Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Winter Paddlesports Races

Info on Winter races below forwarded by Shane Baker. Thanks Shane!

Also don't forget the Sound Rowers races ( starting with LaConner on Feb 6 and Lake Sammamish on March 13. Lots of fun opportunities for racers this year.

Mark your calendar -- Here is an updated 2010 Winter Series Race Schedule.

In addition to this list below, there is an Annual Fox Island paddle around Fox Island at 10am on January 1st. At the Fox Island Bridge. contact Shane Baker at if interested for more details.

Happy New Year!

2010 New Year's Challenge - This Weekend!
OC-1/2/6, Surfskis, Kayaks
, SUP'S and non-motorized watercrafts
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Race Starts at 11:00am
6.5 mile downwinder from Gasworks Park to Magnuson Park or vice-versa depending on winds

More details and info to come or see more details and RSVP, follow the link below:
Hosted by the Sail Sand Point Outrigger Canoe Club

Ruston Way Solo/Relay
Tacoma, Washington
March 20th, 2010
On Tacoma's Commencement Bay
Jack Hyde Park
Open to all OC's, Surfski's, Kayaks, SUP's and non-motorized watercrafts
10.5 miles Solo or Partners of 2 - 8 paddlers 2.6 miles per lap(4 total laps)
Registration at 9am
Race Starts at 11am
(special fundraiser for our 2010 World Sprint Paddler headed to New Caledonia)
Hosted by PNW-ORCA


January 16th - B.C. Canada - Jericho OCC - 11am

January 30th - Lake Union, Wa. - Hui Wa'a O Wakinikona - 11am

February 13th - Portland, Oregon - Mountain Home CC - 11am

February 27th - Silverdale, Washington - Hui Heihei Wa'a - 11am

March 13th - Portland, Oregon - Kai Ikaika CC - 11am

March 27th - B.C. Canada - False Creek CC - 11am

April 10th - Sand Point, Washington - Sail Sand Point OCC - 11am

Check for more details on race series and points

Please pass on to your paddlers

Mahalo and Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Rockpool Kayaks Alaw Bach!

Rockpool North America partners with Eddyline to build the first thermoformed British kayak
... and Ruby Creek can help you get your hands on it!


Chris Mitchell of Rockpool North America recently announced a partnership with Eddyline Kayaks featuring Rockpool's popular Alaw Bach kayak in Thermoformed Composite Construction -- the same burly, lightweight, affordable, space-age material made immensely popular by designers & innovators Lisa and Tom Derrer of Eddyline. Earlier this month, Mitchell stated on his web site:

"After many months we are pleased to announce that we are starting to ship the NEW Rockpool ALAW Bach TCC to our Reps across North America and will be filling a container for Europe later this month.

The TCC is a colaboration between Rockpool Kayaks of Wales, UK and Reed/Rockpool North America, LLC. We decided to build the ALAW Bach because we wanted this very popular boat to be more readily available to the many paddlers world wide that recognise the sophisticated design and expert craftsmanship of the Rockpool ALAW Bach. Instead of trying to find a cheaper source of labor we instead looked to a more modern technology that works smarter and to the same type of quality standards that Rockpool is famous for.

TCC stands for Thermoformed Composite Construction. We chose Eddyline Kayaks of Burlington, WA to partner with as they were the first and recognised leader in the field of thermoforming kayaks. We knew they would be able to bring this great design forward with their years of experience in kayak thermoforming."

Ruby Creek, as always in partnership with HappyPaddler Ethan Ebersold, is ecstatic to be a part of this arrangement. Distribution will be through dealers across the USA and Canada, some who are currently carrying Eddyline and some who are not. Check in with Ruby Creek at to schedule your first test paddle and to find your nearest dealer! This is going to be a terrific seller. MSRP is $2,995.

The minimalist backband can be replace with something larger if you like. This one's nice though.

Christmas may be over, but Santa wants you to have a new Rockpool!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Emotion's First Comet!

Tom "Big T" Strauss gives one of his big trademark holiday smiles posing with the first-off-the-line Comet, the sweetest little 8-foot piece of paddling fun you'll ever meet. In the first week of the new year, Ruby Creek will receive a container load of Comets and their sensational sister sit-on-top Spitfires. Reserve your first shipment right away!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Boathouse transformation!

My old buddy (since we were both 14... that was a damn long time ago) Doug Dago Day showed up at the Boathouse yesterday at noon. As usual the place was not pretty, pfds, paddles, dry suits wherever there was room, and of course boats everywhere, stacked neatly but taking up most of the floor space.

A few hours later the change was evident. We'd put up enough racks to store the 44 Emotion Kayaks still in stock from 2009 at the 'house, with room to spare. Just in time to put them all on dealer super-special for Christmas!

By 3pm today (in time for me to be home for kickoff of the Husky game) we'd wrapped up enough rack space for all 150+ Emotion Comets and Spitfires arriving in a container at the end of the month. (Click to see my boy Ethan paddling a Comet right here)

Speaking of the Huskies, what a sweet spanking they laid on the Cal Bears.

Thanks Dago! Dig them power tools. Nail guns, chop saws and rotohammers rule!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Alki transforms to M2S

Many further congrats to Greg Whittaker and the crew at Alki Kayak Tours, firmly established as Mountain to Sound Outfitters in their new retail location at 3602 SW Alaska St. in lovely West Seattle. Skis, boots, a mountain shuttle service and a tuning shop dominate the winter scene, to be replaced in Spring by Tahoe SUP, Eddyline, Emotion, Bending Branches and Stohlquist gear for the paddlin’ season. Check out the transformation in less than a month from this…

To this…

And inside from this…

To this happy holiday scene with visitors mulling over what to buy their loved ones…

The heater in back that wanted to wack you in the head…

Still works and will still wack you in the head but it takes a little effort to get back there amongst all the cool stuff…

Greg and crew are waiting to greet you!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tahoe SUP boards

Standup paddling is a little like Facebook. It's gone from "huh? What are those kids doing now" to "wow, look how cool I am trying something new" to a mainstream thing that everybody's doing. And the hottest part of Standup is the touring, flatwater board style that's being led by Tahoe Boardworks.

Happy Paddlin' with a Dog!

Starting with the speedy Zephyr that's been winning races and turning heads, to the gorgeous Woody that looks like it should be in a gallery, to the durable, not-so-pricey, carbonlite-skin Rubicon crafted by the thermoform masters at Eddyline Kayaks, Tahoe took off in 2009 and made a big footprint in this growing market. New for 2010 will be the Grom kids' board, and the Bliss for the ladies. Along with the hottest boards, Tahoe's paddles and accessories fill out the selection of goodies that go along with this great line of gear.

Washington's first Tahoe dealer, Chris Fry (R) of West Bay Paddleboards in Olympia, joins Doug Erwin (L) from Tahoe and Bryon Dorr from Next Adventure on the Cowlitz River. Yes you can do it on moving water!

Dealers benefit from low minimum orders, sweet deals & long dating on demo boards, and reasonable shipping rates. Paddlers dig the speedy, stable ride... and being part of this big hot wonderful thing to do on the water. Don't miss it!

Happy Paddlin', even on his head... Ethan thrills the fans.

Rec Repair or The Hippo Patch?

The potential for breakage and field repairs to your gear can pose a dilemma... what patch stuff to carry, how much to carry, how expensive is it, what kind of repair to be ready for. Ruby Creek represents a couple of awesome solutions. Check em out.

Here's a quick, permanent repair that stays flexible and waterproof and never cracks when you apply it to neoprene, plastic, canvas, nylon, glass, wood, even concrete. and doesn't cost much. The Hippo Patch comes packaged in six easy-to-display sizes from 2"x24" strips, to 4"x24 foot rolls. Easily cut with scissors or a knife, it adheres to nearly any clean surface and can even be applied underwater.
This is the 4"x24" patch material, folded up for easy display. Maybe I could use it on those wrinkles in my hand.
Ruby Creek is proud to be the Washington representative for this innovative stuff. Grab a pack of Hippo Patch for your dry bag, one for your backpack, one for your tool box. If your favorite outdoor shop doesn't carry the Hippo Patch, give them a link to this page and let them know we'd be happy to help them.

Hippo Patch dealers love the strong margins, attention-grabbing display, low inventory investment to get started, and convenient, easy-to-order multipack cartons. Users dig the low-cost means to get their repair done quickly and get back to whatever they really want to spend their day doing.

If a field repair needs structure -- a tent pole, kayak paddle, cooler, or a big crack in your boat -- go for Rec Repair patches. They are simply heated with a heat gun, or over a fire or cookstove and shaped to the material being repaired. To avoid wondering whether it's hot enough, paddlers & backpackers can carry Rec Repair's Emergency Kit with a chemical heater included.

Here's the 4x6 RecRepair patch, ready to display in your shop.

Here's the RecRepair emergency kits with a chemical heater included.

Rec Repair comes in black or white, in 4 packaged, precut sizes, bulk patch cut to order, and even keel strip and skid plate material for canoes and kayaks. Dealers can get going with a starter kit that contains a little of everything, then fill in as needed to replace their big selling items.

These are terrific additions to any retail shop's product lines. Ruby Creek has dealer applications and order forms right here at World HQ, just waiting for you.

Costa del Mar shades!

Along with making the best shades out there, Costa del Mar finds time to document the decades-long fight over a highway proposed to cut through a wild Alaskan wilderness.

The heritage of this awesome sunglass line lies with a band of hard-core
offshore fishing outfitters in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Along with sunscreen and a nose for the big one, a durable, dependable pair of shades is essential for this lifestyle. So today, Costa offers a 100% polarized, lifetime-guaranteed line of some 50+ frame styles, multiple lens choices, stainless steel hinges that don't rust or corrode, and innovative nose & ear pieces that actually get grabbier on your skin when you sweat.

Take a look at the whole product line.

Customers say things like... "Whoa. Check out the fish... I never knew I could see in the water like that". "Look at the colors, man!" and best of all, to paraphrase Will Smith in Independence Day... "I GOT to get me some of these!"

Dealers say they love the margins, the quality of the product, and the excellent returns they get from a small footprint of real estate in their shops. Orders start as small as just a few pairs.

From the stylish, light-as-a-feather Ballast to the tough as nails Zane, your only dilemma will be which style you like best.

Ruby Creek has a good stock of samples so you can see for yourself just what it's all about. Just be sure to invite me out on a sunny day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Crescent Moon Snowshoes

It's all about the fit, the easy single-pull binding... and a host of other great stuff.

Time for some winter adventure!

It's a long way from paddlesports, but when you're on water, even if it's
frozen, it's all related. And for most of us, GREEN matters, whether the
water is white or blue.

What's so special about Crescent Moon?

Well first, you get to go to their web site and meet founder Jake Thamm in person.

Snowshoers enjoy the unique, comfortable, easy-fitting single-pull binding -
the sweet feel of the teardrop shape - the green manufacturing process
that's powered by wind, uses no PVC parts and recycles all their waste - and
knowing the smiling US work force is building their shoes in Boulder CO.

Dealers dig the great margins, top-notch customer service and the logical,
easy-to-understand model and price structure that makes it easy to train
sales staff on the bennies of the brand.

Want to be a dealer? Talk to Ruby Creek about a dealer app. We'd love to
show you some samples.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

SKU Rationalization Hitting Outdoor Specialty Channel

Here's an article passed on from the Outdoor Industry Association News by Gregg Gunderman at AquaBound-Bending Branches. The point -- in today's economy, pick what works, commit to it, go narrow & deep with your sku selection, and by all means do NOT confuse the customer with too many choices. All good advice. Thanks Gregg for passing this along.


SKU Rationalization Hitting Outdoor Specialty Channel

After years of assaulting shoppers with a growing array of SKUs, retailers are reigning in their product offerings and outdoor specialty retailers are no exception.

In a recent conference call, Costco told security analysts it had reduced its average store SKU count by 150 to 200, although much of it came from tobacco. Target has consolidated multiple private label sub-brands in its home furnishings area into a single brand. “We are editing the assortment and reducing SKU count to allow for cleaner presentation and to more clearly communicate the strength of this brand to our guests,” the company told security analysts earlier this year. Dick’s Sporting Goods reported this spring that they were dialing in their model stock and letting tertiary brands and SKUs go.

The SKU rationalization is part of the broader shift away from new store openings and toward improving operations at existing stores. In some instances, this allows retailers to secure better shipping rates and other volume discounts from remaining vendors

“We’ve stepped back from opening stores and are focusing more on comprehensive financial management of existing stores,” said Frank Pitts, franchise development manager for Fleet Feet, which has franchised about 90 stores nationwide, including just one new store this year. “We suggest they are better off going narrow and deep. That is part of our financial management advice.“

San Diego-based regional chain Adventure 16 has reduced its SKU count by about 5 percent for the upcoming holiday season, said CEO John Mead. “There will be more accessories, but a tighter more focused gift selection and many less lifestyle shoes.”

In Minneapolis, Midwest Mountaineering has reduced SKUs in camping by reducing the number of brands offered for some items from four or five to two or three, said owner Rod Johnson. The retailer has left apparel relatively untouched and increased its footwear SKUs.

The biggest SKU cut has come in paddlesports, where Midwest Mountaineering has eliminated some pricier kevlar and fiberglass boats most impacted by the recession. “We still have 130 boat models, so the choice is still overwhelming,” said Johnson.

Like Target, Eastern Mountain Sports trimmed back SKUs for its EMS brand in a move that actually enhanced EMS brand penetration in top categories.

The trimming at retail and tight credit markets are prompting manufacturers to rightsize their own operations. Johnson Outdoors, for instance, has been working to reduce SKU counts across the company by 20 percent as part of an aggressive cost-cutting program.

At The Alpine Store in St. Louis, MO, co-owner Lisa Hollenbeck is now concerned she may have cut SKUs too deeply as part of a 20 percent reduction in inventory from the fourth quarter last year. The retailer pulled back on color selection in women’s rainwear and eliminated duplication in several categories, while adding to its selection of gift socks.

SKU rationalization may seem counterintuitive at a time when consumers can go online and find exactly what they want. But it may already be bearing fruit. In the last week, U.S. news wires have carried several stories warning consumers that they will find less to choose from on store shelves this holiday season. That could motivate consumers to shop early and prevent a repeat of last year’s panic discounting by retailers.

Regardless, many in retail wonder if consumers are suffering brand fatigue.

“If you are offering everything out there, you are probably doing a disservice to the consumer,” said Dan Mann, a retail consultant. “If you offer me the same product across five different brands, that’s just confusing.”

Mann said he is questioning the “good, better, best” model of retailing. Perhaps specialty retailers should concede the low end of the market to mass and focus on better and best.

“I'd like us to go deeper with some of things we are committed to,” he said of outdoor retailers. “Don't confuse the customer with 17 other choices.”

If you are offering everything out there, you are probably doing a disservice to the consumer,” said Dan Mann, a retail consultant. “If you offer me the same product across five different brands, that’s just confusing.”

Mann said he is questioning the “good, better, best” model of retailing. Perhaps specialty retailers should concede the low end of the market to mass and focus on better and best.

“I'd like us to go deeper with some of things we are committed to,” he said of outdoor retailers. “Don't confuse the customer with 17 other choices.”

Monday, November 16, 2009

Alki Kayak Tours to open new location!

That sign's coming down... soon to say "Mountain to Sound Outfitters"

Congratulations are due to Greg and Kara Whitaker, our friends at Alki Kayak Tours in Seattle, for taking the big plunge and opening a retail location in their home neighborhood of West Seattle, to augment the success of their beachfront rental operation on Harbor Avenue. Grand Opening is Friday, November 27th. Hope you can make it!

Psssstt.. top secret new exterior color. Won't be a secret long.

Operating under the new name of Mountain to Sound Outfitters, Greg says the shop will leverage our seasonal outdoor life in the winter as they emphasize snow sports sales, rentals, and tuning, with plenty of resources available for paddlers as well. When Spring comes, it’s full-on paddling. Come visit any time!

The new shop is at 3602 SW Alaska Street, just West of 35th Ave SW. It’s convenient for anyone residing, visiting, or just passing through West Seattle on the way to the ferry. Evidently Greg and Kara, who are also expecting their first baby in the Spring, decided to get all the big steps in life out of the way at once.

These pictures were taken just a few weeks before the scheduled opening on November 15th. That’s a lot of work to do, and everyone who knows anything about this operation knows it couldn’t happen without the butt-busting efforts of Alki crew like Avery, pictured here proudly dodging incoming shipments of skis, rental boots, and of course the very first kayak in the new inventory – an Emotion Glide. Good luck to this first-class bunch. You guys rock!

Presentation 11/20/09 in Anacortes: 1400 miles by kayak

The Inside Passage -- 1400 solo miles by kayak

Please join Darrell Gardner of the Under Human Power expedition on Friday, November 20th at Village Pizza in Anacortes, for a slide show and discussion of Darrell's recent 1,400-mile solo paddle from Seattle to Skagway, AK, over two summers by kayak. The trip was one segment of Darrell's multi-year journey afoot and afloat from Mexico to the Arctic Ocean, chronicled on Darrell's web site:


Darrell's "trip of a lifetime" began at the US-Mexico border in 2004, and over the following summers he hiked to Canada, paddled the Skagit River, and kayaked to Alaska. His journey continues in the Spring of 2010 as he follows the gold rush trail over Chilkoot Pass to the headwaters of the Yukon River, and paddles the Yukon to the foot of the Brooks Range. This will set the stage for his final push over the Brooks and down the Colville River to Alaska's Arctic Coast, 50 miles West of Prudhoe Bay.

For a brief evening, Darrell will take you along with him. Admission is free, but Washington Water Trails Association will make a brief appeal for your support of efforts to reopen DNR facilities on Cypress and Strawberry Islands to year-round access and camping for paddlers.

Let's meet up at about 6pm and grab some pizza and refreshments. We'll head upstairs at 7pm for Darrell's presentation. Hope you can join us!

Village Pizza is at 807 Commercial Avenue in Anacortes. Call in advance if you want your food waiting for you -- (360) 293-7847

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Deception Pass Dash has its own Blog

Pretty cool news, the 4th Annual Dash has a blog page where we -- the OAC Crew and Ruby Creek -- will be posting news, sponsor information, updates, racer data, and volunteer opportunities throughout the weeks leading up to the event. Take a look here:

See you at the Dash! December 12, 11am start, at Bowman Bay.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Standup Paddling grows again

Just saw this link from Ruby Creek supplier Doug Erwin at Tahoe Board Works...

Check it out --

Sweet! Standup Paddle TV!

Green Travel Roadshow

Lots of stuff calling itself green these days. If you want to know what's really green, and if your business is into green, sustainable activities, and you dig travel, get yourself to the Green Travel Roadshow on the 11th - 13th of November at the Cave B Inn at Sagecliffe on the spectacular Columbia Plateau.
The event is presented by Evergreen Escapes, partners in urban ecotourism with Ruby Creek's good buddies at Seattle Paddlesports, and it promises some cool learning opportunities about:
  • Why sustainable tourism is important to your success
  • The financial benefit to your business of “going green”
  • The myths & facts about sustainable tourism
  • How to create a “Green Team” within your organization
  • How to assess your businesses level of sustainability
  • Three things you can do now to be a greener organization
...and even some very special sustainable tourism while you're there:
  • Rock Climbing
  • Wine Blending
  • Kayaking the Columbia
  • Wild Horse Wind & Solar Generating Facility tour
Cost of the event is $95 plus accommodations. Pretty reasonable for a profitable experience learning how to be responsible with your Earth and make a few dollars too. Get there!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dealers & Suppliers come together for planning & partying

Our host gets set to grill up some of the 30 lbs of salmon provided by Don & Pam at Boston Harbor Marina.

Planning & partying...or was it the other way around? What a time at the officially-named "Pickin' & Paddlin' Retreat", and many thanks to my bro Ethan Ebersold for putting the whole thing together. Ethan's River House on the Cowlitz, which he maintains for events just like this one, served its purpose well for 5 solid days.

Training for a crucial boater skill... the 11-person shuttle in a 5-seat Land Cruiser.

Preliminary pictures are here (click to enlarge for a better look), provided by Tom "Big T" Strauss of Emotion Kayaks. Meeting Tom was a highlight of the event -- he definitely lived up to the hype -- and he was joined by industry giants Ed Vater of Aquabound/Bending Branches; Tom & Lisa Derrer from Eddyline Kayaks/Swift Paddles; Doug Erwin of Tahoe Board Works; and Stohlquist Waterware's Jake Wisse. Ethan's dad, Mike, helped out with grilling and general hospitality; and canoe instructor/Esquif pro boater Nick Jacob filled out the host crew.

This grin never left Big T's face.

Paddlesports dealers and outfitters from all over the Northwest and California joined in the fun for some dee-lectable food, two nights of rockin' to the Moon Mountain Ramblers, paddling in the unseasonably warm fall weather on the Cowlitz, and some gittin' down to business in the Ebersold showroom, all tricked-out in the garage.
Zack and Elizabeth from Bellingham's LFS Marine find shopping for paddling gear can be pretty fun when you bring along Big T.

If you were there, thanks for coming! If you missed it, enjoy the pictures (click any pic for better detail; more to follow) and stay tuned for the next River House function.
New friends, a festive beverage, and an awesome view of the river... yeah!

Ethan proves Tahoe Boards are rock solid!

Emotion's new Mojo, rockin' the eddies on the Cowlitz. Comfy and ultra-stable, even for a big dude. The 2010 version includes the integral seat back and a tad more width and a harder chine. Check it out.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Insane off-topic Husky victory

OK so this blog is all about kayaking and outdoor stuff, and I'm using it to promote the Ruby Creek family of brands... but oh boy what a ballgame. My Huskies, who just last week broke a 15-game losing streak reaching back to 2007, pulled out a nailbiting, last-second freaking insane victory over the USC Trojans. From our seats high in the upper deck we screamed our way through the game and cheered our team and fellow fans as they celebrated on the field after the game.

As I left, I thought to myself, it's all worth it. All those games feeling like I was the only one cheering for the Dogs in my section, staying til the last play of every hopeless game, 15 straight losses and I can't count how many straight losing seasons, I'd sit through all of that again just to see another game like this. Drama this sweet, well, some people never get to experience it. How lucky we Real Dog fans were to be there... and how lame a hell of a lot of fairweather, stay-at-home-til-the-bandwgon-starts-rolling fans will be in years to come when they CLAIM they were there! Go Dogs!

Bark for Sark!

Be Sark-astic!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dig the new Eddyline Shasta!

Last week we hit the water in the new open tandem from Eddyline, the Shasta. Tom and Lisa Derrer, 30+-year owners and founders of Eddyline Kayaks, are still designing innovative boats after all these years, and this one will hit a sweet mark for people looking for something versatile, that does a little bit of everything while delivering the light weight, sleekness, and easy handling that everyone wishes for.

The boat was a comfortable, nice-gliding cruiser with a big fella in the stern seat and lightweight Lisa in the bow...

Or with two beautiful ladies powering past the camera...
Or with the designer himself paddling solo on the adjustable seat, throwing some fine strokes.

The new boat is 16 feet long, 28" wide and will be officially unveiled to your Eddyline dealer at the beginning of October. Take a look at the video Tom put together after he and Lisa invited my wife Cathy and me out for the christening, and hurry over to your dealer next month for a test paddle.

Hurricane Jimena Close to Home

For many of our sea kayaking friends, the Baja Peninsula is a sweet place of refuge from the hurried pace of paddling in and near our US cities. It's also a place where sea kayaking has become a big part of the local economy, with paddlers coming from all over the world to enjoy the waters. Last week Hurricane Jimena, a seemingly mild Class 2-3 storm, devastated a large part of the peninsula, knocking out roads and bridges and leaving thousands of people homeless. This youtube video gives a quick glimpse of some of the wreckage...
Click here for youtube video

and our friend Joe Dryden, who lives in Alamos Mexico, in the mountains across the Sea of Cortez where his little town was crippled by storms less than a year ago, sent us this link to an article listing ways you can help out.

Joe commented that "Baja's kayak touring businesses may be in for a quiet season this winter. The highway is totally gone in many areas and most all bridges are destroyed.", he says, so please keep an eye on the situation and help if you can, through the Red Cross or wherever you're able. The impact of the storm on the local economy is yet to be determined, but it's certain to be severe when local residents are left isolated from help, and without food or water or shelter.