Where you were born and where you live now?

Born in Vancouver, British Columbia but grew up in the neighbouring community (now city) of Richmond. After meeting my wife nearly twenty years ago, we lived in White Rock/Ocean Park near the border of BC and Washington State for nearly fouteen years then moved to Calgary, Alberta for two years. Being away from the ocean in Alberta was hard for both of us and we wanted more control over our lives so we decided to make a wholesale change. We now live in the community of Davis Bay on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia and run our own business here.

What is your occupation?

My wife and I have been owner/operators in tourism for the last four years now. Our business, Beachside by the Bay (.com), is a waterfront and paddler friendly vacation rental property here on the Sunshine Coast of BC which is an easy forty minute ferry trip from Vancouver. After both investing a lot of time in our careers Linda and I decided we wanted more control over our lives so we launched ourselves into our new business. It’s VERY hard work but rewarding at the same time. We keep Beachside very active on Facebook so if you’re curious please check us out. Previous to this I spent most of my career in the design industry, first in design of high voltage powerlines and substations for the mining industry then moving to architecture.

Where do you paddle the most?

I actually primarily paddle outriggers, OC-1 and OC-6, spending most of my time on my OC-1 in the waters around Beachside on the Sunshine Coast of BC. There are some amazing places to paddle here with a wide variety of conditions for all levels of paddlers.

Ian "Pipes" Bolden

Do you have a favorite local paddleboard shop?

There are a couple shops in our area that focus on SUP as well as kayaking in the area. Salty’s Adventure Sports stands out as being very proactive in the community. They are big on the rental end of the business and provide free delivery and pick-up of rental SUPs and kayaks.

What paddleboard, surfski or OC do you ride most?

Most of the time I paddle a Hurricane OC-1.

Do you own any other paddleboards, surfskis or OCs and what kind?

I’m almost embarrassed to say that my only board is an old BIC windsurfer that I use as a SUP for goofing around. What can I say… it was cheap! I really enjoy falling off of it in the summer. I’m even better at falling off with the sail attached. Aside from that we have a couple of Riot kayaks for when my wife and I play on the water together.

What paddle do you use?

Both my OC blades are custom made all wood paddles by Don Irvine’s company Hana Hou Outrigger on Vancouver Island in BC. My SUP paddle is basic Grey Owl paddle.

Have you changed boards/paddles/equipment since you started? If so, why?

I think I will be upgrading my canoe in the near future. The newer canoes are quite a bit lighter but there is also a wider choice of hull volume for a variety of paddler sizes. Being a big guy, I require a canoe with more volume to put the waterline at or close to the optimal point on the hull to prevent it from bogging down. I’ve been very lucky to have a friend in Kaua’i, Tom Bartlett, who has allowed me to try a bunch of different canoes to get a good comparison of different setups. As far as paddles go, I am always looking at different ones but as of yet haven’t changed.

Ian "Pipes" Bolden

If you could travel to anywhere in the world to paddle, where would you go?

I really enjoy paddling locally in the three warmer seasons. We live in paddlers paradise. There are so many places to explore here as well as a wide variety of conditions so there’s really no need to go anywhere else. Lots of opportunities to be close to wildlife here as well. Last year alone I paddled with Grey and Humpback Whales, Orcas, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, California and Steller Sea Lions and Harbour Seals. It’s really an incredible place to be on the water. Even winter here is mild in comparison to most of the rest of Canada. That said, I do enjoy paddling in Kaua’i a great deal!

Best piece of SUP advice you’ve ever received?

I guess the biggest and best piece of advice was “just enjoy yourself”. I can’t remember who it was that said it but I feel it’s really the whole reason we paddle. All the other advice about training and technique is important but if you’re not enjoying what you are doing it’s all moot. The craziest sounding advice was from Tom Bartlett in Kaua’i just ahead of embarking on an epic downwinder. He said, “…if you’re resting near the navigation marker, don’t dangle your legs. That’s where the shark got me…”.

Weirdest thing that’s happened to you while paddling?

Over the time I have spent on the water there have been many interesting interactions with larger creatures. Whales seem to find me quite often and on a couple of occasions have even approached me, presumably to get a closer look. It happens often enough that one friend has even called me “the whale whisperer” which ultimately led to my canoe being named Mele Kohola or Whale Song. Perhaps the weirdest though was encountering a pair of Steller Sea Lions along the public beach area of Davis Bay where we live. As I paddled along, the female started repeatedly porpoising beside me. I have never seen this behaviour before so I stopped to watch, but as I did so she stopped too. When I resumed paddling the behaviour was repeated. There were folks walking the promenade that were also remarking on the occasion. I stopped again. This time the large bull approached, swimming underneath me several times then surfaced behind me and put his mouth over the tail of my canoe. I actually asked him what he was doing, at which point he swam part way along the hull toward me then turned and swam away, leaving me with an amazing adrenaline rush. I’ve since been told (by an expert) that this likely wasn’t aggressive behaviour but more play. I wasn’t sure what to think at the time.

Favorite SUP nutrition? (During races/ during a long haul)

Nutrition is my biggest challenge. What to eat and when to eat it is still a mystery to me. Aside from a relatively healthy regular diet, I don’t use supplements very often. Typically in a 10 to 12 km small boat race I don’t require anything during the race. A solid breakfast of steel cut oats and eggs in the morning makes the world of difference and sets me up well for the day. Making sure hydration is up as well is obviously important. That’s it really.

Goals for this next year?

Probably my biggest goal is to improve my race times and be more competitive in races as well as maintaining a level of fitness that keeps me healthy now I’m over fifty. It’s difficult to work training into a busy business schedule so I am often paddling solo at varying times of the day as time allows. I would like to get into more of a routine and train more seriously as well as learn more on the nutrition end. I feel I’ve done well thus far but to take the level up another notch would require a better training routine.

Favorite post-paddle nosh (snack/beer/recovery drink)

Beercovery is always important at the right time of day! Currently I am partial to Whistler Brewing Company’s Bear Paw Honey Lager but I’ve been known to drink just about anything put in front of me. After a summer evening sesh, it’s awesome to barbeque some smokies and boil some fresh caught crab on our beach deck. It’s pretty special to be able to do that and sit next to a fire and watch the sun go down. That’s the ultimate.We are very lucky!

Your favorite non-paddle thing to do:

If sitting on our beach deck and watching the ocean with my wife is a thing then that would be it. Aside from that I love photography. My camera goes everywhere with me. I am considering having it surgically attached. Because we live in a very special little corner of the world there is so much to photograph! Wildlife, landscapes, sunsets, weather… you name it, I’ve shot it.

What gear do you wish someone would invent?

Paddling is such a simple sport. It can be as technically complicated as one wants to make it. From a necessity standpoint though, I don’t think there’s anything I feel I would need to drive to the city for.

What’s your biggest challenge with paddling?

Probably my biggest challenge is finding a balance between my obsessive paddling and everyday life. My wife is incredibly understanding when it comes to my serious side of paddling but she likes to spend time with me on or off the water as well. I have to slow myself down and get out of go-fast mode and realize it’s not just about me. Running a business together keeps us very busy and it can be hard to find time to fit personal time into that equation.

What is your proudest moment in a SUP race or event?

This is a tough one. Perhaps my proudest (and most humbling) race moment was just overcoming adversity in a seven mile OC-1 race in Kaua’i from Kapa’a to Hanama’ulu where we had to deal with huge swells and high winds coming in from the left (ama side for OC paddlers) for all but the last mile of the race. I knew it was going to be a tough one to handle because of the conditions and I was on a canoe I had never paddled before. After a huli almost immediately off the start, I thought to myself “oh, okay, so this is how it’s gonna be”. After the sixth time upside down I was beaten up and tired from the intensity of the race. The physical effort of racing was enough in itself, but that coupled with the energy used righting and getting back on the canoe in rough conditions and the intense concentration it took to pay attention to every little nuance while upright left me drained. I have never been so glad to see the finish buoy and I even still managed second place in my age group for my efforts!

Ian "Pipes" Bolden

Tell us about the best friend(s) you made through paddling.

If it weren’t for my friend and coach Ron Dickinson I probably would never have found the sport of outrigger paddling or met any of the other paddlers I call friends. When my wife and I moved to the Sunshine Coast permanently, Ron encouraged me to come out and try paddling in an OC-6. I was hooked immediately. Ron has nearly 2 decades of outrigger paddling under his belt, OC-6, OC-2 and OC-1 with and without rudder and has raced in some of the biggest races there are. He is more obsessive than I am about outrigger and extremely generous with his vast wealth of knowledge. We have travelled together and paddled in some wild conditions both locally and in Kaua’i. I both owe him and blame him for my addiction.

What was your best SUP travel trip?

Paddling in Kaua’i is amazing! My wife and I go every year. Aside from taking in the sights from shore, this year’s (2016) vacation saw some wild south shore downwind surfing runs with Tom and Mary Bartlett in really big water, a couple of OC-1 races in the Kaua’i Hoe Wa’a series bringing home two second place medals for my age category, and race training in OC-6’s with some great paddlers from Kaiola Canoe Club. I’ve had Manta Rays swimming under the canoe, mother and calf Humpback Whales breaching beside me and Spinner Dolphins following along behind. I can’t get enough!

Ian "Pipes" Bolden


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