December 2017 in Brazil with SurfinSemFim

Some of my favorite memories are from long distance kitesurfing trips on the northern coast of Brazil. I’ve done several trips there with SurfinSemFim and I’ll be returning December 10-16, 2017 to lead my favorite trip of all: from kite mecca in Preá through the amazing Parnaiba Delta to Atins, a magical village with great kiting on the edge of the incredible Lençois Maranhenses national park.

The Delta trip covers 350km over 7 days and 6 nights, traveling entirely on the water — truly a long distance kitesurfing journey, departing and arriving each day directly from beautiful small hotels and posadas along the way.

Delta Path

We’ll meet on December 10 at the beautiful and unique Rancho do Peixe in Preá, just a few hours by car from the airport in Fortaleza. I recommend coming in a day or two early if possible to relax at Rancho and warm up with a few short downwinders around the point to the legendary town of Jericoacoara.

As we make our way down the coast we’ll have top-notch land support from SurfinSemFim and coaching on the water from myself and Evan Netsch, top rider and rep for Cabrinha kites.

On Dec 11 we’ll leave Preá and spend the next several days making our way down the coast of three different Brazilian states: Ceará, Piauí and Maranhão, stopping for nights in Camocim, Barra Grande, Ilha dos Poldros, Tutóia, and then finally in Atins. This itinerary gives you exposure to a hugely varied landscape — from dunes and lagoons to the mangroves and rivers of the Parnaiba delta all the way to the beginning of the incredible Lençois Maranhenses. If time permits, I recommend extending your trip for a few days at the end to explore Atins and the Lençois. These places are hard to get to, truly off the beaten path, and very very worth spending some extra time in!

Incredible Ilha dos Poldros in the Parnaiba delta

We’ll cover distances of up to 70km on some days of this trip. This multi-day, long distance journey is suitable for experienced kitesurfers with some downwind experience and in good physical condition. Travelers on this itinerary usually fly into Fortaleza (FOR) and out of Sāo Luís (SLZ) airport. It is possible to get back to Fortaleza by land from Atins, but it takes a long time. We can help with airports transfers and any other travel details.

Downwind with SurfinSemFim

For more information and to reserve your spot please contact us here:

See you in Brazil!!

SurfinSemFim group – photo Bruna Arcangelo Toledo

Here Be Dragons podcast on the long distance experience with SurfinSemFim

Did I say podcasting was easy? Not a chance. That said, it is easier than shooting a film! I was lucky enough to be one of the principal athletes in the SurfinSemFim film production last year in Brazil, and believe me, I was glad that my only job was to kitesurf 100+km every day!

I was interviewed on the awesome Here Be Dragons kitesurfing podcast the other day. On his show, Bjoern digs up the details on some of the most interesting kite destinations around the world, and I’ve learned a lot listening to his episodes about South Africa and Chile, to name a couple.

He asked me to be on the show to talk about my #longdistance #kitesurfing experiences in Brazil with Surfin Sem Fim. We did a trans-Atlantic simul-cast and worked our way through the 600km itinerary that we captured last year, talking about the landscape, the spots, the kiting, and the immersive experience of traveling by kite day-after-day down the coast of Brazil.

Thanks to Surfin Sem Fim, Boardriding Maui, Andre Penna, Marco Dalpozzo, Bill Plautz and the #longdistance pioneers like Louis Tapper for the inspiration.

Here’s the link to my episode of the Here Be Dragons podcast – or find it on your favorite podcast app and subscribe! Part 1 is out today, part 2 to follow next week — I hope you enjoy the show.

Adventure Sports Podcast on long distance kitesurfing

I’ve been exploring the world of podcasts lately and this flourishing form of expression is very gratifying and inspiring. To use a model that I also use to describe various sports: writing is simple but difficult. Video is complicated and difficult. Speaking is simple and easy. Maybe radio/podcasting is [somewhat] complicated and yet easy?

In any case, there are podcasts about just about anything you can imagine, and in doing research for my own (!) I came across the Adventure Sports Podcast – and they asked me to be on the show!

Starting with the “beginner questions” about what kitesurfing is and how it works, at about 44:30 we move on to talk about my #longdistance #kitesurfing experience in Brazil and also about the deep connection between athletics and intuition and how being active in nature – especially over the course of a long athletic journey – can be a powerful way to train your intuition.

Thanks to Surfin Sem Fim, Boardriding Maui, Andre Penna, Marco Dalpozzo, Bill Plautz and the #longdistance pioneers like Louis Tapper for the inspiration.

Here’s the link to my episode of the Adventure Sports Podcast – or find it on your favorite podcast app and subscribe!

SurfinSemFim long distance kitesurfing documentary

Early last year my friend Marco mentioned an idea, a project that he was working on. Not ‘just an idea’ as we often say but an awesome idea, and I said yes!, let’s do it, I would love to be part of it if it happens.

I went into training mode – some flying, running, swimming in the Bay and kiting in Cape Town, the Philippines, Micronesia, Baja, and California – and a few months later I found myself in Taiba, Brazil getting ready to kite 600km down the coast with a small film crew to capture the experience.

This sort of athletic journey is my favorite way to travel, and it was an incredible opportunity and a privilege to be one of the six professional athletes that formed the team. I was the only American and the only non-Brazilian on the team, which made for an additional challenge on top of the long days on the water. The other riders were Guilly Brandão, Andre Cintra, Marco Dalpozzo, Andre Penna, and Marcela Witt — a diverse crew of world-class riders, all game for some long distance adventure!

After nearly a year of post-production the resulting film was released in Brazil by Canal OFF and I am now able to share it here with you.

An intense athletic journey is one of the best ways to bring out the connection between athletics and intuition, and making this film was a transformative experience for me. Not only was this my first pro athlete gig but I was also working in a new foreign language (Portuguese). At first it was hard to find my footing but once I got my board under my feet and my kite in the air I felt right at home. I’m very proud of the result and very happy that the film captures the feeling of this incredible part of the world, and of the long distance experience.

Enjoy the film and I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Credits

Production: e-group Hotels & Sports | Surfin SEM FIM | Vídeo com Alma
Director: Bruna Arcangelo Toledo
Camera: Mathias LessmannHugo Valente | Bruna Arcangelo Toledo
Script: Bruna Arcangelo Toledo
Editor: Ronaldo Andrade
Sound: Bruno Frene
Executive Producer: Jalila Paulino | Marco Dalpozzo
Supervisor of images: serginho pasqualino
Colorist: David Queiroz
Assistant colorist: Bruno Bridges
Athletes: Guilly Brandão, Andre Cintra, Marco Dalpozzo, Bowen DwelleAndre Penna, and Marcela Witt
My sponsors: Kurtis Eyewear, Alpinefoil kitesurf hydrofoils, and Boardriding Maui Cloud kites!

Series II Shirts

Series Two Shirts are now available

I’ve continued to refine my messages as well as the designs. This series uses a specific typeface that I researched with the help of my old friend Colin Johnston. The mirror-image type design is intended to create a graphic element, and also to present the message equally to the wearer, along with the approaching reader.

These designs are all important messages that I have received, continue to use, and enjoy retransmitting to others. I love language and language-based art, and t-shirts are the best way that I’ve found to share this sort of art with others.

This is an art project. Click the image to be part of the magic

#ChangeEverything

What better way to change (as much as possible) than by aiming to change everything? We all wonder how to change, and I’m no different. I had no idea, except to follow my intuition.

Meeting the current owner of my custom Lamborghini Orange Vespa by chance in San Francisco!
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I’ll Never Forget You

Pay attention: everyone you meet brings something unique to your world. You never know when you’ll meet someone unforgettable.

I’ll never forget the AdMonsters crew
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Keep Odd Hours

I’m sick of all these health nuts telling me to go to bed at the same time every night. All of the interesting things happen in the small hours.

Sex is Better Sober

Right? Right.

I met this complete stranger in the market in DTLA and stopped to compliment her on her outfit. She has nothing to do with the shirt.
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Someday Means Never

Don’t put your dreams a list. How many times have you heard someone – or yourself – say “I’d like to do that someday…” Next time, take that moment as a message and make a plan to do it immediately.

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Watch This

A friend’s kid wanted to watch more of “his show” the other night – I just said, hey kiddo, #WatchThis instead.

Watch This is what you say when you’re confident enough to step out in front – or when you know that something interesting will happen, and happy with whatever the outcome may be. When people ask me: watch what?, I just say keep watching.

click image to purchase
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Call Me Uli

And finally, an old favorite from Series Zero that I’ve revived for this announcement:

click image to purchase

Click here to help retransmit all of these important messages

I’d love to hear from you on Facebook or Instagram, just tag @bowendwelle or #CallMeUli with your photos!

8 Meter Media site relaunched

I returned home from February in Mexico and March in the Philippines full of ideas. I immediately set about rewriting 8 Meter Media site to reflect the projects and priorities that I have under that business.

8 Meter Media logo

Athletic, experiential and Flow events

Unique retreats, meetings, journeys, contests, community building, event production – all with Authentic Physicality built in from day one.

Sports brand marketing, business services and strategy

Brand and product development, marketing strategy, media placement, social media, sponsorship, team development, and global connections for innovative sports, athletic and adventure travel companies.

Conference business advisory consulting

Business strategy, mission/vision/values, growth, profitability, marketing, sponsorship, content development, exit, and everything else you need to make your conference business truly awesome.

Journey planning

Collaboratively developed custom itineraries with local connections from the Genius Network, everywhere. Even if you don’t know where you’re going, we know where you should go.

EO forum, meeting, chapter and retreat events

One-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime, actually cool, actually fun, outdoor-oriented EO events all built around Flow and Authentic Physicality.

Natives reunited in the wild

I made a series of t-shirts last fall to experiment with some design ideas and share some of my personal messages. I’m happy to say that I got a really positive reaction to a bunch of them – and so this February I decided to produce a second series. I showed up here in Mexico City on my way back from Oaxaca and I was surprised and delighted to see that my friends Florian and Nicky were in town. Thx Instagram! We met up for dinner and Florian had the good sense to wear the NATIVE shirt that I gave him when we met in Brazil in November – and so we got to capture a side-by-side of the two versions! I’m wearing NATIVE #2 on the left and he’s wearing NATIVE #1 on the right. Stay tuned for more designs from series 2!

Natives reunited
Natives reunited

Athletics and Intuition

I’ve spent too much time trying to make decisions. And you know what – deciding isn’t really any fun.

I’m always happier when I flow through life using my intuition. I’d really like to be making zero decisions and living intuitively all the time.

“…we are largely better at doing than we are at thinking…”

― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder

This led me to ask myself, how do I get better at living intuitively? How do I train my intuition? 

To jump ahead for a moment, the simple answer is: you get better at what you do often. You can train your intuition by acting intuitively, by using your intuition in any way at all really. But I was kind of stuck, I was used to making decisions – or trying to make decisions – and I was out of touch with my intuitive self. I needed something more specific, a usable, understandable technique that would improve my intuition in a noticeable way.

At the same time that I’ve been thinking more about intuition – over last few years – I’ve also become more and more athletic. I was always very active but until recently I didn’t pursue anything with goals or training, or even on much of a regular basis.

“To realize the body’s potential for flow is relatively easy. It does not require special talents or great expenditures of money. Everyone can greatly improve the quality of life by exploring one or more previously ignored dimensions of physical abilities.”

― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Happiness

And here’s the thing: once I started being more athletic, I started to notice an improvement in my intuition. The more time I spent doing things with my body, especially authentic physical activities that get me into flow, the more I noticed this effect of improved intuition. I started to think about what the connection is between athletics and intuition – how does being athletic improve our intuition?

This is the answer that I’ve come to: When you’re engaged in authentic physical activity (especially outside), your body is responding automatically – intuitively – to the environment, to the situation as it comes. As you practice this intuitive movement, we train our physical intuition, simply by being active outside.

And then – here’s the magic – the mind observes this, sees the body doing its thing, sees physical intuition happening, sees that the body goes where it needs to go without having to be told where to go, and learns that this is possible. Our mind learns how intuition works – and that intuition does work – by observing the intuitive movement of the body.

“…wu-wei is probably best rendered as something like “effortless action” or “spontaneous action.” 

― Edward Slingerland, Trying Not to Try: The Art and Science of Spontaneity

If we are active and in flow on a regular basis, the mind has plenty of opportunities to see that spontaneous, effortless action of the body leads to good results. It just works, all by itself, without having to make decisions. The next step is that the mind sees this and says, “hey, that seems to be working for moving the body, let me try that for myself. Let’s try some spontaneous, effortless thinking and see if that works just as well.” And (for the most part) it does go well, which reinforces the mechanism, making it more likely that the mind will allow itself you to go in that direction in the future, to allow intuition to happen, instead of going into more of an analytical, decision-making mode.

We can train and improve our intuition by being physically active (outside). The connection between athletics and intuition is so powerful that I now see that as the central theme of my work.

Authentic Physicality

Human-powered, self-directed, challenging, outside. 

We all know that physical activity is good for us.  Exercise ain’t all it’s cracked up to be though. It’ll certainly help keep you alive longer, and many people love their workouts, but it’s called a routine for a reason, right? I think there’s a better model, and I’ve come to  call it authentic physicality. To get in flow, to feel good, I have to be engaged in AP at least once a day. If I really want to feel great I need to do a double, or stay in AP for more than a couple of hours, and I know I’m really putting awesome in the bank on those rare days when I can get into AP in three or four different ways, for several hours at a time. 

Let’s break down what I mean: 

Human-powered

First of all, you have to be doing something human powered. If you’re not moving yourself, you’re not really moving. This is part of why I gave up riding motorcycles: it’s super fun, it’s self-directed, challenging, and done outside, but it doesn’t really provide any physical exercise, and it requires using an engine. And – even if you’re moving yourself, if what you’re doing requires external power as an intrinsic part of the activity, it’s not going to be as fulfilling – and it will likely be more expensive and energy intensive. Human-powered activities are also, very simply, simpler. We don’t need any extra complications in our world. Another thing about motorcycles that I realized at some point was that I no longer enjoyed having the machine and all of the process and tools required to keep the machine alive. We pay rent on everything that we own, and especially with machines – our machines own us as much as they require us to maintain them. 

Self-directed

I find self-directed activities more interesting. This means figuring it out yourself, for the most part. Having a mentor or a leader is great, but if someone is holding your hand every step of the way, it’s too easy to lose awareness of what is happening and what you are doing. Americans love guided activities. Get a guide if you need one, but don’t just follow; work with the guide, and only as long as you absolutely need to. And then try leading something yourself. We’re all capable of leadership, and it’s far more fulfilling than otherwise. 

Note that I mean self-directed, not alone. For mean this usually means doing individual activities like kitesurfing with other people. Climbing falls somewhere in the middle as it’s most often done as a pair activity. Team sports can also require a lot of self-directed activity. 

How to use this criterion? I went on a short river rafting trip last year that was human-powered, challenging, outside, and definitely not a ride, but we basically just paddled when the guide told us to paddle. The activity felt good, but I don’t think it fully qualified as authentic physicality. 

Challenging 

Doing something that isn’t intrinsically at least somewhat challenging is simply boring. Same if you’re doing something that you’re already so expert at that you can do it with your eyes closed. However, as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi points out in Flow, it doesn’t have to be – in fact, should not be – something so hard that you simply can’t do it. In fact, completing attainable goals, achievable challenges, is a key part of getting into flow. It feels great to level up, and it’s good to do that as often as possible. Progression is great. If you’ve mastered something, find a way to introduce a challenge again, and/or start teaching others (which is itself a challenge). 

Outside 

Being active outside and in the natural environment is so important. Most of us live in cities and we certainly get some benefit from being outside even in urban environments, but nature is far more stimulating and inspiring. As Nassim Taleb writes in Antifragile, “what Mother Nature does is rigorous until proven otherwise; what humans and science do is flawed until proven otherwise.” Another reason, also cited by the same author, is that a “wealth of details leads to inner peace.” We need the fractal detail of natiure to occupy and inspire our minds. So: running on a treadmill in the gym is better than nothing, running outside on the sidewalk is better, but trail running in the woods is far superior and provides multiple benefits to the body and the mind. 

A note on “extreme” sports

Some people think of some of the things that I do as extreme sports. I don’t use this term. The word is vague, subjective, relative – and overused. It’s also not relevant – authentic physicality is most often not extreme at all. Most sports that might be called extreme are complicated, required a lot of gear, and can only be done in very specific locations (and this require a lot of engines/fuel). 

The back story 
I’ve always been highly physical. Although I grew up in the city of San Francisco, my parents were outdoorspeople who took me backpacking for the first time well before I could walk. I was never attracted to team or ball sports much, but I enjoyed hiking, camping, backpacking, climbing, sailing and skateboarding from a young age, and did a lot of those things plus snowboarding, mountain and road biking, windsurfing, surfing, stand-up paddling, snowshoeing and trail running through my 20’s, 30’s and into my 40’s. In recent years my primary sports have been kitesurfing, paragliding, and open-water swimming – and it’s only in recent years that I’ve pursued any sport with enough regularity, dedication and aspiration to feel like anything of an athlete. 

As I’ve become more athletic, I’ve stopped doing some things that I used to enjoy: snowboarding, riding motorcycles, sailing boats, river kayaking, CrossFit. As started to think more about why I gravitated towards certain types of activities and away from others, I began to develop the idea of authentic physicality. There are too many activities masquerading as sports that lack one of the key qualities of AP . Hooking yourself into a zip-line might feel challenging for a moment, but it’s not active, not human powered, and not really physically challenging (unless you’re catastrophically unfit). At the end of the day things like zip-lining are rides, not sports, and you won’t get fit or into Flow by taking a ride. I don’t think anyone – not even a child – is really using their time well on a ride. 

Examples

The easiest and purest way to do authentic physicality is trail running. Other great AP activities are walking, hiking, backpacking, open-water swimming, rock climbing, cycling (especially trail or mountain biking), paragliding, surfing, stand-up paddling, snowshoeing, xc/backcountry skiing, and skateboarding. There are lots more – get out there and let’s hear em! 

Upgrade your decision-making

In January 2017 I led a workshop at The Battery entitled “Upgrade your decision-making”. My goal was to share some of my thinking about Athletics and Intuition in the form of a “Decide Nothing toolkit” – a few simple techniques that I use to help me stay in flow and make decisions intuitively. Some of the techniques that I shared are

  • Move without hesitation
  • See over the mountain
  • Shake hands with monuments
  • Check your messages
  • Welcome the unfamiliar
  • Roll the dice

This workshop was continuation of some events that I hosted in 2016 at the Battery and part of a series that I will be leading through the rest of 2017 on Athletics and Intuition. Check The Battery’s Events page for upcoming dates; the next one is scheduled for April 10, 2017.