When did you start paddling?

2011 after taking a few beatings in the surf at Salt rock I looked up and saw someone paddle boarding. I thought that could be cool, tried it out, and was hooked from that moment forward. I got my first board; a 10ft Whopper in November 2011, the rest is history.

Why did you start SUP?

I had just had my first child and wanted to get back in the ocean it looked like something fun to do where I could get fit again.

Do you have a background in ocean/water sports?

Yes I started canoeing and kayaking at the age of 8 years and grew up on the KZN Rivers. I’ve represented South Africa at the World Freestyle Kayaking Championships in Gratz. I also represented South Africa for White Water Rafting in two World Championships Ecuador and Korea and received my South African Colours. I have travelled the world, rafting and kayaking. I was the first woman from Africa to run Commercial Suicide Rapid No.9 on the Zambezi River in a kayak and 7th woman in the World. I won the Woman’s Downriver Race for the Nile Festival in 2007 with Prossie from Uganda (we had to race in Teams as it was so dangerous) an all African woman’s team 46km down the White Nile. I worked as a river guide and ran a rafting company on the Tugela River for 12 years. I started surfing when I met my husband in 2009 and in 2011 discovered stand up paddle boarding – it was a simple cross over thanks to my paddling background.

 

World Champs Korea Downriver Race

World Champs Korea Downriver Race

 

 Training on the Zambezi

Training on the Zambezi

 

Going for a move on Nile Special a big wave on the nile

Going for a move on Nile Special a big wave on the nile

 

You paddle in the ocean and the Umgeni River and also the harbour in between the yachts when the NE onshore is blowing. Where’s your favourite training playground?

The thing I love about Durban is that no matter the weather you can find a place to SUP.

With a heavy NE onshore my place is the harbour – starting at Wilson’s Wharf. We paddle out into a headwind for a 2km to warm up – heading to the yacht mall were we sprint, sprint and sprint. Thereafter we take a casual paddle back with the wind on your back and the small swell pushing you a good one hour hard training session.

On the light NE we paddle out towards the shipping lane from the XOTB shop. You paddle out when the wind is light for 3-6km, when wind pickups we head back to XOTB enjoying a mini downwind. The other day when I went out on my own I experienced a massive shoal swim under me, I paddled past a submarine (at a safe distance!) and got to enjoy the solitude of being a dot in the horizon.

No wind days are the best you head out from XOTB – the world is your oyster – the options are limitless and you are often joined by a pod of dolphins.

SW days are downwind days in Durbs. For a good training session, I start with a 7km downwind from XOTB to the Umgeni River and then a 7km flat water paddle in the River. Otherwise we do a straight downwind from XOTB to Glen Ashley – approximately 12km. This one is a fun run but hard work as after the river you hit the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ and no matter what the conditions, the water swirls in all directions, making it a real leg burner!

 

Jax re-entry

Jax re-entry

 

Why did you take it to the next level and start SUP racing?

I got sponsored for Surf SUP originally by F.ONE. Bruce Crystal said I should try the race boarding. I originally declined, it looked like too much hard work, but if anyone knows Bruce he just kept pushing. I eventually gave it a go. I was hooked immediately, the feeling of pushing myself to the max and getting fitter, stronger, healthier. It was addictive. Then Brandon Read got a twinkle in his eye when he saw me paddling at the river and has taken me under his wing mentoring, training and encouraging me to race taking it to the next level.

What board are you riding?

Race: 2016 F.ONE 14ft x 24inch RACE PRO
Surf: 7.2 ft. x 24inch F.ONE MADEIRO PRO or 7.5ft x 26 inch F.ONE MADEIRO PRO

 

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I’m really excited for you this season. You have your big girl panties on and you’re testing the Durban SUP Boys and making them dig deeper. You’re a machine on the water. What makes you commit to keep going and not give up no matter how much it aches?

‘Big girl Panties’ are on for sure. If I want to compete on a bigger stage I need to be keeping up and start beating the guys up front. To do that you need to train, eat and sleep. I’ve competed internationally. I know what it takes. I used to train by myself in the Drakensberg. If I can motivate myself on those cold winter mornings with frost on the ground then I have it in me for sure. It also helps that I grew up tough and when I would fall off my bike, get a massive gash down my arm, my dad would simply say get on your bike, and cry while you ride. In this sport you need grit and I’ve got it.

Coach Brandon Read recently started pushing you to run – not your favourite sport – but you’re out there doing it. You’re seriously dedicated to what you do. Is running helping?

Running is a bit like torture for me I’m certainly no Gisele but it has helped a lot. I now run before every SUP Session. It’s added a different dimension to my fitness and has helped my starts as you need a lot of strength in your legs. So much to my dismay, I will carry on running but it is getting easier.

What’s your favourite time of day to SUP?

Early morning. I just love it.

What’s for breakfast after a power SUP session?

Egg on toast with a coffee or a power smoothie and coffee – I need coffee!

What advice can you give to girls who want to get into SUP but they’re apprehensive about doing something for the first time?

JUST DO IT. You won’t look back. Go out where it’s flat, safe and easy, preferably with someone that SUPs and enjoy it, enjoy the water, the ocean, what’s around you. You will get to share ‘the stoke’ and fall in love with the sport. SUP is a fun and new sport with an amazing community so once you take your first step and get on the board there will be people out there to help you, encourage you and motivate you like so many of us ladies have experienced in Durbs.