-runner, even. I always had a major affection for the beach and ocean though. From the first time I jumped in the canoe, it was obvious that this was the sport for me. Finally gave me an opportunity to get super fit and get my cardio in shape by doing something (lots of work mind you) that I absolutely enjoyed. This was the 6 man outrigger canoe at this point. I entered my first race which was a 15 mile 6 man event at Kings Beach up in Lake Tahoe. Again, loved it…
I took a trip with my best buddy from that race and his girlfriend to Kauai to get out and paddle there and fell even more in love with Kauai than I already had been. I eventually decided to quit my job, halve my pay and move over there to paddle. I got a job managing the laundry at the Hyatt and was in the water paddling 5 or 6 days a week. It was a wonderful time. I started paddling with Niumalu right off the Kalapaki Beach. It was amazing to have the canoes right there on the sand. Slide them in, head out into open ocean & then get into the lineup and surf a few waves at the end of practice (all in a 6 man canoe). When competition season started, we didn’t have enough 1st year guy paddlers so I switched clubs to Kaiola. I ended up stroking the Novice B crew (1st year paddlers) to wins at most all the races in sprint season. We even won the Garden Island Championships and went to State Championships on Oahu where we paddled in the $30K gorgeous koa wood canoes. Once sprint season was over, I ended up stroking (sitting in seat 1 and setting the pace) for the open crew. We won our first race by about 5 minutes. It was an amazing feeling. We ended up winning and placing in a lot of other killer races that year (2nd in the Napali Challenge and 3rd in malia class at the Queen Lili’uokalani- largest long distance canoe race in the world).
I did well enough that I started to wonder how far I could go with paddling. I also got an opportunity to go back to my old company (and salary) on Oahu and figured I could have my cake and eat it too. I moved into an apartment off a house in Lanakai just a few steps away from the best men’s canoe club in the world at that time. I joined Lanikai and only made 1 practice. The problem was that going back to my old job let me fall into my old habits and I could never get back across the island in time for practice. So the bulk of my paddling during my Oahu time was paddling my 1 man outrigger out off Lanikai beach and out and around the Mokuluas.
When I met Heather, we decided to move back to AZ to be near family and my paddling days pretty much ended.
I made a couple of practices with one of the canoe clubs that paddles on Tempe Town Lake but it just wasn’t the same. First of all, it was impossible to make the practice times and then the differences between paddling Lanikai Beach and TTL were a bit of a let down.
When I saw mention of stand up paddling here in AZ, I freaked out. Found a way to get on the water and I was done.
The great thing is that the way we go about our paddling is super conducive to spending time with the family and everybody has fun. Heather and the kids love it as much as me.
So there you are.
With the way my life has gone over the past 5 years, I tend to advocate causes and passions pretty hard. For me, this is it. I will do everything I can to share this amazing sport.
Hope to see you on the water soon!