Outposts

Outdoors, action, adventure

Category: Standup paddle surfing

Teva Mountain Games begin Thursday in Vail, Colo.

Kayak 1 The Teva Mountain Games will kick off its eclectic mix of adventure sports, art and entertainment Thursday in Vail, Colo. The ninth annual event taking place through Sunday expects about 2,000 athletes to compete in 24 disciplines in eight sports, all vying for portions of a prize purse totaling more than $100,000.

Hosted by the Vail Valley Foundation, sporting events will include IFSC World Cup Bouldering competition -- the only World Cup bouldering event taking place in the U.S. -- as well as stand-up paddle boarding events, a discipline new to the games this year.

The games will also host competitions featuring some of the world's top athletes in each sport, competing alongside amateurs of all levels in trail running, kayaking, rafting, mountain biking, road cycling, amateur climbing, fly-fishing and a half-marathon.

In addition to all the adventure sports, there will be a photography competition, an interactive exhibition and demonstration area, DockDogs canine competitions, the Serac Adventure Film School, concerts and mountain lifestyle parties.

The games offer a family-friendly atmosphere with myriad free activities for all ages, including an adventure clinic on back-country and mountain preparedness, hosted by First Ascent guide Erik Leidecker; a mountaineering clinic hosted by First Ascent guide and mountaineering legend Peter Whittaker; a zip-lining course; the Eukanuba Doggie Dash obstacle course; outdoor film series screenings; free Parkour demonstrations with a hands-on beginner clinic; and the chance to try stand-up paddling with C4 Waterman team member and stand-up paddle surfing pro Charlie MacArthur.

A schedule of events is available on the Teva Mountain Games website.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A pro kayak freestyle competitor at the 2009 Teva Mountain Games. Credit: Shane Macomber Photography

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Champion paddleboarder enjoys whale of a close encounter

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Jamie Mitchell won't soon forget his encounter Tuesday with a humpback whale off New South Wales, Australia.

Mitchell, an eight-time World Paddleboarding champion and big-wave surfer, was aboard a standup paddleboard filming for his new television documentary project "Living in Liquid."

A pod of humpbacks approached and the whale in the photo above surfaced next to Mitchell, winner of the recent 32-mile Molokai-to-Oahu paddle race in Hawaii.

Humpbacks are among the most gregarious and curious cetacean species and often treat whale-watchers aboard boats to up-close encounters. About 13,000 humpbacks migrate each season along Australia's eastern seaboard. 

"They have amazing control in the water, so I relaxed and enjoyed the experience," said Mitchell, a Quiksilver-sponsored athlete. "I have an even greater respect for them now, they are so cool."

"Living in Liquid" will follow Mitchell's many waterborne challenges, from big-wave surfing to free-diving and paddleboarding. Presumably, the humpback footage will make the cut.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Jamie Mitchell stands in awe before the a humpback whale that approached him as he was paddling off Australia. Credit: Liam O'Brien/Jason Muir

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San Clemente Ocean Festival this weekend

Katie O'Keefe climbs the portable rock wall at a San Clemente Ocean Festival.

Those looking to beat the heat this weekend might want to check out the 33rd annual San Clemente Ocean Festival, taking place Saturday and Sunday adjacent to the pier.

There will be a myriad of things to see and do, including fishing clinics and derbies, surfing and body-boarding contests, a woody car show and a pancake breakfast each morning griddled by San Clemente city lifeguards.

The main event will be the California Waterman and Waterwoman Championships, with competition taking place each day in sports such as distance and stand-up paddle-boarding, ocean kayak racing and biathlon.

There will also be plenty of activities for kids. A special pavilion will offer carnival games, face painting, ocean crafts and relay races. The Discovery Science Center and the Ocean Institute will also have booths offering various educational activities and projects.

The finale event will be the Great Rubber Duck Race at 4 p.m. Sunday. Festival attendees can purchase and decorate rubber ducks, which will be turned loose near the pier, with prizes awarded for ducks that reach the shore first.

Parking near the pier is limited, so complimentary parking and round-trip shuttle service will be available at San Clemente high school, located at 700 Avenida Pico.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Katie O'Keefe climbs the portable rock wall at a San Clemente Ocean Festival. Credit: Geraldine Wilkins / Los Angeles Times

Stand-up surfers become big-game anglers at Baja's Rancho Leonero

Calvin Toms with a roosterfish

Stand-up fishing has new meaning for a couple of Carlsbad anglers, who recently visited Rancho Leonero in Baja California's East Cape region and tackled several big-game species while atop surfboards designed for stand-up paddling.

That's Calvin Toms (above) with a nice roosterfish, and Chris Perret (below) with a very impressive sierra mackerel, which presumably was prepared as ceviche for an afternoon snack by the sleepy resort's chef.

"The Ranch," with its laid-back feel and close proximity to some of the best fishing in the world, is one of my favorite Baja haunts and the winter winds have subsided, so I may travel there soon.

As for stand-up fishing aboard a stand-up surfboard, I'd like to give it a try but with my luck I'd hook a marlin that'd tow me across the Sea of Cortez, causing me to miss happy hour.

-- Pete Thomas

Chris Perret with a sierra mackerel

Photos courtesy of Rancho Leonero

Mavericks delivers giant waves for the Thanksgiving holiday

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I took a break from the Thanksgiving holiday to visit Mavericks on Saturday, as the season's first large swell was filling in at the notorious big-wave haunt outside Half Moon Bay.

It was an impressive display of nature and courage.

I'll be writing a story on how the day played out, to run next week in the print edition of The Times, but wanted to post a couple of photos I took from the deck of Robert Brown's remarkable boat.

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Brown piloted his shooting platform so close that it rose and fell with the incoming swells, which developed into 40-foot wave faces that bowled up and generally were so scary that only top surfers, such as Grant "Twiggy" Baker, Grant Washburn (both are pictured immediately above, while taking off), Ken "Skindog" Collins, Greg and Rusty Long, et al, actually got rides.

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As you can see, Mavericks gets crowded. And while few surfers on this day were brave enough to paddle onto the shoulders of these thunderous beasts, many feigned taking off, only to pull back at the last second.

This is part of the Mavericks dynamic, and the good surfers are able to judge who is going to go and who isn't.

In the below photo, Greg Long, winner of last winter's Mavericks big-wave contest, has negotiated the drop but will soon be swept up by a horizontal avalanche that leads to some frighteningly tense moments.

Stay tuned...

--Pete Thomas

Mavericks4greglong1

Photos by Pete Thomas/Los Angeles Times

Big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton writes 'Force of Nature'

Laird Hamilton

Laird Hamilton is one of those rare living legends, larger than life, although he often appears as a mere spec on some of the waves he rides in his backyard at Jaws off Maui.

He pioneered the sport of tow-surfing, utilizing jet skis to streak aboard mountainous peaks. More recently, he modernized stand-up paddle-surfing and not long ago paddled the length of the Hawaiian island chain — standing up, in daylight, darkness and on rough seas.

Now Hamilton has written a book, his first, appropriately titled “Force of Nature: Mind, Body, Soul (and, of Course, Surfing),” published by Rodale Books.

It's not what you might expect. It does not boast of Hamilton’s many accomplishments, for they’re known already. It is, rather, the surfer’s philosophy on life and a revelation of his extreme health-oriented lifestyle.

And chances are that "Force of Nature" -- thought it won't necessarily turn you into one -- will  inspire you to enjoy a fuller, healthier and more confident existence.

The pages are splashed with photos and accounts from people who have influenced Hamilton's life, including wife Gabby Reese. But it is Hamilton's  take on life, his honesty and genuineness, that drives this work.

The following are just a few of what I call Lairdisms, his words to live by:

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.



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