Carmen

Where you were born and where you live now?

Born Calgary Alberta, living in North Vancouver British Columbia, Canada

What is your occupation?

I’m an apparel buyer at Mountain Equipment Coop

Where do you SUP the most?

Deep Cove, North Vancouver! We’re lucky enough to live close to one of the most beautiful places to paddle on the west coast- Deep Cove in the Indian Arm. With all its jellies & misty islands, so far it’s still my fav spot to be on my board!

Carmen

Do you have a favorite local paddleboard shop?

Deep Cove Outdoors has been instrumental in introducing me to the awesome sport of sup racing, along with many others. They run a great weekly race series called Tues Nite Racing in the cove that got me hooked on sup racing. The owner and wicked staff do an amazing job fostering stoke and good times in the paddle community we have over here.

What paddleboard, surfski or OC do you ride most?

My Baby Clog, as we affectionately call it, is a 12’6″ Starboard “New.” Its really a small old Ace design: 23.5″ wide with a very sunken deck. It’s a really fun board in small to medium bumps and a pretty fun downwinding board. Not so great for winter paddling though, as it usually holds a couple inches of water in the deck- too chilly on the feet in winter, ha! Looks like there’s a reason they moved on from that specific design!

Do you own any other paddleboards, surfskis or OCs and what kind?

I recently picked up a 12’6″ Sic Pro to keep my feet dry in the winter, (ha) and have a bit more efficiency on flat water & buoy turns. At 25″ its a bit wider than my little clog so I’ve been spending a lot of time adjusting my stroke form this winter to accommodate.

What paddle do you use?

I use the Blackfish carbon Nootka Youth paddle. Its really light and the face is a lot smaller than the race paddle I started on, so it feels like im paddling with air.

Have you changed boards/paddles/equipment since you started? If so, why?

My first board was a 14′  Bark Dominator, which I loved and still do. It’s a great board for longer flatwater touring, camping, etc. It was 28″ wide with a flat deck, so a really stable board to learn on. Eventually I discovered it was a bit too much board for my frame size, it was a pretty high volume board. Also, most of the women were racing on 12’6″, so I figured it’s way more fun to have folks in your category to compete with! I still miss my Bark board on long flatwater camping trips, but it went to a good home.

Carmen

If you could travel to anywhere in the world to paddle, where would you go?

That’s a tough one, as I really love paddling on the wild west coast of Canada. I probably wouldn’t go very far, theres so many places i want to explore on BCs coast from Desolation Sound all the way up to Haida Gwaii. I guess if i had to pick an international destination, i wouldlove to complete the Sup 11 City Race in Europe one day! Paddling 220km in 5 days sounds like a pretty insane way to experience europe!

Best piece of SUP advice you’ve ever received?

Haha, to turn my paddle around! I prob spent the first year of my paddling life with my blade the wrong way!

Weirdest thing that’s happened to you while paddling?

While taking my parents & sister on their first kayak experience in the cove, we had a curious baby seal that was following us around. Next thing we knew- it fully draped itself across horizontally on the back of their boat for a ride! Then, it proceeded to hop on my sisters kayak for a ride. Finally it started following me around on a narrow Fanatic sup i was trying out. Next thing i know, the little guy had launched himself up on the back of my board- i almost fell backwards on top of him. Now hes getting a sup ride with me and started wiggling his up between my legs! I made a little squeal and he decided that was enough joyriding for the day….. I tried explaining to my parents that this doesnt happen everyday you go out paddling!

Favorite SUP nutrition? (During races/ during a long haul)

I typically use cliff shots for quick hits on long races. I also really like Humagel. Ive been experimenting with organic baby food packets on my run training this winter, i might try that this summer on the sup too. During any sup race however, i am highly motivated by the chips and cider im going to be consuming as soon as i get onto dry land.

Goals for this next year?

There’s a bunch of awesome local races I want to make sure I hit this year that I missed last year. I also want to compete in both days of the Gorge River Sup race. Last year I only participated in the short course, which wasn’t my forte on the Baby Clog that doesn’t really do buoy turns, ha! I also would also be honoured to participate in the 60k N2V charity crossing of the Georgia Straight this year. Finally, I’m taking some certifications this year to be able to teach SUP yoga…. so if  I could get that ball rolling I would be psyched!

Favorite post-paddle nosh (snack/beer/recovery drink)

Chips and delicious dry ciders! Really loving all the hopped ciders in the market these days!

Your favorite non-paddle thing to do.

Before I got into sup racing, I was pretty stoked on climbing long routes and being on alpine rock. Again, we are lucky enough to live near some of the best granite in North America, being  just a 45 minute drive from Squamish BC, not to mention the Cascade mountain range. I miss being above sealevel sometimes! Climbing is like a neglected girl/boyfriend though, she doesnt just let you back into her arms! The mental game is too hard to just jump back on the rock. With the amount of time I spend on the water these days, I haven’t been able to tend to that side of my mental garden! I’m currently spending the winters training for 50k trail races, which trains the same part of my brain that I need for sup races- the masochistic endurance game, ha.

What piece of SUP gear do you wish someone would invent?

I would love a sup to have a waterproof “hatch” somewhere on the board, kinda like kayaks. Just somewhere to put a few small things would be super handy.

What’s your biggest challenge with SUP?

Keeping up with my damn fast boyfriend.

What is your proudest moment in a SUP race or event?

Haha, well I will preface this story by saying that I was likely in the wrong category for my skills at the time, but I won the 2015 Kalamalka Classic Open  women’s short course on the Baby Clog last year.  And I was mostly proud of my ability to actually turn that damn board around that many buoys in a race! (It really only turns by crossbowing strokes!) But on a truly proud note, we had a local race last year that strong winds turned unsafe pretty quickly. As someone who’s an anxious swimmer, I was proud of my ability in the moment to stay calm and get myself and a fellow paddler to the shore safely. It was a good experience in the sense that I was able to draw on my risk and objective hazard evaluation skills I’ve learned from the mountains, and know that they can be applied on the water,too.

Tell us about the best friend(s) you made through SUP.

Oh man, that’s one of the things that sold me so much on this sport. The entire sup community is unbelievably inclusive, supportive, friendly…. I could go on. Coming from sports like climbing and surfing where the more the merrier doesnt always apply in the element, sup racing is SO refreshing. There’s something special about being involved in a sport from its beginnings. No one takes themselves seriously at all. Even when your battling hard at the finish line there’s just always a strong sense of camaraderie thats unique to this sport. In somewhat of a male dominated sport, I’ve also met THE most inspiring women athletes and moms, not to mention kids. Racing aside, I love how you can use this activity for both competitive fitness AND exploration of our amazing natural world. I’ve had just as much fun racing my sup buddies as I have paddle camping, full moon night paddling, wild west coast sup surfing, river rapid flailing and sunset cider drinking paddling with them. A diverse sport like sup attracts just as diverse group of wicked good people. One person in particular stands out for me that I never would have met if it wasnt for sup racing. My hella kite surfing, badass boat engine fixing, tiny dancer sup bestie Susie. We have had some hilarious magical fun times brought together by this sport. Very grateful to be part of this awesome community of paddlers.

Carmen

What was your best SUP travel trip?

Again, wicked sup travel for us is really not going too far. Last summer we loaded the sups onto our van and did a little tour of Vancouver Island. Going from the east coast Comox to hitting the west coast for some touring and sup surfing. The most memorable experience from that road trip was a short day trip we did in the back waters of Tofino. On a hot 30C degree day, we hopped on our Clogs with the key amenities for a nice summer day on the water (namely cider/beer, beach towel, water and snacks) Launching from a quiet spot a few kms south of Tofino, we navigated the maze of island passages and strong tidal currents to find a gem of a tiny isolated south facing little beach that likely only comes available during low tide. Having never paddled here before and knowing how serious the tides can be, it felt akin to an alpine adventure with just the right amount of consequence and route finding skills to make it feel adventurous. What I wasn’t prepared for was the sheer abundance of life in this area. Everything from mermaid-like bull kelp fields below us to the bald eagles above us, to the tiny crabs that gave us a little show at the magical little beach we discovered. That trip really highlighted for me how much I love my sup for these kinds of days- exploring our amazing natural landscape in such a minimal way as you can on paddleboards.

Carmen

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