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Long Distance Paddling?

When I came across a Seattle Times article in fall of 2007 featuring Beau Whitehead of Bellingham, out cruising and surfing the swells of Puget Sound, I was instantly intrigued. Doing almost no research whatsoever, I jumped into the internet fray and found very few SUP boards on the market, and pretty pricey at that. Still, I "needed" one, and picked up a Stewart 11'6" SUP on my trip to one of the Portland Pusher races -- no tax in Oregon state!

It's one of the most enjoyable ways to spend an early morning, cross-stepping up and down the board, weighting the tail and practicing the fast turns, using the paddle for support. And of course taking the inevitable swim now and then. Yet another excellent way to work the core.

But for distance? With the current board I'm on, not so sure yet. The field is already changing so fast, and "displacement" hulls seem to be the speedy way to go, for flatwater anyway:

My original intentions were mixed. I found it intriguing to be up and standing on the water, cruising across lakes and getting into the Zen of the paddle zone. But for a couple years it was an off and on thing. Perhaps because my love for surfing had more to do with the beach and waves -- surfing, catching the energy of waves and swells, more than paddling.

A trip to Hawaii in summer 2009 kicked it back into gear for me, and after returning to Seattle I joined a few SUP races launching from Gasworks Park -- the Urban Surf / Naish series. And guess who won every one of the four races? Beau Whitehead!

More as it evolves...