This week’s Jane Paddler: Karen Mirlenbrink, who was born in New Jersey, but has lived in Dunedin, Florida since she was a toddler.
What is your occupation?
Pilates and Yoga Teacher, Freediving & Paddle Instructor
Where do you SUP the most?
Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin, Florida
Do you have a favorite local paddleboard shop?
Urban Kai in St Pete.
What paddleboard, surfski or OC do you ride most?
YOLO Board 12’6 Crush, Epic V10L Surfski.
Do you own any other paddleboards, surfskis or OCs and what kind?
YOLO Board Hammerhead, YOLO inflatables, 10’6 Prone Paddleboard, Epic V5 Surfski.
What paddle do you use?
YOLO 95″ Carbon Racing SUP Paddle, Epic Mid Wing for Surfski, Puakea Carbon OC Paddle.
Have you changed boards/paddles/equipment since you started? If so, why?
Sure I have! I have been paddling for a couple of decades! The industry has really improved technology in manufacturing, fit, and design, so that you have no choice to move up when those great options come around.
If you could travel to anywhere in the world to paddle, where would you go?
I really want to go to Australia. I have plans for it this summer.
Best piece of SUP advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t fight mother nature, because she will always win.
Weirdest thing that’s happened to you while paddling?
A manatee has humped my board from underneath.
Favorite SUP nutrition? (During races/ during a long haul)
I use Hammer Perpetuem most of the time. If I need snacks for something super long, I make Skratch Labs’ Cookies.
Goals for this year?
I have short term goal of doing the Escape from Coffin Island in Ponce, Puerto Rico this month. My big goal for the first half of the season is to compete in the Destin Waterman’s Challenge in May.
Favorite post-paddle nosh (snack/beer/recovery drink)
Your favorite non-paddle thing to do.
Freediving. Sounds crazy, I know. But it’s awesome.
What piece of SUP gear do you wish someone would invent?
A small lift that helps us vertically challenged people get stuff on our trucks. They already make some, but they are HUGE.
What’s your biggest challenge with SUP?
Trying to do every event! There are so many great events in Florida, that it becomes overwhelming to think about which ones you want to do every year.
What is your proudest moment in a SUP race or event?
I have two – I competed in the Water Tribe Ultra Marathon with my husband in our double surfski 2010. 70-miles in 10 hours and 40 minutes, breaking the record. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. In 2013, I paddled the Na Wahine O Ke Kai – the women’s OC6 crossing of the Molokai. I joined a crew out of Haleiwa as a guest, and experienced the sport in it’s purest form. AMAZING experience.
Tell us about the best friend(s) you made through paddling.
I have made my BEST friends through this sport. All of them are amazing, and all of them are up for a good adventure, on or off the water. My closest paddling friends I look up to as mentors, as they have shown me “the way” more than once.
What was your best SUP travel tip?
Bring an inflatable! It’s so easy and so convenient! Also, don’t be afraid to explore off the grid. I have seen some amazing places on this planet that aren’t in the travel books.
What makes a good Joe or Jane Paddler? Someone who’s just an everyday, stoked up, fun, enthusiastic paddler, hopefully with a good story or two to tell…not looking for pros, even though we love them too, nope, just your typical paddler next door. Is that you? Want to be featured as a Joe or Jane Paddler or know someone who’d make a good one? Fill out the questionnaire!