Monthly Archives: June 2012

FENN ELITE SL – just a taste

Gabe picked up his Fenn SL the afternoon before S2S, hammered upwind in the race the following day to win the ‘Top Gun’ position & has been putting the boat through its paces since then.  Gabe has been enjoying fine tuning this top of the line racing machine as he prepares for US Champs in early August.  Plenty of SL’s in stock in California and Washington & demos are always available to give this new machine a spin!
Notes on the SL
Background:  I paddled the Elite and Swordfish in South Africa, and my most ecstatic paddle to date was paddling Rob’s Swordfish on a big day at the Miller’s Run with a larger surf rudder.  I could surf any direction at will, without a care in the world!
The SL has the same “surfs like a dream” technology, but can catch even faster waves, and gives up less on the flat.  I’ve heard some say that the SL is more twitchy than the Elite, but I find them equally as stable.  They have a different feeling in initial stability, but once you become familiar with the SL, I find it just as solid.  I really like the narrow catch on the SL, making it that much easier to apply power.  The bow is narrower and thus sits a little deeper in the water, which helps it track quite well in side chop and upwind scenarios.   I’ve had it down in the Gorge twice now, and it’s been great with a Kiesling Surf Rudder strapped on.  I find the seat comfortable, with no ergonomic issues.  The hump between the seat and footwell is lower, which feels better ergonomically, but means you get that cold shot if you’re not dressed right for the water temps!  Serves me right.  All in all, a great boat and I can’t wait to paddle it under the Golden Gate!

Interval Option for a Windy Day

Feels like winter is back this week (seriously -it’s June!), but luckily along with the cooler temperature are some good winds. When possible, I try to clear my calendar when we have good local waves, but I’ve been enjoying an interval workout on gusty days when I’m not able to hit the bay.  Today was a fairly gusty day, and after the rest of the Thursday Island Workout crew bailed I headed to the lake for a shorter interval session in side chop/rebound conditions.  I discovered this winter, when it’s a strong southerly, that there is quality rebound/slop along the last half mile section of the Wednesday night race course.  Typically I start near the finish buoy, get a little surf to the final race turn,  hang a sharp right into a couple minutes of side slop, then cut left and finish next to the ‘threading the needle pier’.  Usually rest for about 60-90 seconds and do the same course in reverse.  The first 3-4 intervals are fairly easy, the last 3-4  get a lot harder in the slop once the body starts hurting – usually I aim for at least eight intervals which make the total workout with warm-up/cool-down  just over an hour.  Today I had a very high brace on the last interval and was ready for my first swim on Lake Whatcom, luckily the brace kept me upright and I was able to complete the session up right.   I recommend this workout to all ski paddlers when time does not permit for a bay session or when the gusts are making the fun factor marginal  out on the bay.  I did this session on some of the coldest winter days and feel it’s a good way to get a quality interval workout in mixed conditions.

2012 Ski to Sea Kayak Top Ten Recap

2012 Ski to Sea Kayak Top Ten Recap

This year S2S brought a mix of new athletes and consistent favorites to the annual relay race.  Prerace changes to a short course format due to wind and issues related to late buoy placement added an element of uncertainty as competitors peeled out of the harbor into the prevailing headwind.  What was certain was that this race served as a great community event to highlight our sport and plenty of opportunities for pre & post event celebration.  Big thanks to all the volunteers, competitors, and the community for making this event a huge success.


1.  Gabe Newton – 26:15 –  FENN Elite SL                                                Seattle

Gabe has been pushing hard all year after spending the winter in Australia & South Africa training and racing with some of the best in the world.   Just back from a top twenty finish at the Molokai World Championships, he is paddling well as he sets his sights on US Champs in early August.  Gabe just made the switch to a Fenn Elite SL and demonstrated he can move the boat well upwind, can’t wait to see what in can do in downwind situations.

2. Zsolt Szadovszki – 26:45                                                                        Hawaii

This is the second year in the row that Zsolt has competed for the top overall team.  This year the team depended on him to take the lead back in the final sprint to the last turn marker.  Zsolt comes from a long flatwater racing career and now calls Hawaii home.  He is a great ambassador of the sport and is working on creating a surfski school in Hawaii.  We look forward to having Zsolt return to the mainland later this summer for more exciting racing.

3.  David Jacobson – 27:11 –  FENN Elite SL                                    Bellingham

I knew once again the top ten would be packed with fast paddles and wasn’t sure how I would end up in the mix with my focus for the past two years on longer distance events.  Took the gamble to tuck in close to the boardwalk/ bank to get out of the wind in the midsection of the course and think it might have paid off.   Psyched once again to be racing for a local Whatcom County team and super excited to see the local surfski community continue to grow.

4.  Eric Moll – 27:42                                                                                    Olympia

Eric has consistently been a top PNW racer for many years and once again showed that he can grind it out with the best of them.  He hails from a k-1 racing background and is always sparing with the top pack.  This year Eric teamed up with Team Aeromech and he has been on several top teams in the past.

5.  Kirk Christensen – 27:55                                                                        Bellingham

Kirk has been going strong this year and continues to be at the top of the local Bham surfski scene.  I was lucky enough to spend two weeks with him chasing waves in Kauai this winter and he has been pushing hard through all the spring races.    Kirk has been battling it out with sixth place finisher Shane Martin throughout the spring race season and it looks like the home advantage played in his favor.

6.  Shane Martin – 28:04                                                                        Vancouver

Top Canadian result in S2S this year.  Shane has consistently been making steady improvements over the last several years.  He is a versatile paddler and is quick in the flats and waves.  Probably one of the biggest and strongest paddlers in the race this weekend – got the love the team name ‘Still Looking for a Sponsor’.

7.  Donald Kiesling – 28:05                                                                        Seattle

Don is an incredible ambassador to the sport & downwind surfing machine.  Unfortunately,  S2S turned out to be a 3 mile sprint/grind upwind & I’m sure Don was loving racing in the opposite direction of the waves.  Know for chasing big waves and remote paddling destination as an active member of the Tsunami Rangers.

8.  Brandon Nelson – 28:15                                                                        Bellingham

Brandon has set the pace in this race for many years and earned top honors as Top Gun in 2010.  Well known in the paddling community for his top results in the ultra distance Yukon River Quest, he always gives the top pack a run for their money no matter what type of craft he’s paddling.

9.  Ken Stanick – 28:28                                                                        Vancouver

Another Canadian ski racer out of Vancouver who jumped the boarder to compete in S2S.  Ken has been working his way up in regional race results over the last several years and is a newcomer to the top ten.  Definitely someone to keep on in the future as he continues to get faster.

10. Dylan Thomas – 28:41 – FENN Elite SL                                                Hawaii

Hailing from the North Shore of Kauai, Dylan comes from a long background of surf lifesaving and sailing.  Owner of Surfski Kauai, he offers surfski tours and lessons spanning from mild to wild in the beautiful setting of warm Kauai.  Dylan is use to charging down some of the biggest & best waves the Pacific can offer, but he was able to change gears & sprint upwind in his first appearance in this race.

Top Female – Tracy Landboe                                                                        Seattle

Tracy has been one of the fastest women paddlers in the PNW for several years and was able to showcase her speed at this event.  She comes from a long and diverse racing background, most recently she has been very involved in developing youth k-1 racing in the Seattle area.  She was the top female in S2S last year placing 24th overall, this year she jumped up two spots with an overall finish of 22nd!

Most Famous Kayaker to Compete?! – Margaret Langford

I ran into Margaret in the staging area the morning of the race.  She described her boat as ‘some old heavy tub of a seakayak’, but she has the paddling history to make it move as a member of ‘The Real Housewives of Whatcom County’.  I always have her remind me the number of times she represented Canada in whitewater slalom at the Olympics – I guessed four this weekend, but she corrected me that it was actually five!!  She was known as a true powerhouse on the international circuit for over twenty years and set the standard during that time in North America.  Great to see her line-up and give S2S a go, hope to see her return on a surfski in the future!