For this weeks “Gladiator of the Week” we chose Livio Menelau. He is an accomplished racer and downwinder. People in Hawaii seem to be pretty familiar with him (especially on Maui), but for some reason he doesn’t seem to be as well known here on the mainland. Hopefully that will change over the course of this year. Hopefully this article will create some awareness for you here on the mainland.
In my opinion, several things stood out when we decided to chose Livio for this award and profile. He is a very talented downwind racer, which is pretty impressive. He convinced Mark Raaphorst (SIC) to build him a completely new design, (which isn’t really how its done), and then he worked with Mark to create on of the fastest ocean racers on the planet. On top of building the first one (17’6), Mark is now selling a 14’ version, which I wouldn’t mind paddling around on myself.
Being a good downwind racer and R&D guys is impressive in their own right, but the one thing that I thought really stood out to me, was him beating Danny Ching, and Dave Kalama in the Olukia 8 Miler.
I remember when I first found out the results from the Olukai from a friend who was in Maui at the time. I said “Livio who?” Then I remember saying “He beat Danny Ching, and Dave Kalama?” “Are you kidding me?” With those two guys you are literally talking about the elite among the elite in Stand Up Paddle racing. Typically if you finish before they have their boards back on the truck, you would figure you did OK. Beating not one, but both of them is extremely uncommon. Adding all of these things up, lead us to the conclusion that we should chose Livio for the weeks award and profile.
Getting to know Livio
SUP Gladiator – Where are you from originally?
Livio – I’m from Northeast Brazil: Recife, Pernambuco.
SUP Gladiator – Where do you live now?
Livio – I live on the north shore of Maui in Haiku.
SUP Gladiator – Who are your sponsors?
Livio – S.I.C, Quickblade, OM Maui Health & Fitness & myself.
SUP Gladiator – What has been your biggest accomplishment to date, as it relates to SUP?
Livio – Finishing solo the Kaiwi Channel, Moloka’i to O’ahu 32 miles.
SUP Gladiator – What lead you to developing your own board with SIC?
Livio – I wanted to give the top SUP guys a little bit of work so I talked to Mark Raaphorst and Amir (Mark’s shaping assistant) about developing a faster board. As Mark hears this type of comment everyday, he just laughed at me. However, he made the board anyway and it was a success.
SUP Gladiator – Tell me about your board, what its advantages are over other boards, etc.
I ride the “Bullet” downwind model which is 17’4″. It is the best board I’ve ever ridden because it has a great glide which makes it easier to connect bumps and get me going faster.
SUP Gladiator – What does your training regimine consist of?
Livio – During the SUP racing season I do mostly north shore downwinders like the classic Maliko Runs 4-5 times a week and mix up my downwinders with a Kihei run here and there. I also love cross-training at Om Maui Health & Fitness where I increase my cardio endurance with killer spin classes and yoga to keep my body flexible and injury free.
SUP Gladiator - How far in advance do you start training for a big race?
Livio – I guess you could say my “biggest” race is the Kaiwi Channel and I start training 3-4 months out. I compete in all the Maui/O’ahu races as part of my training to lead up to the channel.
SUP Gladiator – How is downwind different from flatwater?
Livio – Downwind is more fun and flatwater is more painful.
SUP Gladiator - What is your favorite discipline of SUP? Downwind, Flatwater cruising or racing, or Surfing?
Livio – Downwind racing is my favorite for sure but I like to have fun SUP surfing with my girlfriend and friends.
Livio and Bullet Co-Designer and SIC Owner and Master Shaper, Mark Raaphorst
More info on Livio, downwinding, and his favorite board, The Bullet.
Livio Menelau – Winner of the Olukai Maliko to Kanaha 8 mile race
“Livio Menelau, originally from Brazil, but now living in Haiku, California’s Danny Ching and local favorite Dave Kalama stayed together in front of the pack throughout the SUP race. Ching led for the first half before Menelau found several surge swells to take the lead. He took first place in the men’s elite SUP race with a time of 0:52:37.3 less than 100 yards in front of Ching and Kalama.”
Picture from Standup Paddle Magazine
Livio and Dave Kalama Downwinding
Livio’s Board – The Bullet
Mark Raaphorst from SIC talking about the board he and Livio Co-Designed
Video from www.standuppaddlesurf.net
From a designer’s point of view: (Taken from SIC Website)
After the success of our three F-Series boards, we were not about to store our shaping tools and give the R & D department a break. We know the F-16 is about the fastest in good, straight down wind conditions. But what about the Kaiwi Channel and the rest of the world? Not all bodies of water have the luxuries of Maui’s north shore. The Kaiwi is often blowing only 14 to 16 knots and the wind can be slightly off to the side. The Bullet was conceptualized on a need for a less downwind specific, open ocean racing board.
In the 2009 Kaiwi race, Ekolu Kalama, riding a SIC prototype, proved that a straighter rockered, longer board has a better glide in less than ideal conditions.
Just before the 2010 Olukai race team rider Livio Menelau requested a similar board. A 17 footer, with lower nose rocker and more elongated and gradual bottom curves.
He wanted it even narrower than the F-16 v2 (27″) and so we made his 26 1/2″. In that race he managed to hold off some big gun watermen like Danny Ching, Dave Kalama, and Aaron Napoleon. From this racing winning design production began.