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Julien Fillion, Imagine Int. team rider, also pro kitesurfer had a great small wave session in Peru at Cabo Blanquillo, perfect landscape and lighting setup for some “long john” wetsuit Jacques Cousteau still pictures with back afternoon light. Standup paddling in the morning, kitesurf in the afternoon, that is what Peru is all about!
Mo Freitas has been raging on the Imagine Sprinter. At just 14, he’s the youngest powerhouse out there today. He’s consistently placing on the podium spots against people two and three times his age, and his weight.
He credits the Sprinter as giving him an advantage, but we think he’s just a natural athlete who’s just getting started in his game. Here are some great photos of Mo showing us, and everyone else, why he’s one of the guys to beat.
Ones again, on his pro-model Imagine standup paddle board. check it out!
We took the new speeder out yesterday for a fun paddle, and it was a blast. For an 11′ x 30″ board its really fast, and stable. There was a decent swell, so the going was interesting as we surged and bucked through the waves as we paddled down the coast. The shoreline was littered with rock pools with the swell surging over them, making whitewater style rapids, and being plastic it was fun to go play in these and not have to worry about ruining a board if we connected anything, which we did.
The board did amazingly well paddling both out through surf and swell, and riding them in on our way back. Easy to maneuver, yet tracking well, the boards were a hit with everyone.
Quick video fo Leco Surfing his new board!
An independent Playak review of the Imagine Surf Rapidfire, an SUP board designed for whitewater running.
Stand Up Paddling is hitting the mainstream and it’s good to see that it’s diversifying into different directions: racing, touring, surfing and increasingly also whitewater. In the whitewater category, Corran Addison’s Imagine Surf is a logical choice. Corran has always been on the cutting edge of water craft designs: he has designed whitewater kayaks for different brands for over two decades, and was also at the forefront of river surfing developments, having some world class river waves in his back yard in Montreal. Considering this mix of expertise, it’s understandable that Imagine Surf offers two different whitewater SUP boards, of which I tested the Rapidfire. Imagine’s description of the board reads: “Amazing whitewater fun. As soon as people moved inland with SUP, they started to explore rivers. Today this is an exciting alternative to whitewater kayaking, and that’s why we created the Rapidfire. A radical departure from surf shapes, it’s optimized to make class 2 whitewater easy, and class 5 possible. The generous rocker, and high volume center help you run through almost anything – even waterfalls and slides.”
The Rapidfire is made of blow molded HDPE plastic, the same process and material used to make Eskimo and Prijon kayaks, known to be a stiff and very durable plastic. The durability is an important advantage for using a board in whitewater, but if also has a trade-off: it’s heavy. Reaching the same stiffness and durability with a more traditional material (rotation molded PE) would make the board even heavier, so that probably explains why HDPE blow molding was Imagine’s choice.
Still, the weight (22kg) was an unpleasant surprise when I first carried the board. I could easily handle a 22kg kayak by myself. It would be a pretty heavy kayak, but I’ve carried 2 kayaks of 18 kgs each without problems, one on each shoulder. An important difference with a kayak is that a board has no cockpit, so you can’t carry it on your shoulder. I improvised a shoulder solution made of two car straps, but that still requires a piece of foam to protect your shoulder, and carrying it from my home to the river (200 meters) is still a workout by itself. So you either need a place where you can store the board right next to the water, or you need a well size pick-up truck which you can park close to the water.
I asked Corran about the weight and his answer was: “In 2012 we’ve added a handle in the center. Now I drag it or I put it on my head and hold the handles each side”. Dragging actually turned out to be a good solution in most situations. I say “most situations” because the road between my apartment and the river is all asphalt and concrete. The HDPE is made to cope with that sort of stuff, but dragging the board over it continuously still feels wrong. On sand or grass, dragging the board is a perfect solution of course, and getting it from the river up the bank without help also calls for this method.
On the water, the weight is not an issue. I expected difficulties getting the board up to speed or changing direction because of it, but this wasn’t a problem at all.
The fin is not made of HDPE. I don’t know what exactly it is made of, but it feels very hard. I haven’t hit rocks with it yet, but if I do, I’ll let you know the results… Corran informed me that the 2012 version will have a 5″ rubber fin. The fin is a bit tricky to put on for a board novice (like myself) – an illustration would be handy for less technically skilled users.
Rapidfire Detail Photos – click photos to enlarge.
The storage compartment on the front deck is very handy. It’s not a dry compartment, but it has a hanging nylon bag inside, so things won’t get lost and will stay dryer than if they would be lying on the hull of the board.
The carrying handles offer great grip, but the material is very hard, so they can hurt when carrying the board. The side handles are located a tiny bit too far back for my taste. Carrying the board with two people, one on each side of the board, seemed like a great carrying option, but the nose of the board almost touches the ground that way, so it doesn’t really work. The 2012 version will have different handles and a carrying grip in the center, see the next photo:
2012 version of the Rapidfire with new handles.
A metal ring to secure board would have been nice. There is a small hole in the very middle of the board, which allows me to secure it with my Lasso Security Cable, but not everybody has such long locking cables. Another nice to have would have been a paddle clip.
Mind the grip pads. On its first car roof trip, both grip pads let loose. Luckily they were squeezed in between the board and the foam of the roof rack, so they didn’t fly away completely. The adhesive on the pads feels extremely sticky, but it isn’t enough to keep them on the board. Blow-molded HDPE is known for not being a good material to stick things on, as the surface is slightly rough, and the part of the board that the pads are on has a lot of small bumps, which were originally meant to provide grip on their own without any grip pads. After I had to go rescue one pad from washing away, the first thing I did was apply some extra rubbery glue to them, which totally solved the issue. The grip pads definitely provide a lot of grip – good stuff!
The Rapidfire is very maneuverable, partly because it has only one fin, and partly because it is wide and relatively short. There’s always a trade-off of course and in this case it’s speed, but on whitewater that’s a secondary priority. To protect the fin, I assume you can remove it for shallow waters, but I haven’t tried that. I’ve tried other SUPs on flatwater without a fin, and noticed that it results in moving mostly diagonally, and having to switch active hands continuously to get forward. What would help is if you could put the board on edge, but hard edges would probably be a bit too aggressive for a whitewater board.
Coming from a recreational flatwater board, the Rapidfire is very wide, also the foot position. Together with the rounded edges, this makes the board very stable and forgiving – even balancing on one foot in the regular wide position is no problem. The board is still stable and forgiving during extreme stern turns. Ok, I still fell in a lot when trying to really stand on its tail, but that’s not the board’s fault, just mine 🙂
The width does make it a bit more tiring to paddle than a narrow board, also because the paddle is used further away from the body. I’m used to starting my stroke far off-center, which helps paddling in a straight line even when paddling on only one side, so this technique is even more important when a board is so maneuverable. Then again, the Rapidfire is made for running whitewater, so running straight lines should not be your default goal 🙂
Surfing the Rapidfire is easy and fun. The fin almost works like an autopilot, so it’s super easy to get onto the wave. It also means that it likes to surf straight, and in our case (on a small wave) that caused some unwanted nose dives, so next time we’ll try surfing without the fin. The board has a lot of volume, so even if the nose does dive, you can typically edge a little or just wait, and it will come up again.
Looks are always a matter of taste of course. Personally I think the board looks pretty sexy and sporty, and most other people I asked thought so too.
I like the concept of plastic SUPs: they are durable and don’t need a lot of care. If you live right next to the water and can store the board there, you probably won’t find the extra weight a problem at all. The Rapidfire is definitely a fun SUP board and a great choice for whitewater: it’s strong, stable and forgiving.
San Clemente’s Drew Brophy spent 16 days and 225 miles risking ‘crazy’ rapids, boulders, heat and cold while stand-up paddleboarding with a friend and an accompanying rafting team.
FRED SWEGLES / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
He considers himself just a regular guy on a surfboard – a guy who loves adventure and has challenged himself to surf fearsome venues such as Tahiti’s Teahupoo Reef and Mexico’s Puerto Escondido, just for the thrill.
Now, Drew Brophy is back from surfing potential killer waves unlike any he had experienced in the world’s oceans on a surfboard.
The Grand Canyon?
Brophy, a San Clemente surfer and artist, celebrated his 40th birthday this year by surfing the Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii. Then his friend Seth Warren, a filmmaker and professional kayaker from Montana, invited Brophy to join him in surfing the Colorado River on a stand-up paddleboard.
“It was very humbling,” Brophy said this week after completing a 16-day, 225-mile journey through the length of the Grand Canyon, surviving some 140 rapids and countless rocks and holes, never knowing whether he would make it to the other side alive. He had mind-numbing wipeouts and close calls with boulders. He made harrowing rescues of others in his party who braved the rapids on expedition-style rafts.
“The water was running like crazy,” Brophy said. “The river was running twice its normal volume due to all the snow this year. The rangers said a lot of rafters canceled their trips due to the fast, dangerous conditions.”
Brophy had introduced Warren to SUP surfing in California. Warren took the sport to Montana, exploring lakes and rivers. “He’s all of a sudden asking me to come down the Grand Canyon,” Brophy said. “It has come full circle.”
Here’s more from Brophy about the Grand Canyon adventure:
Q. How did you get a National Park Service permit to do this?
A. The way the permits work is you apply for one to lead a group. They have a lottery every year and pick a small number of names for permits. It is a big deal to get a permit. These folks had all been putting their names in and have been waiting for years to get a permit to raft the Grand. If you win the permit, you get to pick your group. Seth’s mom won the permit this year.
Q. How did you get in on it?
A. Seth invited me. We were not sure if the Park Service would let us SUP. They laughed at us and said we would end up in the rafts for sure. They kind of did not get the fact that we were going to paddle the whole thing, rapids and all.
Q. But it was OK?
A. You do not need a special permit to SUP as long as you are with a group. I guess other stand-up paddlers brought boards but only did some of the river, spending lots of time in the rafts.
Q. Why do it there?
A. For river rafters, the Grand Canyon run is big and beautiful. There is no short, easy way to do it. Once you’re in, there is only one way out, unless you have an emergency. Helicopter rescue is available for $23,000.
Q. How did you spend your nights?
A. We camped every night in a new spot. The sky was so amazing there. I would watch satellites and shooting stars until I passed out.
Q. Sixteen days. How did you carry food, bedding, camera gear and supplies?
A. We were a team of 15 people in seven rafts and Seth and I on SUPs. Every boat was heavily loaded with food and gear. Seth and I had a storage spot in our boards. Seth kept all of his expensive camera gear in his board. I kept emergency stuff in mine in case we got separated from the group.
Q. Ever done anything similar?
A. I have done rugged surf trips all over the world, like roaming New Zealand in a camper van for a month with my family and driving the deserts and point breaks of Peru. But camping for 16 days in such an isolated place was a first for me.
Q. Any special precautions?
A. We always went first for safety, scouting what was up ahead. The Grand Canyon is a leave-no-trace area, so everything you bring in you bring out – trash, ash, sewage, etc. After paddling all day, setting up camp was like being in the Army. We would secure all the boats and gear, build the kitchen and then do our personal stuff. Then it was up at dawn to tear it all down after breakfast.
Q. How many others did you meet along the way?
A. There are a few ways you can experience this area – private trips like us, commercial trips with guides and motors, and hiking. We encountered all three at different times.
Q. Any interesting people?
A. Every once in awhile you would see hikers in the middle of nowhere. Everything was so remote and extremely rugged. I cannot imagine what they went through to get there and get out.
Q. Any bad rapids?
A. The rapids on the Grand range from 1 to 10 in scale because there are so many. … Hermit, Granite, Lava and Crystal were all 9s. … We had very close calls on all of them – flips, rocks, near-drownings. Seth and I stuck rapids up to 7 without falling. I think we could stick the 9s with practice.
Q. What about lost paddles, dings, injuries, close calls?
A. All of our gear was tethered to us so we would not lose it. We felt like Navy SEALS. Boards were very durable, roto-molded plastic. Cameras got kind of beat up. Injuries were daily, (but) mainly fatigue and sun exposure. My skin was cracking and splitting. I got really beat up in some of the rescues. Your adrenaline kicks in and you do not feel the damage until it’s all over. We had three major close calls.
Q. Was the weather or water temperature a factor?
A. Both were factors. The water was 42 at the start and 48 at the end. We had nice Patagonia wool-lined suits. The air ranged from 30s to over 100. One night it snowed on the ridges around us. It was so beautiful. Some days you didn’t think it could get any hotter. I felt like I was melting.
Q. What about the feeling of being at one with the Grand Canyon?
A. There were days when I was separated from the group and totally alone for hours. It felt very primal. Everything of the outside world disappeared and my mind was totally clear. I feel like this on my surf trips, too. We did a few hikes that felt like we were on another planet all by ourselves.
Q. How did you come away from the journey physically and mentally?
A. I came home in the best shape of my life. Everyone should realize that SUP surfing is a great way to stay fit. Mentally, a lifetime on the water has taught me great skills, and it feels good to be confident in the water no matter where it is, in any condition.
Q. Were you able to work on any art along the way?
A. No, but lots of inspiration.
Q. Will any art be coming out of this?
A. Absolutely. These types of trips are what my art is all about. It is a part of me now.
Q. What did this teach you?
A. I feel very confident and self-reliant in the wilderness. I am also stoked that stand-up paddling has bridged a gap from rivers to lakes to ocean. It has allowed me to surf in the ocean and take that skill to the white water of the rivers, and Seth from rivers to the ocean. That’s awesome.
Q. What might you do for an encore?
A. I want to continue to explore with my family doing similar trips – surfing, rivers, wilderness. I want to expose my son to places where he needs to be self-sufficient.
Mo came in third overall, about 40 to 50 total. around 48 mins. 4 miles flat water strong sidewind, he felt the speeder, very fast, a bit wobbly, but fast, and a bit on the heavy side, but fat, or chubby girls deserve love too and he is giving it some!
Check some of the pictures and video :
Let me tell you about an amazing person I know called Daniele Tira. A guy so fun, and energetic and sincere, that it was instantly contagious. Dani would walk into a room, and everyone would light up. His energy, and absolute sincerity in everything he did, and more importantly, in the way he interacted with those about him was as genuine as can be.
Dani was one of the best kayakers I’ve ever known. He was not interested in competition, or records. He just wanted to go kayaking, and he was very good at it. He was one of those paddlers that instilled confidence in the group he was with. He was always the first to run a hard rapid, so that he could set up safety for everyone else. No matter who you were, Dani would watch over you on the water, and off. He was the first person to start to load the boats, and the first to begin to make dinner after a hard day. Between stirring the pasta, and setting up camp, he’d use his talents as a physical therapist to help the other members of the team with their physical ailments. His energy was boundless, and matchless.
I choose my friends not by the adventures we have, but how those adventures unfold. With Dani, they always went well. No matter how bad things got, he was always positive and made it better. No matter how good they were going, he still made it even better.
Dani’s only flaw was that he wanted nothing from you in return. All his energy and help was free. There was never any expected return, so you always felt like you owed him something. You didn’t. All he wanted was to help those around him and make their lives better.
He did just that.
Daniele will in more than one sense always be here, from the lessons we learned from him, to the improvement to all our lives as a result of having known him. We are all happier and better people because we knew him, and so he will always be here. He cannot be missed, as he will never be gone.