Wednesday, July 11, 2012

2012 SUP Awards: Voting Is Now Open

I'm a finalist in the 2012 SUP Awards!  Please take one minute to vote!

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Stand Up Paddle Surfing Skookumchuck

Glass anyone?

“Skookumchuck Narrows

Skookumchuck means “Strong Water.” Skookumchuck Narrows is an unusual geological feature.
It consists of a narrow opening between the ocean waters of the Georgia Strait and the large Sechelt Inlet.
As the tide comes in and out, water pours through this opening, creating the Sechelt Rapids.
The difference in water levels between one side of the rapids and the other can exceed two metres in height.
The speed of the current can exceed 30 km/hr. Experienced kayakers can often be seen riding the rapids.”

Every time I brought up the topic of SUP surfing “Skook”, it was immediately followed with a warning.

Whirpools behind the wave

Mike Darbyshire, SUP instructor and Starboard athlete from Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak Center in North Vancouver, BC, mentioned that at certain tidal flows the wave is super glassy and perfect for surfing.  He’d been up there surfing it on a SUP already and showed me some footage.  So, last winter we made a plan to hit Skook at the end of  June because the tidal flow was going to be just right at the time I was in the area doing SUP clinics.

Still, every time I told anyone about our plans to head up there I only got looks of concern and instructions to ‘be careful’.  Hmmmm…I made a mental note.

Dan Gavere happened to be in town at that time, too, so he decided to come along at the last minute.  He has been there before to surf in a kayak and mentioned that I should very quickly paddle back to the eddy or swim aggressively back to my board once I'm off the wave to avoid going on the infamous ‘tour’ as they call it. ('The Tour' is the long and sketchy swim/paddle through whirpools and turbulent water behind the wave) Okay, now this was going from fun to just a little bit stressful, so I just decided to ignore everyone’s comments and go see it for myself.  This was supposed to be fun, right?

From North Vancouver, BC, it’s a 30 minute ferry ride and a two hour drive to get to the ‘thriving metropolis’ of Egmont.  It's beautiful country, but not much of a town.  From there, it’s about a 3 mile hike from the trailhead or a 30 minute paddle to the wave from town.  The hike in was absolutely gorgeous, although schlepping the boards and gear into the wave was a bit of a mission.

Dan tried to ride his mountain bike while pulling a kayak trailer full of boards and gear.  The trailer tipped over countless times, tourist hikers encountering us with a scene of exploded equipment all over the muddy trail.  After the final trailer mishap about halfway through, which included Dan’s bike seat flying off the back, him throwing some gear around out of frustration, and a jar of pickles breaking inside the gear bag, (The bottle of Crown Royale thankfully stayed intact),  the bike was temporarily stashed in the woods and the boards and gear were carried by hand the rest of the way in. 
Arriving at the wave during slack tide you would never guess that one of the most epic standing waves of all time is at that very spot.  Lo and behold as the incoming tide starts to move, a glassy wave begins to emerge as the ocean pushes all it’s water through the very narrow inlet.  Within minutes the wave is waist high, then shoulder high, then it’s a big surging head high wave with several waves behind it along with about a half mile of whirlpools, boils, and crazy water that wants to suck you under.
My first attempt at getting on the wave was a success.  You can either catch the wave from the eddy behind the wave or drop in from above.  I dropped in ‘on the fly’ meaning you catch the wave from upstream, ferrying your board across the current and then letting the current pull you in backwards.  You need to paddle, align and trim your board just right and get your speed up before hitting the wave or else you’ll flush through.  Once on the wave I surfed it for several minutes, feeling the wave surge and listened to the foam pile build up behind me then recess and glass out several times.  It’s important to watch and feel what the wave is doing at all times because it’s constantly changing.  It’s an amazing feeling to have so much water and power rushing under your board so quickly while hearing the water roar behind you. 

After the first day of surfing, we just stashed the boards right there at the put-in to make it easier to get in the next day.  On day two, we watched again as the current began to build from just a little bit of moving water into a head high wave in only a matter of 20 minutes or so.  At one point, while I was surfing the wave, I could feel it getting steeper and steeper, faster and faster, and the foam pile was building and surging behind me.  Amazing!  It was also beautiful to see the hundreds of starfish clinging to the bottom of the ocean and hanging out all around the shore.
Once you’re done surfing the wave, you can carve your board hard and turn it downstream to try and catch the turbulent eddy.  Otherwise, if you fall, you need to swim like hell back to your board and get on top of it and start paddling hard to avoid getting sucked down in a whirlpool.  A long swim in turbulent water is not only a little freaky, but also cold and exhausting…wasting precious energy best left for surfing.
After the tide comes in and the wave disappears, it soon ebbs, or begins to flow back out to the ocean.  The glassy wave is now nonexistent and in its place is a nasty class V+ rapid that you don’t want to be any part of.   
The weather was a bit rainy, cold and overcast, but we hardly noticed while we were on the water and all of us had some great surf sessions out there.  The Starboard and crew, Dan Gavere, Mike Darbyshire and Chris Emerick, all scored and had an epic time.   In closing, and this is just my .02 here, as tempting and beautiful as this wave looks, it’s only for experienced paddlers.   You have to know the tides, the gear needed and how to use it, how to efficiently maneuver on and off the wave, and lastly how to self rescue when you fall into the rapids after the wave.    
Stay tuned for more pics and video.  What an epic trip!  Boards used included:  Starboard 10x34 Whopper, Carbon 8'5 Pro, 9'8 Element, 9'0 Converse
As the wave disappears, Chris Emerick and I celebrate our
 post surf session with a little Crown.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

2012 Colorado River SUP Recap

It's been an epic month of fun and paddling all over Colorado, my favorite trip of the year, attending several events that feature river SUP; including CKS Paddlefest, Teva Mountain Games, Rocky Mountain Surf Festival and Fibark.  Despite the low water flows and the cancelation of the SUP events at Teva there was still PLENTY of great paddling, surfing and fun with friends. 

CKS Paddlefest:  
Lots of river running and surf action.  I'll be doing some SUP clinics next year and CKS now carries the full range of Starboard Inflatables.
Fraction's section of the Arkansas River

TEVA Mountain Games:
TEVA Mountain Game’s SUP events were canceled, but that DID NOT stop Morgan Hoesterey, Gillian Gibree, Terri Plunkett and I from finding some fun.  We entered the 5k Mud run and took it to the next level, basically turning the mud run into a mud wresting match.  We came away bloody, muddy and laughing.  Pau Hana and Season Five also put on an unofficial SUP Cross at the end of the weekend and there was a little SUP surfing demo in the main hole.
Mud Run at Teva Mtn Games

Surfing the hole at Teva Mtn Games

Rocky Mountain Surf Festival/Whitewater SUP Championships, Glenwood Springs, CO

In my third year attending the Rocky Mountain Surf Festival in Glenwood Springs I finally walked away as the women’s overall whitewater SUP Champion.  First, I won the downriver race on a Starboard Race 12’6 x 31.5.  The design is perfect for downriver racing and it’s completely stable and really fast.   I paddled so hard I got a bloody nose!  Later that day I blew it on the SUP Cross, but I knew taking a tippy race board as opposed to a more stable inflatable was a huge risk.  I was knocked out in the semi-finals and figured I had no chance to win the overall title at that point.  The following day I managed to pull off the win in the final event, another SUP Cross style race, on a Starboard Whopper Inflatable.  (Usually they have a wave surfing competition, but the water was too low so it was cancelled)  So, in the end the points were in my favor.  A big win for me, so stoked.
2012 Whitewater SUP Champion

Trying out a raceboard in the SUP Cross
Catching the eddy during the SUP cross

FIBARK, Salida, CO

This was my first year competing in the SUP events at FIBARK in Salida, Colorado.  I was impressed by both the quality of paddling and large amount of women who entered the weekend’s events which included a SUP Cross and a downriver race.  The slalom style SUP Cross Course was challenging, but really fun, and a huge crowd gathered to watch.  My first place finishes in the first two heats put me into finals, where I finished in second place behind Haley Mills.  The following day was the downriver race.   Due to low water it was all about picking the right lines, staying off the rocks and in the fast moving water.  The start was just above the main hole and as everyone paddled through at once it was complete chaos and yard sales.  I got way behind in the pack because so many people fell in front of me, so I had to paddle from nearly last into my first place finish.  With a second place finish in the SUP Cross and first place in the Downriver race that made me the overall women’s winner of the weekend.  Haley Mills, Jenny MacArthur and Brittany Parker were also charging hard, so it wasn’t an easy win. 
FIBARK's Overall Women's Winner

Chaos at the downriver race start

Paddling through the main hold during SUP Cross at Fibark
SUP Cross Women's Finals Start

Thanks again to my sponsors who believe in me and keep me in action! 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Advice On Picking Your Perfect Stand Up Paddle

From Werner Paddles Blog May 07, 2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Starboard NRG fitness SUP board video with Nikki Gregg

Nikki Gregg takes us through the features of her new NRG Fitness stand up paddleboard and some of the many uses for this highly functional, lightweight, all-around SUP she designed with Starboard. Visit for more information.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Nikki Gregg talks SUP Fitness
My latest interview is for Wetsi Women's Technical Activewear is below or go to  
She’s known as the ‘First Lady of Stand Up Paddle Fitness’ and spreads health and fitness across the world.  She was living in Hawaii as a personal trainer when she tried SUP for the first time (over 5 years ago).  As a former kayaker/raft guide and then getting involved in surfing, “ it felt so good to get that paddle in my hand again and use it to catch waves.  It felt very natural and a combination of two of my favorite sports.  My clients started to notice my body get super ripped because I would be out surfing twice a day for hours on end.  They wanted to know what SUP was, so I showed them and it evolved into a SUP fitness program and boot camps”.  The word spread about what she was doing so we decided to get to know a little more…
What other sports do you participate in?
“I am pretty sure I have ADD so I like a lot of variety.  Actually, that’s why I like SUP so much, because it seems like there are so many ‘sports w/the sport’ if that makes any sense.  I never get bored with SUP because I can surf, run rivers, downwind, race, explore, etc.  It never gets old.  I’ve pretty much done about every outdoor sport known to man, but I really enjoy mountain biking, snowboarding, running, and climbing when I get the chance”. 
What are your daily nutrition habits?
“Well, in a perfect world I would always follow the Paleo way of eating.  I feel better, look better, and perform better when I stick with that plan.  However, I am not perfect and travel a lot which makes it difficult.  I just strive to do my best and eat right MOST of the time, but not beat myself up if I have a treat or a cocktail”. 
As an entrepreneur, what were your challenges/successes?
“I don’t like to dwell on the challenges, but I would say that the biggest one is getting people to understand that I know what I’m talking about!  In certain things, I’ve always been a forward thinker and ahead of the curve.  I also have good instincts. When I started to do the whole SUP-fitness thing it was too early and most people weren’t ready for it.  So I just had to be patient and persistent and know it would all happen”.
“As far as successes, I am just grateful that I’ve had some amazing opportunities come my way and that I had the guts to go for it.  I’m nobody special, just a regular girl who isn’t afraid to capitalize on her strengths, build upon her weaknesses and live her dreams.  I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I don’t let any of them keep me down for too long!  It’s all part of the journey”.

What are your dreams/aspirations? 
“It’s funny you asked me this because I was just thinking about it.  I want to learn how to skydive.  I have jumped out of a plane tandem several times and loved it.  I know it’s considered an ‘extreme’ sport, but I felt relaxed and at peace up there.  I remember free falling through a giant cloud in Hawaii- it was like a dream.  I also want to write a book….and, I will!  It’s just a matter of time before it happens.  I never think on the terms of ‘if’something will happen, but ‘when’ and ‘how’”.
Do you do yoga?
“Yes, and I prefer Bikram Yoga because it challenges me mentally as well as physically.   Since we do the same poses in succession at each class I am able to see my progress, which is rewarding.  I like being challenged to stand in uncomfortable positions in a heated room without fidgeting, drinking water, wiping the sweat, leaving the room, or looking at anything but myself in the mirror and deal with what is going on in that moment.  This really helps develop my ‘mental toughness’ and contributes to all areas of my life?”.
If you were given $100 to buy shoes would you buy a pair of trainers or a pair of heels?
“Honestly, I would buy heels.  I have enough athletic shoes.  Plus, I LOVE being tall!  I’m already 5’9, but nothing feels better than jacking myself up another few inches!  It’s so liberating”.
How can we contact you?
Learn to SUP with Nikki Gregg on her websites below.  We encourage you to check them out!