Inspired by reader feedback and my enjoyment of reading the work of the Los Angeles Times’ award winning columnist Steve Lopez, I have decided to introduce Paddling Prose, a new monthly feature chronicling select news, events, and notable accomplishments throughout the colorful expanses of the Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) community through my own personal lens. Make sure you've got your leash attached; this could be a wild ride!
Starting close to home, nestled next to the Jamaica Bay Inn in scenic Marina del Rey, Pro SUP Shop’s Mike Vaughan has just received delivery of a new storage trailer for the shop and he swears it is as big as a whale. The added capacity has dramatically increased the size of Pro SUP Shop’s footprint in the marina. The new trailer’s arrival coincided with the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors granting Pro SUP Shop long term leasing approval thereby bestowing upon them a de facto permanent presence in the marina. In celebration, Mike and his crew dressed up their facility with some stylish and environmentally friendly new turf out front, leaving no doubt that LA’s only beachfront SUP shop is geared up for plenty of action in 2014.
Beyond the gravitational pull of LA, the new Stand Up Paddle Athlete’s Association (SUPAA) spearheaded by Chase Kosterlitz got off to a rolling start just before its official launch in the new year. I had the opportunity to sit down for lunch with Danny Ching recently to talk about the new association. Ching sits on SUPAA’s Advisory Board and has excelled as a multi-sport athlete in numerous paddling disciplines. “SUPAA grew from a need for a basic structure at SUP races,” he said. “We do not want there to be too many rules, but there should be a uniform standard of basic start procedures and rules at SUP races.” SUPAA’s mission statement is well crafted and makes it clear the association is looking to give our sport some structure by channeling everyone’s collective passion for paddling. SUPAA is not the first organization to take a stab at this Olympic sized challenge, but the inclusive nature of their achievements thus far bodes well for its future success.
Rounding out the month, industry leader Quickblade Paddles sent the first consignment of their revolutionary new V-Drive paddle to dealers in January. The paddles promptly sold out right around the time news broke of yet another new design from the Mad Scientist known as the Trifecta. Taken together, I expect these two new blades will redefine the paddling experience – particularly at the elite racing level. Speaking of elite athletes, two days ago The Paddler published a wonderful interview with Annabel Anderson in its February edition. The Paddler is an e-publication out of England which may not be widely known within the SUP community on this side of the Atlantic. In the interview, Annabel spoke of the “the feeling of being ostracized from the outset as I was the ‘outsider’ who didn't ‘surf’”. Chin up Annabel, they don’t surf in Michigan either, but have managed to cultivate a heck of a SUP scene nonetheless. Whatever you are doing, stick with it. The results of testing over the last two years strongly suggest it is working.
Please refer to the accompanying photo list for a rundown of events taking place in Southern California this month. Most importantly of all – keep paddling my friends.