Category Archives: Stand-Up Paddling

LOCATION HOTSPOT: USA Raft Erwin, TN

Over the past few years I’ve started paddling more & more. My main focus has been Stand-Up Paddleboards or SUPs. Starting out on flat water and soon migrating to moving water, rivers. It’s opened up even more places to paddle and explore. Naturally after mastering slow moving rivers I began to explore whitewater. Now what used to be boring wave trains in a kayak, are hard and challenging obstacles to stay standing up thru. From my first rapid on the Winooski River, Hugo & JunkyardI WAS HOOKED!

Over the past two years my girlfriend and I have been spending our summers in Vermont and our winters down in Florida. With this option we get the best of both worlds. The warmest months up in the beautiful Green Mountain State and the coldest months down in Florida where sometimes its warmer than the warmest months in Vermont.

This spring, before we travelled back up North, we did a little research. Knowing we were going to driving up through western North Carolina and possibly Tennessee we started looking for outfitters in those areas where we could test out some whitewater SUPs. We quickly came across USA Raft on the Nolichucky River in Erwin, Tennessee. I contacted them and spoke with Matt Moses, the owner of the company, who told us they have some of the best whitewater in the Eastern US. He also had lodging options right there on site. It sounded good to us and we decided to stop and paddle on our way to Vermont.

Two days into our trip up North we arrived at USA Raft, and were impressed by the property. It has several larger buildings to support the staff, retail store, mess hall and lodging options for their customers. Walking around the property was amazing. It’s right on the river with beautiful mountain views within the Cherokee National Forest. The vibe is relaxed and casual, something you’d expect from a paddling outfitter. There is a pond next to the river where they offer weekly Sup Yoga lessons. After speaking with the staff in the office they said there was a Sup Yoga class that afternoon we could join if we wanted. I Love to paddle board but I’m not much for Yoga especially on a SUP so we graciously declined but said we’d love to come and watch.

The weather was beautiful and was expected to stay in the low 70s that night, so we decided to setup our hammocks in the trees near the Yoga pond. After getting settled in we walked back up to the office to rent a few paddle boards to run the 2 mile stretch of river below the outfitter. There were several different SUPs to rent and we decided on two of the Corran Streetfighters. They were short, wide and made of strong plastic and reminded me of a whitewater kayak only with a flat deck rather than a cockpit.

The rocky beach area on property was our launch spot from where we  began to paddle down the Lower Nolichucky River. Almost immediately there were some fun wave train sections of Class I/II. Its a shallow river, on average about a foot and a half deep so there were rocks to maneuver around and small wave trains to follow.  Further down there were some more Class II rapids with many different waves and eddies to play on and around. When we reached the end of the 2 mile stretch we loaded the boards onto my car, which the staff helped shuttle down earlier, and headed back up to USA Raft. 

We quickly ran to the grocery store within just a  few miles to grab provisions for the night, before the evening paddle session. The Hala Sales Rep, Jack Nelson, brought his boards to USA Raft for the yoga sessions and after yoga, the company does a group SUP paddle. We were able to join in, and I jumped on a Hala Hoss and my girlfriend jumped on a Hala Atcha with the StompBox (a retractable fin). As a group we headed down the Nolichucky as the sun was quickly dropping below the mountain ranges. This was the same section we had done earlier in the day, but it was even more fun to share the rapids with 8 other SUPpers of varying ability level. This was by far the largest group of white water SUP paddlers that we’ve encountered! USA Raft’s shuttle driver was waiting for us at the take out with van and trailer which we loaded and headed back up river.

After the typical post paddle drink and chat session, we all went our separate ways. My girlfriend and I were abel to hang out on the porch of USA Rafts tiny house as darkness took ahold of the valley and the stars began to twinkle. The tiny house is rentable on Airbnb and sleeps 6 people! The tiny house was actually made on Tiny House Nations so it has some really specialized features! It has a full bathroom and kitchen, although all miniaturized! But our favorite part is the deck, its wraps around the house and is ideal for relaxing into the evening.

 The next morning we got up and joined USA Raft for their most popular trip, The Nolichuky Gorge with a river side lunch. First, the raft guides did their safety spiel and tried to scare us all away before boarding the bus, but it didn’t work! We gathered our gear and loaded up. The bus took us up river over a sketchy, twisty, turny mountain pass. Thanks to our skilled driver, we made it safely without problem. I’ve always found, the narrower, the steeper and the twistier a shuttle ride is, the better the rapids following it are… so we just got more and more excited as we continued up river. At the top we unloaded and helped carry the rafts down to the river and off we went. The river was on the low side, but still plenty of fun. We had 6 people in a 6 person raft so we had no problem maneuvering around the rocks and getting through the numerous class 3-4 rapids while enjoying breath taking canyon scenery. About half way down the river we stopped at a river side lunch spot and the guides unloaded a feast! it was set up buffet style and we helped ourselves. After lunch, we continued downriver and landed back at USA Raft. Yup, thats right, they are right on the river at the perfect take out location after a morning of fantastic whitewater in the Nolichuky Gorge!

After rafting we reluctantly headed out of town. USA Raft was so welcoming that we found it hard to leave, but we’ll be back again!

A huge thanks goes out to Matt Moses the owner at USA Raft for hosting us and sharing his truly unique place in TN.

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GEAR SPOTLIGHT: Imagine SUP Board Release Valve

Vermont SUP Gear Spotlight Imagine Inflatable Pressure Release Valve

Imagine Surf has been a leader in the paddleboard industry since 2006. Their commitment to performance and safety is one of their biggest goals. This year they have come out with something new. All of their 2016 Inflatable models SUPs now have their patented, automatic air pressure release valves.  One of the safety features we have built into our inflatable boards is an automatic air pressure release valve. This solves the potential problem of over inflation which could lead to seam failure. Now you have one less thing to worry about so you can get on the water worry free.

Check out the demo given by Dave Kalama.

Vermont SUP Gear Spotlight Imagine Inflatable Pressure Release Valve

IMAGINE… what does this word mean in our paddle boarding company? Well when we started Imagine Surf in 2006, we were a handful of paddlers and surfers that imagined living a lifestyle of fun and adventure. We imagined dawn patrol surfs and sunset bonfires. We imagined epic river trips with friends and fun coastal runs with family. We imagined exciting fishing missions and crossing the finishing line excited. We imagined weekends of escape from the grind and weeks filled with daily escape. So we used our imagination and dreamed big! The dream came true and Imagine has now grown up to be one of the most fun, authentic, and exciting paddleboard brands on the market. We are constantly inspired by this amazing sport and humbled at how it changes lives.

Our product philosophy is pretty simple. We build boards we want to paddle. Paddleboarding is all we do. Our boards are not just things we sell to make a living, they are a part of us. We all paddle and share a common philosophy to make Paddleboarding accessible. Our tag line “We make Paddleboarders” is the cornerstone of this philosophy. This is reflected in every board we build from affordable durable entry level construction and designs, to the highest end surf and racing shapes. We are very fortunate to have a true Iconic Waterman, SUP pioneer and board designer Dave Kalama as an integral part of our team ensuring each Imagine board is designed, tested and proven before we put it into production. For 2016 we have once again built a balanced line of versatile, affordable, durable and great performance boards. The journey so far has been an adventure but trust us… if you use your Imagination it has only just begun.   – ImagineSurf.com

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SIC Introduces F.A.S.T – Foot Actuated Steering Technology – 2016

The mission with the new and patented F.A.S.T. (Foot Actuated Steering Technology) was to revolutionize the same steering that SIC created in the beginning. The new system is focused on durability, reliability, serviceability and flexibility.

“This year one exciting thing that we are coming out with is the new Foot Actuated Steering Technology, which is an improvement on our current steering system,” said Mark Raaphorst, SIC Founder and Master Shaper. “After all the long hours of design, research and development, FAST takes controlling and navigating your paddleboard to the next level.”

It features a hot-swappable tiller arm that can quickly and easily be swapped for goofy or regular footed paddlers. To improve on the safety features we minimized the mechanical components, changed cables to push-rods and added multiple fail-over systems should you encounter a problem with the system on the beach or at sea. Of course it also needed to perform as well or better than the original system, which is hard to do. However, after more than 2.5 years of development we are confident that we exceeded all of the key design and performance requirements. We are stoked and we’re sure you will be too.

“After three years of intense development and testing, we are proud to be releasing our all new FAST Steering system for 2016,” said Jeff Baillargeon, SIC Brand Manager. “Innovation is at heart of what we do at SIC and the new FAST steering system is something that will change the way we paddle forever. This is a revolution in design that is bigger than just downwinding. Steering assisted paddling will change the way we tour on lakes, float down river and tour the coast. I am proud of the work that our team put into this design.”

vermont sup smart stearing

F.A.S.T. Models Available in 2017
Bullet 17.4
Bullet 17.0 V2
Bullet 14.0 V2
FX Tour 14.0
FX Tour 12.6
Contact your local retailers to get your hands on this new F.A.S.T. system from your O’hana at SIC.

About SIC Maui
SIC is the stand up paddling industry’s premiere manufacturer of high quality, race proven stand up paddleboards and accessories. Founded on the island of Maui and cultivated on a legacy of world class open ocean racing, SIC is an authentic stand up paddle board maker proud to lay claim to a heritage of designing the most winning board share together with out team of elite athletes, brand ambassadors and customers around the globe. Five Star Performance is our motto and we wear it with pride each day through our commitment to extending the SIC experience on and off the water to our growing family. SIC is committed to delivering the very best paddling can offer; for any condition, discipline or ability level.

vermont sup smart stearing

 

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3rd Annual Onion River Race and Ramble!

Click the link below to view all the photos from the day.

Onion River Race & Ramble Photos

 

 

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Updates: First-Ever Solo Transatlantic SUP Expedition

Updates on the First-Ever Solo Transatlantic SUP Expedition Attempt Planned to Launch January 2016. 38-year-old French firefighter planning first-ever solo SUP expedition across Atlantic, Africa to Caribbean


Meet Nicolas Jarossay—38-year-old French paddler, firefighter and soon to be the first person to attempt an unsupported crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, via SUP.

In January 2016, Jarossay plans to paddle 2,485 miles (4,000 kilometers) from the northwest coast of Africa to the French island of Martinique in the Caribbean, with only his gear, provisions, a very unique standup paddleboard and a deep, lionhearted sense of adventure. He expects to paddle an average of 33 miles (53 kilometers) each day, estimating the voyage will take a total of roughly 75 days to complete.

Read more about his planned journey on supthemag.com.

The following two updates from Jarrossay’s Facebook page seem to show that his mission was a failure for this season. It looks like he’s had some great innovations in his custom board, but will need to continue to work on his design for a future attempt!

Top left!!! This is it nicolas jarossay raced home this afternoon from the port of praia for the first attempt of the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean In Stand-up paddle and lonely. After spending the night in the bay of praia aboard his boat (moored to a sailboat of a group of French), Nicolas was able to finish taking his marks on board of the new board by being calm in the middle of the water. It’s so serene he raced for his crossing there’s a few minutes and is now almost out of sight of the technical team that had remained in Cape Verde. In the evening, visuals will enrich this information. Thanks to one and all to follow this adventure.

Nick Jarrosay's Transatlantic SUP
Nick Jarrosay’s Transatlantic SUP

Press Release sup transatlantic, Monday, 11 April 2016.
Nicolas took the sea Sunday 10 April by favorable weather conditions. For a reason, which is still undetermined at this stage, the system of rudder has suddenly broken and has exposed the boat through the middle to a flood. The boat capsized. All attempts to put her back afloat are in vain and then more and more exhausting.
The continuing deterioration of the situation (exhaustion, hypothermia, night) has made unfortunately inevitable the outbreak of the distress beacon. The chain of relief could be mobilized in an orderly manner, in a context of great modesty of resources available in Cape Verde, severe technical constraints, and admirable dedication of rescuers. Nicolas is safe and sound.
In collaboration with the embassy of France, he organises itself to regain the hexagon. The analysis of technical reasons that have been an obstacle to this first attempt will soon be committed. Nicolas wishes to express its appreciation to the rescuers, including the coast guard Cape Verdeans.

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FIRST TO CIRCUMNAVIGATE LAKE SUPERIOR ON A SUP

DULUTH, Minnesota – 23 year-old Jared Munch isn’t your average college student. Rather than living carefree and with no responsibilities Jared wanted to experience more. A couple of years ago, Jared decided and committed to circumnavigate Lake Superior by SUP and after two long years of preparations he was the first person ever to do so. The journey covered 1350 miles over 46 days on the lake and was largely a solo and unsupported expedition. To learn more about his expedition over the summer we caught up with Jared to talk about what his experience was like out on the water. Take a look:

Lake Superior is quite the task, what was your motivation in doing this extensive paddle?

I had originally been looking at a study abroad option in Patagonia that was designed specifically for whitewater kayakers. It looked awesome, but it was expensive and wasn’t going to help me with my major (civil engineering). I started looking for other ways to broaden my paddling experience and the idea came to me as soon as I looked out my dormitory window. I remember thinking “Why am I trying to travel hallway around the world to have a cool adventure when I have THAT right in my backyard?” At first I thought paddling around Lake Superior was just a crazy idea. It had never been done before on a SUP. I at least took the dignity of writing the idea on a whiteboard for further considerations. After a month of staring at the whiteboard, I knew that it had to be done. This all occurred almost two years before I actually departed.

lake superior sup adventure
Views of Lake Superior as seen by Jared Munch. | Photos Courtesy: Jared Munch & SUP Connect
Did you train for this beforehand? What was your training schedule like?

Training? No. That’s for people with time and money haha. My “training” consisted of me frantically scrambling between school and work for the two semesters leading into the summer. I was working anywhere from 30-50 hours a week on top of being a full time college student just to fund my summer adventure. Physically, I wasn’t in tip top shape when I started. I was over prepared mentally though. I spent a lot of time in class 5 whitewater and surfing Lake Superior. I was totally comfortable being out there in some big water. In addition, I had gotten pretty good at making use of little supplies, and just being miserable in general over the last year during my “training”.

How long did it take you?

It depends on how you look at it. To me, it took me two years on planning and squirrelling away money to pull it off. My total number of days actually paddling around the lake was only 46. I left in early May, then returned to Duluth for two weeks to teach whitewater classes and raise more money for the rest of summer. I left again in June and got back at the end of July.

lake superior sup adventure
It wasn’t all easy paddling on Munch’s 46-day expedition. | Photo Courtesy: Jared Munch & SUP Connect
How far on average would you paddle each day?

Over the summer, including my days off for waiting out the weather, I averaged just under 30 miles/day. My biggest day was 52 miles.

Was your adventure supported or unsupported?

Out of the 1350 miles, 1150 were solo. The other 200 miles were in the company of my dad, brother, and friends. I carried all of my food and gear on the board. I shipped resupplies of food to myself at 150-200 mile intervals.

What gear did you take with you?
  • Board: C4 Waterman Wai Nui
  • Paddles: C4 Waterman Carbon X-Wing, Two-piece sea kayak paddle for heavy headwinds, and a flatwater canoe paddle for beam winds
  • Clothing: NRS farmer John Wetsuit, 7mm booties, semi-dri wear, down jacket, camp clothing
  • Food: Lots of dehydrated food from Camp Chow and lots of Cliff Bars
  • Tent: MSR Carbon reflex
  • Stove: MSR pocket Rocket
  • Others: dry bags, GoPro, first aid kit, small sail for emergency use only, compass, gps, sleeping pad, and my trusty Pillow Pet
lake superior sup adventure
lake superior sup adventure
Gear Shots. | Photos Courtesy: Jared Munch & SUP Connect
Hardships?

Dealing with the wind was a huge thing for me. Keeping a 14’ board tracking well in a strong beam wind is one thing, but put a bunch of camping gear on it and you will have a much larger problem. Hunger was also a big thing for me. I had no possible way of eating as many calories as I was burning. I lost 15 pounds in the first three weeks. The remoteness was difficult at times, but I mostly enjoyed the thrill of having only myself for any type of support.

Biggest thing you learned after going on this adventure?

Paddling flatwater all day isn’t very fun. You start to hope for some storms and nasty weather just for an ounce of excitement.

lake superior sup adventure
Munch getting the nasty weather that he had hoped for. | Photo Courtesy: Jared Munch & SUP Connect
Would you consider doing it again?

The exact same trip? No. A circumnavigation of the lake was a one and done thing for me. I would feel weird doing it again. There’s kind of a spiritual thing about the lake to me. The memories from the trip are so vivid in my mind that I don’t want to relive them or change anything about them. I’m sure I’ll paddle parts of the shoreline again, or tour to some of the more remote surf breaks that I found, but I will not do another full circle continuously.

Do you have any other SUP adventures planned in the future?

Yes I do. Next spring I will be completing the first descent of the Steel River of Norther Ontario. We’re going to hit it as the snow is melting, which means living in a drysuit for a week and paddling lots of whitewater with camping gear on the board. Very little about the trip will be easy, but that’s what makes it an expedition.

lake superior sup adventure
Munch enjoying his solo time on his 46-day expedition of Lake Superior. | Photos Courtesy: Jared Munch & SUp Connect

We look forward to seeing a lot more expeditions from this young talent and we wish him the best of luck in his endeavors. To see a sneak peak at the documentary that Jared is editing check out the video preview below!

A SUPerior Adventure Teaser from Jared Munch on Vimeo.

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GEAR SPOTLIGHT: Onean Electric Jet Board

GEAR SPOTLIGHT: Onean Electric Jet Board

Love that feeling of gliding through the water, but lack the energy to go paddling at the end of a long work day? Ocean Electric Jet Board may be your solution! All the fun, none of the effort!

Onean presents an electric jet board to enjoy high speed over water. From cruising over the water surface for the most adventurous ones to the most extreme performances for adrenaline fans. We have designed several boards and propulsion systems so you can choose the best for you. Lightweight and fast. Its powerful electric jet is environmentally friendly and really intuitive to use.

Cruising on the Onean Mante

Pre-ordering NOW for delivery in June!

The Carver jet-board is the ideal go-to option for users and to enjoy the feeling of gliding above flat waters. With the Carver you will immerse yourself into a completely new and unbelievable sense of freedom. Tides and wind conditions dependencies remain to the past, now you have nothing to depend on but yourself. 4400 Watts of Power, Max Speed still TBD.
Onean Carver Jet Board

The Manta is a board with great buoyancy and very stable. Designed for those wanting to relax and enjoy the peacefulness of taking long tours or excursions at low speed. 450 Watts of Power, Max speed 7km/h.

Onean Carver Jet Board

Choose your favorite Jet Board option and cruise your favorite waterways at minimum effort. If you still want that work out, paddle out and cruise your way back! This motorized option is quiet, efficient and fun! We can’t wait to get our feet on one here at Vermont SUP.  It looks like it would be a lot of fun! Just don’t give up your traditional paddle board quite yet. There’s still nothing that can beat being out in the middle of nowhere and gliding through the water under your own power.

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TRIP PREVIEW: Everglades Florida Jan 2016

Just a Taste of the Everglades

We’ve been toying around the idea of paddling in the everglades for about a year now. We were too busy with work to go last year, but we finally got 3 days off to go explore. Without much more planning than loading the paddle boards, camping equipment and food, we made plans to meet our fellow paddlers in Chokoloskee and we headed south.

Erin checking in at the Visitors Center in Everglade City.
Erin checking in at the Visitors Center in Everglade City.

The first night we camped at the Chokoloskee Island Park. We must have had the last campsite in the place, because we just barely squeezed our two cars and tent onto the site. First thing the next morning, we headed over to the Visitor Center in Everglades City to find out what kind of back country permit we could get for just a couple nights. There was nothing within close range available for that night, so we secured a permit for the next night at Pearl Bay Chickee and spent the day meandering down to Flamingo.

Campsite in Flamingo Florida
Campsites at Flamingos campground.

We camped at Flamingo and woke up to pouring down rain. The radar was showing that the rain would stop around noon, so we waited it out. Good thing we didn’t pick a chickee any farther than 3.5 miles. Our original idea was to get out there, make camp and paddle some more. Instead, we played cards in the tent until it stopped raining and then headed straight to the chickee for the night.

everglades florida Hells Bay Canoe Trail Launch
JJ, Erin, Al & Donna at the Hells Bay Canoe Trail Launch

Upon arrival at the Hells Bay Canoe Trail Launch, we unloaded all our gear and set off into the mangrove tunnels. The tunnels were tight and narrow with lots of turns. As we progressed further, it felt like we were just twisting in circles through the maze of mangroves. Some of the turns were so tight, the 16 foot canoe that was with us almost looked pinned amongst the mangroves, and several times the stern person was left dragging through the spider webs that lined the mangrove branches.

Al & Donna maneuvering thru the tight and windy Mangroves.
Al & Donna maneuvering thru the tight and windy Mangroves.

Even though there were many turns, the trail was very well marked with white PVC pipes. A PVC pipe was located at every turn or just about the time you were feeling lost one appeared.

JJ's BIC SUP leading the way thru the well marked paddling trail Florida everglades
JJ’s BIC SUP leading the way thru the well marked paddling trail

As we rounded every corner we anticipated running into a gator, croc, snake or anything, but the cool temperatures kept the critters at bay, in fact all we saw on our paddle was an osprey. Even the bugs thought it was just too cold… so those stories of swallowing mosquitoes while paddling didn’t hold true for us, at least not until dusk.

JJ's BIC SUP leading the way thru the well marked paddling trail
Our first view of Pearl Bay Chickee

After just a few hours of paddling, we spotted our chickee and started unloading. We had reserved just half of the double chickee, but were lucky enough that we were the only ones out that night. The chickee was awesome, it had counters to cook on, a ladder on one side and stairs on the other as well as a handicap sized porta-potty. It was luxurious. Later on, I did read that this was the cadillac of chickees, and the only handicap accessible chickee in the everglades, so i suppose we can’t expect this in the future from the other chickees.

Pearl Bay Chickee everglades florida
SUPs tied up & Hammocks Setup.

We cooked up our dinner of summer sausage, beans and rice. Minutes after our stoves kicked on, a soft-shell turtle appeared out of nowhere. He circled our chickee for hours while trying to coax us to give him our scraps. He clearly had been fed by others in the past. He was fun to watch and as the sun sank down below the water, the mosquitoes came out of hiding. We quickly retreated into the safety of our tents and hammocks. We slept well as the bugs buzzed about and the water lapped at the chickee posts. There is truly nothing better than sleeping out in the middle of nowhere!

Pearl Bay Chickee Sunrise Clouds
Clouds loom as the sun rises over the Everglades

We awoke to some threatening clouds to the west, but decided it was probably just rain. We had a leisurely breakfast of eggs and bagels before packing up and heading back to our vehicles. We slowly made our way back through the mess of mangroves from the day before.

Hells Bay Paddling Trail everglades florida
Car’s packed up after our Everglades paddling trip.

Shortly after loading up our gear, the rain hit and we headed north and back to work. It was a short trip and it felt like we only got a small taste of the everglades. So, if you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to want more. And guess what, we want more! Stay tuned for the upcoming Everglades, top to bottom expedition, which will include a whole bag of cookies!

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