Kim Hillhouse… AKA: Pringles, Kimchee, Glass Monster, Kimmer, Kimber, Kimi (or any other spelling… depending how you spell it, I know the who, what, where, and when)
Where you were born and where you live now?
Born in Santa Monica, CA, grew up in Kailua, HI, currently living the suburban life in Woodstock, GA
What is your occupation?
Graphic Artist, Web Designer, Chauffeur, Mom
Where do you SUP the most?
Toona, aka Allatoona Lake, GA
Do you have a favorite local paddleboard shop?
High Country Outfitters!! The best gear and most knowledgeable staff in the southeast!
What paddleboard, surfski or OC do you ride most?
I love my new 12’6 Naish Javelin, she performs beautifully in all conditions. And of course my super speedy 12’6 Custom MHL is the steed of choice for flat water.
Do you own any other paddleboards, surfskis or OCs and what kind?
Yep. I own 6 boards and an OC1. 2 Suploves, a Stingray and an Escape. A monster touring board that stays at the lakehouse (I can’t remember the mfg). A Bark Contender. The MHL and the Naish. The OC1 is a sleek, fast Hurricane.
What paddle do you use?
Have you changed boards/paddles/equipment since you started? If so, why?
Yep. I think I followed the same progression of most SUP racers… 1. tried paddleboarding. 2. fell in love with it. 3. entered a race (because, who knew you could race the dang things!) 4. got hooked on racing. 5. got better at racing. The equipment naturally changed with the progression.
If you could travel to anywhere in the world to paddle, where would you go?
So many places, so little time (and money *right now*)! On the bucket list in no particular order: Thailand, Bali, Bora Bora, The Grand Canyon, Amalfi Coast, Seychelles
Best piece of SUP advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t be afraid to fall in. Maybe I’ve taken that advice too close to heart, as I tend to fall in a lot. Once I fall in though, I’m more focused and have a surge of adrenaline that fuels the fire to get er done.
Weirdest thing that’s happened to you while paddling?
OMG. Where to begin? Strange (and not so good) sh*t happens to me all the time. One memorable time was at BOP in 2013. I was catching a few ankle-biters before the race, when I looked down and saw the entire sunken deck of my board filled with swirling blood. Minutes earlier I was heading in, but decided to go out for one more ride. I must have stepped on something, unknowingly turning myself into shark bait. I didn’t get to race. Buuuut, I did get to watch my friends race, and ended up getting stitched up right there on the beach!
Another memorable weird moment was during Chattajack 2014. My dear friend Kathy Summers and I were drafting in some pretty windy conditions, when we came a little too close to a channel marker. The eddie behind the marker pulled Kathy in the opposite direction she intended and I got sucked in behind her. I swear the marker reached out and grabbed my paddle. The handle of the paddle got stuck in the top of the maker. As the current whipped my board and I around, my paddle couldn’t handle the torque and snapped. That is one horrific sound! I was in shock holding the castrated end of my paddle while watching the other half mockingly bob down the Tennessee River a few feet away.
I thought it was over. I encouraged Kathy to paddle on while I waited for the safety boat. With the adrenaline rush from the paddle breakage, there was no way I could just sit, so I paddled. On my knees. For miles. I definitely had a guardian angel with me that morning. The folks on the safety boat were able to get me David Leach’s paddle, as he had a fin malfunction and *gasp* a sliced foot accident that pulled him off the course. With David’s massive paddle (100 sq in blade and looooong), I paddle with all my might and finally caught back up to Kathy. She urged me to carry on when she had to stop for food. Ultimately I ended up making up enough ground to finish 4th in my division, behind 3 of my favorite paddle buddies. What an adventure! There are quite a few more similar stories. Trouble seems to find me at some of the bigger races.
Favorite SUP nutrition? (During races/ during a long haul)
Beet Juice about two hours before a race to boost endurance. Also, I can’t eat solid food while racing, so I fuel up on oatmeal or granola and fruit before a race. During races I keep my electrolytes and sugar levels in check with Tailwind Nutrition and an occasional GU.
Goals for this year?
Balance. In all things… life, family, SUP racing, trail running, and yes, getting better at balancing on a board.
Favorite post-paddle nosh (snack/beer/recovery drink)
Cold weather: Venti Latte. Warm weather: Acai Bowl.
Your favorite non-paddle thing to do.
Watch my boys in their respective sports. Lacrosse for the eldest and Soccer for the youngest. And of course, trail run with my dog, Bo.
What piece of SUP gear do you wish someone would invent?
Heated paddle handles and shafts – my Raynauds has been getting worse, it plagues me even in the warmer months. Oh – and a massaging deck pad. I envision little menehune massaging my feet on the long distance paddles. It’s all about keeping me comfortable!
What’s your biggest challenge with SUP?
The amount of time I choose to paddle tends to eat into other areas of my life. Back to that balance thing.
What is your proudest moment in a SUP race or event?
A rare moment when both of my boys joined me at a race in Tuscaloosa, AL. Neither one has the SUP bug, but they came along to appease me. We all podiumed. It was a great day. Proud mommy (ahem, SUP) moment fer sher!
Tell us about the best friend(s) you made through paddling.
So many over the years! The SUP ohana is so amazing. I love traveling to races and getting to see friends from near and far – frankly, that’s the best part of any event. The actual race is just a little exercise thrown in for good measure! My closest SUP buddies are the ones I train and play with here in GA and TN. Team Leeghit! We all started racing around the same time. We get to see each other at all of the Southern Stoke Race Series events, and partake in mini-adventures in between. And then there’s GT (aka Greg Tysor). He is the best training partner ever. He makes training fun and pushes me like no other! The guy can come up with some pretty creative intervals and seems to find pleasure in trying to shake me from his draft.
What was your best SUP trip?
Probably any time I go home to Hawaii. There have been other excellent trips to Puerto Rico, Florida, and California, but being able to paddle with my family trumps them all.