Author Archives: SurfskiNorthwest



WHEN – Wednesday, June 14th: 4pm-5:30


THEN WHAT…stay and race the Wednesday night race!

We are pleased to announce an OCEAN PADDLESPORTS/FENN demo clinic this coming Wednesday, June 14th, at the Bloedel boat launch.  We will have a full line-up of the FENN SURFSKI quiver for demo, including the super popular entry level Fenn Blue Fin-S and the super FAST Fenn Elite-S.


Austin will be leading a clinic with both dry-land and on the water components.  His clinic will focus on the technique fundamentals that will make you paddle fast & efficiently – plus he will share his insight into the world of surfski racing as he prepares for the summer Surfski World Series.  Bring your paddling gear and get ready for a top rate clinic!

We will also have a selection of wing paddles and VAIKOBI gear and a grab bag of goodies for purchase that will fit all your paddling needs.

Please contact us with any questions and we look forward to seeing you on the water.  Like always, please feel free to contact us at anytime for a free demo paddle and discover why FENN surfskis and OCEAN PADDLESPORTS products are the truly the best on the market.

Hope to see you at the demo!




Just a quick update that we have changed our next demo clinic from tomorrow (5/31/17) to Wednesday, June 14th.  More info to follow  -but we’ll have a ‘race a pro’ (ie Austin) drag race challenge after the clinic and see if any of us can battle it out with him on the Wednesday night course – maybe in doubles?!  I know Bham superstar junior paddlers Elena and Anna can give him a run for his money in a k-2!

Like always, we are available at anytime for a free 1:1 or small group demo paddle of any of our FENN SURFSKI/ Ocean Paddlesports fleet!

Hope to see you on the water!





Thank you to all local ski paddlers who joined us at the OCEAN PADDLESPORTS demo on Wednesday.  It was great to get new paddlers in skis and have Austin psych-up clinic participants!
Like always, please feel free to contact me at anytime to set-up a free private demo paddle of the full line-up FENN surfskis and Ocean Paddlesports gear & paddles.
We look forward to hosting more clinics throughout the season and hope to see you on the water soon!

Free Pre-S2S Surfski Clinic & Demo


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!

March SoCal Warm Surfski Blow-Out!


socal#1Recently 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.


Day One

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.


Day Two

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!


Day Three

socalaustinsingleOriginally 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!


Day Four

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!






Ocean Paddleports


TEAM OCEAN PADDLESPORTS – Hano Hano Race Recap by Austin Kieffer

HanoHano Race, San Diego

OPS News item image

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.

OPS News item image

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).

End of July means …. August deals!

We have a large inventory of Fenn Surfskis in town & to help celebrate another great summer of paddling we are going to waive all shipping fees on current stock skis during August.

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!


Summer is HERE and so is your new FENN!!

FENN DEMO – Wednesday June 15th 4:00-6:30pm
Ocean Paddlesports (DJ and Austin) will be doing a demo from 4:00pm to 6:30pm on WEDNESDAY JUNE 15th at Bloedel!
Come down to try a new boat, get some tips from Austin and DJ about how they set up their FENNs optimally, and get your new boat for the summer!
Whether you are exploring the Bay, battling it out at the Wednesday night race, working on your fitness, or preparing for the World Series races this summer, we have the boat for you!
Come try:
Fenn Elite Glide
            This boat has fast written all over it! Ideal for cutting through waves, surfing with knife-like precision, and tearing up the flat water at a lightning fast pace! Austin’s boat of choice for the last two seasons!
Fenn Elite Spark
            The Spark is the only top end boat made for racers under 170lbs. Light males and females have been stepping up their racing and dominating the international competition since the boat was first released! Fast like a K-1, comfortable, and surfs like a FENN! If you want to ignite you racing, the spark is the racecar for you! This is DJs race boat of preference and has been for the past 2 seasons!
Fenn Swordfish S
            Looking to make a jump from a beginner boat? Looking to find the best intermediate surfing boat available? Look no futher than the Swordfish S. The boat that redesigned the intermediate market is back and it has an “S” style make-over. Come check out why the Swordfish is a crowd favorite and the boat that almost everyone should be surfing in!
Fenn Bluefin S
            This is the best beginner boat on the market. Designed to be accessible for any level, comfortable, stable, and still surf waves like a champion! Start your surfski career in a Bluefin S this summer!
Fenn Elite S
            Best top end racing boat on the market, period! This boat is a dream. With the redesigned S cockpit (providing room for leg drive), a shockingly stable platform for an elite boat, a fast hull shape, and the best surfing boat available at any price, the Elite S should be the boat you buy if you want to race!!!
Come early – please bring paddle & lifejacket – we’ll have some extras for use as well!
Hope to see you on the water –

#6 Fenn Elite-S here – more coming to PNW next month!


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

– DJ