How We Got Started...
I developed my love for surfing when my Dad's job transferred us from Houston, TX to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1983. I was twelve at the time. For the next two years, I ate, drank, slept surfing. Surfing posters of Tom Curren riding Al Merrick's Channel Islands boards covered my wall. We lived right on Leblon beach and in addition to surfing in front of our residence, we frequently surfed a special break called Prainha (pictured below).
My stoke for surfing was immediate. However, in 1986, my Dad's work transferred us to Stavanger, Norway for the next two years, then back to Texas in 1987. That would begin the start of a nearly 20 year sabbatical away from surfing.
Fast forward to January 2005. My wife and I left our 3 daughters with her parents as we headed to Maui for a 9 day vacation before welcoming our 4th daughter. I had always dreamed of surfing in Hawaii. Did you note the month? Yes, the waves were big, very big. I spent the week crossing the island surfing two breaks, Honolua Bay and Ho'okipa.
Here are a few thoughts from that week..."Is this heaven or Hawaii?" It was that beautiful and the waves were that good. Have you ever been on the cliff overlooking Honolua Bay on a winter Saturday when it's firing overhead? It's both exhilarating and intimidating. When you haven't surfed in 20 years, a solo paddle out to an overhead Ho'okipa is every bit as spooky (Ho'okipa pre-paddle out below).
My wife asked several questions, "Why don't you hurry up and get out there (the lineup)?" Answer - I had never seen waves that big and a lineup with that many talented surfers.
"Now that you made it out in the line up, why are you just sitting on your board while everyone else is catching waves?" Answer - I was absolutely exhausted just making it to the outside. The paddle was unbelievably demanding. Being in good shape is not the same as being in good paddle shape.
My pilot flame for surfing had been completely reignited; however, I was humbled and frustrated with the constant exhaustion from paddling. I had recently watched The Endless Summer II and was inspired to begin making surfing a priority. The challenge was living in landlocked Greensboro, NC.
After booking my first surf trip to Costa Rica, I had the idea to begin paddling in a lap pool on a modified oversized boogie board. In order to make the paddle workout more challenging, I added a resistance bucket. Swimming helps. However, the muscles and nerves used by a surfer in a prone paddle position are unique to that physical activity. There is no substitute for being in the water and paddling. Those workouts proved invaluable and the idea for Surfinshape™ was officially launched. More importantly, the training worked! My wave count, quality of waves, and overall surf experience improved significantly.
I began using the boards I created to train for family surf trips to Costa Rica. My wife knew how much I loved surfing and how energized I became planning, training, and traveling to surf. She encouraged me to pursue creating a more refined training tool that could help others who share this same passion for surfing.