What's the hardest thing to learn about Stand up Paddling?

The great thing about paddle boarding is that it is relatively easy to learn.  Andre (first on the left) just moved to California from Venezuela and had never paddled before, but had skateboarded, and that helped him learn quickly.

The great thing about paddle boarding is that it is relatively easy to learn.  Andre (first on the left) just moved to California from Venezuela and had never paddled before, but had skateboarded, and that helped him learn quickly.

One of the hardest things is probably not starting at all. Like any sport or activity, the more you do it and practice the better you tend to get at it.  With stand up paddling or SUP, a good way to start is to figure out what you enjoy doing on the water. Do you want to surf on your SUP? Are you more comfortable on flat water like a lake, river or inlet? Do you want to do it for exercise and relaxation? Do you have ambitions to race? Each of your answers will drive the experience of where you paddle and what kind of board you pick. Probably the hardest aspect is learning to balance and control your board in the water and the most efficient way to paddle. This can take a lifetime to do well. The first suggestion would be to take a lesson and rent a variety of boards to see what you enjoy. You can always reach out to: info@surfitlocker.com with any paddle related question you may have! We're here to help.

The Beach & Barn Story

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This past August I made a day trip in North Carolina from Raleigh to Surf City, about a two-hour drive.  My goal was to check out the coast and go paddle surfing.  During the drive I experienced first-hand the contrast between the rural landscape of farms and what would be my final destination at the coast.  I stopped at 50 South Surf Shop and rented a board.  When I was done, I discovered some unique apparel with a chicken riding a surfboard called “Beach & Barn” I was intrigued.  Ironically, back in California, many of my morning drives down to Monterey would take me by the neighboring farming communities on the way to the beach.  I ended up buying a couple of their t-shirts to bring back to California.  I was curious to learn more so I went online and discovered that Beach & Barn started out as a carpentry company, that morphed into an apparel company. That’s weird.  I went on their Instagram account and there was a lot of tools, wood, and carpentry work on their social media posts, what gives?

So I contacted them and ended up speaking to Rusty, one of the founders and learned about their history and asked if I could be one of their online retailers out in California.  He said yes.

As a result, we’re thrilled to feature their apparel this November.  You can check out their entire collection here at: Beach & Barn.

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As always please let us know if you have any questions or would like to see us feature any other outdoor products at our Monterey, CA Location.

The Aloha for People Story. Creating new ways to provide clean water and jobs for people in need.

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This month we've been featuring products from our friends at Aloha for People. The story of Brian and Emily all started when they read Blake Mycoskie's book Start Something That Matters that recalls his journey as the founder of TOMS Shoes. They were both incredibly inspired by his story and by the idea that a company could exist with a primary mission of helping people. They both thought, "We can do this. We can start something that matters." Their goal was to create a company that makes products they both are passionate about. Brian has an intense love of aloha shirts and the Hawaiian culture surrounding them and Emily studied apparel design in college. They decided to start by making aloha shirts that represented the culture of the people they hoped to help. This is the foundation of Aloha for People.  They make products using fabric hand-woven throughout the world, including Guatemala and Nepal. With every product sold, they provide a child in need access to clean water for 2 years.

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Over the past year, Aloha for People has grown from an idea discussed in their living room to a fully functioning company with a line of products that includes aloha shirts, t-shirts, tank tops, surf fins, and surfboard bags. Starting with 600 aloha shirts, they have provided jobs in both the United States and Guatemala and will provide clean water access to over 800 children in Guatemala by the end of 2017.  They have developed an incredible community of Aloha Ambassadors who represent their brand in an epic way and help to spread the aloha all around the world. We're thrilled to be one of their amazing retailers helping to spread the word. and support their cause.


We both hope you love the shirts and the Aloha Spirit their products represent.


The ocean effect – a simple way to get “surfer’s stoke” in your life.

OneWave a non-profit surf community tackling mental health issues with a simple recipe...saltwater therapy, and surfing.   

OneWave a non-profit surf community tackling mental health issues with a simple recipe...saltwater therapy, and surfing. 

“Surfer’s stoke” describes the blissful, Zen-like state that comes with catching and riding waves. This natural high is addictive enough that some people will quit their jobs, devote themselves to surfing, and call it a life.

It’s also powerful enough to help people recover from addictions that are far more damaging.

According to Saltwater Sessions activity in the presence of nature improves both mental and physical health, reducing stress, improving attention capacity, mood, and general well-being.

Surfing produces a powerful rush of neurochemicals associated with happiness and well-being, including oxytocin, endorphins, and dopamine. This rush of chemicals aids in the reduction of stress and the enhancement of attention capacity and mood.

Lessons learned in the water become skills for increasing emotional intelligence. The challenges of surfing mirror many of the challenges and stressors we face in relationships and in daily life. 

In these cases, healing on the water actually comes from replacing the excitement of addictive drugs with the natural dopamine high produced by surfing, whitewater kayaking, sailing, or paddle boarding. Surfing and similar sports satisfy the brain’s desire for stimulation, novelty, and a neurochemical “rush,” while also getting addicts out of their usual environments and providing new settings, new friends, and new routines.

“The goal of surf therapy is not to teach people to be surfers,” says Bryan Flores, who works with the Monterey County Mental Health Commission. “It’s to get them to use surfing to change their brain chemistry.

“You stand on the beach and get amped up, and all kinds of chemicals rush through the brain,” he explains. “Different ones are in play when you’re paddling out or have a monster wave chasing you to the beach. All of those chemicals can have incredible effects on how people cope with depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental-health issues.”

There are many online interviews with surfers in which surf board riders state what they love about the sport. 

There are also quotes from well-known surfers which describe the feelings that are generated when riding the waves. Gary Sirota sums up his beliefs in saying “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf” There are no more committed people on the planet than surfers. We fall down a lot. We turn around, paddle back out, and do it over and over again. Unlike anything else in life, the stoke of surfing is so high that the failures quickly fade from memory.”

Most health professionals acknowledge that surfing provides many health benefits including cardiovascular fitness, shoulder and back strength and leg and core strength. They also widely agree that surfing has mental health benefits including the provision of a good outlet for stress and tension.

Anti-depressants, music and exercise are all important in keeping depression at bay…. and there are sufferers that will get benefits from the peace of the ocean and the joy of surfing.  Just watching surfers enjoy their sport and approach the water with enthusiasm every time they jump in is uplifting. Watching the swell and predicting the best wave to catch stop the mind from wandering to low thoughts. And the thrill of riding that wave and the comradery developed with other surfers are powerful tools in stopping negative thought patterns.

At Bondi Beach in Australia, the OneWave project was founded by Grant Trebilco. Surfers across Australia have now joined this group which is aimed at breaking down the barriers regarding mental health. At the core of this not for profit community is the promotion of their belief that OneWave is all it takes to give you hope. Suffers of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and bi-polar disorder can benefit from surfing with the OneWave recipe of salt water, surfing and good friends. OneWave supporters are there to let people know that they are not alone and encourages fellow surfers to talk about their problems. “It doesn’t matter if you’re riding a wave for the first time or the hundredth time…..you never forget the feeling of being on a wave, of letting everything go and enjoying the moment. OneWave is all it takes… To free the funk. To give you hope.”

OneWave holds surfing sessions called "Fluro Fridays" where surfers wear the brightest colors possible. It is believed that doing this makes you smile and out in the surf is a good conversation starter to open the door to discussions for mental health sufferers and their careers…and family and friends who are all effected in some way by mental health issues.

Whether you are surfing alone or as part of a club or competition don’t forget the most important thing is to have fun. If you’re feeling down and lonely, give surfing or paddle boarding a go….it might just work miracles for you too.


Strategy for Paddling in the Wind

The more you paddle, the more you'll encounter windy conditions.  We found some great tips at paddling.com, that we've highlighted below.   

One of the most important techniques that you can learn for stand up paddling is actually how to lay down and paddle against the wind. If the wind picks up, and you can no longer move forward, you'll want to lay down, put the paddle underneath your chest, and alternate with your arms right and left, to paddle forward so that you can actually get below the wind, and make some way back to your destination.

Another way to paddle, should you need to get upwind or if you need to get through an area that isn't conducive to standing up or might present a danger, is to get down on your knees, and paddle your board like you would a canoe. Bring your hands down the paddle, so that they're much lower than they're meant to be, and reach out and basically use the same technique so that you can get yourself out of danger, or until a more suitable area where you can then stand up.

One of the biggest dangers to stand up paddling is off shore winds, meaning winds that are blowing from the shore, out to sea, or out into the lake or river. Off shore winds can be very dangerous to stand up paddling. The wind plays such an influence over which direction you travel, especially when you're first learning. You'll want to make sure you don't get yourself out to sea, and if you do, you know the correct methods for getting yourself back in against the wind. On shore wind is the wind that blows from the water onto the land.

If you're learning in the ocean, shore break can be a very dangerous hazard. Make sure that you watch the break prior to entering the water, and time it so that you go out to the minimum amount of waves as possible, and get yourself as quickly as possible out through the breaking zone into the clear water where the waves are not breaking.

Should you become caught in the shore break, always let the board go inside of you. What you don't want to happen is to have the board in between you and the wave, and get hit by the board. In that scenario, the best rule of thumb is to save yourself first, and go collect your board back up on the beach.



What's the best way to get past the waves on a paddle board?

If you watch any experienced surfer you'll notice that they do not go into the water right away, but most often spend a good amount of time just looking out and getting a feel for the waves on a particular day. Every day is different.  What is the wind doing? Is it off shore or on shore? What is the current tide?  Are there rocks or other surfers or swimmers in the area?  Finally, how are the waves breaking and what type of "sets" are forming?

As we get ready to open our first location on Monterey Bay, we are well aware that getting a paddle board past the beach break requires some skill and good timing.  Here are a few tips for limiting the damage to your body and board as you adventure out into the water.

1. Stay on your knees until you are well past the breaking waves.  Be prepared to paddle hard and fast so that you can get over the waves before they break. As you get more experienced you can paddle standing up on smaller waves, for larger waves it is best to be off of the board and push the board over the wave as you dive through. 

2. Be sure to aim your board directly into the wave, so that you can pop over smoothly, if your board does get turned side ways, make sure you protect your head and dive away from the board as it hits the wave.  

3. If your timing is off and you see that the wave is going to break on you and the board, dive under the wave and use the leash to pull the board back to you after the wave has passed.

4. The advantage of watching the wave sets, is that it gives you a good indication of the best time to go out to minimize having to paddle against the bigger waves, especially when they are breaking quickly one after another.  

5. Be patient.  Sometimes it is better to wait a bit and then paddle out when you see a lull - rather than fight against a big wave set.

6. When heading back into shore, always be aware of any waves building behind you, so you can anticipate where they might break.  Patience is again important and timing is key, especially on big days.

7. Practice.  Nothing is better than experience and practice to help you feel more comfortable in a specific location.  

8. If you are just beginning, consider taking a lesson - you'll learn valuable skills that you can then practice.  

9. Respect the power of the ocean.  If you have any doubts or if the water is crowded with swimmers in the surf line, don't go out there.  Wait until the conditions are safer.

SUPer Great Eats After a Long Day of Paddling

Eating three nutritious meals a day can make a huge difference in your daily work out. Whether it's running, weight lifting, or swimming, it is extremely important that you eat the right food fit for your personal workout. Of course you've heard of "carb loading" (bread and pasta) as runners often do the night before a big run. Is this the best idea to do the night before you go stand up paddling?

The reason why runners eat dinners full of carbohydrates before a big race day is because their bodies need a source of energy in the form of carbohydrates to store in their muscles (glycogen) on the race day.  The truth of the matter is that your body should already have extra stores of glycogen in your muscles, before your giant spaghetti dinner, especially if you are following a consistent training program. It isn't bad for you, though. Eating carbohydrates can actually help you out as a stand up paddler. For a 150-lb athlete, the goal should be 450-825 grams of carbohydrates per day in order to not over-do it.

But what is good for the stand up paddlers out there?

1. Eating simple carbohydrates within 30 minutes of the end of a workout will immediately replenish lost glycogen stores.

2. A small amount of protein taken immediately after you exercise is sufficient to support muscle repair and immune function. This includes eggs, protein shakes and recovery sports drinks.

3. One cup of orange juice with some raisins right after your day of paddling. It'll give you just the right amount of energy for the drive or walk home until you can get a sufficient meal.

4. As for dinner, try eating a spinach salad with tomatoes, chickpeas, green beans, and whole grain bread on the side with a main course of whole grain pasta and tomatoes.

Eating the right thing can greatly impact the way that you paddle out there. It's important to have a good amount of energy when you're standing on that board!



SUP by the Numbers

Sources say that of all of them combined, nearly 7% of the land in the USA is actually water. Of course you probably know that Hawaii is made up of many islands, so they have around 41% water and 49% land; however, I bet that you didn't know that the state of Wisconsin has a whopping 17.3% to 82.7% land ratio. Why is that? Wisconsin's largest lake is Lake Winnebago. It covers a whole 215.2 miles! To put it in perspective, you'd have to drive three and a half hours at 60 miles per hour just to get around the lake one time. Lake Winnebago is home to ice fishing in the winter, summer concerts, boating, and you guessed it--stand up paddling. 

There are companies that rent and sell stand up paddle boards to customers on small rivers and bigger creeks flowing into Lake Winnebago. Wisconsin's SUP is mostly through marshes--a very different way of paddling than in places like California. These marshes are typically beautiful. There are tons of nature and wild life to see. Maybe one day, you can see it for yourself!

So, What is Necessary for Stand Up Paddling?

There are a few items that are absolutely NECESSARY in order to stand up paddle board such as a board and a paddle (duh!); however, there are some items that some don't always remember to bring with them. These items can include the following:

1. Correct clothing:

Many people forget that weather is contantly changing--especially in places such as San Fransisco--so it is extremely important to remember that you must pack for unpredictable weather. It is really important to note that layering can be helpful. The best and most efficient way to layer clothes is to wear a thin, waterproof layer on the base. This prevents discomfort from occuring when things get wet (which they most likely will!) The next layer should consist of an insulating layer, such as a wetsuit if the water is cold, or just clothing that won't be blown easily by wind. Clothing can get caught in thw wind and can completely change the way you travel. Make sure to be careful when you're out there! Bring the right clothes for the right occasion and be prepared for sudden weather changes.


2. A Wetsuit

As mentioned before, wetsuits are crucial when paddle-boarding in cooler weather, such as places like Canada, Alaska, and Oregon. They are great because while keeping you insulated and warmer than without one, they also are tight-fitting, preventing wind from catching you and making you slow down or go backwards. They are not as important in places such as Hawaii because the weather is much nicer there. If you know going into a day of paddle-boarding that you're naturally a "cold" person--that is, you get cold easily--you should rent or buy a wetsuit to prevent you from freezing and not having a good time. 


3. Leashes

Pro-paddle boarders tend to remember this one, as it saves boards from getting eaten by large waves and getting lost, but a lot of beginners may not realize a leash's importance. Leashes, whether the water is calm or not, can be important for saving your board from getting lost due to high wind speeds or high tide/surf. Leashes attach around you ankle and to the back of the board. They are the best way for beginners to get back on their boards because they will always be attached to the person. A lot of paddle-boarding locations will supply them for you with you board, which makes it a lot easier and less of a hassle to find one. Don't forget a leash when you go out on a board!

4. Dry Bags

A dry bag is essentially a wetsuit for all your important items that you feel as though are important to have while paddle-boarding. A phone, wallet, keys and energy bar may be necessary, and a dry bag will keep them dry! 

5. Life Jackets

This one may seem self-explanatory, but there are much more to them than you think. Many beginners will often rent them from wherever they got their boards and paddles from, however, if a beginner realizes that they might just go out and buy a paddle-board on their own because they like it so much, they should also invest in a nicer life jacket. These are good because often times they have water-proof pouches (basically dry bags) to put things in such as phones, wallets, energy bars and other important items to the owner. 



Life jackets are extremely important while on board!

Did You Know...?

10 things you probably didn't know about SUP: 


1.  Unlike surfboards, most SUP have a nice grip for your feet. Often called the “T-Grip,” users have access to an easier way to stand up on the board and get going. T-grips also aid in giving more power to each stroke you make with the paddle because your feet are allowed to be more stationary.

2.  SUP is the fastest growing water sport in the United States as of June 2016. 

3. 1 hour of casual SUP burns 305-430 calories! 

4. There are a lot of new companies that have made the hassle of totting around paddles a lot easier. Many have started making paddles that come apart into either two or three pieces.

5. Contrary to popular belief, SUP did not originate in Hawaii. The history of SUP began in 1777 around the so-called “Society Islands” in Tahiti. Captain James Cook made a comment about a Polynesian person riding a wave on the sea with an instrument used to propel them forward. 

6. Many beginner SUP actually start on their knees instead of their feet! It is easier to begin this way because not as much balance is needed in order to stay up on the board.

7.  Yoga can be done on SUP! It does take practice; however, it is extremely good exercise and it is very relaxing once you have the moves down.

8. "Backpaddling" a term to describe backward or reverse motion of the SUP, originally came from the sport of kayaking. 

9. There are around 25 different strokes that you can do with a SUP! Many beginners start with the forward stroke. Once they become competitors, they move to harder strokes such as the Jibe, a wicked-fast pivot stroke used in competition. 

10. Looking down at your feet whilst on a SUP increases the chance of one falling. Studies show that looking at the water instead increases your chance of staying up on the SUP. It is important to be aware of what is around you at all times and to see what kinds of things may be in your upcoming path.

Are you tired of the crowded gym?

Thanks to JobeSports International for publishing this infographic on the number of calories burned while paddling on the water.  

At Surfitlocker we're dedicated to making it as easy to get out on the water as it is to go to your local gym.  Today, with all the time we spend in meetings or on the phone or in front of our computers, we understand that time on the water is a way to escape from the stresses of day to day life.   What's more it's a great workout and adds some variety to the running, spinning, lifting or other exercise that you've grown used to. 

If you're located in San Francisco, watch for our launch in April.  We're now taking pre-orders and would love to help you experience the SF Bay and get a great work out at the same time!





SUP Demo Day at China Camp State Park

Thanks to the folks at Desolation Outdoors for allowing us to try a wide variety of the standup paddleboards today at China Camp State Park in San Rafael.   Not only were the boards and some of the new paddles they had on hand a treat to try, the scenery and people at China Camp were amazing.   Who knew such a place existed in the SF Bay Area, tucked away with so much history and so much to do.  You can read all about it here: Friends of China Camp

Enjoying the day at China Camp State Park in San Rafael, CA.

Enjoying the day at China Camp State Park in San Rafael, CA.

Since the Desolation boards are designed on the SF Bay itself, it was only natural that I found the 10'6 Ko Lipe Carbon and the 14' Desolation Fastnet Carbon SUP boards a perfect fit for my taste. The water was glassy and the weather couldn't have been better and Desolation had instructors on hand to help guide us on the different characteristics of the boards and show us a new line of SUP paddles.  We were impressed and can't wait for another opportunity to visit China Camp again for another memorable paddle experience in the bay!



Surf or SUP?

Last weekend I gave this a fair amount of thought.  As a surfer first, I'm relatively new to the sport of Stand Up Paddling.  I know SUPs have been somewhat of a controversial wave riding device, and a great deal has been written about the proper etiquette when there's a mix of surfers and SUPs in the lineup.  My take is that depending on the conditions, the location and your mood, there's a place for both for someone who enjoys being out on the water. 

The author on a SUP in Santa Cruz Harbor

The author on a SUP in Santa Cruz Harbor

What are the conditions?: Be aware that there are certain beaches that you should not SUP at.  Maybe this will change some day, but you will get called out of the lineup of many beaches that are not SUP friendly.  If your local lineup is not friendly and you would prefer to blend in, you might consider something else.  But on a flat day, all bets are off, and why not get out on the water? Or at a local lake or river, the whole lineup stuff is not an issue.

One of the reasons we started Surfitlocker was that there were places and times when we wanted to SUP.  What I discovered is that SUPs are really big. (they make my 9' board seem tiny in comparison!) They are also heavy and they take up a lot of space.  If you have a compact car, you're going to have a tough time getting your SUP to the water.  If you like the convenience of tossing a board in your car and jetting to the beach, SUPing will require a major adjustment. 

So what did I end up doing last weekend?  I surfed one morning and ended up paddling the next afternoon as the waves had moved on and the location and weather was perfect for a SUP session.  I did get a friendly reminder from a Coast Guard Boat to stay away from the shoreline because it tends to make the Lifeguards nervous. 

There are plenty of reasons to ride one board or another.  Our goal with introducing Surfitlocker is to make it easier and a lot more fun to try a new board at different locations and help you understand a little bit more about the different boards that are available for you to enjoy, depending on the conditions and the location.  We always welcome your suggestions and comments.


Can software really improve the surfing experience?

I was a skeptic at first.  A big reason I love the water is that it is a great way to escape the ever increasing "screen" time we all spend these days, both at work and for fun.  I was concerned that adding more technology to a classic outdoor activity would be a mistake. But the more I work on Surfitlocker, the more I clearly see the benefits that can be introduced with great software that gives you more quality time in the water.  Let me give you a few examples:

1. Using your location we can easily show you surf shops close by and also their current inventory of boards that you can rent.  A big benefit of Surfitlocker is the ability to self-checkout equipment for dawn patrol or an off-hour session. 

2.  Using an App it is easy to make a reservation ahead of time and also complete rental agreements and payment information. No waiting in line.  

3. If you're a repeat customer, we can save information to make it even easier to rent again.

4. Software is great at keeping track of stuff and helping to determine how long the rental equipment has been in use.

We're working hard to make sure any software or technology we introduce has significant benefits and makes your surfing or SUP experience better.  We always welcome your suggestions and comments.



What to do when you can't surf? Get a scooter!

It's the beginning of a long weekend and a first glimpse of the summer months ahead of us...

Lately I've spent more time commuting than in the water, so it's been a bit frustrating.  On Thursday, I took this photo to help illustrate my point.  A car in the middle of San Francisco, with its board out of water!  Hopefully the owner got to the beach later that day.  

Then I noticed a small number of fellow commuters using Razor Scooters.  There is a also a new company called Luxe that uses the same scooters to facilitate their parking service (the employees wear blue jackets and use blue scooters like the one shown below to get around San Francisco)

Ok I thought, if I can't SUP or surf as often as I like, how about riding a scooter? Am I nuts?  Truth is it has been a blast and helps with the commute and is actually a lot of fun!  A couple of caveats.  You need to watch for other scooters, bikes, skateboards, buses, people with phones in their faces, you get the idea - also dogs tend to target you as a moving toy to go after and bite!  But if you're careful and use good sense, it is amazing fun - especially down small hills. 

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend.


The surf rental experience and 3 ways to make it better!

I love to surf.  I also have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to some great locations both for business and for pleasure.  Naturally I try my best to take advantage of the situation and rent a board, so I can experience the local water first hand.  What I have come to learn is that many times finding a board, at the right time, close to my location has been a challenge.  Adding to the dilemma is that I prefer long boards, and also have taken a liking to SUP sessions as well, so many times, getting the board from the shop to the water is no easy task.  My friend Bob, told me a story of a trip to Florida where he had his rental board sticking out of the windows of his cab!  The shop he rented from advertised a "close to the water" location that in reality was a good 2 miles away and the board he ended up with was sketchy at best.  Don't get me wrong, I've also had some great rental experiences, with friendly owners, convenient locations and great equipment, but there are 3 ways that the experience can be made better:

1. Dawn patrol does not start at 10:00AM!  Allow me to get a board really early in the morning and return it later in the day, especially in the summer when days are long.

2. Offer a wider selection and better boards, not just "soft tops" - I'll pay more and I'm much more apt to buy a board from you if I'm a local and the board I rented was the one I enjoyed!  This is especially relevant for SUP, as the variety and selection of boards to choose from is growing every day.

3. Make it easier and faster for me to get in the water.  I'd gladly use an App to reserve a board, sign a rental agreement and give you my credit card all ahead of time, so I don't have to hassle with the process of doing paperwork or paying.

As you might have guessed these are the main reasons I decided to start Surfitlocker.  I wanted to create a fun way to make the rental process simpler and more convenient.  Stay tuned as we build out the service.  We're starting in Santa Cruz, CA and expanding from there.  We really want to hear your thoughts, please feel free to share your ideas and comments below.



Founder,  Surfitlocker