What’s your Name?
Paige Bakhaus aka Mama Starfish or Head Hooker
Where you were born and where you live now?
I grew up in Georgia but I’ve always felt like a Florida girl, which is where I live now. Englewood, Florida…it’s a small beach town south of Sarasota.
What is your occupation?
I’m a certified stand up paddleboard coach and I own Hooked On SUP which is a sup & kayak rental/tour/lesson/sales company
Where do you SUP the most?
Right in my own backyard. We are lucky to have some of the most beautiful and unspoiled waterways left in Florida. Every time I go out I get to play with dolphins and manatees, see starfish, stingrays, hundreds of beautiful shells, amazing bird species…the wildlife in Florida is so diverse and amazing that it just never gets old and since I live in South Florida the weather is perfect for paddling all year long.
Do you have a favorite local paddleboard shop?
Hooked On SUP of course!
What paddleboard, surfski or OC do you ride most?
I’ve got two identical old school Yolo Predator 12’6″ boards that I won’t give up…I’m just in love with those old boards and nobody can make me give them up. Lol.
Do you own any other paddleboards, surfskis or OCs and what kind?
Well that’s a loaded question…I’ve owned just about everything Yolo Board has ever offered since I’ve been a Yolo dealer for almost five years. But I’ve never owned a surfski or OC or prone and honestly don’t have much interest in it.
What paddle do you use?
Quickblade baby. Once you go QB you never go back, right??
Have you changed boards/paddles/equipment since you started? If so, why?
Well my very first board was a SoFlo…a 65 lb plastic goliath terrible thing and an aluminum paddle to match it. It was in 2010 and my husband bought it for my birthday and we knew absolutely zero about the sport. But within three months I was PaddleFit certified and got rid of that board and bought my first Yolo Board. The only thing I’ve changed since then is moving from a sup/surf to a touring/race board as my daily rider. And of course my Quickblade paddle keeps changing as they keep making improvements and as my paddling skills improve.
If you could travel to anywhere in the world to paddle, where would you go?
We go to the Exuma islands in the southern Bahamas several times a year to get away and to paddle and it’s still my favorite place in the world. Give me an option of anywhere to go and I will always pick Exuma.
Best piece of SUP advice you’ve ever received?
“Share your love and knowledge of the sport with everyone…even business competitors- there’s enough business out there for all of us”. That was the attitude that Brody Welte taught us at PaddleFit when this whole sport was really getting started and lots of new businesses were popping up everywhere and people were worried about competition. Brody and John Denny had the best advice and led by example when they taught us to be the experts in our field and that it’s now our job to share our knowledge and love of the sport. And if we just keep doing what we do and people see how that radiates through our life they will want a piece of that too..which means that our sport will continue to grow…which means that there will always be plenty of business for everyone. I’m thankful that I had Brody and John as my teachers because they were dead right. I’ve seen this business change and grow since 2010 but I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for other business owners who have mentored and shared their knowledge with me.
Weirdest thing that’s happened to you while paddling?
Well I wasn’t actually paddling…I was taking a little nap on my board laying on my belly. It was dead quiet and peaceful in the cove I was floating in and I woke up and slowly opened my eyes…and there was a manatee resting it’s face on the nose of my board just staring at me watching me sleep! I had an immediate and involuntary bad reaction which I wanted to take back half a second later but it was too late and the poor guy had already slipped under the water and disappeared. I apologized profusely for my high pitched squeal but he never came back to give me another chance. I’ve felt guilty ever since.
Favorite SUP nutrition? (During races/ during a long haul)
Goals for this year?
Do the Key West Classic on a sup squatch with my Hookers again completely unprepared with zero training like last year.
Favorite post-paddle nosh (snack/beer/recovery drink)
Your favorite non-paddle thing to do.
My favorite exercise other than paddling is horseback riding or pole dancing (yes it’s a sport! lol). If I’ve got down time and just need to relax I want to lay out on my boat and read a great book.
What piece of SUP gear do you wish someone would invent?
I’ve been saying this for years…a pole on a paddleboard.
What’s your biggest challenge with SUP?
Paddling and not feeling like it’s work. I still love to paddle but I almost have to do it after work hours for me to feel like I’m not working or leading a tour so that I can enjoy it and that it’s just for me.
What is your proudest moment in a SUP race or event?
Definitely when we finished the Key West Classic this year on the SupSquatch. We had no plans to do it, we entered the night before the race, and none of us had ever paddled farther than 3 or 4 miles before. Much less on a squatch and around Key West! But Hookers aren’t quitters and we did it! Have to give a shout out to Dawn Rothenhoefer, Terri Curtis and our honorary Hooker for the day Trevor Levelle.
Tell us about the best friend(s) you made through paddling.
I couldn’t live without my Hookers Dawn and Terri (the girls who are my friends but also happen to work for me). We work together, travel, paddle and play together..and they keep me sane and somewhat organized. Nothing about Hooked On SUP would be as good as it is without those girls. (and some of the ones who are no longer working with us but we still love.)
What was your best SUP travel trip?
Exploring all the deserted beaches and islands in the Exuma chain never gets old. The water is the bluest I’ve ever seen and every beach hold the possibility of finding a new shell you’ve never seen before. It’s a non stop treasure hunt.