Thursday, February 28, 2013

Surf Kayaking Resources

On the Mendocino Coast, we literally go with the flow.  It has been a dry winter so our whitewater runs are are a bit boney.  Fortunately there is never a shortage of water in the Pacific Ocean so we've been playing in our surf kayaks.  I've been working on dialing the fundamentals - bottom and top turns, faded take-offs, diagonal runs, and staying in the critical part of the wave.  Jeff and I have also been exploring some different breaks which have challenged both of us.
We have been teaching surf kayak classes and lessons.  In March, we will be teaching 2 weekends of surf kayak classes before heading to Santa Cruz for the 27th Annual Santa Cruz Kayak Surf Festival.

I've been gathering surf kayak resources for our students and thought that I would share them with my readers.

Etiquette - Gotta follow the rules of the playground (kayakers are notorious for misbehaving in the surf zone).  Surfline's Bill of Lefts and Rights is a good resource for the rules of surfing.  I like visuals so check out this surf etiquette article by Robert Saunders that includes this diagram.

Here's a website dedicated to surf kayak skills.

Here's a surf kayak skills video by expert kayak surfer Dessie McGlinchey.  The footage is awesome.

Many paddlers can catch a wave, but the best way to learn performance surf kayaking is to take a class or lesson. Then get out and surf.  Once you have a little bit of knowledge of surfing, experience is the best teacher.

Do you have any favorite surf kayak tips or resources?  If so, please share them.  I am working on developing a surf kayak resource page.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


What inspires you?  I've been thinking about inspiration lately and would love to get your thoughts.

Recently, I have started following several online movements to inspire girls and women in extreme sports.  One that has caught my attention with awe inspiring videos and stories is The Female Wolfpack.  Check out the teaser video below or by clicking on this link.

Femalewolfpack_Teaser from rachaelburks on Vimeo. is the first website conceived to be a platform for female visibility in action sports. This is a taste for some of the things that you can expect to see on the site. It is a free platform for professional and amateur girls to be seen getting rad in their respective disciplines. We hope to be a source for both face-melting and inspiration.

TitsDeep is another women's sports movement that has become popular.  Of course controversy exists over their name; however, these are remarkable young women who are skilled whitewater kayakers challenging themselves by competing and paddling extreme whitewater.  The Creation of TitsDeep video is below or you can click on this link.

The Creation of TiTS DEEP from Airborn Athletics on Vimeo.
Chapter ONE
We aim to build confidence in female's own ability, convincing them to move away from the stereotypical, timid image of what a woman should and shouldn't do, pushing them to test themselves to new levels.

What do you think? I feel inspired watching these videos. Regardless of the discipline or extreme, I am inspired to get out - whether in the woods, shredding on singletrack on my mountain bike or out in the ocean, surfing waves.  It doesn't matter that I don't huck big jumps or ride the biggest waves.  What matters is that I DO IT and do it with skill, style, and a HUGE happy feeling in my heart.  

I am feeling inspired by the positive attitude brewing in extreme sports toward women - its more than ok to be a girl - its AWESOME!!!  Men and women are different and both have extolling virtues - let's embrace them (the virtues and the guys).

Over the past year, NRS Souls + Water has been sharing inspiring videos and thought provoking blogs.  Their latest "Embracing Your Inner Dumbass:  A Girls Guide to Paddling Like a Guy" has some interesting points for all of us who are a bit too cognitive.  I share the post because it is about valuing and learning from the virtues of others and how to inspire ourselves to overcome fear.

Please share your thoughts about inspiration - via comments, facebook, or email.  I am soul searching my role in inspiring others.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Valentine Tea Eve

Twas the night before the tea and smells of freshly baked scones

and floral decorations permeated throughout the house.

Tom Cat snoozed and I settle down for a long winter nap.

Dreams of an am surf session filled my mind as sensations of hot tea and heart shaped lemon curd slathered scones danced in my head.

What is this you say?  Dreams of surf is no surprise but who is this scone baking, tea party hostess?

Tis I!

As a former classroom teacher, I have maintained my support for literacy and education.  Tomorrow is our Valentine Tea to benefit Books for Babies and Kits for Kindergarten hosted by the Iota Zeta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma International (an international organization of women educators who work to support teachers and literacy around the world).

Through our Books for Babies project, we give each newborn baby at the Mendocino Coast District Hospital a copy of the book Good Night Moon and information about the library and importance of reading to children at a young age.  Our Kits for Kindergarten project gives all new Kingergarten Students on the Mendocino Coast a kit with school supplies to help them do their homework and practice their reading and writing skills.

If you happen to be on the Mendocino Coast, join us tomorrow at 2pm at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Fort Bragg for our 10th Annual Valentine Tea.  $12 for adults and $5 for children.  It is a lovely afternoon of tea, treats, and music that supports education and literacy.

Can't make it - stay tuned as of course Liquid Fusion Kayaking supports Books for Babies and Kits for Kindergarten.  On Sunday May 19, we will be hosting An Afternoon on the River - a family kayaking event.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Valley Gemini SP

Last year when Valley Sea Kayaks announced the Gemini SP, I was very interested.  I really like shorter sea kayaks (14 foot range) for rock gardening and surf zone play.  Shorter boats are usually lighter weight and more maneuverable.  I have been paddling my16 foot Valley Avocet RM for 3 years and have been looking to upgrade to a lighter-weight more responsive sea kayak for teaching, guiding, and playing on the Mendocino Coast.

In the past week, I have paddled the Gemini twice.  First was at the Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium. Then she came home with us to the Mendocino Coast for some rock gardening and surfing. (Jeff shows her off quite well).

First impressions: Lightweight, comfortable, nimble.

Lightweight: I am used to hefting around my Avocet RM and numerous other boats.  This felt like a feather compared to most (both on and off the water).

Comfortable:  The front deck is higher than my Avocet RM.  I liked being able to have my knees up higher like in a whitewater kayak.  The key hole cockpit gives lots of leg room for getting in and out but also has good contour for engaging the legs into the thigh braces.
Photo by Bryant Burkhardt

Stability:  The Gemini seems to have a lot of primary stability.  It definitely has secondary stability but it is a much smaller area than that of the Avocets.  It will be a bit of a learning curve for those of us that perhaps over edge our boats.

On the water: The Gemini was responsive and nimble on the water.  I didn't expect her to be a fast boat but was please with how quickly she accelerated.  This is important in catching waves and timing rides over pour-overs and through surge channels when rock gardening.

On a wave, the Gemini responded quickly to steering strokes.  I have never been a big fan of sea kayak surf sessions as I am partial to short boats (whitewater or surf) with planning hulls for surfing; however, I am looking forward to a couple of surf sessions with the Gemini SP to learn the boat better and dial in my maneuvering and edge control for rock garden play.  On my first few waves with her last week, the Gemini felt nimble and responsive.  The stern didn't lock onto the wave like many sea kayaks but was loose and receptive to steering and edges.
Cate surfs the Gemini.

Rolling:  I rolled the Gemini twice - once in a foam pile after catching an edge and the other time in deep water after capsizing to bail off a ride.  No thoughts or complaints, she rolled easily with my standard Sweep to C roll.

Other thoughts: I miss having a day hatch and will have to get used to the pod on the front deck.  At 5'4" and 120 pounds, I am probably at the low end of who this boat will fit without doing much outfitting (good for me but not for smaller paddlers). 

Rumor has it that there is a plastic version coming out this spring.  Of course we will be watching this closely.

Conclusion:  After only 2 days in Gemini, I can't wait to get out and paddle her again.  This is saying something as my personal boating time is usually spent in a whitewater or surf kayak.  Lightweight is a huge factor especially for us smaller paddlers.  I look forward to doing more testing with her in the surf and rock gardens of the Mendocino Coast as well as seeing how she handles in a variety of conditions.

I think that Valley definitely has a winner in the playful sea kayak category.  Both Jeff and I will be paddling the Gemini SP more and reporting on our thoughts on her over time.

Ocean Paddler did a review on the Gemini SP and Gemini ST versions in the fall of 2012 (issue #33).  Here's a video that they did with an overview and review of the Gemini SP.

PS  Yes, the Gemini that we are paddling is the "Black Pearl" Gemini that went down the Grand Canyon at Christmas time.