The paddleboarding craze

Gary Kewley
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Friday - March 16, 2007
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Surfer/shaper Dave Parmenter cutting back into sweet victory in the Noosa Surf Festival in Australia
Surfer/shaper Dave Parmenter cutting back into sweet
victory in the Noosa Surf Festival in Australia

Howzit, surfers!?

Whoa, what a NW swell we just saw! Warning levels (25 feet crest to trough) for this time of year are rare. But there it was ... in all its choppy glory. The front midweek and its associated SW Kona winds ruined an otherwise epic swell. Surfers had to hunt down those “mysto” spots that prefer the Kona winds and the isolated “wrap” from this giant. No, I’m not telling.

I shouldn’t say this will be the last outer reef action this season, but ... oh, what the hey ... that’s all, folks!

What’s very cool is the sheer number of storms down under near New Zealand brewing up some south swells over the rest of March. None are very big ... in fact, most will pump out 3 feet or less. However, there’s nothing wrong with head-high waves. They keep us wet and in shape without a care in the world. So stay waxed and ready because there are at least four of these buggahs on the charts between now and the end of March.

On the event side of surf, the Noosa Festival of Surfing went off the hook March 5-11 in Queensland, Australia. It’s the biggest of its kind with more than 400 of the world’s best surfers in a huge variety of events (18 total).

One was the ASP World Rated professional Men’s and Women’s International Longboard divisions ... along with an amazing array of alternative surfing: specialized noseriders, tandem surfers, retro board riding, super fish boardriding and even the latest craze that is taking off around the globe, paddleboard surfing. Guess where this one originated? The same place as surfing - right here in Hawaii Nei!

One of the world’s best is none other than legendary waterman Brian Keaulana from Makaha,

who traveled Down Under with several local buddies like Todd Bradley, Dave Kalama, Bonga Perkins and Dave Parmenter. Each of these guys is an exceptional and committed waterman. These surf dudes are also committed to spreading aloha while introducing a new craze. They’re all nuts over this classic form of wave riding where you paddle and never sit down! It takes about three or four hours of surfing to match the physical output of one hour of Beach Boy Surfing. Brian can go a half day! But is 15 minutes cool?

The champion Hawaiian is an expert across all fields of the sport, and was a finalist at this festival in multiple divisions. He described the weeklong festival on the final day, saying “What a fantastic celebration of board-riding in one of the world’s truly iconic surf locations. I think everyone has had a great time here competing, free surfing, catching up with friends and seeing new things that are always evolving in our sport. It’s been incredible and I look forward to coming back again next year.”

Winner of this year’s “SUP” (stand up paddleboard) is surfer/shaper Dave Parmenter. While the Noosa Festival is competitive, it is more about lifestyle and fun.

“It really isn’t about who is taking the biggest wave or where and on what, it is all about the feeling every person gets when they catch a wave they didn’t think they could, whether it be 1 foot or 60, and doing so on whatever craft, whether it is SUP, tandem, tow-in, longboard, canoe or surfboard,” says Keaulana.

Indeed, even such notables as surf film master Jack McCoy was in town simply to absorb the aloha atmosphere now associated with the week. The general feeling of all who joined in the numerous activities throughout the festival, next year is firming as a real “must do” on anyone’s travel itinerary. I know I want to go. If I can’t ... the closest thing near home would be the Buffalo Big Board Surfing Classic held every March.

Hey, if you’re interested in hooking yourself up with a paddle and stand-up board, check out! Then begin your new stoke! See you out there ... try not to fall!

See you here next week ... thank you for being here this week in MidWeek!

GQ ... dropping in 4 U!

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