Why I Paddle Surf 90% of the Time

Why I Paddle Surf 90% of the Time

After my last post, Dropping Volume – Better have some solid processes, we got a nasty comment on facebook about the logic of riding small paddle boards as opposed to just shortboarding.


For starters, I don’t tolerate haters here, so if you post anything negative in a mean spirited way, the comment will be deleted, and you’ll be blocked.  I can’t do anything about shitty mindsets for the greater world, but if you choose to play here, you’ve got to be cordial.

That doesn’t mean we can’t disagree, in fact I love a good argument, but not haters.  Constructive criticism is always welcome and encouraged.  I’m a work in progress, as are we all.

I do look at negativity,  especially from haters, as an excuse to reflect on what you’re doing and to make sure you’re on the right path.  Everyone has their own opinion, and in their mind, they’re correct.  I try on that hat, whatever it is, to make sure I’m not suffering from cognitive dissonance.

Through that lens I asked myself, “Why not just shortboard?”  Here’s where I landed.


  1. It’s just more fun on more days.  My surf session to fun surf session ratio is about 100% since I started paddling.  It sounds terrible, but shortboarding my ratio was probably 50%, and I left the water less happy when I arrived 25% of the time.  Surfing is all about riding waves, so if the waves aren’t on it’s difficult to feel fulfilled.
  2. The Challenge.  Riding small boards is one of the hardest things I’ve done in sport.  I enjoy the challenge.  I look forward to the challenge.  It’s fun to feel like a kook, and all you have to do to get back to that place is drop a few liters.
  3. Forced Mindfulness.  If you’re pushing your volume limits, you’re using 100% of your focus to balance.  That focus translates to being fully present in the moment.  Yes, you do get that same zen moment in shortboarding, but only when riding waves.  In paddling small boards you can extend the active meditation.
  4. The workout.  Going to the gym is a thing of the past.  Maybe I do a few sets of kettlebells each week, but I used to workout for an hour a day while shortboarding.  Now, I just paddle surf, and I stay in better shape.  It is the total body workout that swimming wishes it was.
  5. Body Type.  I’m 6.1 at 183 today.  I’m built more like a free safety than a pro surfer.  In surfing my weight has always worked against me, there is no added value in being strong.  Not true in paddle surfing.  In paddle surfing you can leverage strength through the paddle with an exponential effect.
  6. Peer group.  I like paddlers.  The commonalities we all share are solid traits.  I’ve met many of my best friends through paddling.
  7. Steep Innovation Curve.  Paddle surfing is still in its infancy.  It’s fun being a paddle surfer now, just as I assume it was amazing to be a surfer in the 60’s and 70’s.  With each new innovation you get to experience surf in a new way.  Shortboarding’s been stagnant for a long while, but paddle surfing is evolving every day.  I have no idea what shape I’ll be riding next year.  Or what kind of paddle.  Innovation and change are fun places to be.
  8. Paddle surfing is a complete sport.  Fun.  Exercise.  Challenge.  Comradery.

After looking in the hater mirror, I don’t doubt my path for a second.

What do you love about paddle surfing?

Hobie and L-41 – Stability on 83L boards at 85kg

Hobie and L-41 – Stability on 83L boards at 85kg

Hey there folks!  It’s good to be back.  We’re back at home in Nosara, the movie is finally out and the new site is finished.  So, that’s a lot off my plate and the focus can be put back where it should be, understanding paddle surfing.

Before I dive in to meat of today, I’m sure a lot of you are wondering about the switch from paddlewoo to progression project.  I’m going to be putting out a complete statement at some point, but the gist is that I came up with paddlewoo before I knew where all this was headed.  I just wanted a generic term that encompassed paddling, and that it was.  But through the evolution of this past 2 years of paddle surfing focus I’ve realized that these seemingly disparate endeavors, the podcast, journals, video contests, coaching, retreats and movies, all do have a singular focus.  Progressing the sport and athletes in paddle surfing.

Progression Project aligns 100% with the mission and future of what we’re doing.


Ok…  Let’s get back to talking paddle surfing!!!

I brought some some new boards from Cali.  The L-41 and a Hobie.  Both are 83L and that’s all they have in common.  The L-41 is a 6.10 x 26.5 and the Hobie is a 7.7 x 24.  Volume in both boards is pack in the middle and both board have thin rails, but the L-41 uses a step-rail and the Hobie has a domed deck.  The Hobie has the smallest tail I’ve had on a paddle board, almost a shortboard tail, while the L-41 is the widest.  Hobie is a thruster, L-41 a quad.  If you want to equate the boards to popular shortboards the L-41 with be a Rob Machado quad fish, like the fishcuit and the Hobie would be an early 2000’s Channel Islands Kelly Slater model.  Apples and Oranges.

Today I’ll break down my thoughts on stability as it relates to the shape.  This is an accurate comparison as both boards have equal volume.

First, on either board, at my current weight of 188lbs. or 85.5kg, I’m well under water while not paddling.  I sink both boards to my knees if the board is horizontal.  If I keep the nose up, which I’ve found is much easier and we’ll explore that later, I sink my back leg to the thigh.

I came into this experiment with some preconceived notions.  One was that the L-41 would be much more stable given the 2.5 inch width difference; and wider tail.  And, yes, it is more stable in clean conditions, but the advantage is quickly overridden by chop.  The low rocker profile and short length (6.10) make front/back balance as challenging as side-to-side.  The margin for error front/back is minute.  Too far back and I lose speed and sink back into a hole and too much weight up front and the nose buries and I’m squatting, waist underwater, waiting for the recoil to give me enough momentum to pop back up.  This compounds in chop where with forward velocity and chop over the nose, the board gets buried.  I’ve paddled the L-41 now in choppy conditions about five times, and I’m getting the hang of front/back balance.  Here’s what I’ve discovered:

  • Surf stance is a must and as conditions deteriorate, wider is easier.
  • As stroke hinges forward more weight needs to be on back foot than other boards.
  • Weak side wave entry difficulty is a 10/10.  Any little chop, combined with wave push usually results in a fall, catching toe rail (also tough on the hobie, but for different reasons, rails up front are like a shortboard, so margin for error is extremely small)

This said, I didn’t buy the L-41 to surf in choppy conditions.  I envision her being perfect in waist to chest high, light offshore surf – the same days that I’d favor a quad or twinnie retro fish.  And on those days she’ll be stable as can be.


The Hobie is a whole different feel.  At 7.7 wide and with lots of rocker, front/back balance isn’t much of an issue, in fact, once up and paddling she feels stable.  The difference between the two boards is that even when paddling the Hobie at a good clip, my feet are still under water.  And when you stop paddling the sink rate is much faster.  I find that in choppy conditions I can relax more on the Hobie than the L-41, here again because of length.

I’m sure a 7.4 popdart at 83L wouldn’t have the same issue.  I’m only discussing the length of what I wanted shaped.  I’d also say that for 120% V/W ratios and up, the L-41 would be a much more stable shape.

Of my whole quiver, the Hobie has the least amount of float.  The F-One, 7.5 is 82L and the Starboard 7.4 is 78L.  But both feel to have more float than the hobie.  My guess is that’s where you feel the width.

Paddling the Hobie is surf stance to pop up, but then I can go into my normal chambered back foot right behind front foot stance.  There’s no real tricks, just more focus needed.  As in paddling any small board, it’s all in the transitions, which I’ll be writing about a lot more in near future.

Good to be back folks!  Enjoy your day!

Back in Paradise! – First Reactions to the Hobie

Back in Paradise! – First Reactions to the Hobie

What up folks!  Thanks for hanging in there while I was on walkabout for the last 7 weeks.  We had a blast showing the Progression Project film around the country and hanging with friends and family.  A huge thanks to everyone that hosted events, came out to see the project, lent me surfboards in strange places and shared food and drinks with the family.  It was an amazing experience for our whole clan.

That said.  Damn! it feels good to be home!!!  After touring half the US, and there are some beautiful places, I am 100% stoked on living here in Nosara.  There are some waves I loved, great people, cool towns, and warm water, but there’s nowhere that puts it all together.  So, you’ve got a stoked E writing today.

It’s gonna be a short one, as I’m working to prepare the release of the Progression Project.  I’m coordinating with some sites/mags and we’re shooting for Monday!  But I did take some time to surf the last 2 days.

Here’s some progression notes –

The new Hobie 7.7 x 24 is magic.  It’s as close to the board I’ve been dreaming about as I may ever get.  Going narrow and pushing volume to the center was 100% what I expected.  You don’t notice the volume but you fully feel the thin rails and thin width.  And with the center width at 24 we were able to get a small tail without too much pull on the rail.  (Think the 7.4 JP, where you have a small tail but it’s 27 wide so the template pulls in too far and the board is too loose, there’s a disconnect between center rail and tail)  The board feel amazing and with the hard rails and smaller tail I think I’ll actually be able to surf it better with smaller fins.  I’ve been using the Colin McPhillips set, which are my favorites for most SUPs, but on my next session I might try some AM2s or the like.

I’m also giving this first reaction to the Hobie 12 pounds heavier than what I had her shaped for…. Yep, I put on a whopping 12 pounds in the states over 2 months.  The combination of awesome food, awesome beer and not too much surfing did me in, and I enjoyed all of it!   That was a sidebar, but the fact that I’m paddling the 83L  at 86Kg says a few things.

  • That the techniques I drilled on for the last few months really did work, and anyone can learn them.
  • That surface area is more important than I thought for riding smaller volume boards.  I’m sure that the 7.7 factors in heavily to my ability to paddle a -3L board.

My hypothesis going in to having the L41 and Hobie shaped was that all volume isn’t equal.  That depending on where you place volume it will have different effects on surfing performance and that what really matters are the outline and rails.  You can pack volume into the center of a board with little consequence to feel.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be breaking down pros/cons of these 2 very different boards.  The idea was same volume, distributed very differently.  7.7 x 24 at 83L  vs. 6.10 x 26.5 at 85L.  It’s gonna be a fun project!

Examining Mental Models and the Beliefs they Create

Examining Mental Models and the Beliefs they Create

Knowingly or unknowingly we model people, behavior, and skills.  We accept some of the models and reject others.  Either decision can result in a pattern and repeated enough will become a habit.  Habits over time can become beliefs.  Beliefs are hard to change.

3 years ago this video became my aspiration in paddle surfing.

I bought the JP 7.4, downloaded the song and modeled the surfing.

I’ve made this statement multiple times over the last 2 years –

“JP’s don’t really do rail turn.”

Today, while coaching, I decided to ride the JP.  I like the float and it’s easy to demonstrate paddle technique.  I always pick off a few waves during a session.  I gave zero thought to my surfing or what board I was riding – normally I have an intention.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on the Infinity lately, and defaulted to “Infinity lines.”  After a couple waves I realized I was drawing tight rail turns.

I journaled a few weeks ago about mustering rail turns on the JP, but that was with a ton of thought.  Consciously changing the way I was surfing.  Today was different.  It just flowed.  I was surfing the board with lines meant for a different board, and they worked.

What the f#$%?

I held a belief that JP’s don’t do rail turns.  Where did that belief come from?

I modeled Keahi, specifically the above video, to learn to surf the JP.  In the video Keahi does exactly one frontside slingshot rail turn (and not a great one at that).  Much stronger are his lip smashes and tail slides.  I spent hours modeling them.  Breaking down technique and recreating the turns.  But never once modeled a rail turn for the board.

The model of surfing like Keahi in that video turned into the pattern of top-to-bottom and slidey surfing.

The habit of surfing the board in that manner created the belief that JP’s don’t do rail turns.

All it took was surfing it like it was an Infinity,  and the board behaved differently. (When I modeled surfing Infinities and Hobies I’ve modeled rail surfing – Colin and Boehne)

This has me a bit mental at the moment.  I was certain and have argued that JP’s don’t do rail turns.  But, in fact, it was my model for surfing the JP didn’t do rail turns.

There are a few lines of thought I’m going to pursue – I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.  I’m exploring this in real time…

  1.  How does this apply to coaching.  Normally we start with the behavior.  X isn’t correct, you need to do Y. This is telling someone a belief is flawed.  Would a better approach be to go back to the beginning and ask where did the model for X come from?  Then switch that model for a better model, which should then eventually change the behavior.
  2. What are other beliefs that I currently hold that are based on flawed or incomplete models?
  3. Examining the beliefs held by surfers of paddle surfing.  What models created those beliefs and what new models do we need to create to replace the old models?

That’s just the beginning.  Think about personal, non-surfing beliefs.  Parenting… The rabbit hole is deep.



Release Dates in FL, SC and GA

Release Dates in FL, SC and GA

We’re working on the East Coast Progression Project Tour.  It’s lining up.  If you’re interested in showing the film to your local group of paddlers let me know.  This is a grass roots sport and we’re spreading the love in a grass roots way.  Small groups of passionate folks in cool places.  Here’s what we’ve lined up so far.  It’s all subject to change, and I’ll update if anything does.

September 8th.  Sushi Jo’s in Juno Beach

September 9th or 10th in Orlando, Location TBD

September 12th (pretty sure on the date) in St. Augustine at Panama Hattie’s

September 15th or 17th in Charleston, Location TBD

September 20th (pretty sure on date) in Atlanta at Patagonia

And… I’ve been missing journaling in the last week.  Life catches up at times, but tonight I had an incredible session.  Paddle surfing is broad sport.  It encompasses everything surfing has – the art of it, zen, flow, speed.  But it also comes with power, work and aggression.

Tonight was one of those nights where I felt like working hard.  10 years ago I would have hit Gold’s Gym and done legs.  When you just want to mess yourself up, change your chemistry in a positive manner.

I love that paddle surfing provides that opportunity.

So tonight, I found an empty peak, put my head down and went 100% for an hour.  Heart rate maxed out, tons of waves and an incredible workout.  It was also an amazing surf.  I’m finding lines in the past month I didn’t know I could muster on a standup.  I credit spending more time on the shortboard and drawing sharper lines, then bringing that mindset back to the SUP.  Playing around more with using the tail coming through turns and less paddle.  Aiming more vertical and working on releasing the tail.  I’m getting solid release and fins out the back, but not pulling it often, yet.

Definitely being influenced by Caio and Gio watching the Progression Project every day 😉

Can’t wait to share it with you guys.  I enjoy the immediacy of the podcast, and sharing what I learn – been more difficult sitting on this.