Olukai Race and Saying Goodbye to Maui

A week ago I was prepared to compete in my first Olukai Race in Maui. I had planned it to be my big send-off after another epic winter there. There was a lot to cram in between family time, friend time, packing, and getting in our good byes. It was raining and foggy when I loaded my 17’4 ft unlimited SIC Bullet. It’s not uncommon where I live upcountry so I trucked along, loaded some inspirational tunes in the VW Bus and started down Piiholo and then the Haleakala Hwy. As an eternal optimist, I was not deterred when the weather did not improve. By close to 10 am I found myself in a tent at Kanaha Beach Park with some of the best SUP athletes in the world; Connor Baxter, Travis Grant, Danny Ching, Andrea Moller and Izzy Gomez to name a handful. Renowned Waterman Archie Kalepa informed us that the race was cancelled due to wind direction and weather and tentatively postponed to the following day.


There is a classic baseball movie from the late 80’s called “Bull Durham” with a great quote in it: “A good friend of mine used to say, ‘This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.‘ Think about that for a while.


I think that it’s in our nature to simplify—probably something that has been selected in our evolution. We take in stimuli, discern the most important information, and act accordingly. We look at someone at the highest level in a sport do something extraordinary and think that we can do it just as well: golf is just hitting a ball into a hole, tennis is hitting a ball over a net, basketball throwing a ball into a hoop, MMA is beating up someone in a cage, skiing is just going down a mountain, surfing is just riding a wave, and paddling is just putting your paddle in the water and stroking.


Deep down we know that it’s not the case. Most people when trying a new athletic activity say that it was not as easy as they thought. The reason why athletes at the top of their game make it look easy is because they have trained, practiced, and have been coached. When it comes to paddle boarding, we have heard time and time again that it was not as easy as it looks. It’s common now to be inspired by media and because access is as easy as a click, you can buy all the gear you want and then have it overnighted to you. How many people do you know have purchased something impulsively and then realized that they probably bought the wrong thing? Because the content we get now is from all over the world and extremely specialized, it’s easy to think or make a parallel that if it was good enough for someone there it will be good for me here.


When we started SUPCO, we wanted first of all to be a resource manufacturers to our patrons. The river was such a new game in SUP and we learned quickly that not all inflatable SUPs were built with the same quality and design with the river in mind. We learned by trial, and in time created great relationships with manufacturers and customers alike who valued our commitment to quality equipment and quality instruction. Now we have three locations with premium equipment and instructors at all of them. We’ve formed great partnerships with towns like Dillon and Avon and have recently acquired Adrift Adventures in Dinosaur National Monument.


It turns out that they did end up having the race the next day, but for me and others that weren’t pros, we couldn’t make it. I had this vision of my glorious send-off, sharing bumps on the Maliko Run and having my Olukai jersey to wear proudly in Colorado. Maui blessed me with rain and rainbows and Colorado welcomed me with snow. I hit the ground running and the team is being assembled right now like a superhero montage in a Marvel movie. We have shared some great camps and offerings and have some others still to come. Please reach out for more info and feel free to sign up online if you get the chance. We are honored to serve you and be your resource for all things SUP in the Rocky mountains.


See you on the water!


Ps—you can check out the results of the Olukai race here!