WHERE WERE YOU WERE BORN AND WHERE YOU LIVE NOW?

California beaches. California mountains.

WHAT IS YOUR OCCUPATION?

Web/video/graphic designer.

WHERE DO YOU SUP THE MOST?

The closest body of water is my local “hamster wheel” of a lake. It’s only .82 mi around if you hug the reeds, and has four small islands—which make for creative shimmy practice. Winter is challenging with the snow, but a blast to crunch through the thin ice! I’m usually out in my “sanctuary” for hours, so I have a chalk board on board for notes, quotes and prayer requests to make the best of my time 😉  I try to hit the coast as often as possible, and usually SUP the harbors from Morro Bay down to Huntington Beach.

Heidi Stone

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE LOCAL PADDLE SHOP?

I bought three boards, paddles and accessories at Paddle Surf Warehouse in Costa Mesa. Jeff and Michael are awesome and helpful. 

WHAT BOARD DO YOU RIDE?

The 404 Carbon 12.6 V3.I also have a Hobie 12.6 iSUP. It’s a great recreational board, and nice to have an extra for others. I have “tasted” OC6 and OC1. It will not be the last!

WHAT PADDLE DO YOU USE?

Usually the QuickBlade Kanaha 90 or the Flyweight.I’m glad I demo’d and rented for months before investing.

HAVE YOU CHANGED BOARDS/PADDLES SINCE YOU STARTED? IF SO, WHY?

My Tahoe 12.6 Bliss (and an adjustable QuickBlade) was a great tour board, and to get a feel for paddle length. Then I wanted more speed and ability to pivot, so got the 404 12.6/27.5 V3. When I realized I needed something narrower (I was leaning sideways too far to get my stroke right) and lighter (since I’m not supposed to hoist more than 20 lbs overhead), I got the 404 12.6/25.5 Carbon V3. Also have a few carbon paddles of slight different lengths and blades that I trade off depending on my spine/back strength.

WHERE WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO SUP?

I keep a file titled “Elevation Zero” with dozens of photos of where I’d love to paddle. I might build a board and throw a dart. Then plan a trip for when my husband retires (soon?). I was thrilled to check Hanalei Bay off my bucket list.

BEST PIECE OF SUP ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED? 

Look up.  Fear not. Two main take-aways when Danny Ching patiently taught me some “adaptive” moves to compensate for my wonky right hip to change sides or step back to pivot. It changed and improved everything for the FUNner!

WHAT ARE YOUR PADDLING GOALS FOR THIS YEAR?

I’m drafting a plan of events that I hope to attend. As a vintage wahine, speed is not a biggie to me—I just aim to participate and hope to finish as long as I can! I’d really like to get involved in more expedition/exploration type meet-ups. In April, I’m excited to paddle the Atlantic! I have family and friends to visit in North Carolina, so I’m really looking forward to the Carolina Cup and meeting 100/100 ohana in person! (Thank you, Julia Nicholls for providing a fabulous forum for orphan SUP-ers like me to be adopted!)

WEIRDEST THING THAT’S HAPPENED TO YOU WHILE SUPPING?

I took my new 404 Carbon out for her maiden voyage at the Long Beach Marina, knowing that the water events for the Special Olympics World Games was being held there that week. I cruised along the rocks and there was a group on the beach jumping, yelling and waving their arms. I looked back to see if I had mistakenly (embarrassingly) gotten in the way of an event! Nope, nothing. You talkin’ to ME? It was a group of Russian Special Olympics athletes and coaches. They were skilled in kayak and canoe, but so excited to see a SUP for the first time. I could tell they really wanted to try it, so I attempted to translate through the one coach who spoke very little English. They were shocked that someone my age was doing this, and told me that nobody really “sports” in Russia past their early 30’s. We all had a blast and laughed a lot. Natalia (a competitor), after her ride said, “Daank you. You take dis, my pin.” She removed her country pin and put it on me. Kissed my cheeks and they all thanked me profusely. No, thank YOU for the most Special day—ever.

Heidi and Special Olympians

Got time for another? Our community holds an annual 4th of July celebration and we have dozens of hot air balloons that will touch down on the lake. Last year, I took my GoPro and limbo’d under the balloons as they rose and left a waterfall streaming down.

FAVORITE SUP NUTRITION?

Gels (‘cause they’re easy), almonds, a custom mix of dried fruits and nuts.

FAVORITE POST-PADDLE NOSH (SNACK/BEER/RECOVERY DRINK)

Ensure, I mean – Protein shakes. And fish tacos. Always on the hunt for the best. My current bar is set high at a little place in Kauai. 

YOUR FAVORITE NON-PADDLE THING TO DO?

My husband called me out on this. We were planning a trip to meet family. First thing I did was locate the nearest body of water. He said, “Ya know, it’s not always about SUP.” uh…’s not? So, spending time with our awesome kids and spouses (sometimes that includes SUPing!), hiking, landscaping, and cooking. 

WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE WITH SUP?

Orthopedic challenges are the very reason I SUP. I’ve always been active, but due to hip dysplasia and severe scoliosis, I’ve never been an “athlete.”  Since my third right hip replacement, second spine rebuild and a neck surgery, I’ve returned to SUP each time to strengthen what’s left and regain my balance and range of motion. I am blessed to have an amazing pit crew at Cedars-Sinai who are masters at getting athletes back on fields and dancers back on stages. Still have frustrating hip motor issues due to paralysis from too many “flesh digs,” but my hip surgeon is a global surfer who has me doing strength/balance exercises on an upside-down Bosu, and other maneuvers on the board. Beats PT indoors any day. So, the biggest challenge? Any water that moves up and down. And heeding the mantra of my spine surgeon, “Heidi, know when to throttle back!”

WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT IN A SUP RACE OR EVENT?

I had never pinned on a number in my life until I attempted the open event at Battle of the Paddle in 2013 (mostly on my knees, hoping my loose rods wouldn’t snap, seeking forgiveness for my lapse of judgement.) But I finished. Three days prior to my overhaul. After graduating from (way too long in) the clam shell brace, the next summer I visited relatives on Big Bear Lake and entered the PaddleFest 5K on my Tahoe tour board. I came in 3rd for 50+. I had no clue how to “podium.” I returned for the PaddleFest 10K last September and came in First for 50+ women.

TELL US ABOUT THE BEST FRIEND(S) YOU MADE THROUGH SUP.

The best “kind” of friends are the ones you relate to from common experience. I am encouraged and inspired by so many I’ve met who have used SUP as physical, mental, and emotional therapy. Especially those who have adapted their boards and paddles to compensate for compromised or missing limbs. Heroes. My lesson from each them—no excuses.

Heidi Stone

WHAT PIECE OF GEAR DO YOU WISH SOMEONE WOULD INVENT?

I like to keep my gear tight and light. It would be great to have some kind of scissor-like expandable/collapsable sturdy stand for the board (kinda like a camp chair—fit in a bag thing) when all you’ve got is sand, dirt, rocks or parking lot to clean up. Shout-out to Chris Crawford for inventing the RinseKit! Had mine since post-Kickstarter and don’t leave home without it.

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