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I get this question a lot – “What’s an elder SUP – I am just 43 (or 36, or 51). am I an elder?”

This excellent video story of mom, Heather Baus, accompanying her daughter, Savannah, on an open ocean down-winder provides an answer. In this story, Heather is an “elder SUP.” Her powerful relaxation on her board and grinning cruise-rides on the swells are exquisitely mirrored in Savannah’s adventure.  At a time when getting kids active seems next to impossible, when technology and virtual sports seem to be the choice of the digitari-kids these days, all it takes is a caring, committed, passionate “elder” guiding the way toward exquisite, empowering fun.

Balance, awareness, courage being so far out to sea, trust that companions are nearby for assistance, training, practice and a really beautiful and cool Pipes paddle (great shot at minute 3;30) all add up to experiences Savannah won’tt forget.  Her active life has included a number of SUP race wins – many in line-ups of youth much older.  As described in her blog, she certainly is a sup’r grom. When Savannah settles down at home-school and writes the expected, “What did you do this summer?” essay, words will be hard-pressed to describe it all. When she studies waves, currents, the environment, weather  or phys ed she’ll have a vast store of experience to draw from.

Take a quick look at the home-schooling project posted on Savannah’s blog.  That’s the awareness of nature, resources, caring for the environment that we can always use more of. With Mom, Heather, as the teacher the classroom is expanded from desk to ocean seamlessly.  So, Heather – young as she is – is an “elder SUP.” Are you? If so, please join our discussion and share a video or comment.

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8/11/2011 2011 MOLOKAI to OAHU Part 2: race recap by Heather Baus By hummingbird Six days before the race, somewhere over the Pacific ocean Savannah and I share the cabin of a Boeing 767 and I’m lost in thought… well, one thought: so you wanna paddle the Molokai channel?! Gerry Lopez quoted it best: “it’s a big bite and you better be ready for it.”  He wasn’t kidding!  I’m not even sure where to begin, but what an incredible experience.  Jim arrived the evening before we all flew to Molokai.  The commuter flight to Molokai was full of energy with Kanesa Duncan and Jaime Mitchell along with their respective crews and many other paddlers.  Arriving to Molokai we were greeted w Aloha and smiles.  First stop was the grocery store to stock up for the next 48hrs.  There is nothing near the villas, so bring  your food and drinks.

After settling in before sunset and taking in the beautiful sites and looking way into the distance at a faint shadow of Oahu, it really hit home that I was going to paddle the channel and so did the nerves (I thought I finally outgrew those…!)  The Saturday before the race was probably the longest day of my life, full of crazy anticipation and wondering if I would make it across with the strong ENE winds that were blowing 20kts plus.  Racing suddenly became a distant second thought to just finishing!

The evening before the race saw all of the competitors and crew gathered for a pre race meeting and bbq.  As darkness approached the night sounds were quiet but the energy was loud and clear.  I kept busy, packing my hydration packs and making sure everything was ready to go.  Falling asleep came easy but I was wide awake from the wild turkey calls at 4:30 am.

The morning of the race was a trip for lack of a better word.  Everyone looking for their escort boats and then hauling gear out on their boards through a sizeable shore break… the beach was buzzing!  At this point I was just in awe of the entire experience.  Sort of like getting married or the birth of your first child… I’ll get back to this in a bit.

After kisses and hugs to Jim and Savannah, I joined in hands with the racers and took in the pula (prayer).  I thought I would feel emotional, but instead was completely in awe that this was all really happening and it was finally here!

Getting on the board and paddling out to the starting area was surreal.  The horn went off and then came the experience of my life.  I had my eye on the unlimited girls thinking I may be able to keep up on a stock board.  I don’t know about them, but I was in a full out sprint for the first 3 or 4 miles to keep up.  Eyes on the nose trying to milk each runner while heading as high as I could. The winds were coming off my right shoulder and left sided was already burning by mile five.  I looked up at Oahu figuring I was really high on the line and realized I was still going down and had to push harder on the left to not get blown down completely off course.  I felt amazing but knew that I wasn’t sure even at mile 5 if I could hang on to that sort of left sided paddling the entire way.

Once we started hitting the swell it was incredible.  The waves were huge.  The wind chop was what I was used to but some of the swell that would go by were way over my head and it was just awesome.  I couldn’t catch any of those and even if I had, it would have taken me to far down.  I was able to catch a lot of runners and bumps on the back side of the swell. What was really fun was when those waves would break on my beam and then I’d ride down the back side at an angle.

At mile 15 I was at 2:40 and pleased with the time considering it was not a “true downwinder”.  I also knew I might be in trouble as I wasn’t drinking or eating much. During my training I would have sucked down 70 oz and eaten something, but I found I was a little queasy.  Eating or drinking was not going to work; I knew I had to force down fluids, but food was out of the question. By mile 20 Heather hit the wall.  I blame that on intense left sided paddling and not eating.  I thought possibly I would catch a second wind, but that never came either.  I really thought at mile 25 I would not finish even though I was leading the women’s stock class.  Although winning was completely out of my mind and the notion of even completing the event was fading, I sort of clocked into “survival mode” because I seriously thought I was going to die.  I hurt so bad.  Sharp, shooting pains in my lower back and obliques, along with a leg spasm.  I had never experienced “hitting the wall” before… nothing like experiencing this in the biggest race of your life!  What a surprise considering the long miles I logged months before.  I can honestly say that giving birth was easier than how I felt at mile 28.

Once approaching China Wall, which by the way was spectacular, Jim yelled out “Haley is catching up to you.”   I knew I was only about 3 miles from the finish and had to be careful not to push too hard as I was approaching the upwind leg.  I never once looked back until rounding the point and she was about a 100 yards behind me and looking strong so I decided to “go”.. and so did she!  She caught up to me between the reefs with about ¼ mile to go and I was all out.  It was great, her parents and my escort boat were screaming their heads off for us girls!  I tried to catch a wave off the reef, though we both missed it and had to hunker down into the 12-15 kts of headwind (felt like 30kts).  We were side by side and I knew that I was not going to finish the last 500 yards if I kept going and told her “go get em Haley”, and she did.  I kept my eye on her and smiled at the cheers she received at the finish line.  16 years old.. Haley rocks!

The finish wasn’t emotional as I contemplated merely trying to get up the ramp.  Sean Sweet greeted me with kisses and congrats and carried my board.  I never expected to feel like I did, pure exhaustion.

Funny thing is, as tough as this was, it was one of the most amazing days of my life.  I can’t put it into words, but I encourage this crossing as it is truly life changing.  Did I mention how big the flying fish were?  HUGE.  They would fly by so slow you could have a conversation with them!  And what an awesome escort crew: Jay, BooBoo, Carlos, and Jeff, he who never stopped shouting “encouraging” words which still echo in my head: “go go”, “dig dig”, “big wave behind you”, “don’t worry, he’s on a bigger board”, “paddle your race”…!  And of course, Savannah, who put up with 6 hours of seasickness, muttering “thanks a lot Mom” as I looked over at her hanging her head off the side of the boat.  Last but not least, Jim.  Thank you.  Could NOT have done this with out you.

I’m going to have a lot of fun reflecting on this race.  I’m already thinking of 2012 and my boat is reserved.

Heather Baus
2nd place Stock class  M2O 2011
Check out Heather’s site at:

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« Back to Events 2011 MOLOKAI to OAHU Part I: One week prior to race by Heather Baus Start:January 1, 1970 12:00 am Somewhere over the Gulf of Mexico, Savannah and I share the cabin of a Boeing 757 with coughing folks, crying babies and no legroom- even for us short folks.

Now is a time to reflect, rest and contain the excitement of paddling the Ka’iwi channel in less than a week.  14 hours of flying time should be sufficient.  Savannah is styling in her Skull Candy headsets and I just finished organizing over 5000 photos and videos on the MacBook Air; long flights are awesome for pc spring cleaning!

Training for the M2O event has been something pretty amazing itself.  The idea began soon after BOP/CA 2010 and so did the training, in baby steps of course.  Being a Mother, teacher, wife and the Kialoa, Hinano and Raw Elements PR/Caribbean rep, I had to be very clever to fit in training and I could not have done so with out the support from the entire family.  Koko, our 5 year-old macaw, was the only one that opposed the idea.

Logging longer miles began over our Christmas sailing trip in the British Virgin Islands; it’s not difficult to put a 15 miler in while paddling in crystal clear waters and not a care in the world while on vacation.

My first goal was to train enough to complete the Catalina Challenge with my teammate Dane Moressey.  Thankfully we both had been training as we paddled up hill most of the way.  After this event the Spring was very busy with lots of on and off island SUP races.  I did the best I could to log miles, but it was after the BOP/HI and GCC that I had some pretty extraordinary paddling days.

Historically, the Molokai to Oahu run is primarily left sided paddling while off the south coast of PR, my primary training grounds, it is mostly right sided.  During the week I either had to paddle around my loop A LOT or catch a downwind that was almost completely right sided.  During the weekends while our daughter sailed with the Ponce team, Jim and I would head out to sea in Blue Moon, our 19’ inflatable with the kick butt custom board racks, and try to get an angle that was at least a few strokes on the left side (but even still the swell from the left quarter).  The first couple of times we started doing these longer runs it seemed like such an ordeal driving the boat up wind for 15-20 miles then paddling down.  I would feel so guilty seeing Jim just sitting there in the boat for hours watching me paddle, but soon found out he was quite content.  It was when we started bringing Savannah along it got interesting: she needs a shirt that says “professional puker”.  She decided she would take a small break from sailing and instead enjoy the boat ride and quality time with her Dad. I would look over so many times and smile only imagining what they were talking about.  Of course after many weekends of this any 9 year old would start to get bored of the idea of sitting in a boat for 3 or 4 hours.  Next thing I know I was giving her rides on the back of my board while she peered into the ocean with her goggles; then she decided she needed to drive the boat and Daddy needed to paddle and just all kinds of wacky ideas.  Finally one morning she told her Dad to load my 12’6 and that she was going to paddle too, and there our little downwinder was born.  Jim would stay with me as long as he could then zoom downwind farther to drop Savannah in and I would play catch up.  She would generally paddle the last 5 or 8 miles depending on the conditions.  The first couple of weekends I would catch up pretty quickly but the last time or two I had to turn it up a notch to pass this little grom.  The fun factor was also turned up a notch!

I think training for the Molokai has certainly made me a stronger paddler and has also made an even stronger family bond by working together and making the most of every outing.  I did not want training to take away from time with my family and instead it added to it.  No matter the outcome for Molokai I would not trade the training experience for anything and will continue these long paddle when I return.  Maybe with a stroke of luck the Molokai channel will be right sided paddling?

Check out Heather’s site at:

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SUP Connect Heather Baus is Supconnecter of the Week, representing San Juan, Puerto Rico. She is a highly passionate, charismatic, and enthusiastic stand up paddler, with a beautiful family (Jim and Savannah) that is wholeheartedly committed to sup'ing. Plus, she is really fast! I had a great time hanging out with her, Jim and Savannah at the BOP HI and look forward to seeing them again. – Andre NiemeyerHeather Baus – Supconnecter of the Week Heather Baus is Supconnecter of the Week.By: SUP ConnectPhotos: 1Tuesday at 10:52pm · Unlike · · Share
  • You, Lori Green-Hurley, Cyndie Kontoes, Betsy May-Risner and 20 others like this.
    • Carylayn Mitchell Fabulous ambassor of the sportWednesday at 8:05am · Like
    • SUP Connect We couldn't agree more Carylayn!Wednesday at 5:41pm · Like
    • SUP Race Training She is awesome and savannah is a star in the making!Wednesday at 8:37pm · Like
    • Chad Baird Heather and her Family Rock! See you at BOP, CA!Wednesday at 8:44pm · Like
    • Linda Dunbar Thompson You nailed it! Passionate, charismatic, and enthusiastic! love her!Wednesday at 9:56pm · Like
    • SUP Connect Be on the lookout. A few races from now you'll have mom and daughter ahead of your in the course!Wednesday at 10:27pm · Like · 1 person
    • Heather Relyea Baus I really appreciate the kind words,, you all rock!!! Keep paddling, smiling and having fun and hope to see ya'll at the next race!! All the best.... HMB2 seconds ago · Like
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And last but not least the Carolina Cup races with John Becker, Anthony Vela, Heather Relyea Baus, Karen Wrenn, QuickBlade Paddles and a whole host of other top racers..   Team BARK at the Carolina Cup- featuring Joe Bark, Charlie, John Becker, Paddleboard Specialists, QuickBlade Paddles, Heather Relyea Baus - with lots of Surftech SUP. Featuring an interview with Will and Mike from Sup The Coast talking about their 17' Bark SUP's.