Author Archives: SurfskiNorthwest
Ocean Paddlesports Demo Clinic!!
Wednesday May 3rd, 3:30 to 6pm
@ Bloedel Park, Bellingham
Come join DJ and Austin on Wednesday to try out the full line up of FENN boats and Vaikobi gear!!
And while you are here don’t miss out on the Free Ski to Sea Prep clinics!
Beginner Clinic 4 to 5pm
Advanced Clinic 5 to 6pm
Don’t miss your chance to check out all the best gear and sharpen your skills!!
#1 Ranked North American Ski Paddler Austin Kieffer will make you a FASTER PADDLER – guaranteed!!!!
PNW Ocean Paddlesports rep will show you the best surfski gear on the market – guaranteed!!!!
Need More info – Please contact DJ @360.305.9517
Hope to see you there!
Recently I was fortunate enough to find myself on an early flight heading to California for four days of warm weather paddling. I knew it was going to be a good escape from the La Nino winter in the PNW, but like the last time I escaped to SoCal for some warm waves, I was blown away by the local paddling opportunities around Costa Mesa. Don’t tell the Hawaiian tourist industry, but hands down the best warm water paddling adventure starts with a quick flight to the John Wayne Airport. We got a couple interesting looks from fellow passengers as the plane approached the airport and we did a happy airplane seat dance after seeing the whitecapping ocean swell out the window.
Patrick Hemmens, co-owner of Ocean Paddlesports and local paddling guru, picked Austin and I up at the airport and our paddling clock officially started. After a quick hello to DeAnne and the family over lunch, we loaded up and headed for the open water. The palm trees were blowing and Austin was doing the happy downwind dance as we headed for the water. On schedule, we headed to 19th Street, met up with paddling powerhouse Philippe Boccar, and headed out to sea. Unlike most of our sheltered local paddling around Bellingham, getting out past the breakers acts as a sort of natural filter on windy days.
It was on – immediately we headed out about a mile into some healthy beam sea and we quickly noticed we were among some lively gray whales. Once out about a mile, we regrouped, pointed south, and followed the wind & swell. Every time I get into swell after a couple months on smaller wind generated stuff I have I have a couple minutes of the Wizard of Oz ‘We’re Not in Kansas Anymore’ moments. For me it’s been a long winter with my nose hard at the grindstone, so my Kansas moment lasted most of the downwinder. Towards the end I started to feel my sea legs, or so I thought, but failed to see the gray whale surface 20 off my bow, or so I was told at the take out.
AM intervals in the ocean with Rich Sprout. Anytime I go for any kind paddle with Rich I know it will threshold-plus, but the clear glassy swell and pod of dolphins made any hurt well worth it. Austin took the morning off trying to recover from a man-flu he caught after spending 15 minutes with my kids the week before, but I think he was waiting to be fresh for the PM wind.
The afternoon brought another nice breeze and a line of us found ourselves bobbing about a mile off shore, again in the company whales. This time my sea legs were back as we throttled downwind and watched Austin disappear into a spec in the distance. Second great downwinder of the trip!
Originally we came out to race the final race of the California winter series, but the last second cancellation of Malibu to Marina gave Patrick just enough time scrap together the new ‘Patrick Hemmens Newport Classic’. A nice and short ten kilometer dice in the morning swell, or so we thought, till the Slovakian Olympic team showed up. The mood at the start felt something like a trip back to kindergarten lunch line mixed in with the upper class seniors. But, what goes fast on 1000 meter flatwater doesn’t necessarily mean it will dominate ocean distance. Austin and Tim Burdiak (current lifesaving spec ski World Champ) made short work of beating the foreign fast lycra out of the starting gate as they headed down the coast for the first turn buoy. Both were riding fast in new Fenn Elite-S’s (Austin wants to mention he was still in the recovery phase of acute man flu) and quickly gapped the rest of the field. Philippe, the second Slovak ski, and I bunched together towards the 5 km mark, Philippe hit a throttle at the turn and jumped ahead of the group, the Slovak bailed on the race and jumped on the rescue boat, I ended up keeping even with the 50 meter gap to Philippe on the way back to the finish. Austin edged Tim out at the finish – probably safe to say that these two paddlers are the fastest two ski paddlers currently in North America.
Who had the smartest race of the day? Probably Rich Sprout. He arranged to have a top muscle bound Slovak sit in his double and they were off in the distance all alone. Rich said in was like having after-burners built into his ski as they chased swell back to the finish.
Top Slovak K1 Female, first time in a surfski and first time paddling out at sea, jumps on a Fenn Swordfish-S and takes charge. She gaps local female paddles Maggie and Michael and gives a technique lesson to all on the water as she blazed towards the finish. Hope she doesn’t quit her day job and take up ski paddling!
PM session consisted of about an hour of out and back in 2-3 foot wind driven waves. There was a full line up of spring breakers on the beach hoping for some wave carnage when we launched, but luckily session #5 had no drama, just more warm waves!
Last day, and most of us were ready for a light session. I did an hour session with Austin and got some much needed technique coaching from a pro. Funny how a winter of dark paddling makes you have crazy technique ideas, luckily an hour of Austin’s knowledge worked on some of the details.
PM – last session, #7 and another line of college co-eds hoping for a dose of carnage in the breakers. No carnage, but more whales and warm waves as we did some ocean intervals. On the last set I passed the finish buoy and was taken for a ride towards shore by one last warm rogue wave trying to make a swim happen before the flight home. Interestingly, I did some kind of full 360 degrees turn on the foaming wave and paddled out the other side and hit the beach for the last sunshine before heading back north.
How good was the our 4 days of paddling based out of Costa Mesa? – GREAT!
- – warm water and waves everyday. Two days of paddle-down surfing, a day of working for runners, and one day of swell driven bump – not bad by any standards!
- – Easy logistics. Actually the easiest paddling logistics of any paddling trip. Multiple paddling options, sheltered flatwater for technique, small bump to get a taste of the goods, and consistent open ocean waves.
- – Plenty of boats, 50 plus at last count between the OPS flotilla and NAC fleet.
- – It’s close – 2 hour flight to John Wayne Airport, 15 minutes to the water from there, that easy.
Next time you want an escape of warm waves, put visiting Costa Mesa/ Newport on your bucket list – probably the best bang for your buck value for legit paddling. Seems like a hassle free option which is about a 2 hour flight from the PNW!
We’re expecting our first shipment from Ocean Paddlesports into Bellingham very soon. Please let us know if you would like something added onto the trailer. We look forward to being able to support our local paddling community as we head into another great paddling season in the PNW!
As in previous years, we plan on having a full line of Fenn skis & paddles in town throughout the season. We’re excited to be restocked shortly – include a couple Fenn Blue Fin’s – our most popular entry level surfski! The Fenn Elite-S is an obvious favorite in Bellingham (a dozen in town at last count!) and the Fenn Swordfish-S has been another very popular design for the diverse choppy conditions that many of us enjoy. Please feel free to contact us at anytime with questions or to set-up a demo opportunity and see for yourself why we take pride in standing behind the quality OPS product line!
We plan on continuing to offer private demo opportunities throughout the year. **NEW FOR THIS YEAR** – Look for OCEAN PADDLESPORTS & FENN Athlete Rep AUSTIN KIEFFER to be offering monthly demo clinics as a way to tune local paddlers up for paddling adventures. Austin will also be offering a Ski to Sea instructional course and downwind specialized clinics in June and July leading up to the Gorge Downwind Champs – more info to follow shortly.
Please feel free to contact us at anytime and we look forward to seeing you out on the water!
HanoHano Race, San Diego
After putting in a miserably cold first month of training in Seattle, the Hanohano Race in San Diego was a welcome slice of sun and summer weather. The race consisted of an 8.5km flat water short course and a 12.5km ocean long course with only an hour of rest between. With a handful of fast doubles and the reigning surfski Surf Lifesaving World Champ, Tim Burdiak, on the registration list, I was fired up for a challenging day of racing.
The short course started off fast! The local sprint club had come out in force and they roared off the line, pulling the pack for a blistering first kilometer (km). After that, things began to settle down and Tim, a K2, and I managed to break away from the pack. We tussled for two more km, probing each other for weaknesses, until I got an inside line on a turn and made my move. Early I know, but the other two boats were forced wide by the turning radius of the K2. I made the most of the gap and immediately put the hammer down. After about a 5 minutes, I checked over my shoulder and saw that the other boats had opted to work together to reel me in rather than chase me down immediately. Game on. To spare you the boring details, the rest of the race was a head down time trial to keep a lead that I only just managed to hold all the way to the finish.
After an hour respite, a few protein bars, and some time in the sun, it was time for the long course. Most of the field (plus some new fast doubles) lined up for the second portion of the Hanohano Race. The hour-long course in the ocean didn’t offer much in the way of helpful downwind, but there was plenty of chop to keep you on your toes. I opted for a more conservative start, not knowing how I would fair in the chop after so long away from the ocean. Right off the line I found myself surrounded by two of the fast doubles I had spotted on start list. When I managed to pulled away from them, I thought I was out in front, but I was sorely mistaken. Two boats (Tim and a new double captained by Rich Sprout) had taken a much deeper line and while they weren’t necessarily on a direct course to the turn buoy, they were a good 200m ahead. It took everything I had to reel in Tim by the first turn buoy (about a third of the way into the race) and for the next few km I pulled out my bag of tricks to work my way past him. We had quite the battle in the chop, his nose staying just ahead, but when general confusion finally lined up in a tiny section of downwind, I made my move. I inched ahead and worked every wave I could to open up a gap. Then I set my sights on the next rabbit, chasing down the leading double. Try as I might (and convinced i ate a lung in the process), the illusive double was able to hold me off and finish just 15 seconds ahead, claiming the overall Hanohano title.
All in all, it was an incredible day of racing and a wonderful way to kick off my 2017 season. Cant wait to be back in sunny So Cal for the NAC Race in two weeks time. Happy paddling and good luck with the early season training, wherever you are (even if that means you are sensible and are cross-training indoors).
Here are the deals!!!
Double XT-S Vac Glass – $2500 – only been in the the water 3 times – NEW DESIGN – best double ski deal going!
Swordfish Reg Vac Glass -$2000 – used only a handful of times – amazing downwind machine
USED Demo Hybrid Glide – only $1000!!!
NEW Blue Fin-S Vac Hybrid
NEW Swordfish-S Vac Glass
XT Vac Glass
NEW Hybrid Spark
Feathers – we have two of them – cross between k-1 & ski – use this winter as your secret tool and you will be unstoppable next summer!
Like always, please contact us at anytime for a demo paddle or for any info on any of these deals.
See you on the water!
We’re super excited that there are now SIX happy owners of Fenn Elite-S’s in Bellingham with more on the way up to the PNW next month. No other elite surfski has ‘hit the target’ like the Elite-S; super fast on flats, comfortable in the chop – most importantly – downwind surfing machine!
The Fenn Blue Fin-S and Fenn Swordfish-S have also been hugely popular as we get cracking for another FENN-TASTIC season in the PNW!
Recently some local surfski paddlers did some quick math to check the numbers on $$ value between buying Fenn skis from OPS or jumping the boarder and taking advantage of a weak Canadian dollar from the Vancouver Epic/Think dealer. Here’s how the math came out –
Epic Ultra Construction vs Fenn Hybrid Construction
(made in China) (made in Fenn owned/operated shop in SA)
Weight – 26.5 lbs Weight – 26 lbs
$4695 Canadian $3200
Exchange rate currently 0.77 approx shipping to PNW – $200
= $3608 USD = $3400 USD
(their prices are about to go up soon) (we’re holding firm & enjoying bringing the best designs/construction to our local ski community)
Please feel free to contact us with any surfski related questions or to set-up a demo paddle.
Hope to see on the water
Big thanks to local paddlers for your continued support of our quality surfskis. We work hard to bring you the best surfskis & we are very excited about another amazing season in the PNW!
As many of you know, Fenn continues to expand their product line, here’s five favorite designs worth considering as the season heats up;
- NEW ELITE S
Latest elite boat from Fenn that won top marks on the international circuit last year, including being paddled by Cory Hill for his wins in the 2015 Molokai and 2015 Surfski World Championships. More importantly, its won acclaim from many local paddlers who have found it to be an amazingly stable downwind machine. It’s a downwind race design, but has retained quick flatwater speeds and increased stability. We have a demo boat in town which is available for you to find out why so many paddlers are making the switch the to Elite S!
- NEW Blue Fin S
Same top selling entry-level ski just got better. New carry handles on the bow, stern and side were added for your carrying comfort. This is the stable platform which newcomers to the sport need, plus it’s a ‘just add wind & water’ downwind machine! This is the ultimate new design that allows novice paddlers to chase the downwind, feel confident in chop, and a stable platform to learn proper technique.
- NEW Elite Double S
You know it’s good when several top paddlers from other manufactures say “I shouldn’t say this, but the new S double is amazing”. Redesigned hull, cockpit cut-outs for improved paddle entry, and rudder moved forward for better grip while surfing are some of the reasons why this double has set the standard as the premier double ski.
- Elite Spark
We’ve said it before, if you’re a light-mid weight person, why paddle the same design as someone 50-100 lbs heavier? Doesn’t make sense to float with most of the hull out of the water. This is truly the only elite on the market for smaller folks. Burns up the flats, zips downwind, at home in mixed conditions. Plenty of local paddlers have become believers…
5. NEW Swordfish -S
The top selling ‘all-around’ ski just got better! The ultimate crossover ski at 20’long by 18″ wide, it’s by far what most ski paddlers need to be paddling! The primary differences to the previous model includes;
Seat is a new shape, a more fitted and comfortable design
The hump has been reduced allowing for greater leg drive
The footwell is lower and the foot plate is further angled towards the paddler
New leg leash attachment point near the base of the footwell
Rudder has been moved forward on the ski.
Please feel free to contact us regarding any of the Ocean Paddlesports products. We are excited to bring Fenn surfskis to our local PNW paddling community. Demo days throughout the season will be posted, and like always, please feel free to contact us to set up an individual demo. Please check out oceanpaddlesports.com for the newest products and deals.
Current Bham Surfski Inventory Includes-
– Fenn Elite –S
– Fenn Swordfish –S
– Fenn Elite Glide
– Fenn Elite Spark
– Fenn Elite
– Fenn Blue-Fin
Plus much more, including Vaikobi PFD’s & Fenn Paddles!
Feel free to give me a shout and look forward to seeing you on the water!
Quick heads-up on some OPS deals we currently have in Bellingham. We’re super excited to help make 2016 your best paddling season ever & have a couple incredible bargains just in time for the Holidays!
– Fenn Elite Double – $2000
Lightly used, vac glass, great condition –we’re giving it away at this price! Won’t find a better deal than this!!!
– Fenn Carbon Elite – $2800
Another lightly used ski at a reduced price point. This is the same design/lay-up that Jasper Mocke won Mauritus Ocean Classic in 2014, he was 6th in a super light V-14 this year. Needless to say – still a GREAT downwind design!
– Fenn Glass XT – $1500
This ski has probably been in the water about a dozen times. The XT continues to be a top selling beginner/intermediate ski. You could spend x2-3 more on similar ski….. but why?
– Feather K1 Trainers – $2000
Probably one of the coolest boats to hit the market. They’re a cross between a ski & K1 – perfect for giving you a wintertime challenge and improving your balance & technique! Talk about the ultimate dark horse secret training weapon!
PLUS, we all a full line of FENN/OPS demo boats located in Bellingham for your paddling pleasure.
– Elite-S – Cory Hill has basically dominated everything downwind in this design. An amazingly stable top elite design – rumor has is that owners of other ski companies have gone downunder to give it a try – it’s that good! This design makes the average working stiff a downwind legend !
– Elite Glide – boat of choice for Austin Kieffer as he keeps dominating the North American racing scene. This boat does everything well and continues to be a top seller in the PNW.
– Elite Spark – the ONLY small person (i.e. under 170lb) elite ski on the market. Michael Booth has established himself as one of the all around top racers in this ski over the past two years. Paddling a boat which fits only makes sense – that’s why there are so many happy Spark paddlers in the PNW – plus it’s an absolute downwind racecar.
– Swordfish-S – The original Swordfish was our best selling design ski in the PNW, and now the new Swordfish-S is poised to do the same. Fenn has improved the hull, changed the volume distribution, and played around with seat & rudder placement for this new design. We’re definitely going to see a lot of happy local paddlers in this new design.
Plus, we have the last shipment of the yellow Vaikobi lifejackets priced at $100 – seriously a great deal for an amazingly product.
**AND, buy any boat between now and the New Year and we’ll toss in a free Vaikobi lifejacket to help you look good in your new ride!
Also, we have a box of Mocke Quick Release Leashes – a must for every ski paddler – only $20. Even if you don’t like your paddling buddies, buy ‘em a leash for the holidays!!
It has been a pleasure bringing the best surfski products to the PNW. Please feel free to contact me at anytime for more info on any of these deals or to set-up a demo opportunity.
See you on the water-
The summer racing season is finally here! And this year, everyone is talking about the Gorge Downwind Festival (GDWF). The inaugural week of surfing, racing, and socializing will be the event of the summer, drawing an impressive host of domestic and international athletes the world over. As for racing, the iconic Wild Side Relay will be paired with a downwind singles race so ideal that it has been added to the 2015 Surfski World Series.
Here is a little video I made to promote the GDWF!
For me the Gorge has been a huge motivator for training. This year, my season hasn’t been optimal, four months out of the boat due to work and a brutal Idaho winter certainly wasn’t ideal summer preparation. But no matter how fit you are, it’s hard not to be fired up about downwind racing! While I may not physically be where I was last year, I still have the best gear in the industry. Thanks to Ocean Paddlesports, I am equipped to make the most of every session on the waves. As for what boat to paddle, Fenn Surfskies are the obvious choice for a summer focused on enjoying waves and kicking butt in one of the best downwind races of the year.
The entire Fenn line-up is downwind oriented. From the stable beginner Blue Fin, to the intermediate Swordfish, to the elite line of Fenn boats (including the SL, the Spark [for lighter athletes], the Glide [my boat of choice], and the NEW S! [the boat that won last year’s Perth Doctor and Peter Marlin, and just took gold in the 2015 Molokai Challenge]), every Fenn is designed to harness the power of the water and make it easier to ride runs effectively. Fenn surfskies allow you to surf longer, go faster, and ultimately enjoy your downwind paddling experience more than any other brand.
Ocean Paddlesports stocks the entire line of Fenn surfskies and will be out in force at the GDWF, but get your order in soon before boats run out!! OPS also carries the Jantex range, paddles known for being light weight, incredibly durable, and synonymous with superior quality.Finally, Ocean Paddlesports carries Vaikobi Performace Apparel. This new Australian company is making a huge splash in ocean racing world. If you are looking for high quality gear designed to help, “unleash the athlete in you,” then contact DJ or Ocean Paddlesports to outfit yourself today!
It’s going to be quite a summer and Ocean Paddlesports has everything you need to make it incredible. Surf, smile, enjoy the summer, and I will see you on the water in Hood River!