The Catalina Classic is Everest for prone paddlers. The history. The soul. This is the prone paddleboard race so many…
Dylan/Dad: We moved back to my (Dad) hometown of Satellite Beach in 2013. The variety of choices for paddling locations here is one of the reasons we love it. Beach, intercostal rivers, mangrove trails, etc. Plenty of options depending on conditions and what type of paddling you are in the mood for. For training and family paddling, we spend most of our time on the Banana River and the Grand Canal starting from the put in at Oars and Paddles Park. It’s a loop that has a variety of distance options and actually has a long standing history as an off-season/winter training location for many Olympic paddle athletes, including Larry Cain and Jim Terrell. Consistent flat conditions in the Grand Canal and the warm Florida winter weather make it an awesome location for training.
Dylan: I just got my new raceboard, a 12’6” x 22” HovieSUP Comet. It’s my first full size board. I’ve moved from a 9’6” to a 10’6” to 11’6” and now finally to a 12’6”. After racing with smaller boards in the 12’6” class for the last couple years, I’m stoked to see how I can do now with a board of equal size to everybody else in my division.
Dad: I move through boards fairly frequently. Right now I’m riding a 14’ x 25” HovieSUP Comet but I’m looking for this year’s new speed stick as I write this. I also have a “never going to sell” raceboard in my quiver….a 14’ x 28” custom Bark. I’m probably the third owner…it’s 4 or 5 years old with absolutely zero carbon on it and every bit of 28-30 lbs...by today’s standards, it’s a tank. The board is magic though. A pintail shape that I haven’t seen on any other Bark customs. It’s my rough conditions racer but it’s also my everyday downwind and surf SUP. I’ve surfed that Bark more in the last two years than any other Surf SUP I’ve had. It’s just a super fun board to ride.
Dylan: A Quickblade V-Drive. It’s a really special paddle. It was the personal paddle for one of my favorite pro paddlers, Bailey Rosen. It was one of the first V-drive shapes and I believe was handmade by Mr. Terrell. She used this paddle at the 2014 M2O race so it’s touched some pretty legendary waters. Plus, Mr. Terrell and the team at Quickblade personally worked to clean it up and size it just for me. I love this paddle for more reasons than just the way it performs.
Dad: A Quickblade Elite 90 with tapered shaft. It doesn’t have quite the story behind it that Dylan’s does but I really like my QB as well.
Dylan: I’ve definitely changed boards. I’m still growing so I have changed as my size and abilities have changed. I started out on a 9’4” Hobie Raw Surf SUP and actually raced that board in kid’s races. I then got my first race shape with a 9’6” Rogue Grom board. From there, it’s been a step up in sizes like I mentioned in the question above.
Dad: Absolutely. I think everyone starts out on an all-around or beginner friendly shape and that’s definitely where I started. An 11’ Riviera that was a great learning and family board. I did a 3 mile race in Augusta, GA shortly after I started and discovered the allure of the different board options. From my wife’s perspective, it’s all been downhill from there.
Dylan: In the Caribbean or maybe Tahiti. Somewhere warm with crystal clear water.
Dad: I’d like to paddle everywhere! Hawaii or Tahiti for sure. It’s not just about the epic conditions there either. The history and culture that’s built around a true relationship with the ocean and paddling….it’s something I really am in awe of and have a deep fascination with/admiration for.
Dylan: If you are hurting or struggling with the burn during a race, focus on the finish. Forget how you feel right now. Imagine how you will feel at the finish line. Oh, and imagine a plate full of your favorite food waiting for you after you get off the water.
Dad: I went through a stretch where I wasn’t really enjoying anything about racing, especially the training. It was approaching a similar type of burnout that led me to abandon running. I had an experienced paddler and coach remind me it’s okay to take a step back from time to time. I think anyone with an ounce of competitiveness wired in them does the same thing….we build this wall of expectation around ourselves, this expectation that we have to perform at or above the level that we did last week or last month or last year. Most of us average joe’s just don’t have the time, energy, or physical ability to sustain that pedal to the metal approach all the time. We have to remember to open the pressure release valve every once in a while. I’ve learned to better recognize the signs of a looming physical or mental crash and make sure to take the step back when needed. I think we all get into paddling for the fun factor and we need to make sure we don’t lose sight of that!
Dylan: The Manatee Breath Attack!!! My Dad and I were paddling a long but lazy session. We stopped to watch some manatees hanging out in one of the canals. They’re pretty curious animals and will cruise right up to check you out. I was kneeling on my board, watching one swim up to me. He surfaced right near my face as I was trying to get a good look and breathed all over me. It was awful. Our dog has really bad breath but this was 100 times worse. Like rotten cole slaw! Yuck!!!
Dad: Another manatee encounter but while paddling with Dylan in our OC-2. While in the middle of a long training session for Chattajack, we stopped at the end of a canal for a snack break. As we started to head back out to the Grand Canal, I felt the OC start to rise out of the water. The boat heaved quickly and we huli’d like we’ve never huli’d before. A manatee had surfaced under us, got spooked, and whipped its tail (throwing the OC in the air in the process). It happened so fast but I think I vaguely realized what was going on while in mid-air (we were literally catapulted out of the OC). Since it was a long training session, the OC was completely loaded down with gear/hydration/food. When we both surfaced, it looked like a crime scene. All that gear/hydration/food was scattered everywhere. Dylan had no idea what happened and was feverishly scurrying to somehow get on top of the overturned OC. I think after my 57th time yelling “Manatee!!!” he finally heard me and settled down. I was swimming around for 5 minutes collecting Gu packs and granola bars while he clung to the OC. To this day, he leans HARD into the ama any time he sees anything that looks like a manatee swimming by. We definitely laugh about it now!
Dylan: Dad says that anything I can fit in my mouth is my favorite nutrition and that’s pretty true. On long sessions though, Sports Beans are probably my favorite. They are easy and quick to chew up. I feel a good energy bump after eating them.
Dad: Unless it’s a really long race (more than 8 miles), I just take water with me. For long races, I pretty much stick with liquid calories (Tailwind is my personal favorite). For really long races or training sessions, I add some solid food like a Bonk Breaker every 2 hours or so to go along with the Tailwind. I’ve got an iron gut so digestion issues have never been a fuel choice factor for me.
Dylan: One of my goals was to move into the 12’6” class, which I did for all of my races in 2015. The other goal was to learn to paddle OC-2 and race with my Dad at Chattajack. We paddled Chattajack in 2014 on a Tandem SUP and we wanted to do it together again on OC this time. Once we got into training, we set a really big goal of breaking the OC-2 course record for Chattajack, which we ended up doing by almost 4 minutes.
Dad: Quite honestly, I really didn’t have very many personal goals this past year. Get on the water as much as possible? Maybe that was my only personal goal and I think I accomplished that. Other than that, my only goal was to help both kids (our daughter, Lindsey, paddles as well) continue to develop their relationships between the water and themselves. That will be a perpetual goal that I’ll never feel like I can cross off the list.
Dylan: Gatorade and granola bars
Dad: Burgers and/or tacos! Really though…any thing that counts as food is my favorite post-race nosh. Chocolate Milk and Moonpies were the finish line reward for us at Chattajack this year….followed by a big Cheeseburger shortly there after.
Dad: I like the way this kid thinks….surfing for me as well. Non-specific to water, I like anything outdoors really. Anything that gets me moving …I’m grouchy and generally no fun to be around when I go for too long without exercise/paddling/surfing.[caption id="attachment_51893" align="alignnone" width="673"] DCIM101GOPROG0112178.[/caption]
Dylan: My Dad
Dad: Dylan. It’s pretty special getting to paddle and train with your kids. I’ve coached both kids in other sports but paddling is different. I’m coaching but also training with them when we are on the water. It’s built a different type of relationship between us. They’ve seen me suffering (and smiling) right along with them. We can speak a common language on the water and most times the parent/child roles are put on hold for a while.
Dylan: More kid sized gear and apparel! All the equipment out there is sized for adults. We need more gear options for kids who paddle seriously!
Dad: A more natural, realistic off the water paddle stroke training tool. There are all kinds of training tools or setups out there but I don’t think there is anything that truly replicates the feel of a paddle stroke. You can work on the movements and positioning off the water but the learning doesn’t truly happen unless you connect the feel of a true paddle stroke with those movements and positioning. An “as close as you can get to real tension and resistance feel of a paddle stroke in an off the water training tool”…my biggest invention wish list item for sure!
Dylan: My size. I’m a little small for my age so I’m always battling against people in races that are way bigger/stronger than me. It can get frustrating when I get beat by someone bigger than me when I know I trainer harder and have better technique than them. Size and strength wins sometimes. Not always though! ☺
Dad: My biggest challenge is probably time. Now that both kids have gotten into competitive paddling, I have to carve out more time devoted to work with them and their goals. With work and other family time, that has left less time for me to train for any personal goals over the last couple years. I’ve had to take a step back on my own individual race training but the payback in seeing them grow/develop is so worth it!
Dylan: I’m a member of the Florida Junior SUP Team and we got the chance to help teach other kids who are battling cancer learn to paddle at the Ft. Desoto Paddle Roundup event this past April. It was an awesome experience.
Dad: Seeing my kids tackle big goals in their races. For Dylan, that was last year paddling Chattajack tandem with me. It was his idea and 100% his motivation that led us to that experience. He was a rock star during training and on race day! For Lindsey, it was paddling along side her during the Money Island race at Carolina Cup this year. She has some fears involving big, open water and also hasn’t been able to paddle as regularly as Dylan. She didn’t let either stop her from putting her longest race ever at one of the biggest events in the world on her goals list. Even though she may not be as fast, she is way tougher than Dylan….and me for that matter!
Dylan: The Navarro Family (Jorge, Barbi, Milla, Dekai). We met them at Carolina Cup 2013 and now see them a lot. Our families are very similar and we have a lot of fun together.
Dad: It’s a pretty long list of people. I’ve met the lifelong water people with amazing experiences and backgrounds…the awe inspiring water/paddle athletes that have incredible stories to share. But I’m also impacted by all the every day people just like me that share the same experiences with paddling. And yes, like Dylan says, it’s all about the families…we’re a paddle family and we’ve really really enjoyed the connections with other paddle families like the Navarro’s, the Marston’s, and so many more.
Dylan: Don’t bring more than you really need! Stick to the bare essentials.
Dad: I was struggling to come up with an answer to this one but I really like Dylan’s advice. The options for gear are abundant and we all tend to accumulate more than we probably need. Organizing, loading/unloading, and keeping track of all the gear really can add to the stress levels with traveling to events or just paddling road trips in general. Keep the gear list to only the things you know you’ll need and you’ll increase the chance of an awesome experience at your paddle destination.
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