Archive for the ‘Team Thorfinn – Outdoor fitness training and racing’ Category

Thorfinn Winter SUP – Lincolnville to Rockport (VIDEO)

Thursday, January 12th, 2012


Penobscot Bay — January 11, 2012

Thorfinn Expeditions’ owner Thor Emory, paddles 10 miles from Lincolnville Beach to Rockport (Maine). It was a chilly day on beautiful Penobscot Bay with temps in the low twenties. The trip took 1hr 50min and the camera battery froze enroute, even the deck on Thor’s SUP ( a carbon Naish Glide 14′) started to ice up. Conditions were perfect for making good time with a light-moderate tailwind and an ebbing current. — Get Out. Go Wild!

Simplicity by Design

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

“Where other designers would work to improve a tool’s performance by adding on, Tom Frost and I would achieve the same ends by taking away – reducing weight and bulk without sacrificing strength or the level of protection.”

– Yvon Chouinard (Founder of Patagonia)

When you make a decision to sell things to other people, you need to make an important choice: will you push anything that sells? Or will you provide the best products? The products that you know, through your own experience and research, offer the quality and performance needed to exceed the customer’s expectations?

It’s easy to say you’d choose the latter; not always as easy to follow through on it. Pursuing a business philosophy based on this principle requires a deep commitment. It can mean a lot of extra “process” – educating customers not just on the superiority of the physical product, but also the long term benefits it provides over an inferior competitor. It’s often much easier for the customer and business alike to take the path of least resistance, i.e. take the cheap one, the trendy one, the least intimidating one, etc. However, in the long run, the inferior product not only is less likely to last, it provides a watered down experience that’s not as enjoyable.

Thorfinn Expeditions is committed to “the process.” We thoroughly enjoy promoting products which we believe elevate the sports and disciplines we are representing. Turning people on to the benefits of modern equipment and designs, which tend to be lighter, stronger, faster and more efficient, is far more rewarding for both parties. It does take a deep commitment, and may actually lead to the occasional lost sale to a generic alternative sold somewhere else. But we’re promoting a lifestyle, not just trying to move product. Short cuts are not an option.

Thorfinn Product Philosophy

All the products used and sold at Thorfinn, from our sailboat to the kayaks and paddleboards we carry, are selected based on the criteria most important to us:

• Safety
• Performance
• Utility

These sound like common sense points, however the perception on how they are attained can vary wildly. Does a kayak need be a heavy 55 lbs. of fiberglass to be strong and seaworthy? Is a design or style of outfitting best simply because it’s always been done that way? Or is it possible that heavy materials and outdated designs can equal dead weight?

While we have great respect for all types of historical design and building methods, we won’t let tradition hold us back. The vendors we work with have common philosophies guiding their design and production, philosophies that are in-line with Thorfinn: innovation, refinement, strength and performance. The result is a new style of high quality products that create a better experience for the user.

These products tend to stand out. They are built with lightweight materials like Kevlar and carbon fiber. Their shapes take on different lines than earlier, more traditional designs. Outfitting tends to be more simple and purposeful. All great points in our view; but they can confuse customers accustomed to more typical gear, which put heavier emphasis on recognizable designs and “bells and whistles” – with less focus on innovation and chiseling away unneeded features.

At Thorfinn we take great satisfaction in sharing the benefits of the products we carry. We truly believe that we’re selling equipment that helps shape lifestyles, not just hobbies. The right paddleboard or kayak can help the paddler unleash their desire to explore and adventure – for a lifetime; we embrace the opportunity to communicate these philosophies to our customers. As an outdoor education school and specialty retailer, it is second nature for us to talk in depth about the products in our shop. It’s fun, it’s rewarding and it’s the whole reason we’re in the outdoor adventure business to begin with.

Learn more about the products we carry:

Stand Up Paddleboards

Kayaks & Surfskis



Thorfinn’s Return to the Beach

Monday, November 28th, 2011

By Chris Laughlin

Lincolnville Beach embodies and epitomizes many of the traits that make the Midcoast so appealing to the people who live here, and to those who travel from around the world to visit. Beautiful scenery, small town independence and charm, interesting people; and set just far enough off the beaten path to provide a little “destination appeal.”

When I first started talking to Thor Emory about coming on as his new business partner at Thorfinn Expeditions, one of our first priorities was sorting out where we would establish Thorfinn for the 2012 season. Discussion quickly focused on the vacant building next to Maine Artisans on Lincolnville Beach. The building was Thorfinn’s home in 2010 (Thor moved the business out in 2011 for a little “restructuring”), it still had all of Thor’s infrastructure setup inside, we’re both Lincolnville residents – and it didn’t hurt that Penobscot Bay would be just steps away. We agreed that it was a great spot to set up the headquarters for Thorfinn’s outdoor adventure programs and retail showroom. As Thor says, “We’re proud to be a little rough around the edges and ‘outposty’.”

I’ve worked in the paddlesport industry for over ten years; somehow my passion for paddling and spending time on the water morphed into a “career.” I started in retail sales and eventually moved on to the manufacturing side of the business, working in customer service, as a sales representative and ultimately in marketing and promotions. The greatest reward of this path has been the opportunity to travel around the country, meeting and working with people that continue to impress and inspire me. I also developed a personal perspective on what types of businesses were advancing paddling as a sport, which ones were succeeding, and why.

Living in Midcoast Maine, it didn’t take long to notice what Thorfinn Expeditions was up to; I saw a business committed to advancing the sports and lifestyle it represented. It was also clear that Thor and I shared a common vision: our region has the potential to be a Mecca for outdoor athletes and adventurers. We’re surrounded by opportunity – whether it is the world class paddling and sailing on Penobscot Bay, or the climbing and hiking in the mountains of Camden Hills State Park. Thor had positioned his business to get people past the typical harbor tours, and instead fully immerse Thorfinn clientele into our coast, lakes and mountains – outdoor education, physical activity and personal involvement were paramount.

By summer 2011, Thorfinn had incorporated one of the fastest growing sports in the world into its adventure programs and sales: Stand Up Paddleboarding. Stand up paddling has taken the paddlesports industry by storm; it is an incredibly fun way to spend time on the water – whether you like the surf zone, the tranquility of Lake Megunticook or the dynamic open water of Penobscot Bay. It is also an excellent workout, and while leisurely sunset paddles are a must, fitness paddling and racing are propelling a big portion of SUP’s growth.

Which brings us back to Lincolnville Beach, literally. The shop on Atlantic Highway will serve as our basecamp for the Thorfinn outdoor education and adventure school, and the showroom has expanded into a full paddlesports specialty retail center: sales, rentals, tours and instruction. The Bay is outside our front door, Lake Megunticook is five minutes up the road and the hills are all around us. To say we’re excited is an understatement!

The gear we’ll sell in our retail shop is a reflection of our general philosophy as an outdoor adventure business: performance oriented, soulful and inspiring. We’ve put in a lot of miles on Penobscot Bay and the surrounding freshwater lakes; paddle boarding and kayaking our coastline and inland waterways provides a unique appreciation for the Midcoast’s rugged beauty.

In addition to strengthening our connection to the area, our time spent on the water refined our choices in equipment. The SUP and kayak brands we represent in our store are ones that we use ourselves, and they are designed/built by some of the most accomplished paddlers in the industry – whether you are looking for something entry level or elite.

And so my journey through the world of paddlesports continues. In many respects I feel like this opportunity is what I’ve been working towards over the last decade; I hope I can use my experiences and what I’ve learned to help Thorfinn continue its advancement of outdoor recreation and adventure on the Midcoast. One thing’s certain, from our shop on Lincolnville Beach; I know I’ll enjoy the view!

Get out. Go wild!

Chris Laughlin
Co-owner – Thorfinn Expeditions

Crossing troubled waters: finding balance through outdoor pursuits on the Coast of Maine

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Crossing troubled waters: finding balance through outdoor pursuits on the Coast of Maine

by Thor Emory

The body can bring happiness to the mind. Mind and body are fiercely intertwined. When you do activities that strengthen the body, you can work towards balance. Whether it is trail running, paddling, backcountry skiing – you name it, engaging in endurance activities creates an equilibrium that helps us navigate the instabilities of life. I need to be active and feel fresh air coarse through my lungs. Exertion burns stress; it forces me to focus in this fast paced world, and it brings a certain steadiness to my life. But I am not a fan of being inside on a machine. Outdoor recreation offers more than the gym. While you have to contend with environmental factors and fatigue, the natural world is also a constant source of inspiration. It doesn’t matter what activity brings you into the wild or on the water, it’s the process of moving through a challenge that generates a toughness and sturdiness that you carry with you into all aspects of life.

This past summer I logged many miles on my stand up paddle board while teaching lessons, leading tours and paddling on my own. During this timeframe I also endured some major changes in my personal life and I found that my paddle workouts were key in pulling me through. Paddle boarding is dynamic, fun, and allows you to feel every subtle nuance of the ocean (or lake). Going upwind can be a slog but downwind is a blast. In rougher conditions especially, every muscle group is taxed but even on flatwater you can get worked. Getting worked is what I needed last summer. My inner world was tumultuous—a gale blowing through my emotions. But rather than retreat into an unhealthy pattern, I forced myself to get outside and be active. SUP was my release; each stroke offered relief and every mile a fresh perspective on the rugged Maine Coast and on life. I did one-way paddles from Camden to Rockport and then ran back to my truck. As the summer wore on and my SUP fitness improved, I began to stretch the miles and the exposure. My body was leading my mind. Muscle fatigue quieted my thoughts and as I got stronger emotionally, my motivation to seek out new challenges grew. 

In August I crossed Penobscot Bay on my paddle board. I pushed off from Camden and paddled to Pulpit Harbor on North Haven Island. I have kayaked across the bay over a dozen times, even at night, but this was my first time standing. Behind me rose the Camden Hills with our picturesque village nestled at their feet and in front stretched the vast Penobscot Bay. When my friend and owner of Midcoast Maine Charters dropped me off by the bell buoy, the wind was blowing from the west—it would be a sweet downwind run or so I thought. I took a visual bearing just north of Mark Island (several miles away), breathed deeply for a moment, and then put my blade in the water. Usually, the first few steps or strokes of any challenging endeavor can feel intimidating, but before for my crossing I only felt relieved to let my body to take over for a while. I left my turmoil on the shore and in my wake.

The bright sun bounced off the water into glittering shards of light and felt warm on my back. Soon I was bathed in sweat. Puffy cumulus clouds skated overhead but the sky was mostly clear. The dark green islands in the bay looked like distant ships in a world of blue. Paddle boarding longer distances is more akin to running than surfing (unless you’re riding waves downwind). It is a matter of persisting—one stroke after another. To cover distance, you have to keep working, keep slogging. Usually I want to do more than just get there – I want to do it as fast as possible. I find that when I push hard my brain becomes more focused. I take in the weather, water variables and hazards. I assess output versus remaining endurance stores, and I let my thoughts and feelings flow through me. During my crossing though, I just wanted to hammer for a while and paddle with everything I had.

After twenty minutes into my crossing, the wind shifted aggressively to the south. I had to fight the wind and current and hold my ground to keep from getting pushed away from Pulpit Harbor. After a hard battle, when I could begin to differentiate the spruces from one another on North Haven, I knew I was closing in on my target.  I pulled up near the shore, knelt on my board and stared back towards the Camden Hills where I had left the tribulations of my work and life. My support boat pulled up and my board and I were loaded. We gunned the engines and headed off for an island lunch break.

Paddle boarding is about balance. If you lose your balance and take a swim in the chilly Maine water, you have to get up and refocus. Just like when life knocks you over, you dig deep, breathe and get back up. Even though most boats have been hauled out of the water for the winter, I am still paddling. For me, it is about getting out and allowing the rebalancing process to happen while my muscles move. It’s about putting in the work—the physical work and the inner work. I often think back to last summer. It was a difficult time for me, but adventures like my Penobscot Bay crossing made me face my struggles head-on and begin to work through them. Stroke after stroke, we dig and we push through.

Thor’s Pen Bay crossing only took 1hr and 40 min. He hammered it out! Now he is waiting for a strong westerly so he can ride some waves the whole way.

-Thor Emory is an outdoor educator and co-owner of Thorfinn Expeditions based in Lincolnville Beach, Maine. He is an accomplished paddle boarder, sea kayaker, skier, runner and sailor. You can find him at Thorfinn Expeditions in Lincolnville Beach or training on the multi-use trail, launching his paddle board from the beach and getting ready for the spring racing season. His two sons, Finn (5) and Carver (2.5), are usually right behind him, trying to keep up.

More about Thorfinn Expeditions:

Thorfinn is an outdoor adventure and education business that specializes in sailing, stand up paddle boarding, and multi-sport programs. Built on the belief that people need to adventure, Thorfinn Expeditions facilitates challenging and inspiring programs that foster a greater sense of self, physical fitness, and environmental appreciation. With exceptional staff and equipment, Thorfinn has the adaptability and experience to run adventure-based programs for any individual or group that embody fun, teamwork, learning, and perspiration. The Thorfinn shop in Lincolnville Beach is currently being geared up to stock the best SUP equipment anywhere. The shop doubles as a basecamp and will include a training area for Team Thorfinn athletes and outdoor fitness members.

Get Out. Go Wild!

(207) 322-2293

Building Community through Outdoor Adventure in Midcoast Maine: Friendship, Fitness and Fun

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Maria climbing in the Camden Hills

(Nov 6, 2011)

By Maria Millard

I moved to Rockland, Maine in April. It was stark and drab. There was dirty, crusty snow piled around my apartment. I wandered downtown looking for friendly faces. But it was early season. Town was empty, just like my social life. I split with my boyfriend weeks earlier and somewhere inside was that burn to get out and start exercising. There’s nothing like a breakup to get motivated to work out. But I didn’t know where anything was—trails or training partners. Philosopher Wendell Berry writes, “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” I had some figuring out to do.

My cold loneliness began to melt when I realized I just needed to get outside. We all do. It doesn’t matter your means: paddling, hiking, biking. To know who you are you have to understand your physical and social landscape. For me it started at Barrett’s Cove on Route 52 in Camden where I got tied in with a group of native climbers, the expeditious pioneers who developed the area. They were welcoming, showed me around the cliffs and taught me more about anchor building and safe climbing practices. Every time I tied into a rope, I connected: with my partner, my self and the rock. The more I climbed with Alan Rees, Micheal Reeves, Hazel Groce and others, the more my sense of place grew. From the top of Barett’s Cove, I could see where I fit into the landscape, with my climbing partners, Rockland Harbor the Camden Hills and Lake Megunitcook. Swimming after climbing one afternoon, I saw a group of paddleboarders crossing the lake.

SUP division Megunticook Lake Race 2011

 A Thorfinn Expeditions’ Stand Up Paddle Board group was enjoying the sunshine and a full-body workout. Later I was invited to a Thorfinn SUP Club paddle board BBQ on the lake: working out and eating, just my thing. A few days later I paddled around Indian Island off Rockport Harbor, another evening I circumnavigated Rockland Harbor and most recently, around Acadia’s Otter Cliffs. I’m now hooked on Paddleboarding. You can cruise around hidden coves, watch seals pop up near by, and get ripped. Okay, so I’m not ripped yet, but with another season paddling and racing with Thorfinn Expeditions, maybe I’ll get close.

Towards the end of the summer, I raced the Run for the Hills Belfast 10k not because I wanted to torture myself on a hot, hilly course but because I knew it was a chance to meet training partners. As a result, I met Reade Bower, one of the area’s barefoot runners, who hooked me into the Thursday 6 am Trail Runs group. My first run with them was at the Rockland Bog where I found a new network of trails and friends. The Bog has beautiful single-track trails, rolling hills with good views and links into the Georges Highland Path, another magical area to explore. Chatting with the group members, I learn about scenic loops, where to get the best post workout breakfast sandwiches and who to see for athletic injuries (Snow Sport and Spine). Wednesday morning speed work and Saturday races spun off the Thursday morning runs. Both introduced me to another group of avid runners who are hooked into what going on and are engaged community members. One runner’s family owns Jess’ Seafood Market, another the Free Press, there’s a top accountant, someone who works for the Island Institute, a few business owners and a physical therapist. Everyone has something to offer, something interesting to say. And each person is drawn to adventure—an eight mile race up three mountain peaks, paddle boarding Penobscot Bay, mountain biking rugged and technical trails, sailing expeditions, cross-country ski racing. The deeper into the network I became, the more I realized I knew where I was: an area rich with opportunities to run, climb, paddle board, hike, swim (and soon enough, ski) with enthusiastic, welcoming people.

Thursday 6am Trail Runners photo by Jason Gallant


Sure, it takes time to get connected to an area. But like Berry suggests, you have to get out and start exploring. As you do, you’ll come across others who are doing what you like to do—walking on the multi-use trail, enjoying Megunticook and the Camden Hills and soon enough, you’ll be chatting with new people in line to get up the chair lift. The more terrain we cover climbing, hiking, trail running, paddleboarding and swimming, and the more outdoorsy people we meet, the more we feel at home.

Hook into activity groups and local outdoor businesses to find out what’s happening and get involved!

-For more information on group runs, workouts and races, check out:

-Paddleboarding opportunities with Midcoast Maine SUP Club:

-For custom sailing, paddle boarding, and multi-sport adventures:

-For good deals on ski equipment and to connect with friendly skiers and riders, check out:,

-For all your Mt. Bike and Cycling needs:

-Where to catch the Thursday 6am Trail Runs:

Maria Millard is a writer, Two-time All-American collegiate runner, educator and Rockland resident. She trains and competes with Thorfinn Expeditions’ Racing Team. Look for her at the Monday night YMCA meet-up, coaching the Wednesday night speed work at the Camden Hills High School track, at the Thursday morning trail runs and Saturday races. Workout details are found at:

Exhaustion Rather Than Boredom

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

Thursday 6am trail runners last week at the Rockland Bog - after a morning moonlight run

January 13, 2012

By Maria Millard

I’ve got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom. ~ Thomas Carlyle

As the days get shorter, we tend to gravitate indoors, thinking we can escape from the cold and dark. Perhaps it’s the warm glow of the TV and a hot bowl of macaroni and cheese that draws us in. Comfort foods and the couch are cozy but you can’t do it for too long. A little is okay, but when you get to the point when your Seasonal Affective Disorder and irritability flares up you have to get out. “Get Out! Go Wild!” Before I start lecturing you about exercise, let me tell you a little bit about my own recent sluggishness.

I usually struggle in the winter. Once I left for college, I promised I would never live another winter here again. I fled for the warm sun in California, Mexico, South Africa and most recently, I spent a few weeks of the winter in Chile. And that’s where it all began.

I was surfing in Arica, Chile with my little brother when my board crashed down on my foot mid-wave. My foot was cut down to the bone and it was swollen enough that I couldn’t fit it into a shoe for two weeks. No more running. Upon coming home to Maine, I was in really good spirits. I didn’t mind having a little couch time. I read a lot of books, knit a few hats and got waited on (to some degree). I saw it as a chance to turn inwards and re-evaluate my goals—athletic and personal. And I recognized that we all go through cycles of exertion and rest. We have to honor our natural rhythms. I figured I spent all fall pushing it hard trail running with the 6am trail running group, paddle boarding, racing 5ks, and climbing. Why not use my injury as an opportunity to rest, reflect and get re inspired for the new year?

My couch time was good for a bit but it was Christmas time so not only was I sedentary, I was putting down cookies, pies, turkey, stuffing and glasses of wine like it was my job. Rather than feeling guilty about it, I decided to just get into it. I wore my technical gear to Christmas dinner—ready for athletic eating. Yea, I did some crunches now and again. And I used the Thorfinn Expeditions lab to row, do pull-ups and a bit of weight resistance training. But my physical world was as limited as it’s been for a long time. After three weeks of being a sloth, I started getting grumpy. Work was less inspiring. I didn’t feel like writing. I was bored, disorganized, flustered. I had to get off the couch and put down my pudding spoon. As Thomas Carlyle says, “I’ve got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom.”

Just the other day I did my first run back in months with the mid-coast trail running group (Look up Thursday 6am trail runs on Facebook). We met at the Rockland Bog at 6 am and started off into the darkness. I started telling my theory of rest and incubation with Stephen Wagner, superb mountain biker, runner and all around outdoor athlete. The theory made sense to him too. After the mountain bike season ends, he has seven months to maybe take it a little bit easier and get inspired for the next season of training and racing. The body can’t go all out all the time. It’s just part of the natural cycle. But those of us out running in the cold and dark agree that after too much time without exercise and fresh air, we get out of balance.

No matter how hard you hit the Winter Ales, the stuffing and the cookies, there is hope! Based on my latest winter indolence, I can offer a few suggestions.

One: Don’t feel too bad about what you’ve just done to yourself. Winter is a natural resting period and you probably needed a little break.

Two: If you’re going to sit around a take it easy, spend some time thinking about your goals and create a plan of attack.

Three: Take it slow and don’t have unreasonable expectations for yourself.

Four: Find a training partner or a group of training partners (Email to find out who’s doing what where)

We’re here to help you stave off seasonal ennui and restlessness. Next up in the Thorfinn blog: Fresh and fun ways to get fit during the winter. Also, upcoming race listings to help you die of exhaustion rather than boredom, as Carlyle says. Stay tuned!

Maria Millard

In addition to eating like it’s her job, Maria Millard is a writer, Two-time All-American collegiate runner, educator and Belfast resident. She trains and competes with Thorfinn Expeditions’ Racing Team. Look for her coaching the Wednesday night speed work, at the Thursday morning trail runs and weekend races.