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Joe Paddler: Damien Grafmyre, Ft. Meyers, Florida

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Challenge and Race Results Submission Upgrade

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Bone Island 6-Mile Paddle Race, Lazy Dog Key West This weekend!

I'm not sure if you're as cold as I am, but the thought of Key West sounds amazing to me right now—especially when facing down the 12+ feet of snow or freezing cold rain we've had in the past few weeks....

WHERE WERE YOU WERE BORN AND WHERE YOU LIVE NOW?

I was born in Seattle, raised in Hawaii, and live now in Ft Myers, Florida

WHAT IS YOUR OCCUPATION?

Firefighter/Paramedic

WHERE DO YOU SUP THE MOST?

I SUP all around SWFL, but my favorite place is Blind Pass which is on Sanibel Island.

Joe Paddler Damien

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE LOCAL PADDLE SHOP?

We have a lot of great shops around here, so it is hard to choose one. If I had to pick, I would say the SWFL SUP Club Outfitters are my favorite because they offer a great selection of gear, have certified instructors, promote proper SUP safety, are familiar with our waterways, help out with local paddle events and support our Special Olympic SUP Teams.

WHAT PADDLEBOARD, SURFSKI OR OC DO YOU RIDE MOST?

I ride a classic 9’6” Coreban Performer (waves) or a 11’6” Coreban Cruiser (backwater/fishing).

DO YOU OWN ANY OTHER PADDLEBOARDS, SURFSKIS OR OCS AND WHAT KIND?

I just bought a 14’ x 25” Fanatic Falcon last year for downwinders/racing.

WHAT PADDLE DO YOU USE?

I use a Coreban Stealth or Hardcore paddle.

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

The only thing I have changed is my middle fin on my Performer. I went to a smaller 6.5” fin for better maneuverability and performance in the waves. I also bought a good waist PFD and a coil leash for my race board. Damien_Coreban.jpg

WHERE WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO SUP?

One day I would like to go to the Maldives or Indonesia to paddle surf.

BEST PIECE OF SUP ADVICE YOU’VE GOTTEN? 

I heard this once and use it from time to time when I am teaching someone to paddle surf….Relax, don’t be tense..just Breathe…when you start to catch the wave, take a couple extra strokes and then go with the flow like the drunken Kung Fu Master..I guess you have to watch the old Kung Fu movies to understand..LOL.

WHAT ARE YOUR PADDLE GOALS FOR THIS YEAR?

I would like to do more downwinders and start training for some fun local races in the area. I would also like to learn more about OCs and cross-train on that style craft. After a good dawn patrol session,

WEIRDEST THING THAT’S HAPPENED TO YOU WHILE SUPPING?

The weather in Florida is unpredictable at times, so while SUP fishing in the backwater I got caught in the mangroves trying to wait out a storm. It was crazy, especially when I had to paddle on my knees against the current, wind, and heavy rain with lighting crackling around me. I ended up escaping through a local shrimper’s back yard because I couldn’t get back to my launch spot. I will never forget his face when he saw me climbing up his dock in the storm with a big board (SUP) in my arms. He just had a blank stare like he saw a ghost or something. He didn’t even offer to help, but just sat under his covered patio sipping on his beer. He was a strange looking dude, bare chested with a beer belly, wearing yellow shorts with his white knee high rubber boots. I was happy to be on land, but it was definitely an awkward and weird moment!

FAVORITE SUP NUTRITION?

I don’t use any supplements, but just try to eat healthy and make sure I am hydrated prior to long paddles or SUP surfing.

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

I like to go to Bennett’s Fresh Roast on Sanibel for some java and a maple bacon donut. If it is after an evening club paddle, we usually will go to Point Ybel Brewery next to Ft. Myers Beach. My favorite beers are the Snook Bite IPA or the Black Mangrove Dark Ale!

YOUR FAVORITE NON-PADDLE THING TO DO?

A romantic dinner with my wife, I love to try new restaurants in the area. Also, I stay busy with my two boys, who play competitive baseball, basketball, and golf. So my favorite non-paddling activity would be to hang with the family.

WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE WITH SUP?

I think my biggest challenge in SUP would be in long distance paddling/racing. Knowing what percentage of power to use at what time during the race so I do not hit the wall to early.

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

I am lucky to be able to help out at different events in our area like Surfers for Autism, The Battle on the Blueway, FGCU Adaptive Day, and the Great Outdoor Adventure Day. The proudest moment for me at these events is when I teach a new paddler to SUP for the first time and watch how excited they get. The expression from the stoke of the glide never gets old! 

Joe Paddler Damien

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

Wow since 2008, when I first started SUPing, I have met so many cool people through this sport. Today, I have made so many great friends through the SWFL SUP Club! We have so many talented paddlers who work together to clean up our waterways, give back to our community, work with Special Olympic athletes and spread the stoke of SUP to everyone they meet. The club motto says it all, “Every stroke counts in life, so Paddle Hard, Live Easy..” SWFL SUP Club is my SUP family! 

Joe Paddler Damien

WHAT’S YOUR BEST SUP TRAVEL TRIP?

Nicaragua was awesome..loved the people, beautiful country, great food, and had killa waves. Great trip!

Joe Paddler Damien

WHAT PIECE OF SUP GEAR DO YOU WISH SOMEONE WOULD INVENT?

I hope to see more adaptive gear for paddlers with special needs/different abilities. It would be cool to see someone in a wheel chair be able to drive to the beach, grab their board independently, take it down to the water’s edge, get on a board with no problems, paddle safely, and return with that same excitement/thrill from a good SUP session.

Lisa
Lisa is managing editor of PaddleMonster.com and is an avid paddler of all the things - including sup, SurfSki, outrigger canoe and prone, though she especially enjoys paddle surfing and downwinding. She is a former journalist with more than 30 years experience in print and broadcast journalism and in government communications. She is a six-time Chattajack finisher, racing both sup and OC2. When not paddling, she is an outdoor instructor.

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